Miami Art Dealers Hope to Lure "More Sophisticated" Crowd to Wynwood Art Walk

To some the wildly popular Second Saturday Art Walk is resembling Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video more and more. So a group of Wynwood dealers have drawn a line across their broken beer bottle-strewn sidewalks to revamp an event they feel is devolving into a spectacle.

Upwards of 30 dealers and gallerists -- many representing Wynwood's top art spaces -- have joined together to form the Miami Art Dealers Association (MADA), a non-profit founded to promote professional standards and develop awareness of the visual arts to the local, national, and international communities. They want to reclaim Second Saturdays and make them friendlier for art lovers, families, and their bread and butter -- collectors who they say are unwilling to rub elbows with the growing throngs of booze hounds and unwashed masses.

During a recent meeting, MADA members voted to expand their Second Saturday hours from 2 to 9:00 p.m. beginning with the March 12th gallery walk, in the hopes of creating an environment where art connoisseurs can better enjoy exhibits without the hassle of finding parking or fears of getting clipped while crossing the street by an underage drunk driver.

"With the great success of the Second Saturdays, the galleries want to provide art lovers with these expanded hours to visit after lunch or before dining, to provide art collectors with more time to browse, and to better accommodate families," said Isaac Perelman, President of MADA and owner of Dot Fiftyone Gallery.

Some of the participant spaces observing the new hours include: Pan American Art Projects, Nina Torres Fine Art, Gallery I/D, Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Black Square Gallery, Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts, and the Dina Mitrani Gallery, among others.

The growing arts coalition says the move is intended to put Miami on an equal footing "with serious art markets in cities like New York , Los Angeles and Chicago and check the party atmosphere" associated with the Wynwood art scene says Dorothy Long, a private dealer and one of MADA's founding members.

Many of the area's galleries have already begun holding their openings on alternate nights and opened for shortened hours during recent Second Saturdays. They have also refrained from serving alcohol to curtail what they think are a plague of free-liquor-rabid locusts swarming their spaces.

"My last opening was held on an alternate Saturday night and was well attended while the public had the opportunity for meaningful dialogue with the artist," says Dina Mitrani who operates an eponymous gallery in the neighborhood.

"I also stopped serving liquor a while ago. I think its great that Second Saturdays has become so well attended, but now its turned more into a carnival atmosphere with DJs on the street and food trucks everywhere -- some of them illegal."

The dealer also notes that some of her collectors have shied away because of the unruly crowds and lack of parking in the area. "Collectors don't want to deal with these youngsters who come here to take advantage of the free liquor and sometimes engage in vandalism," Mitrani says. "By establishing earlier hours we are hoping to attract a more sophisticated crowd looking to engage in a serious cultural experience."

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