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Place and Purpose: Art Transformation in Coconut Grove

Place and Purpose: Art Transformation in Coconut Grove

A new art exhibit is coming to the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU! For decades, Coconut Grove has attracted artists, writers, and musicians. Through a select group of visual artists, the Frost's exhibit “Place and Purpose: Art Transformation in Coconut Grove” will tell the story of the Grove’s rich history and how the spirit of this community has contributed to the Grove’s reputation as a wellspring of creativity.

Coconut Grove established itself in the 1960’s as the local haven for a diverse group of artists, writers, musicians, and art galleries. Many artist-activist community leaders have left their marks on the Grove through the art and the spaces they created, such as the Miami Black Arts Workshop in historic Bahamian Coconut Grove. “Place and Purpose: Art Transformation in Coconut Grove” celebrates the role of a community as a creative space as well as a key driver behind a young city’s evolution. 

“This exhibition plays tribute to a Miami community whose history and present are rich in art and culture, including the founding of the Miami Black Arts Workshop and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival,” said Museum Director Jordana Pomeroy. “Coconut Grove was home to artists like Annette Rawlings, who combined interests in fashion, painting, and ceramics; as well as Owen Lee, a prolific, self-taught artist who worked with paper, tapestries, and sail cloth; and countless artists that have worked, and many who continue to work, in the Grove. We are pleased and honored to share many of their works and to tell the story of this artistic mecca in Miami-Dade County.” 

Some of the artists represented include Roland Woods, Jr., Robert McKnight, Donald McKnight, Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, and Pamela Kabuya Bowens-Saffo, among others. Community activists, as well as artists, these leaders created a powerful space in Coconut Grove through the MBAW, a venue that welcomed young people to learn about art and activism. 

The Grove’s rich history has contributed to the complex narrative of Miami as a home for myriad cultures and the arts. Community events such as the Coconut Grove Arts Festival (dating back to 1963), the Goombay Festival (established in 1977), and the King Mango Strut Parade (founded in 1982) became signature events of the Grove that continue today. While most art galleries have long since moved out of the Grove and today’s prohibitive real estate prices discourage artists and musicians from living in the Grove, the neighborhood’s legacy as an art haven remain. 

“Coconut Grove possesses many untold histories, as does South Florida more broadly. This exhibition seeks to build a dynamic and unexpected narrative that honors artists affiliated with the Miami Black Arts Workshop and Grove House as well as artists who called Coconut Grove home for many decades,” said Frost Museum Head Art Curator Amy Galpin. “Our exhibition hopes to honor this geographic space as a site for artistic transformation while revealing complex ways in which our communities morph and change.”

The exhibition will be on display from May 29, 2021 through September 19, 2021. For more information, please visit frost.fiu.edu.

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