Annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival brings music, artisans, theater and great food to the neighborhood
On President’s Day weekend, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival debuted in person at full capacity, ushering in a wave of celebrations after it was previously suspended from virtual platforms for pandemic safety regulations.
Stretching from the streets of The Grove to the waterfront of Regatta Park, the energetic event marked a lively and bright invitation to visitors from Miami’s many corners.
Produced by the nonprofit Coconut Grove Arts and Historical Association, the three-day outdoor festival is one of the neighborhood’s most anticipated functions. Proceeds from the event sponsor several arts programs throughout the year. The organization is dedicated to creating opportunities for young talent, such as local scholarships for fine arts students. The students themselves sell their own works of art at the fair.
Distinguished as the original arts district, Coconut Grove is one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods and is historically recognized as the city’s creative hub. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Charlie Cinnamon caused a stir in Miami’s art reputation by developing the art fair.
The case has a single origin. Involved with the local theater in Coconut Grove, Cinnamon brought together other residents to create a Parisian-inspired outdoor art exhibit as a stunt for one of the plays. Those early days had only a handful of founding volunteers who collaborated for a charming marketing gimmick.
More than half a century later, the case has transformed from its smart beginnings into a promotional and philanthropic powerhouse for the region. Currently, the fair welcomes more than one hundred thousand people to admire and collect art in the streets of the enchanting district.
There is no shortage of activities to discover. Not only are works of art from across America on display, but the event features cooking demonstrations, tastings, educational interactions with families and children, and a VIP area for an elevated experience. Large fruit sculptures, ceramic cubes loaded with messages, blown glass pieces and classic oil paintings represent the range of the vast myriad of textures, styles and creations.
A notable highlight includes aerial kite photography by Evan Reinheimer. Originally from New York, Reinheimer attaches cameras to kites to capture subjects from the vantage point of a windswept altitude. The specialized technique of his photographic portfolio offers his clients points of view from above.
Another is Tyler “Mac” Donald, a photographer and artist from Marco Island, Florida. According to his artistic statement, he is heavily inspired by the natural atmosphere of his hometown, numerous roadtrips across the country, and the musical vibes of an LA rock band “Tool”. Mac singularly handcrafts beautiful guitars from start to finish and selects rare wood species from around the world in its tailoring process.
In jewelry design, many delicate pieces were not only eye-catching, but also environmentally friendly. Malia Meyer of Music to My Ears Upcycled Jewelry designs and produces her jewelry collections from repurposed CDs to form durable and stylish colorful accessories.
Amid the delights of arts, food and beautiful weather, the Coconut Grove Arts Fair is not only a wonderful beacon of community outreach, but an example of an opportunity to highlight the importance of artisan creators.
If it continues its legacy of improvisation and progression, this attraction will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of the art world and in the respect of the many artists it supports. Whether known through e-commerce, a local gallery, or featured in major museums, the individuals featured at the festival remind us to cultivate a culture of exception and attention to quality craftsmanship.