Miami Rail, New Local Culture Journal, Launches This Weekend

Categories: Books
Nina Johnson-Milewski and Phong Bui.JPG
Nina Johnson-Milewski and Brooklyn Rail founder Phong Bui
A brand new newspaper is about to be born in Miami, and you are invited to the christening.

The launch party for the Miami Rail, taking place at Lester's this weekend, will be your first chance to check out the South Florida counterpart of New York's non-profit culture journal the Brooklyn Rail. Aside from a free look of the Miami Rail's first issue, guests will be treated to music provided by three DJs and a 12-foot long sub from Subway.

"Lester's is gracious is enough to allow it," says Nina Johnson-Milewski, owner of Gallery Diet and publisher of the Miami Rail. (She is also the wife of Lester's owner Daniel Milewski, so he better let her bring in the darn sub during her paper's debut.)

Partly funded by a $26,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, as well as tax-deductible donations and advertising, the Miami Rail is a spin-off of the 14-year-old Brooklyn Rail, an acclaimed monthly 20,000 publication circulated only inside of Brooklyn, although outsiders can also find it online. According to Johnson-Milewski, it was Brooklyn Rail publisher Phong Bui who encouraged the gallery owner to start a version for Miami after his lecture more than a year ago at Gallery Diet.

"He felt that I was capable of doing it, that is pretty much why," she says, while admitting she has no experience with newspapers. "And no one else was doing it."

One of the first issues of the Brooklyn Rail
After Friday, the Miami Rail's 5,000 printed issues will be found in Gallery Diet, Lester's, the Bass Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Locust Projects, the mailboxes of 1,500 people around the country, and anyone else willing to take the copies. The Miami Rail will also be published online at

This isn't just a South Florida version of the original Brooklyn Rail, Johnson-Milewski says. The Brooklyn Rail, for example, contains opinion pieces on art, culture, and politics. The Miami Rail, however, will stay away from politics, at least for now. "The Brooklyn Rail has been around for [more than] 10 years, is published on a monthly basis, and has a hundred articles [each issue]," Johnson-Milewski says. "We will publish four times a year and have 15 articles per issue. And we will [focus] on what we know best, which is cultural coverage."

That cultural coverage won't be limited to just Miami. The first issue will include a piece on Scandinavia's art economy. Plus, there will be perspectives on Miami's culture and art from outsiders and locals, as well as an opening letter from Bui who will explain why he franchised the Rail to Johnson-Miklewski.

Miami Rail's writers won't be amateurs either. The magazine will be edited by Shanghai transplant Hunter Braithwaite, who has written art pieces for Artforum Online, Time Out Shanghai,, National Geographic Books, and the Wall Street Journal's Scene Asia Blog. Other contributors include Gean Moreno (a local artist and contributing editor for Art Papers magazine), Matthew Abess (a curatorial research assistant at the Wolfsonian and published writer), Scott Cunningham (founder of the poetry festival O, Miami), Nathaniel Sandler (contributor for, and many other writers. (Abess, Cunningham, and Sandler will also serve as the party's three DJs.)

After Cultist's first post about the Miami Rail, Johnson-Milewski says, she was flooded with pitches from arts writers. "It was amazing," she says. "When the newspaper was first announced in New Times, a lot of writers, both nationally and internationally, contacted me, but we are definitely still looking for submissions."

So, if you have had an art review published in the past and have an idea for the Miami Rail, send your clips, resume and idea to Johnson-Milewski says her paper offers competitive rates, though she declined to give further details.

The Miami Rail launches at Lester's, 2519 NW Second Avenue in Wynwood, on Friday, June 1, starting at 8 p.m. Visit

--Erik Bojnansky

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

Location Info


Gallery Diet

174 NW 23rd St., Miami, FL

Category: General

Lester's - CLOSED

2519 NW 2nd Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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Why does someone who has zero experience with journalism get a $25,000 grant to publish, you might ask? With so many struggling writers and artists, many of whom are forced to work for nothing, it's time the Miami arts community rises up.  You have nothing to lose but your chains!  You are not getting that Knight grant.  The fix is in!  Don't you get it? 

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