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Gables Gallery Walk: A (Free!) Night of Sensory Delights in Coral Gables

January 24, 2008 By Doug in


Coral Gables, Miami’s own Beverly Hills, has a casually-elegant groove to it that’s distinctly European.  Usually, the prices there tend to match.  However, the first Fridays of each month from 7 to 10 pm, the monthly art walk, also known as the Gables Gallery Walk, provides the opportunity to visit with artists and view their creations, as you swing to the rhythms of jazzy Latin melodies and sample exotic wines and bottomless platters of cheeses—all for free!



This high brow block party includes about 20 galleries on and around Ponce De Leon Blvd (see map), covering an approximate 35-block radius north from US-1 to Menores Avenue.  For those who don’t feel up to covering the entire distance on foot, complimentary transportation is available on minibus limousines or the colorful trolleys familiar to the area.  Walking is half the fun, though!

For garage parking, the best option is the one on Aragon Avenue across the street from Books & Books (directions from South Beach), where you can validate your ticket and receive your first hour free, making for a total investment of about $3 for the night.  If you’d like to save a few bucks and just park on the street, there are (shhh) no meters on Galliano Street near Madeira Avenue.



I began my odyssey around 7 pm at Books & Books (265 Aragon Avenue, 305-442-4408), which is an adventure unto itself, ripe with free monthly cultural events.  Cristina Nosti, the events and marketing coordinator, was on hand to tell me about their new gallery space, live music every Friday at 5 pm, films in the courtyard, Miami book fair, workshops in Tibetan Buddhism, Spanish reading club and poetry classes, and Socrates Cafe, a regular philosophy discussion group.  For more details, visit their website or sign up for their monthly newsletter at any branch.

Their current guest exhibit (daily through Sunday, January 27th) features the work of visionary landscape/people photographer H. Allen Benowitz, a self-described “adventure traveler” whose present showing consists of photographs of villages made from textured rock foundations in Cappadocia and Anatolia, Turkey.  These fascinating ancient cities of volcanic rock carved by the wind and rain offer mesmerizing glimpses of a life that dates back to 4000 BC.  Part Gaudi and part Flintstones, the simplicity of these ancient ruins is an inspiration for eco-friendly designs of the future.


Benowitz himself was there to help kick off the gala, introducing his work to a room of onlookers, fielding questions both before and after his presentation.  I enjoyed the opportunity to learn a few photography tips from this generous and personable artist, while gnoshing on exotic bries and goat cheese and multiple glasses of a sophisticated red wine.  Outside in the courtyard, a Latin band kept the atmosphere lively, and I was tempted to spend the whole evening here, but other galleries awaited.




Further up the street at 169 Madeira was Art Space: The Virginia Miller Galleries (169 Madeira Ave, 305-444-4493); hosted by the mother of the Gables Walk herself, Virginia Miller, the “undisputed doyenne of South Florida art dealers,” this month’s exhibit featured the work of 21st Century Chinese neo-pop artists (now through February) , including the works of Yang Na, Lu Peng, Kang Can, and Lin Yan. 


Many of these colorful portraits are painted on rice paper, from behind the paper, producing an older look.  It was fascinating to see what was able to escape the scrutiny of the Chinese censors.




Heading South on Ponce De Leon, it wasn’t long before the sounds of Cuban music began to fill the air.  Up ahead, Ponce Circle Park had been transformed into an immense street festival.  A live band performed in front of an art tent, which featured creative canvasses of colorful Latin art, and yes, more complimentary wine and cheese.


Surrounding the park was a bevy of other galleries.  I felt like a trick-or-treater on an epicurean Halloween extravaganza.


However, by the time I reached the third one of the cluster, they were locking the doors. 

“It’s not 10 o’clock already!” I said.  But it was.  How did that happen?

It must have been fun, because those three hours had disappeared in a seeming instant.


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Douglas Eames is a freelance writer, homespun philosopher and budget bon vivant who divides his time between Southern California and South Beach.

See more articles by Doug.

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