Last night, my spouse and I headed down to Miami to hear the fabulous Sandra Beasley read her poetry and to enjoy the Open Studio night at the LegalArts residency building. At first, I thought we were in for a disastrous night. I had dutifully printed the Mapquest directions, but I had failed to realize that the end part of the directions hadn't printed. We zoomed by the building, and when I turned around, I was driving the wrong way down a one way street. I know that because a police cruiser turned on its lights and pulled over to my window to tell me so.
Luckily, the policeman was kind and took pity on me. He said, "Go to that corner and turn right and you'll be fine." No written warning, no ticket. But why? Because I looked like an out-of-place, suburban, middle-aged woman? Because my spouse sat beside me with his reflective glasses, short hair cut, and dress shirt and tie--a look that gives him an undercover, DEA/FBI/CIA agent kind of look? For whatever reason, we caught a break.
We weren't very far away from the building, and we quickly got our bearings. We parked and went upstairs to the studio floor of the LegalArts building.
What a cool concept, to provide affordable living/working space for artists. What a great idea, to salvage an old warehouse of a building. How wonderful to open up the building to guests so that we can see what everybody is up to.
We walked into the Sandra Beasley's studio. My first thought: whoa, I've never been to a poetry reading in someone's bedroom. But Sandra was a gracious host, and the reading was wonderful. If you ever have a chance to hear her read, don't miss it! She read poems and then she read an essay which explored the moment just before a school talent show when she committed to her poet self. The short piece was also an interesting meditation on her mother, a painter, and the tensions that women face as they try to balance family responsibilities and artistic vision. It's an issue that still interests her, as evidenced by her great blog post where Sandra responds to the Vida statistics about the differences in men's writing and women's writing that gets submitted and published.
After the reading, we visited the other studios. We met artists who are doing interesting things with paint and with light and and with pencil and with neckties. It was cool to talk to the artists, who were all so welcoming.
Afterwards, we drove to a Miami wine store which has been sending me enticing e-mails. On the way back, we got a bit turned around and got to see downtown Miami close up. It's interesting to think about how the downtown has changed since we moved here in 1998--so many more high rises. When we first moved here, downtown Miami had a bit of a seedy air, with a lot of abandoned buildings where now there is an arena and a revitalized arts district and an international financial district. And lots of traffic for a Thursday night!
But we made our way home, and tucked ourselves in, happy to have had something different to do on a weeknight.
The LegalArts people are up to something interesting in downtown Miami. I look forward to seeing what they do with their space and their opportunities.
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