Monday nights in the lobby of the InterContinental Miami in downtown Miami are an art-filled affair thanks to the artistic couple Jean and Iggy Font’s weekly Noche de Arte (Night of Art) program. From 5 to 7 p.m., art is created live and in person for all to enjoy.
The duo was invited by the hotel’s marketing team to begin the weekly event back in March 2022, bringing local artists from their Bird Road Art District studio space, Warehouse 4726, as well as others from throughout Miami, to have a one-month residency. All works produced during Noche de Arte are available for purchase, as well as works that are on view throughout the hotel’s lobby as part of the residency program.
“It’s been a great playground for artists to try out something new,” says Jean Font. “The hotel is thrilled to be providing a cultural activation for guests and visitors. For Iggy and I, it’s about the artists and the work.”
Hosting an artist for the entire month, the hotel lobby provides space to showcase art while developing new works as the month goes on. Besides the live and in-person audience, Jean showcases the event on social media and virtually.
As part of its "Creative Play" programming, the Font team has developed a series of events to showcase the artist of the month. The first week is opening night and on week two, Warehouse 4726 hosts a livestream on Instagram to show followers how it’s all coming along. The third week features a virtual studio visit with the artist in residence, open to viewers from around the world. In the final week, they showcase what has been produced during the month-long residency with a closing event.
Creating community is at the heart of everything the Fonts do, and Noche de Arte is one more way to provide an opportunity to connect people to art, culture, and their own creativity. “The definition of success here is building community and talking to artists,” Font says. “Folks who are showing up want to share in conversation around being an artist, around what it’s like to make work.”
Noche de Arte artist in residence Ignacio Font talks with hotel guests about his art.
Photo by Jean Blackwell Font, courtesy Font Squared
Local artist Erin Parish was June’s Noche de Arte artist in residence and found the experience to be the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons as an artist.
“I answered a call for artists from Warehouse 4726 for the opportunity to do a live art project at InterContinental Miami Hotel. I knew the hotel as a center for the Ultra Music Festival and was impressed by this extension into visual art,” Parish says. “I was interested in pushing myself into areas personally uncharted. I titled my project ‘Out of My Comfort Zone’ in response to this aspiration.”
Working in public to her meant recreating a sense of being in the studio, but in a performative manner. The logistics of working in a public space for two hours a week presented a challenge to her because, “I work messy, I work large, I work on the floor, many of my materials are toxic, and I couldn’t transport a wet painting every week. When they are wet, they are very fragile,” Parish says. The number of materials she employs in a two-hour stretch “could not realistically be transported to their lobby.”
That’s where the reinventing part came in; Parish purchased an iPad and quickly dedicated herself to using the Procreate program. The program allows each mark, each modification, on the image to be recorded and replayed like a video.
It’s how she created a performative digital painting where the iPad screen was shared on monitors in the lobby “so people could witness my decisions in real-time,” she says.
She also had paintings on display in the hotel’s lobby, small pieces made during COVID lockdown that she chose to use as her jumping-off place. She got busy adding and using the adjustments available in digital media, where she could immediately undo the changes. “A large part of the beauty of the digital medium is flexibility, the ‘undo’ option, which does not exist for oil paint and resin,” Parish says.
Marilyn Valiente contemplates new work in the lobby of the InterContinental Miami.
Photo by Jean Blackwell Font, courtesy Font Squared
In the end, she had a video of all the changes made to the image, which she would periodically replay during her two hours in the lobby so people could see the development of the work.
She collaborated with New York-based sound designer and DJ Jaymz Nylon, known as the “Godfather of Afro-Tech,” who made the digital soundtrack that accompanies her piece.
“To date, we have this one piece completed and it is available to view on YouTube. Our goal was to make a high-res project, an artistic journey of sorts that people could watch from the comfort of home,” she adds.
So far, she’s only addressed one of the four works she made during the residency. Her goal is to create a suite of four pieces in collaboration with Jaymz Nylon.
Working with Jean and Iggy Font was a pleasure for Parish, who met the couple when she had a studio in Little Haiti’s Laundromat Art Space, where she was both an artist and in-house curator for three years.
“Gratefully, Jean and Iggy have become friends after the Noche de Arte project, during which they facilitated everything around me and talked to people as I worked. They were generous and kind and encouraging, all things that foster creativity,” Parish says.
She is grateful for the residency, saying, “The experience and education this project provided me will benefit me greatly for years to come. Finding an audience to engage with is always challenging and Jean and Iggy gave me that and so much more.”
– Josie Gulliksen, ArtburstMiami.com
Noche de Arte. 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through November 28, at InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza, Miami; warehouse4726.com. Admission is free.