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Meet Kathryn Mikesell, co-founder of Fountainhead Arts

📸: Photo provided by Kathryn Mikesell

Hey Kathryn! Explain to New Tropic readers who you are and what you do.
I’m the co-founder of Fountainhead Arts, which supports both local and global artists through our residency program and annual open studios event Artists Open.  We started Fountainhead in 2008 to support artists in the growth of their careers, infuse Miami with artistic talent from around the world and to connect people to artists to see the world differently. I believe that artists feed every sense, change the way we view the world, how we treat each other, cause us to pause and inspire us to make an impact.

Through our residency program, we bring three artists each month to live and work in Miami.  While they’re here, they create, gain inspiration and make connections.  At the end of each month we open the residency to the public. Each year locals have the opportunity to meet over 33 artists.  To help Miamians connect with local artists we started Artists Open, the only county-wide open studios event in Miami.  In one day,  you can visit more than 300 artists’ studios, and throughout the year you can use our local directory to discover new artists.

How does our city help you do what you do or influence your work?

By being a magical city filled with exceptional people who inspire me daily, and by having a climate perfect for an outdoorsy person like me.

What’s an unpopular opinion you have about Miami?

I’m going to take this moment to get on my soapbox a bit. Exposure is NOT a form of payment for artists.  Being an artist is a profession that takes years to develop. If you’d like to support artists by showing their work in your office building, lobby, restaurant or event, PLEASE pay them with money! Their art creates a beautiful and engaging environment for the people in those spaces and I don’t know any landlord or store that accepts exposure for payment.

Also: Biscayne Bay needs a concerted effort to stay clean and be a thriving ecosystem. Support local organizations like SeaKeepers, Surfrider, Blue Scholars and Volunteer Clean Up.

What’s a project you’re working on (big or small) and how can our readers help you with it?

We’re eager to bring more people into the arts! Our Fountainhead Experience membership program connects you to both local and global artists, introduces you to a community of people who will enrich your life, enables you to buy artwork directly from artists, and provides opportunities to travel the world. This Fall, we’re looking very forward to a tour of the NSU Art Museum with director Bonnie Clearwater, which will explore the exhibition Lux et Veritas featuring two Fountainhead alumni artists,  Abigail DeVille and Anna Tsouhlarakis; a trip to Paris to experience Art Basel’s newest fair, Paris+ alongside visiting collector’s homes, museums, galleries and more; our Farewell to Fountainhead Studios celebration which will include open studios, an artwork raffle and an afterparty at the Center for Subtropical Affairs; and tickets and invitations to everyone’s favorite time of year, Miami Art Week!

You can join our membership program here and support a thriving Miami arts organization, where you can watch the impact of your investment blossom before your eyes! I promise your life will be enhanced in a completely unique way. 

What’s your favorite Miami memory?

I co-founded an open-water swim group called Dolphins and Rainbows. One morning I was looking around and realized what an incredible representation of the world we had gathered. I asked everyone where they were born. We had people from 19 countries spanning all continents but Antartica. 

Wax poetic for a minute and tell us: what brings you most alive about the 305? 

Miami is a city like no other! In Miami, if you have an idea and the passion, intellect, grit and commitment to make it happen, you can build it!  

If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It would be a feast from my favorites. I’d start the day with a breakfast burrito over greens at Lilikoi, and spend the day feasting on the Greek sampler at Mandolin, the octopus salad at NiDo Cafe, the curried cauliflower at Blue Collar, french fries at Mr. Mandolin, stracciatella at Michael’s Genuine and Branzino at Fiorito.   

Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Miami day.

I’d start with an ocean swim from South Pointe followed by breakfast at Lilikoi, then I’d spend the day exploring our local museums, then hop in on a paddle board to the islands off Morningside Park for a sunset cocktail, and I’d end the night listening to live music and catching up with friends at The Center for Subtropical Affairs.

What’s your favorite local social media account to follow and why?

Obviously our own @fountainheadarts and @coralmorphologic to watch the Coral City Camera, and when I need a good laugh, @onlyindade

If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?

Be present, keep an open mind, smile and HUG!! There are opportunities for literally everything and anything in Miami and they all begin with human connections. Foster new connections and continue the relationships with people you admire.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Welcoming new people into the Fountainhead Experience membership and celebrating our incredible community of artists at Fountainhead Studios on November 12th. Stay tuned in 2023 for our 15-year “ungala” party. It will be an evening you’ll talk about for years to come while supporting an impactful non-profit.

That’s a wrap on this week’s Locals to Know, sponsored by Fountainhead Arts. Know someone who ought to be featured or would like to be featured yourself? Reach out by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line “TNT Locals to Know 2022.” If chosen, you might just see yourself or a friend in a future newsletter.