The approval by the IRS of the 501.C3 public charity status in 2011 provided Grace Arts Center (GAC) the means to formalize and expand programs '... taking art beyond the gallery walls.' GAC's mission is to maximize donations, grants and in-kind professional talent to produce and present programs that identify emerging artists, embrace tradition, maintain excellence and create opportunities for innovation in arts and related fields of sciences and humanities. GAC's general programming includes three areas: cultural exhibits, performances and urban design engagements sharing multiple disciplines and featuring South Florida's leading Innovators to entertain and inform the public.
Grace Arts Center (GAC) is a public charity and evolved from years of arts and cultural community outreach of Grace Cafe and Galleries, a retail art gallery, studio, coffee bar & pop-up cafe. For over a decade, the gallery sponsored outdoor festivals, after school arts programs, scholarships, downtown vibrancy initiatives to restore historical areas, international design competitions, performances, and public art projects. The separate gallery business still engages professional talent from all over the globe providing a platform for artists and designers to invest their time, talent and resources to inspire excellence and innovation benefiting all people living or visiting South Florida.
Sponsoring Art Miami 's 2007 'Director's Choice' Artist Exhibition ('Wall of Peace') for the late self-taught Painter, Purvis Young who passed in 2010, was a pivotal moment for the Gallery and the development of a variety of programs. In 2005, other artists joined Young painting or performing in the gallery and cafe creating a niche for both Florida's distinctive Outsider Art community (such as the Florida's Highwaymen landscape painters) and partnerships with institutionally trained fine art professionals. With the new charitable status, GAC expanded opportunities for apprentice programs, workshops, art exhibits and performances to explore 'outsider art' and diverse cultures through the lens of history, archaeology and geology.
Gallery and Studio work with tango, ballet, hip hop communities, filmmakers, musical bands, singer/songwriters, actor groups and visual artists built a variety of strong collaborations. Professionals from multiple disciplines continue to invest into the lives of young students to create vibrant programs with wide support from the creative community, press and the public.
Original Performances (Dance & Theater)
GAC creates original theater and dance projects, including 'Shakespeare's La Florida,' featuring all professional dancers, actors and visual artists with original scripts, choreography and music - now in its fourth iteration. Each year a new 'chapter' includes mash-up's of Shakespeare's first and last plays infused with Florida history. The scripts include commissioned research from historians and anthropologists and re-imagine Florida as it might have been described to Shakespeare and his playwright peers of other powerful colonial nations. Each chapter's folkloric, traditional cultural music and dance is introduced alongside classical and contemporary arrangements and movements. GAC partners with multiple professional theater and dance companies for performances, directing selected talent and curating photography, live painting and 3-D video elements on stage. The 2020 chapter will also feature rarely seen artifacts and clothing from Florida's 'First Peoples.'
'Shakespeare's La Florida' series: R&J [Romeo and Juliet] - Tempest Too ( 2017 chapter video) features current members and previous Principal Dancers from the Miami City Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami; subsequent chapter three, Romeo & Juliet - La Tormenta (2018 video) also features members of the Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami and the Shakespeare Troupe of South Florida. 2019 featured Miami City Ballet school instructor and dancer, Emily Ricca, choreographing and dancing a ballet work to the stunning original music of 'Ulali.' The first chapter began in 2014 pairing talented student actors and dancers with professional cast members, including Broadway Performer, Gelan Lambert, guest choreographer from New York City and a Miami native. The 2017 performance was a feature as part of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Spotlight digital magazine. The project became storytelling about Florida's real family odysseys (see the video) from precolonial to modern America.
