ArtServe’s new executive director Craig W. Johnson has big plans for the arts incubator celebrating its 30thanniversary. Johnson, who made the move to Fort Lauderdale from Orlando just five month ago, has a long record cultivating new arts organizations.
“South Florida is incredibly exciting, especially Broward County. One of the reasons I wanted to be here and accepted the position is the state of the arts in Broward County. It’s an exciting and vibratory place—there’s a level of excitement to collaborate and bring people together through the arts,” he said.
Planning for the anniversary season began with a series of listening sessions with artists, interviews with South Florida curators and dialogues with community leaders in areas ranging from arts advocacy to social service.
“We asked the question: Where do we (ArtServe) fit in the cultural ecosystem? We knew there were a great number of artists who wanted to make an impact in the community, but perhaps lacked the infrastructure or connections,” said Johnson.
The answer was an ambitious season beginning on Thursday, Aug. 22 with “HOME: An Artistic Celebration of Community,” an experimental multi-disciplinary arts experience inspired by metaphors of habitat, community and the related idea of belonging.
"Thou Art Woman is excited to be in the house for HOME! We were invited to work with other selected artists to create a collaborative performance piece. At HOME we’ll also host one of the creative labs available during each event. We’ve named our lab the ‘Thou Art Woman Zone at HOME,’ said G. Wright Muir, co-founder & producer of Thou Art Woman. "Thou Art Woman is best known for its spoken word artists and for creating opportunities for the every day person to perform. So attendees can expect to see our professional LGBTQ poets perform and expect to have the chance to ‘bless’ the mic as well during the open mic segment. Bring your poetry or you can write a piece right there in the Thou Art Woman Zone at HOME.”
Guests of the event will gain access to ArtServe’s creative laboratory, connect with cultural influencers and interact with artists as they build a collaborative performance piece that will debut at the close of the event.
The eight-minute multimedia presentation will be directed by Dario J. Moore and feature former Miami City Ballet dancer and stroke survivor Isanusi Garcia Rodriguez and his mother, Perla Rodriguez, a renowned former dancer from Cuba.
Following a stroke that left the right side of his body paralyzed, Rodriguez was forced to reinvent himself, subsequently discovering a new joy and purpose in life through art, family and community. The performance will be partially inspired by Rodriguez’s perception of “home” through a celebration of his Cuban heritage and the transcendence of his physical limitations.
Next up, ArtServe’s 30thanniversary showcase exhibit will be on display in the Sunrise Blvd. gallery from Oct. 9 – Dec. 27 and feature vibrant, thought-provoking and enriching explorations of culture, spirituality, identity and environment in an ever-fragile world, according to Johnson, an important preview of exhibitions to follow.
Future shows include “Roots of the Spirit” (Jan. 15 – Feb. 27, 2020), a multimedia exhibition designed to stimulate awareness of the significant philosophical and spiritual ideas that emerged from Africa and its diaspora; “Changing Landscapes” (April 8 – May 29, 2020), performing and visual art works that ask audiences to consider the needs of the global environment and its inhabitants, as well as the human effect on South Florida’s ecosystem; and “su·i ge·ne·ris” (July 1 – Aug. 28, 2020), a multi-disciplinary exhibition that will explore perspectives in gender, class, age, culture, sexual identity and race.
In addition to traditional exhibitions and performances, ArtServe will continue to host several monthly creative programs:
The Changemaker Circle is a monthly networking and strategic planning series for artists, entrepreneurs, creative professionals, service leaders and changemakers who are interested in making a positive and powerful difference in the community through the arts. This group meets on the third Friday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
Trending Tuesday! meets on the second Tuesday of each month, offering the public an interactive experience with artists, curators and special guests representing the current exhibition on display in the ArtServe gallery.
The VoiceBox, a spoken word open mic night created for teens and presented in partnership with the Jason Taylor Foundation's Omari Hardwick blueapple Poetry Network, presents South Florida teens the opportunity to transform their life experiences into spoken word artistry. Signup is at 6:30 p.m. and performances start at 7 p.m. on the last Friday of each month.
To learn more and reserve tickets to “HOME: An Artistic Celebration of Community” on Thursday, Aug. 22, go to ArtServe.org.