purvis-young-collage_web.jpgMIAMI — South Florida art lovers are flocking to a Miami art gallery to see the works of a world-famous painter who started his career on the streets of Overtown.

The work of Purvis Young, one of the art world’s most renowned self-taught artists, is currently on display at Miami Art Space, a 2,400-square-foot gallery at 244 NW 35th St. Miami Art Space teamed up with a Dania Beach art gallery, Grace Cafe and Galleries, to present the show.

Partial proceeds from the sale of Young’s work will benefit the United Negro College Fund. The South Florida Times is one of the show’s sponsors. About 70 paintings ranging in price from $300 to $10,000 are available for purchase, and more than 25 have already been sold, said Grace Cafe and Galleries owner Clare Vickery.

The show kicked off last weekend with a reception at Miami Art Space where Young met with about 25 of his fans.

“I didn't know I was that famous until I started traveling and going to art shows,’’ said Young, 65.

Guests had a chance to ask Young about his paintings. Many of them feature angels, horses and prison bars painted in bright hues. His works depict his hometown.

“It was really special,’’ Alexis McClean, manager of Miami Art Space, said of the Dec. 6 reception. “People wanted to connect with him. They wanted to know what he is trying to say.
He was accessible.’’

Young’s show coincided with Miami Beach's Art Basel, the country's premiere art show, and the sister show to an international contemporary art exhibit held annually in Basel, Switzerland.

Art Basel ended on Dec. 6; Young’s show will continue through this Saturday, Dec. 13

“He has a really devoted following,’’ McClean said. “People really want to come out and support the hometown guy. They really love him and they really love his work.’’

Young got his start in an area of Overtown called Goodbread alley.

“I always knew how to draw, but you know, I taught myself how to paint,’’ he said.

He started painting on pieces of junk he found in the streets. He nailed them to the sides of buildings and people took notice. His work now hangs in galleries around the world, including New York’s Skot Foreman Fine Art Gallery, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Young was also honored on Dec. 5 when Miami officials presented him with a key to the city during the annual Folklife Festival. The ceremony took place at Jackson Soul Food restaurant in Miami.

“It was nice,’’ Young, 65, said of the ceremony.

Photo by Khary Bruyning. Staff Illustration. Artist Purvis Young


WHAT: Purvis Young exhibit

WHERE: Miami Art Space, 244 NW 35th Street, Miami

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 13 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

CONTACT: Visit www.miamiartspace.com or call 305-438-9002.