farrington-thomas_web.jpg(Florida International University) MIAMI — Liberty City residents are used to being left out in the cold come Art Basel weekend. Thanks to a local entrepreneur and a popular neighborhood business, residents got their first ever taste of the festivities this year, and loved it so much they let it stick to their ribs.

Simon’s Sportswear, the urban clothing store located in the Shoppes of Liberty City on NW 54th Street, hosted the “Let It Stick To Your Ribs” block party last Saturday, featuring art, live music, raffles and free barbecue.

Farrington G. Thomas, 32, co-creator of the Miami-based clothing line American Royalty, is the man responsible for “Let It Stick To Your Ribs.” Originally from Dallas, Thomas has been a Miamian for 11 years and has watched Art Basel of Miami Beach grow in popularity since its inception in 2002, but ignore the inner city.

“What I’m doing is I’m trying to bring Art Basel to Liberty City,” said Thomas. “I chose this venue because it is in Liberty City and Simon's is the go-to store for Miami street fashion.”

One of the featured performers invited to the inaugural block party was a Brooklyn artist who calls himself “Josiesboy.” His self-described “dissection pop art” was on full display Saturday as he painted a mural while passersby looked on. “I’m happy to be here in Miami, anything to help the youth,” said Josiesboy, who draws his inspiration from artists like Sam Flores, KAWS and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The unmistakable scent of barbecue was prevalent all afternoon thanks to International Soul Food, which catered the event. Barbecue ribs, barbecue chicken, jerk chicken, hot dogs as well as hamburgers were all widely available free of charge and begging to “stick to your ribs.”

“This is us giving back to the community, everything is free,” said Ephraim Williams, 45, of the catering company. Brett Crisp, 31, manager of Simon’s Sportswear was also in the giving back mood. “Art Basel never comes here, so we are celebrating today by raffling off free store merchandise to everyone who came out,” said Crisp.

The good vibes, free food and merchandise were all accompanied by music powered by a 12-foot-high wall of speakers that shook the whole block. DJs Fergie, Springer, K-Razor and Alyio all took turns moving the crowd and reminding everyone why they came out.

“Art is like an expression, it’s versatile enough to depict struggle and pain,” said J.R “Shorty” Mead who stopped by with his daughter on his way to Art Basel Miami Beach. “I’m in Liberty City a lot and when I found out they were doing this I had to come.”

Organizer Farrington Thomas was so pleased with the event he wants to do it again. “This is our first year but definitely not the last year,” said Thomas. “I plan on doing this every Art Basel, bigger and better.”

Liberty City Link may be reached at Neil.Reisner@ FIU.edu

Photo: ENCORE:  Festival organizer Farrington Thomas said he plans to hold the event again in conjunction with Art Basel 2012.