SoMIartwalk kicked off its 2013-2014 season as a special South Miami Town Center event. Established by retailer and Red Sunset Merchants Association board member, Roman Compte in 2008, the promotional effort has evolved into a unique cultural program. Every second Friday, from October through March, artists, musicians, and merchants team up to create evenings (6 pm to 9 pm) devoted to the arts and the community.
“I saw this as a great way to promote our businesses. At first, right here with the Blue Mall businesses where my shop is located; and later, throughout the downtown,” said Roman Compte, owner of the SoMi So U Boutique on Red Road.
The basics of SoMiartwalk are that merchants (or venues) feature art works at their businesses (or sites), offer some refreshments and plenty of opportunity for the public to interact with the artists, and to learn more about the merchant’s business or about what a venue has to offer. The addition of live music in the past three seasons has kicked the event up another notch. As part of the “SOMI SIDEWALK SHOWCASE, musicians from South Miami Middle School’s Jazz Ensemble regale Art Walk patrons at the Shops of Sunset, providing an enjoyable musical interlude.
“I love for the students to have the opportunity to perform for the public, friends, and family. They get such a thrill to do so…We give to our community, the students have an outlet to perform and represent our school/program, and the parents get to experience the fruits of their labor, said Francisco Williams, Music Director.
Other participants in the Showcase are art students from the South Miami K-8 Arts Magnet program. This year will see an increase in the number of participating students.
“The Art Walk is a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn about the great talent and varied skills students are learning in their arts classes. It is also gives young artists an avenue to perform and showcase their work…and to gain recognition from their family, friends, and community,” said Laurie Russell, Art Teacher, SM K-8 Magnet program.
Another essential component to SOMIartwalk are the many restaurants that have joined in the event with an “After Party” with special offers from 9 PM to 10 PM for Art Walk attendees. This season the restaurants are: Town Kitchen + Bar, MexZican Gourmet, Irish Times, SIP, Barcelonetta and ROK:BRGR. Fox’s will host a late night party, from 10 PM to 1 AM. Your Art Walk map will be your pass for these offers. The maps are available from Ambassadors who will be walking around the event. They’ll be easy to spot in their ROTC uniforms. They are prepared to direct you where you need to go to enjoy artists, dining, etc. These volunteers, under the supervision of Col. Eddie Santana, are students from South Miami Senior High.
The number of participating venues and businesses that feature artists have grown each year. Among some of the regulars such as SoMi So U Boutique, Isabel’s Fine Home Accessories, Doc Thomas House at Tropical Audubon, and the First National Bank of South Miami, are some of the newest shops such as Respice, Miro’s, and Artifact. Many local artists have successfully shown and sold their work during Art Walk evenings, including Gail Coachman Alexander (glass), Tom Smith (photography), and Ronald Shelley (paintings).
In addition to community and camaraderie, the other element that makes SOMIartwalk such a success is John Edward Smith, publisher of SOMI Magazine. His administrative, organizational and marketing talents have made the event a standout for the community.
“I am pleased with the progress of SOMIartwalk and the way in which it promotes our Town Center and the many talented people in our community. I invite more artists to show their work, more businesses and venues to join in, and more art lovers to indulge in this community- based event,” said John Edward Smith, Chairman of the Steering Committee.