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Art Beat Miami promotes local, Caribbean artists

Art Beat Miami in Little Haiti showcases Caribbean and local artists during Art Basel.

Joann Milord began the art fair Art Beat Miami in Little Haiti in 2014, after she noticed art galleries migrating from Wynwood into her neighborhood. She wanted local and Caribbean artists to have a space of their own.

"We're riding the wave of gentrification right now," she says. "You see all these other galleries that are not Caribbean, that are not Haitian, showcasing and becoming known in the area, but I really wanted to make sure there was a space that promoted the cultural identity of the neighborhood, as well."

Milord hosted the fair's opening reception Wednesday, Nov. 30. Taking place until Dec. 4 at the Caribbean Marketplace at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, Art Beat Miami features more than 30 local and international artists, many from the Caribbean and South America. This year, Art Beat Miami partnered with Haiti's Ministry of Culture, which flew four artists from the Caribbean island especially for the show.

Unlike at Art Basel Miami Beach and some satellite fairs, artists do not pay to showcase their work at Art Beat Miami.

"Not all artists have the money to be able to be in Wynwood and to pay all of these high prices not knowing whether or not they're going to sell," Milord says. "There's a lot of struggling artists that have great work. At a time that we have so many visitors that come into Miami just to look at art, it would be sad if they had to miss out on the opportunity because they don't have the financial means."

Handpicked by Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald photographer Carl Juste, the artwork is as diverse as the artists. There are paintings, sculptures, photographs, fashion items and multimedia pieces.

Yael Talleyrand came from Haiti to participate in the show. On opening night, while chatting with guests, she painted a canvas of a naked woman pointing an arrow at a cross, from which several women hang. She says the piece represents her liberation as an artist.

"I realized that in my art, I would take out anything that made my art too girly, and when I stopped that, it made me really happy," she says.

The event also attracted celebrities. Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, known for his role in the NBC sci-fi series "Heroes," attended the event to showcase a 2017 calendar photographed by Marc Baptiste, who has shot Beyoncé, Yoko Ono and President Barack Obama. In the images, Jean-Louis poses on stunning beaches and at Haitian landmarks, often shirtless and at times, semi-nude.

"We wanted to show beauty," Baptiste says. "The male beauty and the environment."

"We had a chance to go to the most beautiful parts of Haiti," Jean-Louis says. "It was a good experience for me to discover Haiti that way. There are beautiful beaches, beautiful landmarks. It's unbelievable what we have over there. It's just that's not well known at all. We often prefer to concentrate on everything negative as far as Haiti is concerned. We hardly put out positive things that are happening in the country."

Besides art, Art Beat Miami will also feature events, such as a celebrity brunch on Saturday, Dec. 3, with Demetria Lucas D'Oyley, an author, blogger and journalist known for appearing in 2014 in the Bravo reality series "Blood, Sweat and Heels."

Art Beat Miami runs through Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Caribbean Marketplace at Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terrace, in Miami. Admission is free. Call 305-306-7521 or go to ArtBeatMiami.com.

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