Why Are Miami's Best Artists Moving to Los Angeles?

Categories: Art
FWY_leaving_miami.jpg
FriendsWithYou's Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III are two of several artists relocating to L.A.
In 2006, hundreds of Miami Beach sunbathers stared in awe as a bizarre procession paraded down the South Beach sand. Eighteen giant helium balloons -- shaped like vampire rabbits, volcanoes, and eerily smiling black spheres -- floated along while the Hialeah Senior High School marching band blasted a jazz tune.

It was a breakout Art Basel moment for a tag team that has since become one of Miami's most hailed artistic collaborations: Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, better known as FriendsWithYou. Since that fair, the team has repped the Magic City around the globe, from the High Line in New York City to Scope Art Fair's featured platform.

No longer. The artists known for their line of plush and wooden toys, magical installations, bounce houses, and rainbow-hued environments are now taking their talents out West. And they're not alone.

"We love Miami, but collectors here just don't support our work," Borkson says. "The truth is that most collectors who purchase our work are located elsewhere."

Borkson says fellow local A-list artists Jen Stark -- a New Times MasterMind Award winner in 2010 known for her paper cutouts -- Alvaro Ilizarbe, Pres Rodriguez, and Raul Sanchez will also relocate to Los Angeles this summer. L.A. promises better access to collectors and more room to grow than Miami, he says.

"A lot of our work is being collected out there," Borkson says. "We are going to move to a place called Silver Lake near downtown with Jen and Alvaro and just rented a huge studio space near the L.A. MOCA downtown."

Borkson says FWY's new digs will be called "the Gem" and boast 4,600 square feet in a two-story building he says is the perfect playground for their plans. The move should concern anyone worried about Miami's art scene -- which already suffers from the perception that it's a once-a-year affair revolving around Basel.

As much as FriendsWithYou supported and helped fuel the 305's artistic explosion, his group had to follow the financial support West, Borkson explained.

"Our main goal is to keep our vision pure and not just about the money," he says. "As much as we love Miami, the move is about being in a place where we can be part of a movement, where more money is invested in culture, and we will be more nurtured by people to continue making art that impacts others' lives."

Stark agrees that L.A. is a wide open market for Miami talent and says that she and Ilizarbe have already lined up exhibits in two separate galleries to kick off the upcoming season there.

"I think Miami does have some good support structure for some artists and [I] still love it here, but Los Angeles has a lot of opportunities to offer, and that's why we decided to move there. This September I'll be showing at the Martha Otero Gallery and Alvaro will be showing at the HVW8 Gallery," Stark says. "It's a great time to move there and try new things for the next couple of years."

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105 comments
hugo fuckin montoya
hugo fuckin montoya

hey Carlos Suarez De Jesus we had an opening last week where the f were you... (http://miltonstevenson.com/?p=879). there are still plenty of us here who are still hustling. with or without your help. duh hype , get over us..........

hugo fuckn montoya
hugo fuckn montoya

i think i can make a longer list of artist who are still here...

Mutant Supermodel
Mutant Supermodel

The argument I have with FWY is their insistence it's not about money. Yes, it is. FWY is not trying to break out. They are not new on the scene. They are not trying to establish a loyal fanbase. Why? Because they already have it. They are recognized worldwide. They bring people to Miami and they say so-- "The truth is that most collectors who purchase our work are located elsewhere."Talent attracts no matter where it is. This is not a little tiny town that is unknown. You want to tear it down and say, "It's no New York, it's no LA" that's fine, you do that. But the bottom line is one of the main reasons it's not those cities is because people continue to use it as a playground. They have their way with this city time and time again and leave when they want more, more, more. I don't WANT Miami to be a New York or an LA. Neither of those cities have great reputations. They are famous for being greedy, shallow, vicious, and selfish cities. A move to those places when you are already as established as the aforementioned artists is nothing more than greed talking-- either for money, fame, power, or any combination of the three. These artists are not starving and struggling artists. That argument does not apply to them.But we should be used to it. And we can expect them back when they're ready to retire just like everybody else that leaves here "seeking better opportunities."

Guest
Guest

The real question is, what is attractive about LA's art scene in terms of posterity?  

Yes, LA is a world class city, but it's really all about the film industry.  

If you look back at the history of LA's art scene, even that is also largely a reflection and commentary on the film industry.  

The truth is, anyone would be hard-press to name more than 15 truly influential, historically important artists from LA.  And that number is generous.  

