Friday, March 23, 2007

MOCA ~ North Miami's Museum Of Contemporary Art

North Miami has had an active arts community for as long as I can remember, from a spring arts festival in Griffing Park that included everything from live music and dance to artists' booths featuring their work. The old water department building behind city hall was taken over by the Society Of The Arts years ago as gallery and classroom space. Then perhaps a dozen years ago the city got ambitious. Really asmbitious! An effort was made to lure galleries and cafes into the downtown area. Landlords were encouraged to update, and to some degree standardize, the facades of the old 1940's era buildings along N.E. 125th Street. An art musum was designed and constructed. Along with the new building for the Museum Of Contemporary Art next to city hall we got a brand new police station on the other side of MOCA.

I was talking with Councilman Scott Galvin about all these changes and improvements to the downtown area of North Miami. He was really excited about all the things that have taken place in the last few years. He told me that the city is making a major effort to entice more art galleries to the area. The Luna Star Cafe across the street also has art exhibits, as well as live music and poetry on weekends. The avenue just west of city hall has been bocked off to car traffic and paved with bricks in a continuation of the brick patio next to city hall. A brand new Starbucks just opened on that corner and it too has art exhibits along with live music. The music I really enjoy best is the Jamaican Reggae music but jazz and folk are also featured along with poetry readings. Scott is looking forward to seeing galleries, boutiques, and cafes lining both sides of the street for several blocks.

In this photo I'm reading the paper outside of Starbucks with MOCA in the background. If I'd gotten my hair cut you could probably see part of the new police station on the right side of the photo. City hall is out of frame on the left. The city sets up its Showmobile on the patio and holds live outdoor concerts from time to time. Unless it's a really torrential downpour there are always people outside of both Starbucks and the Lunastar Cafe drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes under the umbrellas.


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