DWNTWN Art Days Kickoff Features Exhibits, Short Films, and Food Trucks

The arts are alive and well in downtown Miami. What's that, you say? Hasn't Wynwood already assured that fact? Hasn't Art Basel proven that Miami's already become a center of the art universe? Yes, and yes, but in this case we're talking specifically about that other "downtown," the one that encompasses Brickell and the commercial hub of those concrete canyons.

Credit McCormick Place, a onetime warehouse repurposed as a haven for artists, events and exhibitions, and the Downtown Development Authority with the upcoming launch of the Miami Downtown Arts District -- conveniently known as MDAD -- an extensive initiative that will combine support for museums, galleries, artists, art studios and various cultural institutions with participating businesses, live venues, hotels, and restaurants, all in an effort to promote art, culture and historical preservation throughout downtown and Brickell. The proposed boundaries for the district will be YoungArts on Biscayne Boulevard and 21st Street to the north, I-95 to the west, 26th Road to the South, and Biscayne Bay to the East.

See also: DWNTWN Art Days: Fringe Projects' Public Installations and Frost's New Maker Space

Fortunately, there's no need to start from scratch. Both the intent and the infrastructure are already in place to bring those grand designs to fruition. "I am overwhelmed by the response that MDAD has received," says Sean McCormick, founding MDAD president. "Downtown uniquely offers the arts in expected and unexpected places. Whether it be artist studios and galleries, museums, schools, theaters, and public spaces, or in hotels and condos, restaurants and bars, and retail spaces. It is MDAD's mission to showcase a wealth of opportunities for residents and visitors beginning today, into art fair season -- Art Basel/Miami Art Week, and throughout the year at First Friday Downtown Art Nights."

Happily too, other local arts organizations have also come on board. "As they are approaching their 74th season, Florida Grand Opera is honored to be part of MDAD Launch at McCormick Place for DWNTWN Art Days, showing that true art can be both visual and aural," said Max Kellogg, Senior Individual Giving Officer for the Florida Grand Opera, in a statement.


"MDAD will work in unison with community leaders and the DDA's (Miami Downtown Development Authority) initiatives to develop Downtown Miami as the cultural and business epicenter of the Americas," said MDAD board member Lee Ann Lester. "Already over a billion dollars have been invested in arts and cultural institutions in the District drawing new culturally-minded, international visitors. Our goal is to provide artists, galleries and the public with dynamic art venues, regular art programs and education to the greater Miami metro area."

The launch, which takes place on Friday, September 19, helps kick off the third annual DWNTWN Art Days weekend September 19 through 21. From 6 p.m. to midnight, McCormick Place will transform its special event venue into a Black Box Theater. Award-winning short films from the MIA Animation and the Miami Short Film Festival will be shown from 7 to 9 p.m., followed by a stand-up comedy show hosted by comedian Freddy Stebbins from 9 p.m. to midnight. The evening also features live music from Zachary Larmer Organ Trio, the Tom Dover Qunitet, and a performance by LIVE! Modern School of Music.

The exterior venue will provide the setting for the Life is Art VIP Bombay Sapphire Lounge featuring DJs, live music, food trucks, Wall Brawl, and performance artists. Other spaces in McCormick Place, which are home to studios and exhibition spaces, will also be open to the public. The McCormick Place Gallery will be curated by Elvira Aedo-Dago and will display the works of Maestro Rafael Soriano and Sculptor Maestro Rafael Consuegra. Complimentary transportation will be provided by Freebee.

The evening will begin with a Proclamation delivered by a representative of the Office of the Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez to founding board members, and concludes with performance and Art Days send-off by the Florida Grand Opera. The entire event is free to the public with RSVP to [email protected]. Visit

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Lee Zimmerman

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