Girls' Club's Art Fallout: A Trip Through Lauderdale's Arts Scene

Girls' Club's Art Fallout: A Trip Through Lauderdale's Arts Scene
Photo by Christina Mendenhall

It's that time of year again, when a romp through Fort Lauderdale's contemporary arts scene explodes for a one-night affair on Saturday. Art Fallout, the 954's largest art walk, features pop-up art shows in and around downtown's environs -- FAT Village, Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts, Third Avenue, and the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. Attendees can hop on a free trolley to get around and take it all in. Or better yet, ride a bike for a true adventure.

This artsy shindig, started in 2010, was founded by the contemporary arts and alternative space Girls' Club Collection as a means to provide the area with a taste of culture, a bite-sized explosion somewhat like an acid trip that lasts for four hours. The event occurs from 5 to 9 p.m., so just be sure not to go too far down that rabbit hole!

In its first year, roughly 200 attendees came out, and by the following year, attendance had nearly doubled. As the draw increases, so do the participants. To fill us in on what's in store, Girls' Club gallery director Sarah Michelle Rupert gives us the skinny on what's new this year and how the concept came about.

See also: Photos from 2013 Art Fallout in Fort Lauderdale

New Times: What's new this year for Art Fallout?

Sarah Michelle Rupert: We have a few new venues participating, activating a new area of downtown Fort Lauderdale just south of FAT Village along Flagler Drive. On NE Fourth Avenue, MAC Fine Art, and the studios of Henning Haupt and Michel Pellus [both members of the Third Avenue Art District] will be joining this year's Art Fallout event.

Also new, Girls' Club has invited Radio-Active Records to present a pop-up gallery in our mezzanine level. Mike Ramirez and Natalie Smallish will be organizing an audio and visual exhibition of vintage, rare and beloved vinyl records from local female record collectors. No longer are the labyrinthed halls and stacked racks of record stores the domain solely of the High Fidelity stereotype of the obsessive male. The aisles at Radio-Active, and the block-long lines for special events, have been increasingly gender-balanced, with female collectors not only holding their own but amassing an ever-more-eclectic mix of vinyl.

Also new at Girls' Club -- Gramps Bar will be providing beverages. The Miami-based cult-favorite bar and event space in Wynwood will be carting their pop-up bar up to Fort Lauderdale for Art Fallout.

How did Girls' Club come up with the idea of putting on Art Fallout?

Art Fallout came from a mix of opportunity and need. Girls' Club was about 3 years old when Art Fallout launched in 2010, and we were beginning to generate regular programming in response to the local community. We had begun a new series of local artist talks and limited editions, Artists in Action!, that spring, and we were working on producing our first catalog, launching our interdisciplinary publication series.

The event developed as we noticed the art scene growing in the Fort Lauderdale area and wanted to showcase its uniqueness as an art community aside from the well-established scene in Miami. Although the area had some very cool things developing, there was little unification and collaboration, and no one event that could show the public what was brewing here amongst all our spaces.

We saw National Arts and Humanities Month was coming up -- October -- and thought a communitywide event would pair amazingly with the national movement to raise awareness of the arts. So we set out to create a one-night art-walk-type event in October, connecting downtown Fort Lauderdale's contemporary art spaces and showcasing the area as a growing hub for art production and presentation. In 2010, Girls' Club -- along with 1310 Gallery/Lisa Rockford, 18 Rabbit Gallery/Leah Brown, and the Museum of Art -- hosted the first Art Fallout.

How did the Girls' Club "Unframed" show, which is a part of Art Fallout, come about?

We felt a need from the community for not only exhibition opportunities but for a forum for local artists, an opportunity to engage with arts professionals -- the curators, museum staff, writers, gallery owners, etc. -- who are essential for professional development and advancement -- and the public at large, who are essential for the support of local art economies and may find contemporary art difficult.

So we created our annual one-day open-call exhibit, "Art Fallout: Unframed." All artists, all levels, all ages are encouraged to submit works on paper for exhibit and public feedback. All [appropriate] entries are hung; our invited panel of arts professionals and the public [are] asked to give comment and feedback on color-coded Post-its that get stuck to the walls near the works.

The open call draws about 80 artists and over 100 works each year. Participating artists go home with their works and a stack of colorful notes from would-be collectors, local curators, arts writers, museum folks, and the public.

The exhibition has become a great opportunity to discover new artists -- more than a few artists have told us they've gone on to be featured in large exhibitions and projects at galleries, museums, and alternative spaces, and the event provides a huge boost to artists' web page views and newsletter correspondences.

And just where does the name Art Fallout come from?

The name came from the idea of Girls' Club as a catalytic force, with contemporary art flooding the Fort Lauderdale area like an explosive reaction. And committing to National Arts and Humanities Month, which takes place each October, Michelle Weinberg [creative director of Girls' Club] and I came up with the "Art Fallout" name, sort of a kickoff event for the busy South Florida fall season.

Art Fallout. Saturday, October 18, from 5 to 9 p.m. at various contemporary art venues in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The event has free admission at all venues. For a site map and more info, visit artfallout.blogspot.com.

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