Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sketchy Miami is Better Than Art Basel

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
Artists and enthusiasts around the Beached Miami table last Friday.

The Sketchy Miami party last Friday was like romper room for grown ups, with so much fun and creativity buzzing through the maze-like and enormous Bakehouse Art Complex. Sketchy Miami is a brilliant idea, undeterred by its lofty aspiration: "The goal of Sketchy Miami is simple and impossible: to create a portrait of every person in Miami."

I have to wonder what the Beached Miami guys were doing (or drinking) when they came up with this concept, but they put together a website and boom! a movement was born.

On the Sketchy Miami website, you'll find over 200 photographs (and counting) that some artists have turned into portraits. The format gives artists an opportunity to connect with potential fans and buyers, which is exactly what happened at the Sketchy Miami party, but in face-to-face encounters.

Everyone who submits a photo or a Sketchy to the website has the option of adding a bio. You don't even have to be an "artist" to submit a portrait, so it's very democratic. The website could potentially become a larger-than-life Miami yearbook of sorts, an epic who's who, or as Sketchy Miami puts it: "... a definitive and inspiring testament to Miami’s diversity, ethnic, creative, physiognomic, and otherwise."

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
Non-resident artists were sketching in the hallways.

But back to the party. The Sketchy Miami event was free with an optional $10 Sketchy package that included food, drinks, collectible Sketchy postcards and more goodies. Sitting for a Sketchy was free, with no obligation to buy, but if you wanted to fork over some dough for your portrait, that cost $30. And while it took place in a rather "sketchy" neighborhood, there was ample, free street parking.

More than 20 artists participated in Friday's event, about half of them in residence at the Bakehouse. But many more studio doors were open to the public and just milling about the Bakehouse complex was engaging enough -- the location boasts 3.2 acres and 70 studios in the compound.

At one point I blurted: "This is better than Art Basel."

Of course, I can't really compare it to Art Basel -- the massive mother of all art fairs -- but I have to admire what a little grassroots push does to rally Miamians who probably would never buy expensive artwork. It was art for the the people, by the people, no snobbery involved. (Yes, artists are people too.) And for that reason, it is better. This kind of event will stick in Miami like a cotton shirt on a hot and humid day, long after Art Basel is gone.

And speaking of Miamians, there were quite a few characters at the party. I'm not sure what fascinated me more, the sketches, the people behind them or the organic connection between the two.

More photos and commentary below.

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
Everyone was a poser here, but in a good way.

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
Art for a cause. Colleen Kelley, of Haus of Art and resident at the Bakehouse, was supporting a Miami homeless children project. Please take a good look at the background. A sign reads: "There are 4,500 registered homeless youth in Miami-Dade." That's unacceptable.

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
Ami Lawson of Earth Angel Outreach has worked with homeless youth. Here she stands before one of the painted doors from an art project that supports the cause.

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
I fell in love with Judith King's botanical, surreal pencil drawings. She is an artist in residence at the Bakehouse.

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
Spontaneity was the name of the game. No room to mess up and if you do, just go with it and draw. This wasn't "caricature artist at the fair" type of sketching.

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
These were the only naughty bits exposed during the evening, beautifully done in watercolor by Bakehouse resident Marcelo Daldoce. No, people weren't posing naked, though that would certainly make for a very interesting Sketchy party.

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
A definite Miami character, this young man was dead serious about his companion animal spirits. He identifies with giraffes and constantly wears them on his shoulders. Rather a cute stuffed animal then a chip, that's for sure.

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
Photography is Felix Estrada's thing. The artist, also known as Felino, just moved to Miami from New York and was taking pictures of lovers or friends kissing and hugging. See more on his Facebook album.

Sketchy Miami Party, August 2011
I was thrilled to finally meet some of the Beached Miami team in person. Pictured here, left to right: Geoff Campbell, Josh Snyder and Brett Campbell. Unfortunately, I didn't get to shake hands with Robby Campbell and Jordan Melnick, the co-creators.

They're all so cute, smart and eloquent, they should really do Miami women a favor and clone themselves.


I was also thrilled when my friend Ines from Miamism, who recently interviewed the blogging duo, did a Sketchy of me! (Not at the party, but of my photograph.) More at Miamism F2F with Sketchy Miami Creators.

Miami Beach 411 profiled Campbell and Melnick in June. More at Beached Miami Setting New Standard for Blogs in South Florida.

And speaking of art, don't forget Life is Art, a local organization dedicated to the support and promotion of the art community in south Florida. One of their recurring signature events, "River of Art," is coming up on August 31st at Mai Tardi in the Design District. Expect artist exhibits and happy hour all rolled into one.


Eleanor Hoh said...

Nice recap, must say it was enjoyable with good crowd!

Anonymous said...

Great recap of a wonderful and exciting event!

Geoff said...

Great recap! It was great meeting you!
Hope to see you at Sketchy Party 3

Jordan Melnick said...

Thanks Maria! Love the bold headline. Sorta like saying the intramural collegiate football finals is better than the Superbowl -- which it totally is.

Helene Pancoast, one of the Founders said...

Thanks for a great story on the
Bakehouse Art Complex, my favorite place in Miami, on it's 25th
anniversary. Made all 25 years of hard work well worth it.