Monday, June 05, 2006

North Miami Art Festival - The Way It Was


Back in the 60's and 70's the North Miami Art Festival was an annual week long getting together of the art community in Griffing Park, drawing people from the surrounding towns to a week of plays and ballet, concerts and childrens theater, and exhibits by dozens of artists. And of course there were lots of food vendors.

The North Miami Society of the Arts, the organization behind the festival, was a major force in town, and the mayor's wife, LouAnn Colodny, was a major force in the Society. It also helped that the the local congressman's wife, Joan Lehman, was a metal sculpter of some fame and lived in neighboring Biscayne Park just south of North Miami. It always helps when people with political connections are involved. The area back then was populated by a mix of Jews, Italians, Greeks, southern rednecks, and a smattering of others, but all English speaking. There was a sense of community that went beyond the differences. We'd yet to get the influx of Hispanics speaking Spanish, and Kreyole speaking Haitians. Almost everybody was white.

As time passed the city was changing and the festival's name was changed to Arti Gras in an effort to stimulate some renewed interest. Rather than embracing one anothers' music the music pushed people apart. Rap with its heavy beat, reggae with its syncopation, folk, jazz and classical all had an appeal, but not to the same audience. Somehow people who'd eat grilled lamb with Greek salad found curried goat just a bit too foreign. Now we have the modern Museum of Contemporary Art next to city hall but the sense of community is gone.

This photo was shot on Ektachrome with an M Leica and a 35mm Summicron.

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