Carrie Sieh sewed until her sewing machine overheated. She was using it to stitch portraits of the strangers who sat down across from her, one after another after another, and it took about three hours for the valiant machine to call it quits for the night. The other six featured artists at our Sketchy Miami launch party Thursday night used markers, crayons, ink, and color pencils, and they also didn’t stop for about three hours, drawing hundreds of portraits — or, in the parlance of the project, “Sketchys” — during the course of the party, held at Lester’s cafe in Wynwood.
A guest shakes hands with Brian Butler, one of the seven featured artists at our Sketchy Miami launch party. There are more photos from the party on our Facebook page.
As you can see in the photo, the event drew a crowd — Lester’s owner Dan Milewski estimates more than 400 people walked through his front door Thursday night. Before that, it drew a lot of press, with the Herald, the Sun Sentinel, WLRN, the Miami New Times, and Flavorpill all writing about the Sketchy Party in the lead up to the event.
This is all a testament, I believe, to the artists who have taken ownership of Sketchy Miami, a project with the simple and impossible goal of creating a portrait of every person in the city. Since sketchymiami.com went live in mid-May, more than 50 local artists have submitted a Sketchy based on one of the hundreds of photographs in the site’s photo gallery. It should go without saying that without these artists, most of whom we don’t know personally, the walls of sketchymiami.com would be barren.
On the other side of the equation are the hundreds of people who have submitted photographs to date. They are the inspiration for the hundred-plus Sketchys submitted so far, and in their faces you can see the beautiful diversity that recommends Miami far higher than our beach-front hotels and mega malls ever will.
If you were are Lester’s Thursday night, then you saw these two groups come together and have a damn good time in the celebration of local art, local music (singer-songwriter Sam Friend played a killer set), and local flavor (Joey’s served up free gourmet pizza all night). Even better, you saw the definition of “artist” blur as people who would never give themselves that title grabbed a sheet of paper and started drawing.
A collage of just a few of the hundreds of portraits drawn at the Sketchy Party. To see more, head over to the Sketchy Miami Facebook page.
This is exactly what Sketchy Miami is about, facilitating exchange between Miami artists and other locals to bring the two groups closer together and to make Miami a funkier place in the process. Fewer than two months into the project, we certainly haven’t realized this goal, and, in fact, Sketchy Miami’s stated mission is unattainable. But at this point in the journey, we feel boyishly excited about where Sketchy Miami is headed. Several participating artists have already been contacted for commissions by someone who discovered them on sketchymiami.com, and we sold scores of Sketchys at Lester’s Thursday night. (All proceeds went to support the featured artists and the project.)
While we have a lot of ideas to keep the momentum going strong, we are definitely open to the bubblings of your brain. If you have any suggestions, please email us at sketchy [at] sketchymiami [dot] com.
If you didn’t make it to our first Sketchy Party, not to worry! We are already planning a second for sometime in August somewhere in Miami. To keep up with all Sketchy Miami-related news, sign up for the project’s mailing list. (You can also sign up for the Beached Miami mailing list to keep up with all things Sketchy in addition to the goings-on of this here culture blog.)
For further consolation, you can check out our photos from the party on the Beached Miami Facebook page. We will also post a video that will try to make you laugh later this week.
Until then, a huge thanks to everyone who came out to the party and had a good time. We hope to see your faces at our next soirée and, even better, immortalized as a Sketchy on the beautiful walls of sketchymiami.com.
Extra special thanks to the party’s featured artists: Eli Blanco, Annie Blazejack, Brian Butler, Jeiddy Lopez, Ximena Prugue, and Carrie Sieh. You can learn more about them, and the other artists who have participated in the project so far, on the Sketchy Miami Artists Page.