It’s time again for the Coconut Grove Art Festival. Yay!
Wait. I have not been since…since…Oh dear. I cringe thinking about what to write since I have not been in—awhile. Let’s leave it at that.
Asking around, neither has anyone else in my immediate coterie, though this festival was the backbone of Grove artists during its inception, all those many moons ago in 1963.
Back in the 1960s and early ’70s, Stephen Stills strolled the streets with his guitar; the Grove was packed with hippies and artists and musicians. Oh my.
Are we jaded and exhausted now that art events are so copious, unable to find our way across the highway? Or freeway? So out of practice with parallel parking that we’re frozen in fear lest Coconut Grove offer no alternative? So dazzled by Art Basel in our midst that we’ve abandoned our artistic roots? Tsk, tsk.
We must rectify this horrible oversight in our expressive history and re-add to the to-do list. So let’s find out why we need to attend, instead of staying home brushing Cheese Doodles off our lapels—figuratively speaking, of course. Sheer sloth need not be our faithful companion.
This year marks the 47th Annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival (CGAF). What began as a “Clothesline Art Show” with a smattering of local artists has expanded to incorporating 360 artists chosen from 1,230 applicants from more than 35 states and Canada,. This most diverse art show exhibits media including painting, photography, digital art, printmaking, drawing, mixed media, watercolor, clay work, glass, fiber, jewelry and metalwork, sculpture and wood. The award-winning festival will have 150 local artists participating this year.
In the 1980s, the quality of the art elevated the CGAF to one of the best outdoor festivals in the country. Coconut Grove artist, Eugene Massin designed the first poster in 1983.
This year the CGAF, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, selected nationally-recognized artist Maria Reyes-Jones’ rendition for the 2010 poster. Her colorful and spirited paintings cover subjects from botanicals to trailers and cars, cats and dogs.
Two intrepid souls need to be mentioned here: Native New Yorker, Charlie Cinnamon, a tour de force in Miami’s earlier art community, was instrumental in the birth of Coconut Grove Arts Festival, imagining a “Left Bank” sensibility amongst the swaying palm trees. A Miami resident for more than 50 years, he was also public relations director for Miami's Coconut Grove Playhouse. Restaurateur Monty Trainer has been busily making sure Miami has been on the map for decades, and as president and board member of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival for years, we bow to his vision.
The CGAF also includes edible arts. I am in the know that there are famous food wizards on tap offering aid in the form of demos, recipes, nutritional guidance and food prep. If you did not pony up a nutritious and delicious repast to your favorite folk last night, perhaps a trip to the Culinary Pavilion Showcase is in order, located at the Seminole Boat ramp, near Mary Street and South Bayshore Drive. This is not about loading arepas and funnel cakes onto your hipline—you might actually be inspired enough to partake in the Culinary Arts.
Hey. Could happen.
There is also the Global Food Village for those of you whose “talents” are more of the gustatory bent.
You love looking at every single offering in detail while your Uncle Ned is antsy after peering into the first booth. Plop your version of Uncle Ned in front of the main stage to hear live bands and play air guitar until your poetic soul is visually satisfied. Save time yourself for soothing and effervescent sounds to re-feed vital forces before catapulting back into that fabulous 24/7 life you’ve lovingly created.
Coconut Grove became an important think tank for a musical generation in the sixties. Who knew? In 1962, songwriter and musician Fred Neil, who wrote “Everybody’s Talkin’” followed Vince Martin (“Cindy, Oh, Cindy”) to South Florida, giving birth to the Coconut Grove folk scene; David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Mama Cass Elliott, came to the South fomenting a great folk/jazz/blues music buzz. Neil would record his first album with Vince Martin, Tear Down The Walls.
Coconut Grove is awash in historic significance:
The Pan American Seaplane Base in Coconut Grove, Florida, is important to the history of the aviation industry. Dinner Key was joined to the mainland during World War I to provide a training field for the U.S. Navy.
The Coconut Grove Playhouse, constructed as a movie house in 1926, was a legitimate theater.
The Barnacle Historic State Park, the former home of American yacht designer Ralph Middleton Munroe, is one of the oldest homes (late 1800s) in Dade County. The surrounding tropical hardwood hammock is the last of its kind in the area.
And then there’s the Kampong, an eight-acre tropical garden that forms part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden.
The CGAF is produced by the Coconut Grove Arts and Historical Association, Inc., a non-profit organization that receives no commission for the sale of artwork. A portion of the proceeds from 565 festival admissions benefits the Coconut Grove Arts and Historical Association’s Building Fund.
The 47th Annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival will be held February 13-15, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on McFarlane Road, South Bayshore Drive and Pan American Drive. For GPS coordinates, use 3390 Mary Street, Coconut Grove, FL 33133. Admission is $10 per person per day. Children 12 and under, Metrorail Golden Passport and Patriot Passport holders are free. Residents of Coconut Grove in the 33133 zip code can enjoy the Festival for $5 per day. Proof of residency required. For a full schedule of events and more information, visit www.cgaf.com.