Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas Hopes to Make Kendall an Art Destination

Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas brings the museum experience to suburban Miami-Dade.
Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas brings the museum experience to suburban Miami-Dade. Photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas
Suburban art enthusiasts have always had to drive to places like Wynwood or Miami Beach to follow their passions. That's about to change.

A new art museum has sprung up in Kendall without a single brick or stone being laid. Leonardo Rodriguez, founder and president of the Kendall Art Cultural Center, is transitioning the center into the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas (MoCAA), a bonafide museum right in the heart of the community.

"There is a lot of weight that comes with the title of museum, and it's a way that we can get the state and local government to take an interest so that this place can continue to function the way it is, free for the community," says Odette Lopez, director of MoCAA.

The museum officially opened last week at 12063 SW 131st Ave., but it's looking to expand to a bigger location in Kendall eventually.

"[Rodriguez] has been collecting Cuban art since he was 17 years old, so he has this huge collection," Lopez explains. "We have two very large collections. We have his paintings and sculptures, which number about 700, and we have the ceramics collection, which is about 500 pieces in total, and we'd like to exhibit more of them."

The new museum offers various programs, including the Women Artists in the Rodriguez Collection program, which celebrates the innovative and creative work of women artists from the Caribbean and Latin America from different generations.

This program, which takes place in March, is usually paired with a solo exhibition from an established artist. The most recent program highlighted Cuban artist Gladys Triana in the exhibition "Gladys Triana in Perspective."

Another is the SoFlo New Artists program which partners with graduating master of fine arts seniors from local and statewide universities.

"We hold an exhibition for them, so they complete their senior test with us. They get exhibition experience, curation experience, they see what it is like to set out a real show, and they exhibit their work with their professor without having to pay a dime for it," Lopez says. "It is just so satisfying to see their faces when it all comes together."

Around 70 percent of the artists that have been featured at the Kendall Art Center-turned-museum are local artists who have emigrated from Latin America and Cuba.

"A few are established artists, and a lot of them live and work locally," Lopez adds. "[Rodriguez] has really opened his doors and provided all the materials and said, 'I want you to work, and I will not charge you anything for the space. I'll give you all the exposure you need, and all [Rodriguez] asks for is that you give [him] one piece for [his] collection.'"

With its new platform, Kendall may become the next go-to destination for art enthusiasts.

"Kendall is a place that, as of yet, has no real cultural presence, and Rodriguez and the museum hope to change that," Lopez says.

Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas. 12063 SW 131st Ave., Miami; 305-778-7739;

– Vanessa Reyes,
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