The number of relevant contemporary galleries is also a relatively short list. Last year's Pacific Standard Time event was hardly enough to launch or entrench LA's collection of not-so-great galleries.  

Granted, LA, of all the world's cultural metropolises, may be said to have had one of the shortest histories.  Regardless, in the era of globalism, it's unlikely that LA will suddenly become a haven or wellspring for artistic genius.  Meanwhile, places like NYC continue churning out big name artists on a regular basis.  

Alex Fumero
Alex Fumero

MI GENTE - Even DJ LAZ left for LA.  Clearly, this is an exodus of Miami's Finest.

I currently reside in Los Angeles, and my co-worker and I (another native Miamian) always joke that we live in double exile: first from Cuba, and then from Miami.  The former is a political one (tongue firmly in cheek), and the latter an economic and cultural exile.

This "dude..." fellow keeps accusing people on this comment chain of being "transplants" as a means of delegitimizing their arguments, but the truth is that Miami doesn't have enough transplants!  At least not the right kind.  Miami's residents are almost 75% non-native, but in terms of artists, Miami doesn't attract the elite.  LA and NY do.  People move to those cities because they see them as national platforms.  There's enough money, infrastructure, people (those cities are at least twice as populous as Miami), and public interest to catapult them onto the national scene.  Miami is not that place yet, and you don't build that kind of arena without institutional support.  The Knight Foundation has committed to a noble endeavor, providing matching grants to local artists.  The sad hilarity of the situation is that even with hundreds of thousands committed many of the winners can't raise the other half.  That's pretty sad, but I digress.

The main point I'm making is that you can't "hate" on an artist for wanting extend their influence and reach.  If anything it's courageous to leave the small pond to tangle with bigger fish.

Lightswitch
Lightswitch

The reason collectors dont buy in miami is because there is nothing good to buy lately. It's all silly urban cartoon graphics and cutouts on walls.

Grillz4Billz
Grillz4Billz

okay. So lissen up Miami foolz. Imma put it to you like diss, you are like the sikest Hamburger chef, and you have hundreds of Hamburgerz for sale, but like, no one around you really lykz eatin up on dose hamburgerz, then yooz would either A.) stop making hamburgerz and start making hotdogs, 2.) bust a move to a city where foolz be eatin Hamburgerz. Feel me. I don't really carez how much the city you grew upz in made yer hamburgerz taste juicy, youz gunna go where yer juices can flow, where your cheez can bubble, where your bun can get bit into, feel me? i mean, its not like these fools be makin tacoz or sumptin. Shiz. ... get it straigtz Miamizzzz. Boring.

Enrique Sendra
Enrique Sendra

That's a good excuse! I should move to the moon and open a studio there so that when collectors begin doing space tours they'll invest more MONEY in space culture...yeah why not!?

I've been to LA, Boston and NY in my opinion, in Miami there are a lot less collectors and out of that small demographic few of them are really knowledgeable and truly involved with art (at least the few I've met down here) or with what artists are doing,  them don't know very well even whats going on with a painting or piece of piece right in their noses. So c'mon give Miami collectors some slack so they can grow along with the artists and the "MOVEMENT" everyone talks about a movement what I see is a bunch of elitist needy artist wanting to make millions is a financial movement via the arts

Undergroundstationmiami
Undergroundstationmiami

Friends with you? Jen Stark? A great media outlet like the Miami New Times should not care that those kids are leaving miami. Maybe they are always in the art scene here and talk to important miami galleries and collectors but they have not created anything that is even close to being considered significant art. They are just graphic designers. Google their names to see what they have done.

Ray
Ray

Miami is one of the most poorly educated cities in the country. It's not realistic to think that many of our best and brightest won't seek other alternatives (and bigger lights) than here. 

Guy28
Guy28

Try being a working artist here and you'll really understand the move. The art scene here does not really support its locals, it often outsources from cities like L.A and NYC to bring those artists HERE to sell their work. At the end of the day, you have to follow where the money comes from to keep your dream going. It's not the rose colored dream that people want it to be, its logical and rational. 

sheila e.
sheila e.

IT TAKES 2 WEEKS TO GET SOMETHING DONE IN MIAMI THAT TAKES ABOUT 2 HOURS TO DO IN SAY, NEW YORK. SHOULD I CARRY ON?

