Our Sketchy Party on Aug. 12 drew more than 1,000 people to the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood. One of those people was Geoff Campbell, who arrived equipped with a camera, a microphone, and an interviewing technique fine-tuned during conversations with strangers at bus stops. Roll video.
One of the 1,000+ who came to the Bakehouse Friday night for Sketchy Party #2.
There are few local events that vigorously endorse Miami’s reputation as a “melting pot”. True, in a city as diverse as Miami, it would be hard to find ten people of the same background in one room, but, as locals know, the notion that the city’s variegated populace comes together every day — or ever — to sing Kumbaya and share family recipes is more than a little naive.
Still, it does happen. Sweatstock 2011, for example, drew droves of locals to Little Haiti to listen to an array of local bands. The turnout cut across various demographics, including ethnicity and age, as you can see in our photos of the all-day music fest. While the music and the food and the free beer all contributed to the event’s success, the experience of eating, drinking, and getting rowdy with friends and strangers from across Miami’s vast cityscape made it one of my favorite days of this year.
Our Sketchy Party Friday night was another such event. Held at Wynwood’s Bakehouse Art Complex, the party brought together more than 1,000 people from within the Miami mélange for the simplest of reasons: to draw each other. It was the second party we’ve thrown since we launched Sketchy Miami two months ago. In that short time, more than 120 local artists have created 350+ portraits (or “Sketchys”) based on the beautiful faces of fellow Miamians.
As with Sketchy Miami itself, Sketchy Party #2 was a testament to the prodigious creativity and generosity of Miami people. The Bakehouse welcomed us and 1,000 of our closest friends into its home, and many BAC artists sketched guests nonstop for the length of the five-hour party. There were also the non-BAC artists who lined the complex’s bustling corridors and met everyone who sat down across from them with a smile and a sketch pad — or, in one case, a wood-burning kit (see photo below).
Beyond numbers, though, the party showed Miami in all of its diversity, which, cliché or not, is the best part about living here. On this point, I will let the photos below do most of the talking, but let this suffice: One of the non-BAC artists was a 15-year-old girl who came with her parents. Another was a 90-year-old Brazilian man who wanted to get involved with Sketchy Miami but doesn’t know how to use a computer. The vast majority of the crowd fell between 20 and 40 years old, and probably poured into Vagabond or Grand Central after the BAC closed down at midnight.
In Miami, getting that kind of crowd together after dark is a rare thing, and, in my opinion, it’s a beautiful thing. Many people are asking when the next Sketchy Party is. We don’t know that yet, but rest assured there are plenty more to come. Until then, keep sketching.
Our first Sketchy Party drew more than 400 people (about 400 more people than we anticipated) to Lester’s, a small cafe on N.W. Second Avenue in Wynwood. The energy was frenetic and the air conditioner tried its damnedest to cool the heat coming off of the artists’ sketch pads and Sam Friend’s guitar strings. (Watch recap video.)
Our second Sketchy Party promises to draw a bigger crowd, and this time we’ve got 3.2 acres to play around with. Also in Wynwood, the Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC) is a compound of 70 artist studios that used to house an industrial bakery in the 1920s (thus, the towering flour silos out back that Bakehouse artists have splattered with paint). These days, it is home to a small army of emerging and mid-career South Florida artists, each with a work studio to pursue the muses wherever they lead.
We originally visited the Bakehouse at the suggestion of Carrie Sieh, a BAC artist who, at Lester’s, sewed flash portraits until her sewing machine overheated. With its industrial architecture, long vanishing corridors, and, of course, its studios — each one a universe unto itself, as unique as the artist whose sweat stains the unstained floor — the Bakehouse had us whispering giddy within three minutes.
So, we are thrilled to invite you to Sketchy Party #2 at the Bakehouse on Friday, August 12. As at the Lester’s party, artists aplenty will be on hand to sketch your portrait throughout the night. The cool thing this time around is that you will be stopping in at different artists’ studios and getting a chance to spend QT with some of Miami’s best.
Entry to the party is FREE FREE FREE. We will be selling the portraits for $30 (cash only), with half of the proceeds going to the artists and the other half to keep Sketchy Miami going strong. Thirty clams ain’t nothing, but it’s not much to get your personal art collection started — with a portrait of yourself, no less! (Keep in mind that you are under no obligation to buy your portrait. As with Sketchy Miami itself, this party is above all about connecting Miami artists with other locals.)
In addition to the portraits, we will be peddling a Sketchy Package for $10, which will get you a boatload of wonderful:
— Joey’s life-affirming pizza (vegetarian available)
— beer à la keg (!) and a bottle of Honest Tea to quench your thirst on a fine summer’s night
— a $2 discount and free glass of wine at O Cinema, which will be hosting a midnight screening after the party
— a collectible set of full-color Sketchy Miami postcards
The package will also include a raffle ticket. Prizes include original works and prints from several Bakehouse artists, free flash portraits, and other good stuff. That means for 10 bucks you might bring home a piece of art worth hundreds of dollars! We are only able to raffle off such amazing prizes because of the generosity of the Bakehouse artists who have embraced Sketchy Miami with so much enthusiasm. They rule.
You can advance purchase the Sketchy Package for a reduced price of $8 by clicking the PayPal button below.
At our Sketchy Party last Thursday, Beached Miami mailroom clerk-in-chief Geoffrey Campbell meandered through the crowd with a single mic and a singular tie to take the pulse of the event, which drew more than 400 people to Lester’s throughout the evening. He ultimately discovered that the event, lacking a circulation system, had no pulse, but he’s to be commended nonetheless for trying to take it. And for his tie. Roll video.
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.
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.
Thursday night, somewhere in the vicinity of 400 people came through Lester’s cafe in Wynwood to celebrate the launch of Sketchy Miami, a Beached Miami project with the simple and impossible mission to create a portrait of every person in our hometown. There is a lot to say about this first Sketchy Party, a rare confluence of Miami’s musical, artistic, and culinary talent, and we intend to say a lot more about it. (Expect a full recap and a video next week.)