Gifford Lane Art Stroll; a taste of the "old Grove"
It's a day for art, live music, food, cucumber punch and friends; our favorite block party. It's an event that so many Grovites look forward to. People literally dance in the street; the sleepy tree-lined street that comes alive this one Sunday per year.
Originally a bunch of Grove artists lived on Gifford Lane and they decided to show off (and sell) their art and as the artists moved out over the years, ironically, the event got larger. There are 63 artists this year. So many people refer this event as the "old Grove." They feel it is quaint, friendly, neighborly and artsy in an old "real" sort of way.
The art goes from one end of the street to the next, hanging on fences, trees, sprawled out on the street, just about anywhere. Award-winning Grove artist Bobbi Header created this year's poster art which will be displayed at the Stroll.
Sculpture, portraits, seascapes, landscapes, large abstract paintings, mosaics, extraordinary photographs, mixed media, jewelry, and several specific art forms that seem to have no known category are all available along the verdant lane.
Artists also put out complimentary refreshments, chairs and tables. This is a laid-back place to go and relax and listen to some excellent mellow rock and roll and chill.
The live music is nonstop all afternoon. This will be the fifth year in a row that one of South Florida’s most popular bands, Solar Dogs, has brought their musical zest to the Stroll. Jugglers will mingle with the crowd.
“This is a community-creating event that breaks every cliché in Miami. It is fun because it is put on by the people for the people, and the people like fun," says David Collins, resident of the street and keeper of the green elixer known as Cucumber Punch.
You'll find the punch in David's kitchen, it's at the house in the middle of the block with the green door (what else for green punch). There is usually a long line going from the front door to the kitchen. For the price of a donation, you can drink all you like. But careful, it took me a couple of tipsy times to realize there's gin in there!
The Gifford Lane Art Stroll was started sixteen years ago by a half-dozen artists who lived along this block. Most of them have now moved away but a hearty band of some thirty neighbors have made the little event a Coconut Grove tradition. They meet on weekends for months to hold planning pot-luck supper gatherings to map each year coming up. The group of neighbors is led by artist and founder Trina Collins and organizer Lisa Butler who inspire the neighbors to paint banners to put up, string elaborate cross-street decorations, distribute post cards to their favorite stores and restaurants, and participate in sumptuous planning feasts.
“This is all very unlike Miami,” says planner Lisa Butler, “we came together as strangers and now this little festival has made us much closer. We care about each other.”
“The core miracle of this little Gifford Lane event is that we all go into each other’s’ houses to sit and chat and make it happen. We all take responsibility for it,” says founder Trina Collins, “and you know what? Now we have residents here who have purchased homes on Gifford because they attended one of the Strolls over the years.”
100% of the profits raised goes to charity. There is no funding for this event, the neighbors do it all themselves and then they donate what's left at the end.
“I can remember that first year, the little band of six artists who put together the Stroll were so proud to give a total of $100 to the charities. Now we have given away tens and tens of thousands of dollars,” says Trina.
The money donated to these charities over a decade-and-a-half has been awarded to the St. Stephen’s AIDS Ministry and the St. Alban’s Child Enrichment Center in the Grove Village West. This much-needed funding for the Grove charities has been provided by a percentage of all of the art sold, and by donations made by the public for cucumber punch, broiled burgers, hot dogs, grilled shrimp, and wonderful smoked ribs. Just like the art, the food is "real," made right there on the spot the old fashioned way.
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