Badforoctober
Badforoctober

 A SOMEWHAT SMALL LIST OF ART FOLKS LEAVING OR HAVE LEFT MIAMI

Daniel Arsham - left. Hernan Bas - leftLuis Gispert - leftOHWOW - left Bert Rodriguez - leftKiki Valdes - leftKarelle Levy - leftNektar De Stagni - left Tatiana Suarez - left Lee Materazzi - left Martin Oppel - leftDaniel Newman- left Jen Stark - left/leavingFreegums - left/leavingFriendswithyou - left/leaving

shall I continue? I also know plenty of others considering a move. 

Carole Reeder
Carole Reeder

I cannot wait for the move, my beautiful niece and her boyfriend will be only 5 hour drive from me! FINALLY some of my family moving closer to me!Nana Auntie Carole. xoxo

A Challenge to the NewTimes
A Challenge to the NewTimes

This article is just a missed opportunity. The title and tone is irresponsible at the very least. This should be part of a longer story trying to understand why so many artists, visual or otherwise, feel like they have to leave Miami in order to reach their full potential. It's not just FWY or Jen or Alvaro. Why is Burt Rodriguez in LA? Why is Hernan Bas in Detroit? Why is Daniel Arsham in NY? Why is it that OHWOW leaves and within less than a year is working with institutions like the MOCA in LA but not one substantial Miami collector walked through the door while they were based in Miami? I can sit here and easily list a good dozen more that have exited and found greater success elsewhere. It's not an easy decision to leave your family, loved ones, friends and a beloved hometown behind. So why do they feel so compelled to do so? 

It's unfair that this article kind of makes it seem like FWY and Co. are nonchalantly packing up and chasing the money West. I know they all invested a lot of time and energy into this town and this scene and have shouted MIAMI at the top of their lungs for many years. Honestly I'm surprised they stuck it out as long as they did. More power to them. Good luck and safe travels!

Newtimes, if you're smart, you'll follow up with a larger investigative story about this trend of the creative community leaving Miami and why. You got everyone's juices flowing, you might as well follow it up. It would be much more responsible and a hundred times more interesting than what you published above. And hey, you never know, you might actually bring something productive to light.

Just my 2¢. 

Cheers.

Huggyhuggs
Huggyhuggs

The real problem here is not that these artists are splitting, its that the Miami Collector's don't support Miami, and many of the major collections feel that it is more important for them to "educate" Miami artists and art enthusiasts by collecting anything but Miami, than to get behind the locals and cultivate the city's true talents. Until these "leaders" see the value in supporting home grown talent, the artists and galleries will continue to move away and in my opinion, being that I am born and raised in Miami, and watched the Miami art scene change over the past 15 years, they should bounce to greener pastures. I would.

guest
guest

miami is a very fake, empty and shallow city. it has good weather so the event and weekend tourists give it the only sizzle it has. in other words, the only interesting people are not locals. it's sub par to any real major city. that much is evident in simple ways, like when a film opens in NY and LA, it does NOT open here for weeks later. the audience is too dumb. the school system is also recognized as watered down by other states. even people who are born in miami do not understand english-even the basics like the difference between there, their and they're. the criminal element and corruption is also unmatched elsewhere.

Danny Brody
Danny Brody

Also in this week's New Times, 'The Ten Hottest Porn Stars at Exxxotica', and 'The Ten Kinkiest Things to Do at Exxxotica'; as well as 'Basketball Wives' Kesha Nichols Tells Us Why She Has Forgiven Tami Roman', and 'Skrawberry's Rules for Straight Girls in Strip Clubs'.  Good shit...

Zosia
Zosia

Very happy for these talented artists! Miami is just not the kind of art market that LA or NY are, and that's the way it has always been. I am not originally from here, but it has been my home for almost 12 years now, and Miami is chock-full of incredibly talented people. We are closer to becoming an area that supports the arts than we were when I moved here so lets continue supporting the people that are still trying to make it here. Lets not forget that no matter where these artists go they are from Miami and will continue to represent our vibrant area wherever they are.

On a side note, what is going on with all of these negative articles about Miami? What has changed so drastically in the past few years?  A lot of the articles I have seen lately are about people leaving the area so of course there will be a little bitterness to their statements. What about the people that are still here trying to make it happen? Why not write about them?

sincity
sincity

Dude you are a moron, there is nothing wrong with moving to another location to grow as an artist. Just because they move it doesn't mean they are not from miami or that they are selling out. Everyone has to support themselves somehow and if moving to another location allows them to do this then good for them! Props for them for leaving and expanding their audience!

AHOLSNIFFSGLUE
AHOLSNIFFSGLUE

Much luck and fortune to FWY.  They definitely represented hard for Miami.

