By Nancy Dahlberg
The Miami Herald.
With champagne and red Ferraris or food trucks and yoga on the green, South Florida startups have found innovative ways to make splashy debuts or market their brands during Miami Art Week.
Some are launching, such as Artceleration, a new company created to merge the automotive and art world. For its Miami-style splash, no less than Ferrari race cars, big-name artists and a series of VIP events would do.
Wynwood Lab, a new members-only luxury lifestyle collaboration space, gallery and event venue, is opening its doors this week with a series of invite-only events, including its grand opening Thursday.
Wynwood Yard, a new culinary incubator and pop-up community gathering space, took a more zen-like approach, throwing open its space this week for grabbing a bite, catching up with work between gallery hops or taking in some music in the evenings.
Art Week seems to bring art, photography, music and fashion startups into the limelight, and a recent report by the entrepreneurship nonprofit Endeavor Miami found that the creative industries was one of the five fastest growth areas for entrepreneurship in South Florida.
Other local startups drawn to Art Week, however, see the creatives as potential customers.
Take Wynwood Yard for instance. Some threatening clouds and intermittent rain did not dampen its grand opening on Thanksgiving eve, in which a band played while people nibbled on samples from four food trucks or bellied up to a large bar under a big tent in the middle of the property, which also includes a community vegetable and herb garden. Coming soon to Wynwood Yard: a LivBox, designed by local startup WynBox (wyn-box.com), a sustainable container home that will be used for events.
Della Heiman, founder and CEO of Wynwood Yard (thewynwoodyard.com), recently opened the culinary incubator for talented food and beverage entrepreneurs on the property. She selected the food trucks that would accompany her own Della Test Kitchen, which serves what she calls plant-based “healthy bowls of happy.” In the incubator are sushi food truck Myumi, Middle Eastern concept The Arabian Knife, and the Americana-styled Vibe 305, which is staffed by young men from Empowered Youth, a nonprofit providing inner-city men with training, mentorship and job opportunities. The food truck businesses will get mentoring and take part in events, and will be rotated periodically.
“I want to activate this space and turn it into a community here,” said Heiman, noting that while there are many resources for technology entrepreneurs there are much fewer for culinary founders. “We’re building a collaborative ecosystem where entrepreneurs can rapidly test, iterate and incubate ideas on a daily basis. Startups will continuously hone their product based on real-time customer feedback, resulting in surprising new experiences for guests each time they visit.”
Wynwood Yard’s launch-related events include musical performances and dance parties, yoga , wine tastings and sunset spinning rides. All are welcome to the space at 56 NW 29th St., to take a respite from Art Basel mania, Heiman said.
Taking advantage of the exposure as thousands of art enthusiasts, serious collectors, high net worth investors and other Art Basel visitors descend on the Miami area, some art startups used the week to network, hold their own events or show off their products. Sktchy (sktchy.com) is an app and platform of 10,000 active artists who have created and shared more than 100,000 portraits. For Art Week, Sktchy is holding a pop-up drawing party at Books & Books Lincoln Road on Thursday afternoon with three Miami artists, said founder Jordan Melnick.
The teen-age students of DesignLab (designlabmiami.com), a fashion education company, will walk the runway at a fashion show at Fer Sucre Pop Gallery on Saturday, said founder Angie Cohen. Kurator (wekurate.xyz), which uses visual recognition algorithms to identify art and increase the marketplace for artists, is still in its testing phase but will be doing demos at the Sime MIA technology conference, Lyric Theater, N.Namdi, Kroma, Chop Shop and Prizm this week, said founder Michael Hall.
Wynwood Lab (WynwoodLab.com), at 120 NW 25th St., in Miami, used Art Week as a backdrop for a long lineup of launch events, starting with an announcement of more than a dozen artists who have joined the space and will be displaying their work. “Our lineup of artists is as eclectic as the Wynwood Arts District itself,” said Christi Tasker who co-founded the lab with Boyd Tasker. “We wanted to make a statement that the Lab is about exploring the broadest possible definitions of art and design, and we think we have done that.”
Among them are artists launching their own collections at the Wynwood Lab, including Miami native Gabriela Noelle with her own furnishing and accessory collection called Flower Child. Wynwood Lab will also be hosting a breakfast with Fashion Snoops’ CEO and “Lab Talks” on subjects such as Creating Sacred Spaces, Marrying Art and Design, The Art of Fine Furniture and a discussion with shoe designers Donald and Lisa Pliner.
While some startups choose to soft launch their products or services, not Artceleration. Just over a month ago, Neil Handler, CEO of ANSA Motorcars, Patrick Glemaud, owner of Macaya Gallery, and startup entrepreneur Frankie Coletto founded Artceleration (artceleration.com), which aims to showcase one-of-a-kind art by collaborating with high-profile artists to paint racing, vintage or exotic vehicles. They plan to auction the vehicles and give a percentage of profits to charities. And there’s no slow lane for this group: The launch had to be at Art Basel and it had to make a splash — no small feat in this town.
For Art Week, they secured well-known artists RETNA, Ben Levy and Edouard Duval-Carrie for the first trio of Ferraris. The cars are Ferrari F430 Challenge Race Cars, and each has quite the racing pedigree, said Coletto, who also runs the ed-tech company PassTheNotes. The local nonprofits that will receive a portion of the auction proceeds are the Miami Children’s Health Foundation, the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at University of Miami, and the Little Haiti Cultural Center.
On Monday night, RETNA put some finishing touches on the car as it was unveiled to a VIP crowd at Macaya Gallery in Wynwood.
RETNA, a world-renowned graffiti artist, said he has painted a Rolls Royce and a VistaJet, but this was his first Ferrari.
“I’ve always been in love with great automotive design. I once traded a couple of paintings for an old Maserati,” said the artist, who recently was commissioned for an upcoming album cover for Justin Bieber. The auction has started for the RETNA Ferrari at $400,000.
Ben Levy, a British contemporary portrait artist, and local Haitian artist Duval-Carrie are painting their Ferraris this week at VIP events and those, too, will be added to the launch week auction. The rush to launch was worth it, said Macaya’s Glemaud: “We had to take this to the next level — we had to launch during Art Basel.”