First Friday Art Walk in Downtown: A Somewhat Soggy Disappointment

Categories: Around Town, Art
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However you may feel about the monthly fair/fiasco that is Wynwood's Second Saturday, there is no denying the event's immense popularity. So it's hardly surprising that art-fair impresarios David and Lee Ann Lester decided to expand the tried and tested monthly art-walk concept to another week and another setting throughout Miami's streets: downtown.

As the organizers at the helm of International Fine Art Expositions, the Lesters were the minds behind Art Miami (which they sold long ago) and successful art fairs from Hong Kong to Dallas. And while their newest art event, First Friday Art Walk, has the potential to supersede Second Saturdays in Wynwood or the Coconut Grove Arts Festival as the city's biggest and best local art fair, that was not the case this Friday.

See also:
- First Friday Art Walk Guide: All the Culture on Display at Downtown's Inaugural Event
- Downtown Miami's New First Friday Art Walk: Free Culture by Land and by Sea

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The Lesters did an incredible job of organizing more than 150 artists and their varied bodies of work in the short span of two weeks, but the cards just didn't fall in their favor this weekend, for reasons both within and without their control.

For one, after weeks and weeks of almost perfectly cool, dry days, the First Friday Art Walk was accompanied by hours of waxing and waning downpours and drizzles, the bane of any South Florida foot-bound festival's existence. With some of the galleries hosting events only until the early evening, there were entire collections that might as well not even have existed to the finicky average Miami pedestrian, who fears the horrid prospect of melting in the rain and holds firm in his safe, dry abode.

Another problem that First Friday faced was the fact that it wasn't quite an art "walk." Whereas Wynwood's monthly fair features galleries that stand door-to-door down one main drag of less than a mile, the downtown iteration spread 13 galleries over 21 blocks from NE 18th Street to SE Third Street, and from Biscayne Bay all the way to NW First Avenue. The locales of the individual exhibits were specifically chosen so that all the venues were within two blocks of the trolley or the Metromover. But still, First Friday organizers, you must know your audience.

Miamians have a firm, visceral distaste for the local public transit system, with its pathetically anemic infrastructure and its unerring general ineptitude for running on time. So the idea of spending one's Friday night waiting on the still-alien novelty trolleys rather than simply strolling a couple of doors over to the next gallery or wandering 40 feet to a lot full of taco trucks elicits a less than overjoyed and overenthusiastic response from most denizens. That response was well illustrated by the downtown sidewalks, which were about as empty as you could picture them on a soggy Friday night.

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