Miami New Times' MasterMind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This week, we're profiling the 10 finalists, selected by our staff from over 100 submissions, who are in the running to receive one of three 2013 MasterMind awards, each of which comes with a fat $1,000 check. This year's MasterMind Award winners will be announced Thursday, February 28, at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
Savoring a dish of steamed snapper, rice, and beans, Charo Oquet sits at the Little Haiti restaurant Chez le Bebe. As usual, it's a working lunch. The meal is peppered with calls from artists coming to town for the second edition of the Miami Performance International Festival this summer.
"We will be presenting artists from 16 countries, including several from Cuba," says Oquet, her eyes crinkling behind her trademark cat's-eye glasses.
In her own work, the 59-year-old Dominican-born talent often references Elegguá, the Afro-Cuban orisha who guards the crossroads. And like that deity, Oquet has spent her life helping others erase boundaries.
She spent her 20s traveling the globe, from Santo Domingo to New York to London, where she met her husband, William Keddell, a New Zealand artist and filmmaker. She spent five years in Auckland and then settled in Miami in 1988. All of that wandering became both a prism for her art and a motivator to bring global arts to town.
With that in mind, in 2003 she opened Edge Zones, a Wynwood nonprofit space that featured local and international talents. After sponsoring an exchange with Dominican performance artists, Oquet began thinking about two gaps in Miami's scene: a lack of programming during the dog days of summer, and a shortage of opportunities for performance artists.
"I felt that Miami was lacking an event that exclusively focused on the genre," she says.
So Oquet created the performance festival and debuted it in August. More than a thousand visitors last year ended up viewing video installations, music, poetry, and other nontraditional art.
"It was a really excellent festival," says Irene Loughlin, a Canadian artist who performed. "It also helped create a dialogue among the artists, many of whom are collaborating together on new projects."
This year, Oquet has expanded to a free, monthlong offering beginning June 3 and culminating with a four-day event June 27 to 30. Ever the globe-trekker, Oquet smiles wide while counting off the international delegation converging on the Magic City this August.
"We have artists who are coming from all over Latin America, the U.S., Canada, the UK, France, and the Czech Republic," she says. "These artists will present challenging politically and socially provocative works you won't experience elsewhere in Miami."
2013 MasterMind Award Finalists:
Miami Performance International Festival
2013 MasterMind Award Honorable Mentions:
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