Annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival invites music, craftsmen, theater and great food into the neighborhood

On President’s Day Weekend, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival debuted in-person at full capacity, ushering a wave of celebration after being previously suspended to virtual platforms for pandemic safety regulations.

Stretched from the streets of the Grove to the waterfront of Regatta Park, the energetic event marked a lively and bright invitation to visitors from Miami’s many corners.

Photo credit: Chiara Padejka

Produced by the nonprofit Coconut Grove Arts and Historical Association, the three day outdoor festival is one of the neighborhood’s most anticipated functions. The proceeds of the event sponsor several year-round arts programs. The organization is dedicated to creating opportunities for young talent, such as local scholarships for fine arts students. Students sell their own artwork at the fair themselves.

Distinguished as the original art district, Coconut Grove is one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods and is historically recognized as a creative hub of the city. Back in the late fifties and early sixties, Charlie Cinnamon created a splash in leading Miami’s reputation for art by developing the art fair.

The affair has a unique origin. Involved at the local Coconut Grove Theater, Cinnamon gathered fellow residents to create a Parisian inspired outdoor art exhibition as a stunt for one of the theater’s plays. These early days featured only a handful of founding volunteers who collaborated for a charming marketing gimmick.

Over half of a century later, the affair transformed from its clever inception into a promotional and philanthropic powerhouse for the area. Currently, the fair welcomes over one hundred thousand individuals to admire and collect art in streets of the enchanting quarter.

Photo credit: Chiara Padejka

There is no shortage of activities to explore. Not only is artwork from across America on display, but the event features culinary demonstrations, tastings, educational family and children interactions and a VIP area for a more elevated experience. Large sculptures of fruit, message-charged ceramic cubes, glass blown pieces and classic oil paintings represent the range of the expansive myriad of textures, styles and creations.

One notable highlight includes Evan Reinheimer’s Kite Aerial Photography. Originally from New York, Reinheimer attaches cameras to kites to capture subjects from the perspective of a windswept altitude. The specialized technique of his photographic portfolio offers his clients vantage points from above.

Photo credit: Chiara Padejka

Another is Tyler “Mac” Donald, a photographer and artist from Marco Island, Florida. According to his artistic statement, he is heavily inspired by the natural atmosphere of his hometown, many cross country roadtrips and the musical vibrations of a L.A. rock band “Tool.” Mac singularly handcrafts beautiful guitars from start to finish and selects rare species of wood sourced from around the globe in his couture-like process.

In jewelry design, many delicate pieces were not only eye catching, but environmentally conscious. Malia Meyer at Music to My Ears Upcycled Jewelry designs and produces her jewelry collections from reused CDs to form sustainable and stylish colorful accessories.

Photo credit: Chiara Padejka

Amidst the delights of arts, food and wonderful weather, The Coconut Grove Arts Fair is not only a wonderful beacon of community outreach, but an example of a possibility to highlight the importance of artisan creators.

If it continues its legacy of improvisation and progression, this attraction will no doultably remain at the forefront of the artworld and in the well regards to the many artists which it supports. Whether known through e-commerce, a local gallery or featured in major museums, the individuals featured at the festival remind us to breed a culture of exceptionalism and attention to quality craftsmanship.