trajal-harrell_web.jpgMIAMI — Art and social consciousness will come together Oct. 21-23 in the streets of Miami as the first Wynwood Art Fair is expected to enthrall — and educate — local and international art communities.

Constance Collins Margulies, president of Lotus House Women Shelter and organizer for the fair, said that the main goal of the event is “to utilize art as a creative medium to explore our humanity, but we also want people to learn something about contemporary art, that it’s not just something that is up on the wall, but also a personal experience.”

She explained that the choice of the street as an art venue provides the perfect connection to Lotus House, where art has been a vital element of programming since the shelter’s inception in 2006.

“Margulies and her team do a remarkable job at integrating art into daily life,” said Trajal Harrell, one of the world-renown artists that provide enrichment activities for the women and children during their stay at the shelter. “Art is just another aspect of life, where people display their most sincere emotions; like the homeless it should not be placed in a corner.”

A resource center and residential facility in Overtown, Lotus House offers support for the homeless for up to a year. In addition to three meals a day, clothing, health, counseling services, and job training and placement services, the women have access to educational workshops and activities, including art, creative writing, yoga, dance, and crafts, birthing and parenting classes.

“All their work is done with much integrity, in a down-to-earth manner,” said Harrell. “We all must learn to transform out lives continuously — we could all need resources, nobody knows what could happen next.”

Margulies’s multifaceted approach will extend to the fair, where she says part of the allure will be the spectacular diversity of activities. She conceived the idea for the project a year ago to include a cross section of art mediums: drawing, painting, sculpture, dance, music, installations, all designed to engage the audience.

“Art is the great equalizer, it unites us, levels the playing field,” said Kimberly Marrero, a New York-based guest curator for the project. “This event celebrates life on the streets as a form of art – the everydayness of it is important for people to know that art it is not for a selected few.”

The street-fair-like scenario, she explained, builds on the egalitarian concept of a “Happening” coined by Allan Kaprow in the 50s – the idea of a democratic, spontaneous museumout side of the physical confines and conventions, readily accessible

to everyone and shaped by artists as well as audiences, mixing aesthetic forms and everyday life such social interaction, recreation, education.

Situated on NW 6th Avenue, between 22nd and 29th streets, the event will run from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with a parade incorporated into the weekend programming. All proceeds will benefit Lotus House and its activities.

In preparation for the fair, Margulies has drawn in a safety net of institutions to ensure a safe, family-oriented atmosphere. Euleen American will provide security along with the Miami Firefighters’ Benevolent Association and Bank of America will have tellers to help with admission. Shuttles will transport attendees to and from adjacent parking lots.

More than 100 artists and exhibitors are expected to participate, including contemporary art galleries such as Bernice Steinbaum, Diana Lowenstein, Spinello Projects, and the Dorsch Gallery, along with the Miami Art Museum, MOCA, Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, Bass Museum, Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, and the Wolfsonian Museum. The art, theater and music departments of Florida International University, Barry University, and University of Miami will also mark their presence.

The thematic is the only thought-out element of the fair, a tribute to women, home, and community. Margulies highlighted that the women from Lotus House will be involved in every step of the way as staff, volunteers, assistant to the artists or artists themselves.

“The city embraced the idea of art as a medium to remind how the community is interconnected,” she said. “The homeless are not apart from us, they are a part of us.”

The fair organizers hope that it will be different from any other art event in South Florida, and become an “art happening” of unprecedented artistic dimension.

“The response of Miami’s art community demonstrates a deep hunger to explore the spiritual heart of art,” said Kim Marrero, one of the fair’s guest curators.


WHAT: Wynwood Art Fair

WHEN: Friday, Oct. 21 – Sunday Oct. 23, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

WHERE: Wynwood Design District, on NW 6th Ave., between 22nd and 29th streets

ADMISSION:  $10, free for children under 10.

Photo: Trajal Harrell