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History will be made in 2010 as the Art Basel festival, which annually transforms Miami and Miami Beach into a global Mecca for visual art for a few heady days in early December, will be marked by an unprecedented presence of world-class African World art (from the Diaspora and the Motherland) in no less than four locations, from December 2-5.  

The newly opened two-level art gallery in the beautifully restored historic Ward Rooming House in Overtown, at 291 NW 9th Street, will host a history-making exhibition of works by the legendary original Florida Highwaymen, a group of artists who earned fame (and later, fortune) by selling their richly colored landscape paintings of the Everglades and other Florida wild lands right from their cars.  The26 original Highwaymen, of whom several are now deceased, became known throughout the state, as art lovers vied to own these fine works of original art at then-bargain prices.  

This exhibition, sponsored in part by the City of Miami Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), with its lush views of the beauty beyond the urban environment, is a most fitting way to put the new gallery, in the heart of the Overtown Folk Life Village, on the permanent map for art enthusiasts worldwide.  The exhibition has also earned in-kind support from the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust. Shuttle transportation will help the wider community and visitors to reach this and other venues.

No less significant is a unique exhibition of new and recent works by several Florida African World Artists entitled “African Roots/American Fruits.”   This “visual jazz concert” of paintings, drawings, sculptures and other works featuring several local artists takes place in Miami’s burgeoning Wynwood art district, at Artlab33 | Art Space, 2085B NW 2nd Avenue.  The exhibition is open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. during Art Basel, and will continue throughout the month of December, during gallery walks and by appointment.  It is also accessible by shuttle transportation during the Art Basel days.

Linking the two locations will be a third special attraction, the highly popular Kinad Mobile Museum, featuring a special educational/historical exhibition of “The Old Masters of African American Art” at the Overtown and Wynwood locations on December 3 and 4.  Kinad, Inc., a family-based nonprofit organization, which is also a co-sponsor of the Highwaymen exhibition, has become renowned throughout the state for its original displays of Black history and heritage, both aboard the Mobile Museum, which regularly visits schools and cultural institutions , and in such locations as the Florida State Capitol, Miami-Dade Government Center, and the Miami-Dade School Board.  The “Old Masters” is being unveiled for the first time during Art Basel, and is also sponsored in part by the City of Miami CRA.

The fourth exhibition is near, but yet far from the hubbub of the urban art scene, in the peaceful and  scenic location of Historic Virginia Key beach, 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, off Rickenbacker Causeway, on Virginia Key.  Entitled entitled “Ebony Beach,” this showing of acrylic paintings by minister and artist Alan Laird, enhanced by a display of rare artifacts of the segregation era from his personal collection, celebrates the history and heritage of historic Black beaches throughout the country.

Admission to all four exhibitions is open and free to the public.  These events are coordinated with other programs and exhibitions funded by the CRA, and publicity will be available at all locations.  For further information on the four exhibitions, please call 305-904-7620, or 786-260-2973.



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