Every second Saturday of the month, hordes of people make the trek down to Wynwood in Miami for its art walk. It's hip, urban, and usually overshadows FAT Village's ArtWalk in downtown Fort Lauderdale. But it shouldn't.
Since Wynwood's art walk is on the second Saturday and FAT Village's is on the last Saturday, you could technically attend both each month. But once you go to FAT Village's art walk, you won't want to.
If you're from Fort Lauderdale, you'll feel silly for ever wasting the gas money to go to Wynwood in the first place. If you're from Miami, you'll be reminded of Wynwood before it lost its once-artcentric ways.
10. FAT Village art walkers can fight the tacky compulsion to take selfies with every mural. At first it didn't feel like a proper art walk. After all, where were the throngs of wannabe hipsters taking narcissistic photo shoots? I was able to see the street art without any obstruction. And it was stunning! I was able to walk on the sidewalk without photo-bombing some chick's future Facebook profile pic. I also had plenty of sidewalk to walk on. My toes were not stomped on, and my flats were not scuffed. Things were looking good.
9. It's totally acceptable to bring your dog. Pooches abound at FAT Village (some are arguably better-trained than a fair portion of the selfie-taking Wynwood crowd). Bring them into the galleries and the bars, or have them socialize with other art-criticizing canines in the streets. Just be sure to pack some waste bags to clean up after your four-legged friend.
8. There are food trucks here too! I'm confident if anyone took the time to count, they would find there are more food trucks than art galleries in Wynwood during Second Saturday Art Walk. Instead of an overwhelming fleet of overpriced food truck fare in that random Wynwood lot, FAT Village sprinkles its food trucks around tastefully. There's one in the back of C&I Studios. There's another stand in front serving vegan hot dogs. Down a corner there's another. Instead of eenie-meenie-minie-moe-ing your options, you'll catch a waft of something you like and follow the scent if you're feeling ravenous from all the art and all the walking.
7. There are awesome warehouses you can stumble into. The door was slightly ajar. My friends and I peeked our heads in. Inside this mammoth of a warehouse was everything from a papier mâché Christ the Redeemer statue (above) to a shiny disco ball the size of a Range Rover and everything in between. Turns out, it's the storage warehouse for an entertainment and event planning company called Sixth Star. There were so many tiki torches.
6. There's a diverse turnout. There were old people. There were young people. There were children. There were hipsters. There were dogs. And all seemed to be smoking e-cigarettes.
5. Galleries serve complimentary wine. Back in 2009, the good ol' days of Wynwood, the galleries would serve their guests wine on Second Saturday. The free booze never lasted long. And even though I couldn't afford any art in Wynwood anyways, it was nice to be poured a glass of wine for simply turning up. You felt welcomed. Now, the idea of being handed a complimentary glass of wine in Wynwood seems ridiculous. We all know some well-connected millenial would probably tweet about it and before you know it every 10th grader in the county would be there. FAT Village is a wine-trusting utopia.
See also: Artwalk at FAT Village
4. You don't have to dress like a hipster (but you can if you must). You can rock up in jeans and no one will glare at you for it. This isn't Mean Girls. While there was a strong presence of combat boots, skinny jeans, and flannel in attendance, quite a few people were donning fanny packs. Some people felt more comfortable in swimwear even.
3. They have a lot more local artists and some of them are even standing next to their work. It's one thing to be a local artist, it's another to be down-to-earth enough to stand next your art to discuss it with bone-headed people like me. Janet Slom explained this one abstract canvas she made about war and even welcomed me and my friends to discuss it openly. She had us write what we thought brought world peace on a sheet of paper and toss it in front of the work. Then we saw another guy poking a collection of hanging mobile art. He told us to poke them gently or blow on them to see them move. We thought he was crazy until he introduced himself as the artist.
2. C&I Studios is not filled to capacity like Wood Tavern and Gramps. Good luck being served at Wood or Gramps during Art Walk. Have fun finding a table. Chances are you'll never make it inside and spend the better part of your Saturday night in line to get in breathing secondhand smoke, or at Shots. This is not the case at C&I. It's full but not at capacity. It's bigger. Bartenders will talk to you. Drinks are actually cheaper.
1. People actually come for the art. Art walks have the best intentions. They really do. And when Wynwood started its art walks, it was really promising. It brought a culturally aware demographic of people no one thought existed in Miami.
But over time, whether it was all the free wine or the overpopulation of food trucks, Wynwood lost its way. People come to drink and look pretty and update their Facebook. Some of the pioneer galleries in Wynwood no longer open their doors on Second Saturday. It's become a circus. It's too loud. There's vomit caked on the streets. People are peeing everywhere.
Maybe FAT Village will evolve like Wynwood did. But so far, it hasn't. It's emerging, and it's authentic. At any moment, you're no more than 15 feet from someone having an in-depth conversation about what's hanging on the wall in front of them. Granted, FAT Village doesn't have the turnout rate that Second Saturday does, but that's probably a good thing.
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