Friday, February 18, 2011

Wrong Ways and Right Ways in Miami on a Thursday Night

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.


Sandra said...

Thank you SO much for coming, braving the one-way streets and dead zones of downtown! Great to see you again, and this post is lovely & generous. I'll share it with the LegalArt folks~


Sandy Longhorn said...

Sounds like a great night. Jealous me!

John M said...

..and when are you and said hubby acquiring 'your' warehouse/artist commune?

kathleen Carignan said...

I am the director of LegalArt and so glad you were able to join us for the open studios event. LegalArt's mission in the residency is to create a space where the creative community can come together and strengthen the arts in miami! And we want it to be fun...I look forward to seeing you at upcoming events you can check them out here at

Kristin said...

Sandra and Kathleen--thanks for such a wonderful night! And Sandy, some day we'll go to a poetry reading together!

John, don't think I haven't been pondering the possibilities, what with cheap land and buildings right now--well, cheap in some parts of the country! You could be cat-tender in chief!