David Figueroa’s larger-than-life steel and wood sculptures are meant to be reflective of the human condition — ever changing and unpredictable. He’s also learned through the imagination of a child that his artwork can be interactive.
Last year, one of Figueroa’s 8-foot-tall wood and steel sculptures welcomed an unusual spectator: a small boy. The child, whom Figueroa remembered to be about 6 years old, playfully perched himself on the 10-inch ledge on the $7,500 L-shaped piece.
“He said, ‘I’m the king!’” Figueroa recalled cheerfully about the boy’s interpretation of his sculpture. “That kid made my day. His mom was trying to get him off and I said, ‘No, no, it’s OK.’”
The sculpture was on display as part of the annual Beaux Arts Festival of the Arts, Miami’s oldest juried outdoor art show at the Coral Gables campus of the University of Miami, where Figueroa was awarded best of show last year.
Next weekend, the Beaux Arts Festival will celebrate its 64th year. The two-day event will run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting Jan. 17 and feature 220 local and visiting artists, including soft pastel artist Lynn Libby from Key Biscayne, as well as about 150 Miami-Dade middle and high student pieces in the Lowe Art Museum.
The first festival took place in 1952 as a clothesline sale. Artists would literally hang their art on a clothesline stretched across the grass for the show.
Although the tradition of the clothesline has been discontinued, the outdoor art exhibition still offers the opportunity to experience a variety of art and perhaps purchase a piece to take home.
For Amy Stokes, a second-year volunteer and this year’s festival co-chair, attending the festival has been a long-standing family tradition since her earliest memories.
“It’s always had a special place in my heart,” Stokes said. “There is a nice sense of tradition that has been a part of my history, which makes me very proud to pass on that experience.”
The festival brings more than 10,000 people to the UM campus for art plus live music, a children’s art scavenger hunt, and free admission to the Lowe Art Museum. Participating artists will also be competing for cash awards in various categories, such as ceramics, glass and watercolor.
All festival proceeds will benefit the Lowe, a Beaux Arts partner for 63 years, and help support a Beaux Art children’s program that brings Miami-Dade students to the Lowe Art Museum.
“It’s something to me that’s ingrained in our city,” said Karen Kennedy-Ortiz, the festival’s other co-chair. “It’s a hidden gem in Miami.”
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