While art galleries use light, specific arrangements, and curated exhibitions to display pieces of fine art, nothing compares to the natural light of sun and reflection of water.

Art Fort Lauderdale’s Art Fair on the Water offers an escape from the ordinary and brings art to life on the canals of Fort Lauderdale for one weekend every year, captivating visitors as they travel through homes dramatized by sculpture, light and mixed media artwork integrated into the landscape and walls for effect.
Illustrious mansions boast collections of art organized in a way that creates a truly unique experience. One of the major differences between Art Fair on the Water and other galleries you might visit, is the transportation. 

Rather than driving from gallery to gallery, attendants are whisked away on a water taxi to destinations along the tour. This event is as much of a tour of the city’s expansive waterways as it is an art exhibition.

There is a reason that Fort Lauderdale has become known as the “Venice of America.” Canals branch off the intracoastal creating water passages that are lined with expansive homes in this aqueous layout of our city.

As the tour boat glides through the water, breathtaking views of houses are revealed in which many of Fort Lauderdale’s wealthiest residents live and vacation. The boat driver guiding the tour shares the history and stories about the residents who reside in some of these more lavish homes. 

In this recent tour, stopping first at the Oscar Meyer home, passengers disembarked and were greeted by a myriad of fascinating artworks sprawled out on the lawn of the impressive waterfront property. Inside, a surreal display of life-like sculptures by local artist Leah Brown positioned in the living room welcomed guests and guided them further towards vibrant paintings that lined the many rooms along the way. Some hallways were lit only with brightly-colored swirling projections giving the illusion that while passing from room to room, you were being transported to another world.

Entering the second of three houses along the tour attendants viewed paintings along the walls of the two-story home as each room was presented in different brilliant colors. Spectators could feel the mood change as the colors matched their surroundings and each doorway suggested entering a completely different art experience, while natural light illuminated paintings creating a unique interchange between nature and art, light and space. 

The final house along the tour continued this intimate view of South Florida’s best artists. Free drinks were provided as the tour ended and paintings lit from behind demonstrated a sharp contrast against the flowing water of the intra-coastal in the back drop.

All the homes along the tour are for sale for those in the market in “Venice of America.”

Organizers of this inaugural tour have plans to come back next year and make the event even bigger and artistically diverse. As time passes they hope to grow the event into one of South Florida’s largest and most successful art events. Visit artftlauderdale.com for information on future tours.


Chris Shepard is a Broward Arts Journalism Alliance Writer with Broward Cultural Division. He was born and raised in sunny South Florida and feels that growing up in such an amazing state has given him the opportunity to draw inspiration from a locale rich in culture and full of adventure opportunities, which fuels his passion to document what he sees through writing and photographs.