Wednesday night’s RAW Miami premier at The Stage was an eclectic showcase of local, emerging talent that featured seven visual artists, three bands, two live body painters, a fashion show starring six fashion bloggers, and one outrageous rock n’ roll painting experience.
Forged out of one young L.A.-based artist’s desire for platform and community, RAW seeks to empower talented, overlooked artists and bring them together in a raucous celebration of their creativity.
At RAW events, participating artists get their own personal interview with a videographer, a headshot, and photos of their work or performance. It’s a show and a PR package all in one; all the artists have to do is sell their fair share of tickets to the event. Since its inception three years ago, RAW has spread to more than 32 cities nationwide, and is set to launch in Australia this summer. (China and Europe will follow next year.)
I arrived at the venue hours before the doors were set to open. Undeterred by the afternoon’s torrential downpour, the artists began preparing, hair-curling, and body painting. The energy was palpable and frenzied as 8 o’clock grew nearer; fashion designer Tatiana Torres of Furor Moda explained her looks to the models, while hair artist Rosie Perez curled and pinned, and Nikki Peglow painted each model’s face with vibrant eyebrows and surrealist side-mouths.
The body painters set to painting, and the artists, many of whom had the good sense to hang their work ahead of time, waited patiently to be interviewed, planning answers to questions of inspiration and “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
The doors opened to a line that stretched down the block, and didn’t dissipate for hours. More than 400 people streamed in, all buttoned up and cocktail-dress clad, vibing to beats by DJ Jave.
Artist BXB shouted emphatically to onlookers, shining a black light on his pop-art inspired glow-in-the-dark pieces, which he tirelessly crafted with thousands of tiny beads.
Nearby, Cristina de Guillot also met with interested viewers, selling a few of her vintage renaissance collage works.
MC Grace Munoz took to the stage, and after a roll call and a few announcements, the night’s festivities began. Songwriter Diego Castro, aka The Dude Sessions, crooned to the crowd over bluesy guitar, followed by an unexpected live painting performance by Floyd the Rock Artist and The Evolution.
Driven by the band’s loud rock and energetic riffs, Floyd became a man possessed, and a paint-splattered mess.
The final band, The Deadly Blank, brought the energy back down to a steady alt-rock vibe.
As the models readied themselves for the runway, Grace brought the body paintees to the stage to show off their artists’ handiwork. Pam Trent created a samurai warrior, complete with bloody gashes and blue katana.
“We are all gods,” said Stay Sea Love, who modeled her subject as “the embodiment of Krishna”.
For the finale, the models took to the stage, commanding the runway in their six-inch heels and boho chic designs. The cast of nine included six guest models, all local fashion bloggers. And contrary to the stoicism that seems to pervade the fashion industry, these runway models were smiling coyly and obviously having fun.
Wednesday night’s showcase was the first of a series of monthly RAW Miami events that will run through November. To learn more, visit RAWartists.org/miami.
Jesse Meadows is a Miami-based photographer, filmmaker, and artist. To view more of her work, visit her personal website.