Opa-locka, or opa-tisha-wocka-locka, if you’re brave enough to try the original natives’ name for the ‘wooded hammock in a swamp’ was founded in 1926 by Glenn Curtiss, a world famous
Curtiss was an inventor, entrepreneur and visionary. He dreamed of faraway places and Arabian nights, modeling his beloved city of Opa-locka after the fanciful Moorish Revival architecture that includes iconic and distinctive minarets.
Today, Opa-locka continues to be an exotic community that filled the dreams of its founder and appealing to anyone looking for something extraordinary and transformative.
Welcome to the Art of Transformation (AOT).
AOT is presented by the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC), headed up by former City Mayor Willie Logan, “The Art of Transformation is not just about art”, says Logan who has served as the executive director of the OLCDC since 1980. “It is also about recognition of place (Opa-locka), recognition of economic opportunities, and recognition of world-class fine art created by African Diaspora artists.”
Several AOT artists and events will be held at multiple venues during Art Basel Miami Beach such as the Perez Art Museum Miami and Little Haiti Cultural Arts Center. However, most AOT installations will be located in a warehouse transformed with a mural designed by a nationally renowned muralist and installed by established local artist Adonis Parker. The installation will showcase a bevy of highly talented emerging local artists eager to share their exceptional art and passion for art.
“This collaboration, which is supported by a $100,000 grant, is symbolic of what AOT represents,” says Logan, “showcasing art and artists and economic opportunities.”
While Opa-locka is removed from the center of the Art Basel Miami Beach events, the Opa-locka Airport is the first stop for more than 50 % of Art Basel Miami Beach visitors who arrive by private aircraft to attend this highly anticipated annual event. The main AOT installation is conveniently located just three blocks from the airport. Additionally, the Tri-Rail stop is across the street from the AOT installation and OLCDC is providing shuttle services during Art Basel.
Now in its third year, the AOT is a series of events, including performance and visual art, an interactive workshop, exhibit, and an Art, Food and Music Street Festival.
Curated by Tumelo Mosaka, formerly Curator of Contemporary Art at the Krannert Art Museum, the renowned South African brings a welcomed panache to AOT.
“I wanted to work off Curtiss’ imaginary vision for place making”, says Mosaka, who was inspired by the founder’s vision. Mosaka worked to bring artists from throughout the African Diaspora to represent the same uniqueness of character expressed by Curtiss’ original vision.
“I want to provoke a feeling of familiarity and distance associated with the image of Opa-locka as fiction and real”, says Mosaka.
The following is a sample list of artists and events:
- Dance performance artist, Nora Chipaumire will lead off the events on Friday, December 5th at the Little Haiti Cultural Center (212 NE 59th Street).
- Artist Emmanuel Pratt will conclude the AOT with In Plain Site, giving an interactive artist talk and workshop followed by a reception on December 13th at the Art & Recreation Center in Opa-locka (675 Ali Baba Avenue) where sculpture/installations (Nari Ward) and (Karyn Olivier), installations (Yashua Klos) and photographs (Renee Cox) will also be on exhibit.
- The entire series begins November 12th with Pamela Z, sound and performance artist, at a kick-off performance at Florida Memorial University.
- A street bash on November 15th in the heart of historic downtown Opa-locka will feature a DJ battle; arts, crafts and community vendors; a kids’ zone, and the opening of In Plain Sight. The exhibition remains open through Art Basel Miami Beach,, closing December 14th.
Funding for this series is made possible by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge, which aims to bring South Florida together through the arts, and in part by the Surdna Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts.
More information can be found at www.opalockaart.com or Twitter@opalockaart, instagram@opalockaart, or Facebook facebook.com/opalockaart.