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A new canvas for Anthony Lauro in FAT Village

Artist and educator Anthony Lauro brings a big-picture perspective to the FAT Village Center for the Arts, which he opened in Fort Lauderdale three weeks ago.

So when he describes lectures he’s delivered on the value of interdisciplinary creativity and “how you incorporate art into every aspect of your life, whatever your career might be,” he could be talking about his students, himself or downtown Fort Lauderdale’s emerging cultural persona.

Lauro hit the reset button on his own life in mid April when his relationship with the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale ended more than a decade after he followed friend Irvin Lippman from museum positions in Columbus, Ohio. Lippman was the MoA’s executive director until he retired in June 2012, a year later replaced by current executive director Bonnie Clearwater.

Lauro was deputy director at MoA and dean of its well-regarded AutoNation Academy of Art and Design. The Bronx native is circumspect about his departure, saying it was prompted by “philosophical differences” and his desire for “more curriculum-based art education.”

But there was no next step in the works when he left, Lauro says, only the desire to stay in arts education in an area of South Florida he believes is fast becoming an arts destination. A plan came into focus after he began getting inquiries from former students and faculty, six of whom left the MoA academy to join the new FAT Village Center for the Arts.

“We had a good family,” Lauro says.

The nonprofit, which opened June 9 in the Projects space at 519 NW First Ave., draws a different demographic to FAT Village, offering courses for adults, students grades 1-12 and summer campers in everything from drawing and painting to photography and textiles.

Lauro, who also plans to offer courses on dance and theater, calls it a “preparatory school.” There are 45 students enrolled in the center’s first session, he says. A typical adult class costs $300 for 10 weekly three-hour sessions. There are five two-week summer-camp sessions at $200 a week.

The center will be open for public tours during Saturday's FAT Village Art Walk, beginning at 6 p.m. Lauro says he and his students feel right at home among FAT Village’s warehouses.

“Why not put an art school in the art district? … It just makes sense,” says Lauro, who credits Doug McCraw, FAT Village founder and landowner, with appreciating the reciprocal benefits and fast-tracking the project. Lauro hopes to bring in some of his new neighbors as adjunct faculty.

“He’s trying to bring culture to the city,” Lauro says of McCraw. “We bring art education to the neighborhood. We both give each other credibility.”

For more information on FAT Village Center for the Arts classes and registration, call 954-716-7611 or visit

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