#HialeahNow Means "Leah" Art District

May 18, 2015

An artist paints a portrait of Celia Cruz at the "Leah" Art District opening.
Credit Lisann Ramos

There’s a small block in Hialeah lined with warehouses covered in murals. The smell of food trucks and spray paint are reminiscent of Art Walk events in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood.

This corner of Hialeah is the beginning of what the city hopes will be its art district.

On Sunday, the city’s southeastern corridor, on East 15th Street and 10th Avenue, held a block party to introduce the area to local artists.

The area was once a garment district, but outsourcing has left it largely abandoned. The low cost of rent compared to areas like Wynwood has started to attract local artists.

Organizers are calling the new arts district simply “Leah.”

Hialeah Councilman Paul Hernandez led the efforts to make this area "a place where artists can live and work."

“I have a lot of artist friends and know full well that the artistic community who really built up places like Wynwood and made it their own have been pushed out and displaced with rising costs per square footage,” said Hernandez. “They can’t afford to pay over $100 a square foot. Here we’re talking about $6 to $11 a square foot. So it’s highly affordable, it’s centrally located, it’s safe and I said why not?”

Ferny Coipel is an artist born and raised in Hialeah. He’s seen the city as an artist’s hub for his entire life.

“I think we can all agree that Hialeah is not a high-income place. So what happens when you don’t have a lot of resources? You turn in and you see what you can do to occupy your time, to get your thoughts out. Art, music, acting, it’s all a way to let all of that out,” said Coipel.

The city plans to hold more art district block parties in the future. They want to showcase not only visual art but theater and music as well.