Art in the Breezeway donates art supplies to local schools

By Lee Stephens….

Artists Mike Thompson and Pery Franco donate art supplies to Ponce de Leon Middle School.

Artists, attendees and two local schools all benefit from Art in the Breezeway, the art and cultural event presented the first Friday of each month on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables.

Since the event’s inception three years ago, Ponce de Leon Middle School has received art supplies donated from the exhibit’s featured artists. Last month, South Miami K-8 Expressive Magnet Arts Center became the newest beneficiary of much-needed supplies for its program.

Art in the Breezeway was established by the Coral Gables Cultural Affairs Committee and organizers — local artist Mike Thompson and Orlando Abella of Greater Miami Investment. Thompson’s concept for the exhibit was to provide a venue for artists to gain public exposure and learn the finer skills of presenting their works to the public. He wanted to provide them this opportunity, but at a low cost. The solution: to be a part of the exhibit, artists donate art supplies, which in turn have been donated to Ponce Middle School.

“My late wife, Carole Hughes Thompson, taught at Ponce de Leon Middle School for 32 years and every year she had to pay out of her own pocket for art supplies,” Thompson said. “I couldn’t believe this. Where does all of the lottery money go? I decided that instead of charging artists to exhibit their work, I would ask them to donate a bag of art supplies, which would be donated to the art class at the school.”

Art in the Breezeway continually has supplied materials to the art classroom at Ponce Middle School during the past three years. The school posthumously dedicated its new art classroom in Carole Hughes Thompson’s name.

Thompson said that the South Miami K-8 Magnet Arts School heard about this initiative and contacted him for help.

“Can you believe it? This is a magnet art school and they do not have enough art supplies for their student artists,” Thompson said. “For some children, art is where they excel and is their only focus. Without art programs, their self-esteem and their future may be negatively affected.”

Tarpon Bend, located at 65 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, has a three-story breezeway and is the perfect venue for Art in the Breezeway. Thompson said that general manager Wayne Eldred has been instrumental in making this monthly event a success.

Art in the Breezeway features art exhibits from established, as well as emerging local artists.

“We’ve featured internationally famous artists such as William Brito, a Cuban prodigy who has displayed his work throughout Europe and South America,” Thompson said.

Other participants include award-winning local artists Pery Franco, Edgar Hernandez and Mike Thompson. Others from the list of “who’s who” from the Miami’s art scene include Emilio Hector, Mabel Moyana, Dina Sera, Tresea Callatari, Marci Delgado, Imaculata Menendez, Fred Hunt, Ana Maria Wimble and Carmen Mackrell as well as  Highwaymen artist Al Black.

Art in the Breezeway will continue during the summer months with music from “Miami’s idol,” Vito Lastayo, and D.J. Skinny. Artists and musicians who would like to join Art in the Breezeway the first Friday of each month should call Mike Thompson at 305-785-6344 or send email to him at <>. To view artwork by Pery Franco and Mike Thompson, visit Sunset Fine Arts Gallery and Framing, 5864 Sunset Dr. in South Miami.

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