Through the Knight Arts Challenge Miami, the Knight Foundation is one of the primary sources of funding for South Florida arts. The only rule a project must meet to qualify for the grant is that it be about art, benefit South Florida, and that it be matched in funding.
This year, Knight Arts Challenge hopefuls are an equally eclectic bunch. From the 50-plus finalists who were announced today, a group of winners will be awarded a total sum of about $3 million in December.
Here are some of the finalists that piqued our interest this year:
Local design and production unit Bleeding Palm has a uniquely Miami brand of dark psychedelia. Known for their animations of transmogrified dolphins and deviant gators, post-post-internet memes, and photography/GIFing of Miami nightlife, Bleeding Palm has ample imagination and technical chops to match. For the Knight Arts Challenge, Bleeding Palm is looking to create a nonprofit, professional animation studio for students and local artists.
Starting in the 1930s, a series of homes were built off the tip of Key Biscayne that came to be known as Stiltsville. The ad hoc aquatic colony has been through a lot of legal back-and-forth, most recently since some homes were damaged due to negligence and then Hurricane Andrew. In 2003, the Stiltsville Trust was established to oversee the remaining seven homes, and the Trust is now seeking funding to host artist residencies in the iconic structures.
Otto Von Schirach
The half-Cuban, half-German, all-alien producer and rapper Otto Von Schirach is a fixture and self-described warrior of Miami bass music (and is rumored to be a tremendo sucio). His idiosyncratic blend of musical genres — from breakcore and IDM to noise and dubstep — has materialized in a huge and influential discography. If funded by the Knight Foundation, Schirach will organize a festival that will feature and celebrate in Miami what Jazz is to New Orleans: booty bass.
Writer and WLRN contributing editor Nathaniel Sandler is known for his shrewd and scintillating explorations of local history and arcane collections, and for not being very good at softball. He also runs Bookleggers, a community mobile library that encourages literacy by offering books for free, by trade, or through donation at events throughout South Florida. The Bookleggers program would expand with the potential Knight grant.
Third Horizon Media
The newly launched Third Horizon Media is dedicated to bringing Caribbean culture into the accelerating Wynwood and Downtown art scenes. Not content with the lacking exposure of Caribbean filmmakers, performers, and musicians, Third Horizon Media plans to produce events and films — such as the forthcoming Papa Machete — with a stated mission of establishing Miami as a ground zero for the Caribbean avant garde.
Centro Cultural Español
The CCE Miami, an institution dedicated to the exchange of Spanish culture in Miami, has hosted its Microtheater Miami events since 2012. Based on the concept of the Microteatro por Dinero, a successful program in Spain, Microtheater Miami is a series a rapid-fire, super-intimate stage productions. The CCE Miami is looking to grow these unique performances, which take place in “microtheaters” (a.k.a. shipping containers).
Oliver Sanchez, the artist behind the Design District-based Swampspace, has made a mark on the cultural landscape of Miami by offering the spoils of what he calls an “un-gallery.” The monthly exhibitions that Sanchez is looking to expand often fly in the face of gallery stuffiness and institutional obfuscation, mostly by being laid back, accompanied by music, and heavily involving students and young people.
Key West Literary Seminar
Key West was home to literary figures that firmly established themselves in the cultural canon, the likes of Ernest Hemmingway, Tennessee Williams, Jimmy Buffett. The befuddling paradise is also home to the Key West Literary Seminar, a festival where highly regarded poets, novelists, essayists, and others read in intimate settings not usually afforded to such events. For their Knight Arts Challenge grant, the KWLS has proposed a customized tricycle named the Bibliocycle, a contraption that somehow opens up into a boutique bookstore with titles by iconic and emerging writers of Key West.
Arts & Drafts
It's no news that many artists use mood altering substances such as alcohol as a catalyst for creativity, if not for raucous socializing (or both). Arts & Drafts is a monthly event that celebrates the bond between imbibing and inspiration by offering free art classes by established professionals at local watering holes. Classes have included portraiture, knitting, and watercolor, and the group is looking to grow their model of intoxicating art education.
For the full list of finalists, see the official announcement here.