Fountainhead Studios and its cofounder Kathryn Mikesell set out to do two things: provide space for artists to work, and show people that art is accessible. Both of those goals will be achieved during the Artists Open this Saturday, May 11, when nearly 300 artists across Miami-Dade open their studios to the public.
More than 20 art studio complexes and studio communities will participate in the event, as far north as Bridge Red Studios in North Miami, as far south as the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay, and as far west as Doral Art Studios. The idea behind the event is twofold: to garner attention for working artists throughout Miami-Dade County and to erase the boundaries between audiences and artists.
“Art can be seen as very inaccessible and expensive, but if you spend time with artists or people passionate about art, you view it differently,” Mikesell says. “When you go to artists’ studios, it opens up an incredible world, giving people face-to-face time with the artists, to speak with them, and, ultimately, connect with the art.”
Mikesell created Fountainhead 11 years ago when she asked her friend Steve Rhodes, a Miami-based developer, about the building at 7328 NW Miami Ct. in Little River.
“I’d always wanted to provide a space for artists, so when I decided to create studio spaces in the building, I went to them first and asked what they needed,” she says. “At first, it was all an open communal space; then, little by little, I went through marking the floor with tape where studios could be. Artists then came in one by one and chose their tape area, and that’s how the space was formed.”
Alex Nuñez, one of the more than 30 artists at Fountainhead whose studios will be open this Saturday, explains the importance of connecting with those interested in art.
“I love having kids around to view the art,“ she says while standing in her studio, filled with large canvases displaying her colorful artwork. The floor is splattered with paint because “art is messy,” she says.
"[Kids] offer fresh eyes and an unfiltered response and perspective on the work," she adds.
Michael Vasquez, whose studio is housed in the Milk District at 391 NE 69th St., is excited not only to participate but also about his latest commissioned project. His pieces will be displayed at the new Carrie Meek Building at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport as part of the county's Art in Public Places.
“Each of the paintings depicts one of their four initiatives: education, economic development, housing, and health,” Vasquez says. “I’m especially excited to be part of the Artists Open because this program is so important to showcase local artists to the community.”
At the Laundromat Art Space in Little Haiti, director Ronald Sanchez and several studio artists will be yet another stop on the tour. Sanchez is one of Laundromat’s founding members. The gallery houses space for 13 artists in ten studios.
The artists at Laundromat represent a diverse group whose passion is evident in their work. This Saturday, guests can pop in and meet Erin Parish, whose large-scale works with resin feature various layers and colors, as well as Lisu Vega, a Venezuelan artist creating fashion art from recycled materials. One piece that weaves along a wall is made entirely of straw hats. She also has several wearable pieces that are part of her Rope Project.
In Pablo Contrisciani’s studio, also at Laundromat, his painted shadowboxes, taking up most of the wall space, come in a multitude of colors, except for a series of black-and-white ones he created several years ago that were his main focus at the time.
At the front of the gallery sits Christin Paige Minnotte’s studio. The artist, photographer, and cinematographer’s works depict elements of water and nature, which she creates in a way where light also reflects off or passes through them.
Then there’s Donna Ruff, whose intricate and meticulous cutout pieces on newsprint and other materials tell the story of refugees and their plight. She began creating these pieces during the Syrian refugee crisis and now is concentrating more on Mexico and Central America.
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Those are just some of the many artists who will open their studios on this whirlwind day of visits through Little Havana, Little River, Little Haiti, Wynwood, Miami Shores, North Miami, and then as far as Hialeah, Doral, Bird Road, and the Deering Estate.
"We hope to attract individuals and families from around the county who are experiencing art for the first time, as well as those already involved in the art world. For participating artists, we hope this day leads to new relationships and opportunities and leaves them feeling inspired and valued for the work they do,” Mikesell says. “Fountainhead is proud to work with the Knight Foundation to connect art organizations, artists, and residents across Miami-Dade. Our goal is to make this an annual event that art enthusiasts and artists will look forward to year after year.”
Find a map of the studios and details about how to navigate the day at fountainheadresidency.com.
Artists Open. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at various galleries across Miami; fountainheadresidency.com. Admission is free.