Local artist Stuart Sheldon has always produced art that pushed the envelope, even if that meant partying in a dilapidated gold house.
But after the 2016 election, Stuart’s work became much more political. He joined For Freedoms, an artist-run political action committee, during Art Basel in 2016. Stuart says, “the pain of America’s troubles became unbearable for me.”
You’ve probably already seen his latest project, even if you didn’t realize it.
Back in September, he purchased billboard space on I-95. He marked it with the message: “How Was School Today?” with a gun target and a drop of blood in the question mark.
The message is meant to be a wake up call about gun violence and the need for stronger gun reform. And that’s not just because of this year’s Parkland shooting, but also because of the Sandy Hook school shooting and everything that’s happened since then.
We talked to him about his billboards, his message, and how the project came together:
THE INSPIRATION: Stuart says it goes back to thinking of his two young sons after Sandy Hook in 2012. He thought that the tragic event would lead to more gun reforms but, “Not only did the needle not move, it moved in the wrong direction,” he says. Now he wants his work to spark conversation that could lead to solutions. “I want this to actually help solve the problem and not just be some ego-driven art installation,” he says.
HOW THE PARTNERSHIP CAME TOGETHER: The billboard project is a continuation of a partnership Stuart struck with For Freedoms back in 2016. The organization has been running billboards across the country to promote political discourse, and this is one of them.
SO, WHY BILLBOARDS? His hope is that the big display of the billboards (and their placement on the often traffic-jammed interstate) will spark more action than social media messaging and other mediums. “I think billboards are an interesting way to jam things down people’s throat,” Stuart says. “Maybe this can be that extra push of action… so we can get a few hundred people to get off their asses and vote.”
HOW PEOPLE CAN GET INVOLVED: Stuart purchased the billboard space for the month of September and started a Kickstarter to help fund the installation. You can find info on the campaign here. It’s still live, but the billboards are set to come down by Oct. 21, even if Stuart raises more funds.
The morning after. Floridians in the Panhandle woke up yesterday to debris-filled streets after Hurricane Michael made its way through. The powerful storm left at least 3 people dead and hundreds of thousands without power. It also cut off access to the state’s largest psychiatric hospital, as rescue groups dropped in supplies from the sky. Meanwhile scientists and politicians like U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson are pointing to the storm’s rapid increase in power as another sign of the impact of warming seas and climate change. (Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times)
The grass is (faker) on the other side. Miami has made an industry out of plastic surgery, tanning salons, and other artificial beauty services but residents in Brickell say this fakery goes too far. The City of Miami removed grass along a few streets and replaced it with concrete, glue and artificial turf. Residents are worried that the replacement grass will kill trees and think it just doesn’t look right. Meanwhile city officials say the streets were in desperate need of a little sprucing up and this was the easiest solution. (Miami New Times)
These pumpkin patches are gourd-geous. Sure, we don’t have actual fall temperatures here in SoFlo, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the season by exploring some pumpkin patches. Here’s a guide to where you can find them from down in Goulds, over in Coconut Grove, and beyond. (Miami.com)
Counter strike. The ongoing battle between City of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo and local business owner Bill Fuller has gone from late night code enforcement calls to the courtroom. Fuller, owner of Little Havana’s Ball & Chain club, and his business partner Martin Pinilla filed a federal lawsuit against Carollo claiming that the commissioner has violated their free speech and has used his power to try and find code violations at the club because Fuller supported Carollo’s political opponent. Carollo has denied that he directed staff to specifically focus on the club, and Fuller’s other properties… but hasn’t denied his late-night wandering to find violations. (Miami Herald)
Dining with your doggo. If you’re looking to grab a bite but don’t wanna have to leave your pup outside, then we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of dog-friendly places with plenty of treats for you, and your favorite fluffball, to enjoy together. It includes coffee shop All Day, seafood spot The Spillover, the Cafe at Books and Books on Miami Beach and more. Don’t say we never did anything fur you (heh). (Eater Miami)
And we’ve got some great news for Dan Mikesell: You’ll be dining and drinking like a VIP at the South Beach Seafood Festival next Saturday, Oct. 20. 🎉
Feeling some FOMO? If you want your chance at tickets to great events around town then just stay tuned to the newsletter and follow us on Instagram too, because we give them away in both places.
Have a great weekend, Miami. ✌️
– The New Tropic