Gifford Lane Art Stroll Never Ceases to Amaze
(Coconut Grove, FL…) It’s free. It’s fun. It’s the Grove the way the Grove oncewas. The fourteenth annual Gifford LaneArt Stroll will take place on Sunday, March 18th from 12 noon tofive p.m. It’s the Grove’s other artfestival. You will find it in Coconut Grovenear the Kirk Munroe tennis courts, rolled out along one sleepy little block ofGifford Lane between Oak and Day Avenues (3200 block).
“The thing is,” says Trina Collins one of the founders ofthe Stroll, “at lots of arts festivals, artists are primarily interested inshowing their work. At the Gifford LaneArt Stroll, artists come here to sell their work and sell they do. The price is right. The quality’s good. It is rare to see a person at the Stroll whodoesn’t have some new treasure tucked under their arm walking up the lane.”
The Coconut Grove event features work by more than seventyartists positioned along the normally quiet little lane on fences, in frontyards, on clotheslines, in trees, and on ladders. Here you will find some of the finest artistsin the region up close and personal.
The truth about the Gifford Lane Art Stroll is that it isattended by thousands of people each year. The date changes every year. Almost the only way you are going to hearabout the Gifford Lane Art Stroll is by word of mouth—it is like beingpersonally invited to the party.
The Art Stroll gives away all of the profit taken in fromthe sale of cucumber punch, broiled burgers, hot dogs, grilled shrimp,wonderful ribs and, of course, tons of art. Over the years, the Stroll has donated more than $40,000 to two Grovecharities– the St. Stephen’s AIDS Ministry and the St. Alban’s ChildEnrichment Center in the Grove Village West.
Sculpture, portraits, sea and landscapes, tile mosaics,large abstract paintings, photography, mixed media, jewelry, and several artforms that as yet have no name will be displayed along the shady lane in thelaid back tropical setting.
The art. Thevibe. The cucumbers. Rock and roll. The blues.
Quick, name one art festival in South Florida that boastsits own libation. The Gifford Lane ArtStroll has been serving thousands of glasses of cucumber punch for more than adecade – it’s been mentioned in The New York Times. The recipe for cucumber punch was onceprinted in the Miami Herald as part of its review of the Gifford Laneart celebration. The intoxicatinglyheady elixir is only stirred up once a year. It produces a mellow and pleasing vibe that allows people to step asideand relax. Somewhere late in theafternoon, an indulgence in the cucumber punch causes people to want to go outinto the street and dance, which they do by the hundreds.
All sorts of folks show up for the festivities, people fromthe next block, folks from Miami Beach vaguely seeking something authentic,mayors of wherever, young parents with their young kids, well known County and Citypoliticians, now and then a Republican state representative, celebrities,bankers, activists, retired sports stars, and now people from out of state areshowing up for what has been called one cool art party.
The live music is nonstop all afternoon and the tunes aresweet, sweeter, and sweetest. Inaddition to the always diverting Coconut Grove Juggling Exchange, there willalso be a number of bands rocking out. Headlining this year’s music line-up is Josh Rowand, The Pit Bull of Blues– a band that also features his father Denny Rowand of Outda D’Blues fame. Last summer, The Pit Bull of Blues blew awayan audience of thousands at the Grove’s Fourth of July Fireworks concert.
Also playing at the Stroll throughout the afternoon will bethe versatile Sam Sims’ Trio as well as the folk and rock tunesmiths SolarDogs.
Grove artist Dan Bondroff, a mainstay of the Coconut GroveArts Festival, is this year’s Gifford Lane poster artist with his dark and vibrantGroveMarina Sunrise.
The legendary little Gifford Lane Art Stroll continues aGrove tradition of wild and crazy artists who defied convention to bring peopletogether in a magical clearing under the trees. More than a decade ago, a half-dozen active artists lived along thisblock. They started the tradition. Most of them have now moved away but a heartyband of some thirty to forty neighbors meet frequently to carry on this mostunlikely of all arts festivals.
The Art Stroll has now changed Gifford Lane itself. “We only have the Art Stroll one afternoon ayear”, says founder Trina Collins, ‘but we now have residents who havepurchased homes on the block because of the Art Stroll. They came, they stayed. In the months of January through March wehave potluck suppers with 30 – 40 folks in people’s homes and have some amazingfood and planning sessions. It is reallyquite remarkable how this little festival has brought so many diverse neighborstogether. We all know each other as aresult of this. It has made us acommunity. That doesn’t happen inMiami. The Gifford Lane Art Stroll is areal friendly afternoon in Coconut Grove. Everybody should come on out and buy some artand have some cucumber punch. It is agood vibe because all of the money raised stays here in the Grove to helppeople here.”
Once again this year, all of the participating artists’ atthe Art Stroll will be giving back a percentage of their sales to Grovecharities – this percentage will be added to contributions by the public and byneighbors along the block.
The Gifford Lane Art Stroll promises to be good-heartedafternoon of delights under the leafy canopy on Sunday, March 18 from 12 noonto 5:00 p.m. Be sure to be there.