AHOL SSKMIAMI-FULLTIME

Chad
Chad

WOW!!! Miami's best artists... Just look at the Friendswithyou website... It looks like a anime website. Fun and cute yes, Miami's best artists? No. NEXT THING YOU KNOW ARTISTS ARE JUST GOING TO START FRAMING INTERNET MEMES... Sad....

This article just gives Miami a bad name for nothing.

Hoe
Hoe

Sadly, Miami is broke & culturally adolescent. i'm surprised they stayed as long as they did. Art Basel sucked last year Mr. Brainwash was a headliner, the art walks suck it's super ghetto now, i dont even go anymore... it's too damn humid & hot in this town and its all going to shit. The city needs to get a clue and provide incentives beyond tax breaks for artistic endeavors in this town or every creative entrepreneur will leave like they always do. 

Unfortunately, this is miami... its not about intellectualism & art, its about narcissism & looking the part. 

Leliogrisaffi
Leliogrisaffi

In Miami they want to support only Cuban or Latin American artists. That's not very international. You can come from Europe and you can be Michelangelo but nobody cares. If you are an artist and you are not latin you'll beter go to LA or NY or anywhere else where collectors are a litle more openminded, but not to Miami.  

Steve25
Steve25

The only problem is the lack of talent being demonstrated lately.

boopy
boopy

i love this. well said.

~~~~
~~~~

Yes, these artist dabble in graphic design, but they also create fine art pieces which are collected by high-brow collectors. They've been in respected museums and art shows (check out their websites). I'm sure LA will open bigger and better doors for their fine art careers. These people will always represent for Miami, so I don't understand why everyone is so jealous and bitter. Godspeed. 

Badforoctober
Badforoctober

that's not really true. in some aspects yes and in others no. people get shit done in Ny but in other ways it can take just as long, but it doesn't have to do with people acting on it, it includes other factors. 

Light Switch
Light Switch

Everyone one on that list exept for maybe Hernan Bas has not created anything of high significance.

GO WEST
GO WEST

Everyone leaves, most come back, this is across all fields...art, music, journalism, fashion, Miami is a tropical paradise, we live here for the sea and the weather, it is not conducive to creative arts..DUH  the only thing surprising is that these people waited so long to leave, most leave in their 20's, not early 30's.

More Culture Stories, Please.
More Culture Stories, Please.

I agree. Moreover, on a broader scale, Miami lacks serious art history programs at the graduate level and substantial historical, artistic, and cultural institutions. Evolving the culture on a grander scale will create more interest and support among laypeople and art consumers. While a community of young Miami artists is evolving, it's not enough to focus on the immediate create-and-consume culture of art if it's to be viable, growing, and relevant. We need to foster a movement of culturally aware people who demand more art, more histories, more archives, more education. 

New Times could write thousands of articles about this. It just doesn't. 

Happyfolk87
Happyfolk87

I think you hit the nail on the head, the new times should do a more expansive article on the reason that many of miami best and brightest leave this city. It great that miami has slowly creating a batch of many great and successful artist but in reality there should be two things, one that these artist return to create new works in miami, nothing permanent but as act that shows that they know their roots, and that many artist that leave or move become part of those cities, that slowly become part of where they leave.

The glaring issue of miami is not creating great artist but giving them opportunities to stay here and grow in miami and create new opportunities for artist from other cities to come to miami to allow for more creativity.

delmarmolita
delmarmolita

I am proud to say Miami created artist like Jen Stark, Alvaro Ilizarbe, FWY, Bert Rodriguez, Luis Gispert - they have their own unique visions and voices.   These are Miami artists that are moving to another city, that's good for Miami, and it's good for them.  There are many more people/artists that have left Miami, some to LA, some to NY (so what) they're still from Miami, and they are proud to say they have come up here, I for one think it's awesome we have a Miami crew in LA - why are the negativity?   Some of them will come back in a few years, some will come to visit, some might never come back.  Miami is a small pond and they're bigger fish, they want a bigger pond - that's it.  There is still great talent here, new people move here everyday, it's a good thing for everyone, their leaving makes room for others...it's win win win - How about "so long guys, thanks for all the years of magic and fun, don't forget us, and know we love you guys...all of you"  That's really the way we should all be - any negativity or anger or bitterness is only a reflection on you and these people's stuff wouldn't appeal to you anyway because it's not about darkness and hate - The vast majority of people in Miami that know any of these artists would only ever wish them well because they deserve it.

