Gifford Lane Art Stroll 3/6/11

Coconut Grove’s Other Art Festival
Gifford Lane between Oak and Day Avenues (3200 block)
Sunday, March 6th from 12 noon to five o’clock.

Gifford Lane Art Stroll Reappears for 13th Year as World’s Coolest Small Arts Festival

It’s the Grove the way the Grove once was. The lucky thirteenth annual celebration of the original Gifford Lane Art Stroll will burst into colors, smiles, and rocking music along one usually sleepy little block of Gifford Lane between Oak and Day Avenues (3200 block) on Sunday, March 6th from 12 noon to five o’clock.

The event features more than seventy visual artists displaying their works on the fences and in the front yards along the demure little lane, including a number of the finest artists in the region.

Sculpture, portraits, tile mosaics, large abstract paintings, photography, mixed media, and jewelry, as well as several specific art forms that have no name will be displayed along the shady lane in the informal tropical setting.

The Art Stroll has long established a strong reputation for first rate art that sells at amazingly affordable prices. Unlike some other street festivals, the Stroll is known among the artist community as a place where artists really come to sell and people come to buy. Artists line up to get in this show. All sorts of folks show up for the festivities: people from the next block, celebrities from the Beach, well-known City and County politicians, sports stars, and now people from out of state are showing up for what is called one cool art party.

Some neighbors open their homes to perfect strangers who want to just hang out and chat or maybe use the rest room or discuss any and everything under the sun.

This is one amazing place to buy tropical art and tuck it under your arm, but it is an even more remarkable place to just chill, sip endless glasses of intoxicating cucumber punch, or eat grilled shrimp on big skewers, have home cooked burgers, and participate in long leisurely political or philosophical conversations with absolute strangers, and then do some mean dancing in the street, and then dance a little more.

The live music is nonstop all afternoon and the tunes are sweet, sweeter, and sweetest. In addition to the Coconut Grove Juggling Exchange, there will also be a number of popular bands appearing, including: Twisted Willy; Denny Rowand, lead singer from Outta D’ Blues; Solar Dogs; Birds on a Wire; and The Transition Blues Band Unplugged. Additionally, other well-known musicians, including Izzy Buholzer, are expected to drop by and jam. There is plenty of street dancing as the party progresses. Live music, old style.

The legendary little Gifford Lane Art Stroll continues a Grove tradition of wild and crazy artists who defy convention to bring people together in a magical clearing under the trees. More than a decade ago, a half-dozen active artists lived on this block of Gifford. They started the tradition. Most of them have now moved away but a hearty band of neighbors-several dozen strong–meet frequently to carry on this most unlikely of all arts festivals.

Almost the only way you are going to hear about the Gifford Lane Art Stroll is by word of mouth. Each year thousands of people attend over the course of the afternoon. People who knew the Grove decades ago swear this is the closest thing you’re ever going to experience that looks and feels just exactly like the old Grove the way it was.

“We only have the Art Stroll one afternoon a year,” says founder Trina Collins, “but we now have residents who have purchased homes on the block because of the Art Stroll. It is all done by resident volunteers. In the months of January through March we have potluck suppers with 25 to 40 folks in people’s homes and have some amazing food and planning sessions. It is really quite remarkable how this little festival has brought so many diverse neighbors together. We all know each other as a result of this. It has made us a community. The Gifford Lane Art Stroll is a real friendly afternoon in Coconut Grove. Everybody should come out and buy some art and have some cucumber punch.”

Once again this year, all of the participating artists at the Art Stroll will be giving a percentage of their sales to two Grove charities-this percentage will be added to contributions made by the public and neighbors living on the block. The two benefiting Grove charities are the St. Stephen’s AIDS Ministry and the St. Alban’s Day Care Center in the Village West. Each year, the Art Stroll donates 100% of the proceeds to the charities. Last year more than $4,000 cash was donated. More than $30,000 has been contributed to Grove charities since the Art Stroll began.

The Gifford Lane Art Stroll promises to be a good hearted afternoon of delights under the leafy canopy on Sunday, March 6 from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m. Be sure to be there.