After 55 Years, Coconut Grove Arts Festival Is Still the Best Way to Enjoy the President’s Day Weekend

After 55 Years, Coconut Grove Arts Festival Is Still the Best Way to Enjoy the President’s Day Weekend
Courtesy of Coconut Grove Arts Festival
President’s Day Weekend is arguably the best weekend in Miami, when the warm-but-not-scorching sun is shining, the winter holiday rush has subsided, and people are still hopeful about the promise of the new year. For those reasons and more, there’s a lot of event competition over the three-day weekend, including Art Wynwood, the Miami International Boat Show, and St. Stephen’s Art Show. But CEO and President Monty Trainer believes the Coconut Grove Arts Fest, now in its 55th year, is the best way to spend the weekend.

“The Coconut Grove Arts Fest [has been a] contributing factor to Miami becoming the center of art. We’ve been around longer than anyone else for art exhibitions. We’ve established art for Miami, Coconut Grove, and Dade County,” says Trainer, a local celebrity for opening Monty’s Raw Bar in the Grove in the late 1960s. “The Coconut Grove Arts Festival probably identifies the Grove and maintains the art colony feeling… It’s a laid-back atmosphere with art on the waterfront.”

The street fair occupies a little over a mile along Biscayne Bay and is filled with family-friendly activities, including an art show with 360 artists in 14 mediums, culinary demonstrations, and live musical and dance performances. The fair is organized by the Coconut Grove Art and Historical Association; proceeds from the festival support the nonprofit’s gallery and year-round educational programming.

Katrina Delgado, director of artist relations for the fair, explains that the festival received over 1,000 artist applications this year. Through a juried selection process, 300 applicants were chosen. The fest also invited 40 award winners from the previous year and admitted six new and emerging artists. New artists include Florida native Mercedes Brunelli, who creates wearable art in the form of handmade evening clutches in shiny fabrics and punchy colors, and Gainesville-based pop artist Tyler Sean, whose paintings have been compared to Warhol's.

The art available for sale includes 2D and 3D mixed media, painting, photography, digital art, printmaking, drawing, watercolor, ceramics, glass, fiber, jewelry, metalwork, sculpture, and wood. Delgado says only original art is permitted to be sold at the fair. Prices range from around $15 for a photographic print to $40,000 for an original painting.
Courtesy of Coconut Grove Arts Festival
Trainer is especially excited about the culinary demonstrations at the fair. “Cooking is a form of art in my book, coming out of the restaurant business,” he says. “It’s a special person who can present food to the public in a fashion that they can’t do in a restaurant... Cooking is an art form like music and dancing. [The cooking demos] have been widely accepted by our patrons and lots come to just see the culinary demos.”

This year’s live interactive cooking demonstrations will take place in the culinary arts pavilion in Meyers Park. Local and national chefs from the Ritz-Carlton, Mayfair, Sonesta, Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar, Ariete, ElectriChef, and LA Sweetz, and Telemundo culinary personality Kiko Suarez will be assisted by students from the Miami Dade College culinary program.

Fairgoers will also be entertained by live music in partnership with iHeartMedia Miami on a stage in Peacock Park. Performers include Will to Power, Cynthia, Johnny O, Company B, Lime, and Frankie Negron. The fair will also have live painting and glass-blowing demonstrations, a family zone with activities like face painting, a dog sitting service, and a bike valet.

Trainer says, “For $15 you get music, culinary, and art. It’s family-friendly and interactive with the kids. We are really proud of the hands-on art activities that we provide... It’s a destination.”

Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Saturday, February 17, to Monday, February 19, at 2700 S. Bayshore Dr., Miami; Admission costs $15 per person per day, $5 for Coconut Grove residents, and is free for children under age 12.
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Minhae Shim Roth is an essayist, journalist, and academic.
Contact: Minhae Shim Roth