Although Miami doesn’t constitute the epitome of a metropolis (high rises, different building structures, slabs and slabs of concrete devoid of greenery), Artopia Galleries and Studios erected their Urban Architexture exhibit last Friday night in what has been dubbed the “Avenue of Arts” – huh…you know, that short strip of galleries in the ever-nascent Design District – to show people what this city is made of as local painters and photographers examined, then represented the specific metropolitan architecture of their surrounding.

The mob of people was hectic. $40,000 cars lined along the road as Miami’s older, hip crowd entered through Thriftophia (yes, a thrift store) and into the art exhibit. DJ Le Spam tantalized ears, the bartenders and the buffet kept taste buds entertained, and that hippie smell of incense cut trough nostrils, as the art tried to capture eyes – an all-around sensory experience. David Baca, Robin Hill, Steve Milanowski, Laura Paresky Gould, Rollin Stirman and John Westmark headed their own separate approach to the texture and aesthetic of Miami’s edifices.

However, a common trend found in each piece was the overtone of vibrant, bold colors and accentuations on the city’s shimmering atmosphere.

Notably, Robin Hill’s photos of motels execute this trend remarkably. These shots are exposed long enough to capture the neon gleam of the establishment’s signs. While the angles taken by the artist here aren’t revolutionary, a reoccurring pattern in these buildings is a signature portion jutting out in a fantasia-like welcome post with the logo. Most of the motels are idiosyncratic structures that look warm, edgy and cheap, but they always radiate the tropical hedonism of South Florida. “South Pacific Motel,” with its diagonal bricks and flashy sign phosphorescing as the center of visual impact, is the highlight of the show.

Also, John Westmark’s huge oil painting “City IX” has a bright red background that entices the viewer and an abstract table with a skewed perspective as its front legs curve out at you. At the top is an entire cityscape and imperious lines make this piece stand out with sturdy vertical composition. Here, you’re almost entrapped in the work and beguiled to observe what you can see the city.

Another noteworthy painting is Rollin Stirman’s “Blue Bridge” – a captivating and evocative portrayal of a bridge darting out over the water from city to city. The blue, pink and mauve color motifs are wistful and dreamy as the bridge, cities and sky are all reflected in the water. Two clouds delineate an abstract female and male human being – the former appropriately in pink and the latter in blue. Visualize how it feels when you’re speeding down I-95, going past the skyscrapers and Technicolor lining on the Metrorail overpass as the sunset drips down, and you’ll get an idea of what this painting successfully encapsulates.

Moreover, Laura Paresky Gould’s 16 individual frames dabbles with one’s perception of lines and colors, intermingling disparate patterns – each of which is undoubtedly related and thus produces a cohesive feeling. Ultimately, although all the frames are abstract and sometimes incongruent, when put together, they could become a whole made up of distinctive, though complementary parts, like any good, original piece of architecture.

Urban Artchitexture is on view at Artopia, 2200 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami, through the end of the month. Call 786-554-8516 for more info.

Kira Wisniewski can be reached at