CLAUDIA CASTILLO Art Studio is nestled in the heart of Wilton Manors along The Drive.
If you’re not looking, you may miss it. But if you see Claudia Castillo anywhere, you can’t miss her. Her bright smile and signature glasses invite you to say hi even if you’ve never met her, even if you have no idea she’s one of South Florida’s brightest stars in the art community.
Her art studio is celebrating its five-year anniversary and she talked with SFGN about what’s next and how far she’s come.
“These five years have been very rewarding and challenging at the same time. We all went through many difficulties during the pandemic, and I am so pleased with the support the community has given us and how we have been able to continue to provide beautiful artwork and unique gifts to this community in spite of the challenges faced.”
She’s also taken her work off The Drive and on the road.
“As an artist, I have grown tremendously now exhibiting in several countries in Europe and last year at the Florence Biennale. As you know I also give a lot of my time to this great city and have done numerous projects such as the liquor store mural.”
The Art of Beautification
Castillo’s creativity knows no bounds so it makes sense that she’s using her talents to make her mark on Wilton Manors’ public spaces. Most recently she added a few splashes of color up and down Wilton Drive by painting the parking meters in rainbow colors.
“I always felt there was something that needed to be done with the parking meter at the front of my studio. I would constantly hear from the public a lot of complaints about how ugly and unsightly they were. I realized that I could paint them with bright and bold colors to express happiness.”
She got permission to start with the meter in front of her studio.
The project quickly took on a life of its own.
“I cannot tell you how many tourists, families, and children came to me to tell me they love it and took pictures with the meter. Then they started to tell me that I should paint the rest of the meters on the Drive.”
The city said yes and soon The Drive was alive with rainbows. But look closely and you’ll see each one is different than the one next to it.
“Each is painted with the same bright and bold colors however their order varies from meter to meter.”
People driving in or out of Wilton Manors using NE 4th Ave/Wilton Drive see her art during every trip. She championed painting the Rainbow Bridge.
“The Rainbow Bridge was a labor of love that I was so happy to be able to complete for my friend [late Wilton Manors mayor] Justin Flippen, as it was his last idea for our wonderful city.”
The “pocket park” across from Wilton Manors City Hall is also named for Flippen, and his friend left her artistic mark there, too.
“I am also very proud to have my manatee sculpture on display at Justin Flippen Park.”
After years of planning, Wilton Manors is on the verge of a building boom. With more than 1,100 units tentatively planned, groundbreaking could be relatively soon. Castillo maintains that maintaining and creating new art is important in helping the city keep its small, artsy vibe.
“I hope the small town, quaint, inclusive character of this community is not lost in the future development and that the small businesses that make this community strong are considered and maintained.”
Part of setting that tone is through public art.
“Art is always necessary for any community, ours has more of it in a small area because of the character of Wilton Drive. Whatever the future brings, art will definitely be a part of it in architecture and public art as most developers understand that value.”
She takes an interest in anything related to the city. You’ll often see her at city commission meetings, business openings, special events and more.
As for the future, Castillo has her favorite materials and mediums.
“Painting on large canvases and exploring new materials that I can use to get the most vibrant colors in my artwork.”
But like so many artists, she has plenty of great ideas but not enough time.
“I never have enough time for all of the art projects that are in my mind. I will be traveling to Madrid in late October and to Barcelona in November to exhibit my work and I know the trip will again inspire me to develop new projects for the upcoming year.”
“I hope that everyone can visit the studio in the next few months to enjoy our new collections of artist’s work, my artwork and all of the unique gift ideas for the holidays!”
To see more of her work online, visit ClaudiaCastilloArtStudio.com.
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