Sponsored Film & Technology Events
Examples of sponsored events include 2012 screenings of award-winning humanities, arts and science fiction films. Florida filmmaker, Mark Moormann, shared his acclaimed documentary, Tom Dowd & The Language of Music, about a young scientist drafted into the military as a student who contributed to the Manhattan Project, and after WWII went on to create the first sound board engineering some of the most famous tracks of all time (in Miami) by Artists including Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers Band, Les Paul, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. This event was followed by a science fiction film series by geologists whose imaginings were not far from the headlines of past years of interplanetary exploration and commercial science experimentation. These Florida residents and filmmaker-scientists went on to create the Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival, and continue to share compelling scientific research with artists as part of GAC projects. Florida is at the forefront of science and innovation and the arts are natural partners to express great ideas to the public, business community and institutions.
In 2017, GAC sponsored and curated a pilot project - 'The Light Project' - with longtime Miami Artist, Mark Diamond, creating 'an estuary flow' on the water's surface of the historic New River with computer-programmed LED lighting, mimicking fresh and brackish water as it dynamically interfaces with the sea. This project will be expanded as part of a 'Venice of America' series of design conversations in 2019.
Multidisciplinary Projects combining visual art, design and discussion
In the first quarter of 2018, GAC underwrote, curated and promoted public art installations in three South Florida cities creating murals and tech 'pop-up' art that connected a series of commercial, public and historic buildings, and nearby bodies of water, facilitating revitalization for neighborhood residents, businesses and visitors. During that same period, GAC organized and hosted a series of COAT (community of artists transform) Talks - discussions about design and innovation in Florida's built and natural environments. Seventeen (17) noted visual artists, seven (7) architects, five (5) urban designers, three (3) cultural landscape geographers, and two (2) geologists participated in conversations with the public at no charge in landmark properties and local theaters. GAC's #artworks continued with the creation and sponsorship of an international design competition for 'urban shade' for the downtown Fort Lauderdale area in 2019 -20. GAC thanks the 'Community Foundation of Broward ' among other organizations for generous support of COAT and #artworks, an initiative supporting a wide variety of art and design professionals, events in the region, inspiring a new generation to learn and apply creative and critical thinking.
In 2019, GAC sponsored a mobile art pavilion studio at Florida International University's school of communitcation + architecture + arts (CARTA) providing the art center opportunities to continue to develop and present the highest level art and cultural content to a wide variety of communities beginning in 2020.
Florida's diverse community inspires projects serving a wide variety of audiences and pairing emerging with experienced artists. The 2017 'Reinterpreting the Pioneer' explored multiple angles of culture through a series of pop up art exhibits, culture labs, and humanities lectures at the Fort Lauderdale History Museum. A core group of Outsider (self-taught) painters and sculptors were the centerpiece, commemorating thirty (30) years since the Museum of Art of Fort Lauderdale (now NSU Art Museum) unveiled a bold exhibit of sixteen self-taught Creatives, 'A Separate Reality: Florida's Eccentrics' (curated by Bolge and Valdez) using a lens of the artist at the fringe of conventional society to view South Florida's broader cultural history and impacts of lesser known pioneer people groups. A new version of this exhibit will be created in 2020 for the mobile art pavilion.
Other studio design projects in 2015-16 include #AtHomeWithArt , a seminal event for Broward Artists to exhibit alongside interior designers at the Broward and Miami-Dade County Convention Centers. A sustainable table design workshop (Halcyon) with local public schools' magnet Advanced Placement arts program assisted in the design of small marquetry inlays at corrugated surfaces; a pilot project (video) with Highwaymen Artists led to inaugural summer 'studio in plein air,' public school art classrooms at collaborating historical property, Old Davie School Historical Museum.
Contact us if you are considering the arts as a means to raise funds for your organization or call about participating in programs and projects, suggest ideas or ask about ways to volunteer or donate to Grace Arts Center, a registered, licensed public 501 (c) 3 Florida charity.
Gallery exhibit of Local Artists 2006
Release party for local Hip hop/Indie fusion album 'The Dive' by '85' 2013
Big Band Jazz Nights at Grace Arts Center with 'Mike Norris Band' 2012
ArtMiami 2007 Director's Choice Main Exhibit Entryway