“I wanted an eclectic mix of loosened ties and messy beards to share their love of art.” Marisabel LavastidaIn Miami, there are a lot of magical places. One such impressive location exists in the midst of pedestrian-noised, traffic-bustling Downtown Miami. Under an immense geometric, steel and glass space-framed canopy, a quaint tree-lined plaza unites the Southeast Financial Center (home to the second tallest skyscraper in Miami) with a charming row of outdoor cafes.
Sitting at one of the outdoor café’s round tables along the plaza’s gray and burgundy walkways, one is surrounded by the city’s grandest sites, making the center extraordinary. On Brickell’s south side, yachts are docked on the bay near the Epic luxury hotel and residencies. On Downtown Miami’s north-side, skyscrapers reach into the ether. With the plaza’s impressive sheltering architecture, which resembles the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, the financial focal point has been the scene of Hollywood magic, appearing in the Wesley Snipes’ film Drop Zone and 1980s television show Miami Vice.
Now, another kind of enchantment is taking place at the juncture of grand cityscapes and pop-culture history, the kind of magic only live music, art and poetry can make. Within this whirlpool of sublime architectural heights, a small artisan café and bookstore has been hosting an open mic night that is showcasing Miami’s freshest young talent. Every Thursday evening at The Newstand by Books and Books, a branch of the Coral Gables bookstore, one of the café’s baristas Marisabel Lavastida hosts the new, creative gathering “Taste of the Arts.”
Lavastida told the managers “as an independently owned coffee shop, we needed to host events to engage the downtown community and support local artists. Lavastida further explains, “They let me stay open late and bought a P.A. for the store in order to make it happen. Since the Newsstand is associated with Books and Books, we wanted to emulate the success they’ve had in putting on events with book authors and jazz music on the weekends.” So, the managers, a husband and wife duo, also chefs who make delicious pastries, soups, sandwiches, and other treats, helped Marisabel prepare another fresh creation to serve the community.
As Marisabel says, “the store carries locally made food such as Zaks organic sourdough bread. We juice every morning. Both my managers are chefs that make homemade pastries and vegan soups every day. So I wanted to continue with the "local artisan" theme by bringing in the artists to give Miami an open mic that wasn’t in an atmosphere such as a bar (which can distract people from the music and not give the intimate feel like a coffee shop can give).In the past few months, the “Taste of the Arts” has transformed this financial, architectural landmark in the Magic City into a hip meeting place for art and culture on Thursday nights. Part performance, part exhibition, the event enlivens the otherwise quiet yet magnificent area, where suited businesspeople and city dwellers pass on their way home from work, with live music and spoken word poetry, drawing a young, artistic crowd to the commercial space. “I wanted an eclectic mix of loosened ties and messy beards to share their love of art every Thursday together, all while they enjoy some locally roasted coffee (Panther Coffee) or browse the books,” said open mic host Lavastida. The event is open to anyone that wants to recite poetry, play a song, exhibit artwork, enjoy amazing artisan treats, hang with friends or make new ones.
“Other cities value their neighborhood coffee shops because they know something is always happening there, and I wanted people to feel as though Miami is no different with the Newsstand. I wanted to occupy Thursdays in people’s minds. We chose 6 p.m., so that the working crowd can leave work and walk on over,” continued Marisabel. So, make sure to stop by Thursday evening for a refreshing “Taste of the Arts.” Some of the past performers have included two-girl multi-instrumental acoustic band with a vintage vibe, The Bows and Ties, who cover Johnny Cash and DJs like The Time-Zoo Keeper from the local popular hip-hop funk group Telekinetic Walrus and Pride of Ions, who blasts a funkadelic, tribal spin into the atmosphere.
For more information visit The Newsstand Café.