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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gifford Lane Art Stroll is back for it's 19th year

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival and St. Stephen's Art Show have come and gone, but there is one more this winter season that is a favorite of many. The Gifford Lane Art Stroll returns Sunday, March 5 for a taste of how the Grove used to be. This is the Stroll's 19th year.

The tree-lined street welcomes locals enjoying art, music, food and friendship from noon to 5 pm. This free event livens up the sleepy little Gifford Lane for one day each year.

“The people that come to this little festival every year are themselves the main attraction,” says one organizer. “The Stroll is something you do. It is happy, communal, and relaxed, its who we are. There’s tons of conversation and boisterous laughter, and lots of art and artists, and dogs and kids and babies in strollers and live music that takes you back to a sweeter time, and there’s always dancing in the street.” 

The Art Stroll features the work of over 70 artists. Their art is displayed along the lane on fences, easels, clotheslines, and ladders - even in trees. Many of the finest artists of the region participate. They have done so for years.  Nathan Kurland, neighbor and one of the Stroll organizers who has been doing this for more than 10 years says,“Far as I can tell, the Gifford Lane Art Stroll is Coconut Grove.”

Artists come to sell; people come to buy. It is all here: sculpture, portraits, landscapes, jewelry, tile mosaics, large abstract paintings, jewelry, nudes, mixed media, photography, found art objects, and whimsical creations with no names.  In general, it is just the sort of stuff you want to see in your home. All afternoon you will see people proudly marching up the lane with their art acquisitions tucked under their arms.  Each year, artists send in submissions to be considered for the annual poster. This year, the remarkable poster is a festive painting of the Art Stroll itself by Heidi Burkhardt. The poster was designed by Joelle Maritza.   

Trina Collins, the artistic director of the Stroll, is a painter and one of the founders of the Art Stroll. She lives on the block and opens up her Grove cottage to the public to hang out, sit down on the quiet back porch, and to sample (sometimes repeatedly) the now famous Cucumber Punch. “Artists come to Gifford Lane to sell, and—it’s no secret - we all sell a lot of work here. The whole thing has a generous spirit; it’s all kind of a people party. It is planned and put together every year by a group of 30 neighbors.  Folks clamber up ladders to hang cross-street pennants and put up banners. It has a cool vibe.   Barbara Tejada is a great administrative coordinator and Velvet Rothe does a super job as the Treasurer and handling municipal permits.  Without those two, we’d be totally lost,” says Trina.

Live music is a big part of the stroll, this year, featured for their ninth year at the Stroll, are the Grove's own Solar Dogs. Band members are Eric Wagner, Zip Robertson, Bill Kunz, and Robert Grabowski.  Solar Dogs strikes just the right chord and provides the good vibrations that the Stroll crowd loves.  Grove music legend Bobby Ingram will be performing warm, wonderful solo vocals and guitar.  Bobby has performed with numerous luminaries including buddies Neil Young, Jimmy Buffet, and David Crosby.  

Other music attractions this year at the Stroll will be the School of Rock, featured performers again at this year’s King Mango Strut, and the rock band Cleaveland Jones, led by Grovite Lee Goun. Once again, the bounce house will be in full sway. The Coconut Grove Juggler’s Exchange will thread their magical way through the crowd like pied pipers leading a train of children.   As it has for nearly two decades now, at the end of the day each year, the Gifford Lane Art Stroll will give away all of its money including a percentage of the art sales to two Coconut Grove charities, the St. Stephen’s AIDS Ministry and the St. Alban’s Child Enrichment Center in the Village West. 

Bike Coconut Grove has a free bike valet, so feel free to bicycle over. The valet is on Oak Avenue, at the start of the Stroll.

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