Chase the muse at DWNTWN Art Days

Take a trip downtown through the eyes of an artist. Get a little buzzed and write the first draft of your next novel. Learn how science and art intersect in a beautifully weird way. Ride a white bengal tiger. You can do three out of four of those things this weekend right here in Miami.

(Courtesy of DWNTWN Miami)The fourth annual DWNTWN Art Days kicks off today, injecting art and culture into the many places and spaces that make up Downtown Miami. The three-day event spans 27 locations, from the Perez Art Museum Miami to Centro Cultural Español.

In collaboration with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), artists and cultural organizations throughout Downtown Miami teamed up to create this annual showcase of the local creative community.

DWNTWN Art Days is just one of many events the DDA is coordinating in order to reframe the perceptions and conversations surrounding downtown. Much like South Beach and Wynwood, Downtown Miami has been rapidly changing in the past few years.

“Ten years ago, people wouldn’t look to downtown as a neighborhood — we’ve more than doubled our population and people are experiencing it,” said Alyce Robertson, executive director of the DDA.  “Other neighborhoods have gone through their own metamorphosis, but [Downtown Miami] is the historic birthplace of the City of Miami, so we’re bringing people back to their roots.”  

Robertson also added that this experience is unique from Art Basel or other international events in that it is organized specifically so that local Miamians can rediscover downtown.  “The cultural community is a very important part of what draws people to a city,” she said. “I think what Art Days does is bring local people together and understand what a jewel we have here.”

In addition to organizing the event, the DDA is offering logistical support to artists, for example, by helping individual events obtain the appropriate permits necessary to exhibit their work. This year the DDA has also awarded 26 micro-grants to some artists and organizations hosting events, offering up to $1,000 to each recipient depending on the proposal.

It is important to note that there is no single curator, allowing for a diversity of voices and a unique experience at each location.

“The neighborhood has a lot of personalities and voices, from museums to business owners to artists. [This event] is a blending of business and cultural leaders and institutions,” said T. Wheeler Castillo, an artist who will be leading tours this weekend along with four other artists he selected. This is his third year working with DWNTWN Art Days.

“I’ve been really lucky and had every single tour I’ve done for Art Days have a large group,” Castillo added.

More than 400 people attended the event’s preview at Canvas Miami on September 2. String lights twinkled overhead illuminating the night, while Miami’s own Xperimento filled the space with their unique latin reggae urban soul sound.

This was the first time a launch event was held. “Sometimes when you start something for the first year, you’re not sure how it will play out, but I was very pleased with the event,” Robertson said.

With such a positive turnout before DWNTWN Art Days has even begun, this weekend is sure to draw large crowds.

There are more than 60 events taking place, some simultaneously, so deciding what to see can be kind of overwhelming. We’re here to help you sift through the options.

Artist-led tours

  • What: Take a trip through Downtown Miami through the eyes of an artist. Lasts roughly an hour. To RSVP, please email Downtown Art House.
  • When: Fri. 10:00 am, 1:30 pm, 4:30 pm // Sat. 4:00 pm // Sun 10:00 am

WLRN Studio Tour

  • What: Located at the WLRN studios, the WLRN Arts Radio Project will offer station tours. They will also host “National Day of Listening” recording sessions, encouraging visitors to document how arts have changed their lives.
  • When: Fri. 10:00 am – 3:00 PM

Olympia Theater

  • What: Located at the Gusman Center, the theater will be hosting two separate hour-long tours guiding visitors from the top of the balcony to the bottom of the basement. Some tours include an Organ playing demo.
  • When: Fri. 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm //  Sat. + Sun. 11:00 pm – 12:00 pm, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Paper Pavements Exhibition

  • What: In an effort to archive Downtown Miami as it currently is, a steamroller will collect images of the streets in the afternoon. The images will be exhibited at Turn-Based Press.
  • When: Fri. 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Teatro Prometeo

  • What: On the anniversary of 9/11,  local veterans will be performing an original play. Located at The Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami-Dade College.
  • When: Fri. 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Micro Theater Miami

  • What: In celebration of Mexican Independence Day, Micro Theater Miami will exhibit seven different 15 minute plays. The plays are held for small audiences in repurposed shipping containers, creating an incredibly intimate experience. Tickets are $5.
  • When: Fri. + Sat. 8:00 pm – 1:00 am // Sun. 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

“Listen to this Building” exhibit and Mobility Orientation tours

  • What: Experience the world without the sense of sight on a blindfolded, architectural tour. To RSVP, please email Ricardo Mor. Located at the Miami Center for Architecture and Design (aka The Hub, see below).
  • When: Sat. 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

DWNTWN Arts Fair

  • What: On 3rd Ave between NE 1st and NE 2nd street,  Life is Art will be curating a street fair featuring art, music, performances by Buskerfest, and more.
  • When: Sat. 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm // Sun 12:00 pm-7:00 pm

First Draft

  • What: Drinking and writing! Write a story, have a drink (first one’s free), and then write another story. Share the stories with your new friends. Located at the Freedom tower. Please RSVP to Nicole Swift.
  • When: Sat. 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

PAMM and Frost Museum Science + Art Mash-up

  • What: Soon to be neighbors, PAMM and the Frost Science Museum team up to provide two experiences that blur the lines between art and science: The Arts of Robots and Eco-environments.
  • When: Sat 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Adrienne Arsht Center

  • What: There’s a ton of stuff happening at the Arsht Center this year. Some of the highlights include free food from The Café at Books & Books and Brava!, a cultural community conversation, interactive workshops by the Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony and The Cleveland Orchestra, a walking tour and a comic book and cosplay mania.
  • When: All day Saturday; various times from 9:00 am- 5:00 pm.

The Fringe Projects

  • What: Temporary installations set up throughout downtown, inviting patrons to reframe their perception of the city’s spaces.  Artists featured in this year’s Fringe projects are Miami-based Dara Friedman, New York-based David Brooks, and Los Angeles-based Nate Page.
  • When: All weekend

If you ever get lost just get back to The Hub at the Miami Center for Architecture and Design where guides can point you in the right direction. The hours are from 10:00 am-6:00 pm Friday and Saturday, and from 10:00 am-5:00 pm on Sunday. There’s also a mobile app for easily perusing the day’s offerings.