Explore Ward Rooming House In Historic Overtown


Mural by Purvis Young in Historic Overtown

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By: Ashlee Thomas

History can be found in each stroke of acrylic paint, behind the lens of the photographer, and in the bronze of each sculpture when entering the Ward Rooming House in Historic Overtown. This building, now a part of the National Registry of Historical Sites, has been transformed from a safehouse for Blacks and Indigenous people gathered during segregation to an immaculate gallery under the curatorial direction of Hampton Art Lovers. Featuring the elites of the Black Art world, the Ward Rooming House hosts exhibitions that include works from Maya Angelou’s personal collection, sculptures and artwork of Elizabeth Catlett, the Photography of Phillip Shung that explore the cultural identities of Haiti and Senegal, just to name a few.

For the cultural explorer, The Ward Rooming House delivers. Curated by Hampton Art Lovers, this intimate setting is great for the art connoisseur, historian and intellectual. From art talks to sip and paint nights, here are some must-attend events for your Miami travel itinerary during the fall season.

On Exhibit At Ward Rooming House:

The Awakening: Drawings and Sculptures of Basil Watson | November 16, 2019

Presented by Hampton Art Lovers
249 Northwest 9th Street, Miami 33136

Awarded an Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government, Basil Watson is a fine artist to be seen and celebrated. Barrington ‘Basil’ Watson broke color barriers being one of first Black students to attend the Royal Academy of London. Continuing his studies at the Jamaican school of Art he achieved artistic notoriety across the country including his monumental works on three of Jamaica's primary universities and signature works at two of the island's major stadiums.

On exhibit through November 16, 2019 at the Ward Rooming House, The Awakening features Basil Watson’s work and can be studied up close and personal. More than 40 years of artistic breadth is found in each sculpture, elegantly crafted for display. Patrons have the privilege to explore the human form from Watson’s perspective. Whether his hands are busy at work on a commissioned 12-foot sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr. or on a figurine of an unnamed muse, the beauty of Watson’s work is in the detail – each wrinkle in the brow and angle of swift movement frozen in time.

Enjoy the exhibition in Historic Overtown, the first city in South Florida where Black Miamian’s freely communed in the era of Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, James Brown and Purvis Young.

Point Comfort Art Fair + Show 2019
December 5, 2019 –December 8, 2019

During the hottest art season of the year, Hampton Art Lovers presents the Point Comfort Art Fair and Show in the Historic Ward Rooming House. With exceptional art, patrons can enjoy live talks, performances, and a unique indoor/outdoor cultural experience that showcases the best of the best in Historic Overtown. Full details about curated shows can be found here.

Other Things to Explore in Overtown

A stone’s throw from the Ward Rooming House is the newly renovated Dorsey House. This beautiful two-story home was the actual home of black millionaire D.A. Dorsey in Overtown in the early 1900s. Visitors can learn the history of Dorsey’s life on the first floor of the home, from the contributions to the controversial sibling rivalry over Dorsey’s fortune. The second floor includes a contemporary exhibition on local and national history, from Barack Obama’s election to the founder of the first established Black newspaper in South Florida. Great for photo-ops, selfies and history, the house is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No need for reservations, just ring the doorbell and enjoy. 250 NW 9th Street, Miami 33136

Travelling on a first Friday of the month? Stop by Folk Life Friday’s open-air market located outside of the Lyric Theater. This market runs from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Attendees can enjoy southern comfort food: conch fritters, fried chicken, slushies, mouthwatering bar-b-que and more from local vendors. Have a seat near the mainstage to enjoy live musical performers and guest DJs like local celebrity Papa Keith of 103.5 the Beat. Stay in Overtown for the iconic Lyric Live show hosted by BET’s Comic View Chello Davis starting at 7:30 p.m. Lyric Live is South Florida’s version of the Apollo and is sure to entertain. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased here.
819 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami 33136

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