Lowginjay
Lowginjay

yeah cause there is hardly any crime or murder in New York...

dude...
dude...

why do you read the new times, foreign scum? la isn't shallow? how ignorant can a human being be? you dont know a thing about this city? there's immense history here. miami, and florida in general, are responsible for a great deal of respected literature. the art here is unique and beautiful. some of the locals are puffed up but it's mostly jackasses like you that come in and taint the whole human mix, cock.

lmfao
lmfao

"Dude, you are a moron. There....."

If you notice what I did there. The comma breaks up the sentence and the period ends it. The capital letter after the period allows the reader to know that this is the beginning of a new sentence. 

sincity
sincity

By the way it's an anime not a anime if you want to get anal over grammar :)

Lowginjay
Lowginjay

Brainwash rented a space and threw a party. Hardly call that a "Headliner".

Sluttzles
Sluttzles

BTW - Los Angeles, 3.7M people vs Miami ~500k.

Jeff
Jeff

hey dude! Tell me about it! I am an Anglo airbrush artist, born and raised in miami, and the only gig i can get is at the youth fair. Moved to new york and now business is booming. You totally understand it down there!

Badforoctober
Badforoctober

of high significance? what do you base high significance on? you clearly don't know what you are talking about. 

Badforoctober
Badforoctober

Who are you referring to? Some left in there 20's. Late 20's that is....

sincity
sincity

Thanks lmfao hopefully I wont get an F 

lmfao
lmfao

Touché... well played sir.

Yourmom
Yourmom

With haute living magazine sucking his dick

Jose D. Duran
Jose D. Duran

Ummm, Los Angeles also occupies a MUCH larger area of land, so the comparison is unfair. If 3.7 million people lived in the city of Miami, we'd all be squished. A better comparison would be the Dade County vs. the City of Los Angeles. While Dade is much larger than the LA, you've got to remember more than 50% is Everglades. Therefore, Miami-Dade has a much higher density than Los Angeles. So Dade's population of 2.4 million is a fair comparison and nothing to scoff at.

Anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I'm going through Googled stats.

Snakey Guy
Snakey Guy

I do the spray painted galaxies and universes, I REIGN SUPREME AT COCOWALK and that is MIAMI, watch me move away? NEVERRRRR!!!!

GO WEST
GO WEST

im referring to the people on your list over 30

Hoe
Hoe

who cares about density. the point is u have access to MILLIONS more people. Once u pass Broward County it ain't much. You're only as good as your options, and Miami has 1 or 2, while LA can have 100. 

Pizzaboy
Pizzaboy

this isn't about being APART its about being a part of art a apart from social conventions. we should have an art convention called Stand Apart From Society And Be A Part Of Art Against Social Conventions Art Convention. SAFSABAPOAASCAC 2012

VaughnAndOnly
VaughnAndOnly

I like this closing of the borders thing. We should start a collective (collection?) to close the borders. You can't spell apARTheid without Art. 

Tj
Tj

We ought to start an artists collective like the impressionists of the late 19th century. ANy one of us could be the next Monet, Rodin, or Naked Cowboy.

Camila
Camila

I agree. We've gotta stick together. I've been running a school that takes glass vases and makes them into works of art through colored sand. I could never leave the community that has supported me and my family all these years. Shout out to the Magic City Casino Flea Market for giving us our big break. Understand art, with Sand Art.

Tj
Tj

As a fellow artist, I fully agree that you need to support your local scene. I've been doing spin art at the Dade County Youth Fair since 1994 and don't intend to quit. Miami appreciates the mysterious swirls that come together when paint is dropped on spinning paper. I can't imagine a Lost Angeles taking a moment from the "hustle" and "bustle" and their Audi driving to really stop and smell the flowers (spin art). Protect our Borders!

Silver Man
Silver Man

ALSO i take your photo with a bird if you like BUT NEVER MOVE AWAY!

Silver Man
Silver Man

I am a performance artist, you may know me as SILVER MAN or DR SILVER or EL SILVER HOMBRE from BAYSIDE... I've tried fisherman's wharf in San Fran, I've been to Times Square in New York City... BAYSIDE in Miami is where my Silver Love is loved the hardest! I LOVE YOU MIAMI and will never leave my silvery heart anywhere but here!

Vanessa
Vanessa

I've been braiding hair on south beach for 8 years now. Just digging in on SoBe and working on my craft with little to no recognition but that's O.K. It's a process. Just like my beads add color to hair, artists add personality to Miami. I'm never leaving, no matter what the beach patrol says.

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