As Urban Beach Week raged through South Beach, compelling handcuff-happy cops to make a flood of arrests – not to mention the most legitimate display of cannibalism since Big Lurch’s incarceration that happened just over the bridge – Fort Lauderdale’s Fat Village Arts District held it’s monthly Art Walk.
The event featured open gallery exhibitions, fashion shows, performance artists, and a smattering of food trucks offering some insulation from the free-flowing booze served by many of the galleries involved.
As I walked around the somewhat-busy row of open warehouse bays, a menagerie of artistically minded archetypes greeted me. First was a pair of steam punks dressed in full copper garb, including leather goggles and tiny lady hats. Then, your standard-issue guy with a live snake wrapped around his neck and some kind of plushy hat. There was a girl on stilts with a plastic umbrella walking around, and I spotted more than a few people stewing in patent leather pants which even the humid Florida evening could not persuade them to leave on hanger. In fact, Art Walk itself seemed like an unofficial fashion show, a scene reminding me of those last few stragglers you see pattering about at Burning Man.
All things considered, the people-watching made for a considerably more entertaining time than most of the art on exhibit on Saturday night. When compared to Miami’s own monthly Art Walk events, the Fat Village Art Walk served as an unfortunate reminder that the area simply does not harbor the same kind of cultural density as its sister city to the south. Though much of the visual art was well done, particularly some of the installation and sculpture pieces on exhibit, the vibe in general was simply lacking. Miami’s Art Walk usually boasts its share of outlandish-looking characters, too, but there is always an air of sophistication to the evening; every month feels like a small build-up to Art Basel.
Instead, take Circus Basura (Translation: trash circus), which brought a vintage Airstream trailer, festooned with decals and lights to FAT Village. Inside the trailer was a fortune teller by the name of Plamen Plotsky detailing the futures of those interested enough to step inside. In front of the trailer, several women dressed as cats stalked and danced inside a cage. Edgy? Not even a cat-lover would have thought so.
Negatives aside, the potential for growth is present, and was made especially evident during the 15-minute fashion show put on by Public Image Vintage in conjunction with the Art Institute. As the outside walls of a brightly lit warehouse space received a mural, a runway inside saw student models in vintage fashions strutting up and down to the sounds being spun by Radio-Active Records’ Mikey R. Graffiti art arranged along the walls served as an inspired backdrop, and vibes were positive. It was one of the more polished events of Art Walk, with the expertly selected outfits all receiving a great deal of praise and applause. However, Public Image’s curated collection of hand-selected ensembles was followed by a less successful fashion show, featuring a handful of young women wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with a cartoon gorilla. They donned different pieces of strategically torn clothing to underline the versatility of said gorilla shirt. But all it did creatively was remind me that in Fort Lauderdale, a screen-printed T-shirt passes as talent.
– David von Bader