What happened to Beached Miami?

By | September 30th, 2013 | No Comments
Miami Art Walk: "Feathers"

We set out to “squeeze the orange dry” but Miami’s far too juicy for that. — photo by Robby Campbell

You may have a fair question: “What happened? You guys used to post 50+ times a month and now it’s once in a blue moon. What gives?”

First, thanks for noticing. It’s true, we’re posting far less than years past when we frequented music shows and Art Walks and art fairs and bike rides and book fairs and film fests and even the occasional pornography convention, chronicling it all with writing and photography that earned us a few awards and, far more cherished, thousands of fans in Miami and beyond.

When we started, we set out to explore our hometown, Miami, anew — to “squeeze the orange dry,” as we said in an early draft of our about page — and to report back on the development and experience of Miami culture from a local’s perspective for a local’s eyes and ears. In the process, we met and introduced you to countless awesome Miamians, poets and musicians and artists and activists and writers and filmmakers and entrepreneurs, all of them challenging Miami’s tired postcard reputation, as a group cutting up that phony postcard and brazenly tossing the pieces into the air like confetti.

Of course, we could never “squeeze the orange dry.” Miami is far too juicy. We got an early taste of that when we launched an ostensibly absurd project called the O, Miami Open Source Epic Poem during the inaugural O, Miami poetry festival. The concept: create an ode to Miami in the form of an epic poem by inviting Miamians to submit lines of verse over the course of the month. Stupid, right? Who’d waste time on a thing like that? At the end of the month the epic comprised hundreds upon hundreds of lines of poetry, including such gems as “spring break, I did not lift my shirt for you …”

Sketchy Miami Collage
Just a few of the portraits created and shared by Miami artists through sketchymiami.com.

If the epic poem project gave us a peek at Miami’s creative vibrancy, then our next ridiculous endeavor revealed it in vivid color. Launched in late June 2011, Sketchy Miami invited locals to create portraits of one another until collectively we created a portrait of every single person in the city. It was an ambition both lofty and unachievable, but achieving the goal wasn’t the goal. The underlying aim was to forge a bond between Miamians through creative expression. Cute concept, but who’d spend precious time on that, right? To date, hundreds of Miami artists have created and shared original portraits (drawings, sculptures, paintings, etc.) through the Sketchy Miami website and our series of Sketchy Parties.

The initial response to Sketchy Miami was incredibly positive. Five hundred people came to our launch party (we expected 50). Thousands came to our subsequent events. Blogs with international audiences posted about the project. Artists from around the world contacted us to ask if they could participate.

Despite the concept’s global appeal, it was very much a fruit of local soil. It’s impossible to know for sure, but I don’t think Sketchy LA or Sketchy NYC would have taken off like Sketchy Miami did. At this dynamic period in Miami’s cultural evolution, we are open to creative experimentation and collaboration to an extent that feels rare and wonderful. It’s constantly inspiring and rewarding to experience.

Sktchy Launch Party Mural
This wall was blank at the start of the Sktchy Launch Party, a night of live art to celebrate the new free Sktchy iPhone app.

Our experience with Sketchy Miami inspired us to expand and refine the concept so that anyone anywhere could take part. Working with a team of awesomely talented people, we developed an iPhone app called Sktchy, and already artists around the world — from the US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy, England, Argentina and elsewhere — have created and shared thousands of original portraits, each inspired by a face in the Sktchy photo gallery. Here’s a small sample:

Allan Carandang diptych


Fabrizio Fiandanese diptych

This global outburst of creativity has strong Miami ties. Several amazing locals helped us in crucial ways during development, and many Miami artists have been using the Sktchy app to find inspiration and create portraits since our recent App Store release. The incredible show of local support continued on Thursday at the Sktchy Launch Party, which drew hundreds of attendees to the LAB Miami co-working/event space. Among the party sponsors were Klangbox.FM, a locally based online radio station, and i.d. art, which donated art supplies from their Downtown Miami location so that everyone could get their draw on.

Widely known for its crime, corruption and vanity, Miami gets too little credit for its generosity.

It was a long journey from the conception of Beached Miami to the launch of the Sktchy iPhone app. Though the line connecting them isn’t perfectly straight — they’re actually separate ventures, and there isn’t complete overlap in the teams behind each project — there is a common thread. Miami inspired us to create Beached Miami. It inspired us to create Sketchy Miami. And in many ways it inspired us to create Sktchy.

Which brings me back to the title of this post. Sktchy is taking up a lot of our passion, energy, and time, and this unavoidably affects the frequency of Beached Miami blog posts. That said, Beached Miami still has a firm grip on our hearts. So while you won’t see as many posts here as you did in the past, you can count on Beached Miami to play an active role in the ongoing transformation of Miami, through this blog and our various social media channels (FB/Twitter/Instagram), creative projects like the ones I described above, and fun events like our recent bike tours of the downtown arts community.

And as always, we invite you to use Beached Miami as a platform for your creativity, whether you have a brilliant essay burning a hole in your hard drive, a hot track for our New Waves series, an idea for a comic strip, or killer photos from last night’s Churchill’s sweatfest. Whatever it may be, if it reveals something unique and compelling about Miami culture, it has a home on Beached Miami.

So to answer that question, What happened to Beached Miami? Like the city itself, we’re changing as we grow. And it’s damn exciting.

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