Strolling through art: Coconut Grove Arts Festival

Photo credit: Shelly Gottlieb

What is better than shopping and art? Shopping for art! When an event has been taking place annually for nearly six decades in Miami, it means it’s worthwhile.

The 59th Coconut Grove Arts Festival, held this past weekend, offered visitors different kinds of art and a chance to interact with passionate artists. Between the commotion and one-of-a-kind work, it was easy to get lost and spend the entire weekend taking in each work.

Each artist was situated in their booths, where they displayed their magna opera. People from all over the world worked their way from station to station with the goal of finding art for a specific space, a gift for loved ones or for themselves.

Sophomore biology major Lauren Rico-Gabriel attended the festival on Saturday afternoon and saw what she called “some of the most creative works” there.

“I love the Coconut Grove Arts Festival because you can make a whole day of it,” Rico-Gabriel said. “With the variety of art, there is something there for everyone.”

Photo credit: Shelly Gottlieb

James Hilton, a British Miami-based graphic illustrator and printmaker, said his favorite design was the “Jetty Lifeguard Tower” in South Pointe purely because of its simplicity.

“With the two colors, you can get an interesting shadow dynamic just by overlaying the aquamarine and the pink,” Hilton said.

However, the simplicity does not take away from the depth of this piece. The interaction between the aquamarine sky and the pink on the tower reflects the blending of boundaries between a tranquil Miami sunset and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean.

Each of Hilton’s serigraphs, which are high-quality art prints made from ink forced through a silk screen, reflect South Florida’s pop culture scene through his use of bright colors. The range of subjects – from classic cars to hidden gems in Vizcaya – means there is something for everyone.

Tampa-based artist Katie DeLaCruz filled her space with color and vibrancy to illustrate Florida’s essence. The palm trees, boats and abstract images appeal to different audiences. Each canvas has something unique to offer.

Tampa-based artist Katie DeLaCruz shows one of her "tropicals" at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival.
Tampa-based artist Katie DeLaCruz shows one of her "tropicals" at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Photo credit: Shelly Gottlieb

When painting what she calls her “tropicals,” DeLaCruz lets herself be guided along the process.

“I never know what my works are going to look like when they are finished,” DeLaCruz said. “I like a lot of movement — this is where my mind shifts when I relax.”

DeLaCruz and viewers treasure these “Tropicals,” because they are transported to an island vacation. The dancing houses, smooth motion of the boats and pineapples spark a lot of joy.

Capturing life in Florida is a common theme throughout Hollywood-based artist Monika Jones’ art, too. To Jones, watching a sunrise is very special.

“One of the very first times I saw a sunrise was in Miami Beach… Before sunrise, the birds [start] chirping, you can’t see anything and all of a sudden you have this great, big ball of fire and neon coming at you,” Jones said. “That was my experience and this is the most important painting I have today.”

Jones loves including “sun and colors” to depict happy times. Jones’ art display at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival was truly original; she made the most of her space. Her entire booth inside and out was decorated with her art, instantly grabbing everyone’s attention.

With midterm season here, you deserve a weekend study break. What better opportunity to close the books than to appreciate local art?