Bakehouse Art Complex

Isabel Echarte / WLRN

Meet REX, Florida’s newest roadside attraction. Set to be unveiled in September, the nine-foot-tall robot will have the friendly look of a massive children’s toy once local artist Mike Rivamonte finishes it.

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When Art Basel came to Miami Beach in 2002, I couldn’t have been happier. I was about to graduate from the Maryland Institute College of Art and had plans to return to Florida. It seemed this was the place to be – outside of New York, that is. Over the years, Art Basel has grown, with satellite shows and pop-up galleries expanding throughout Miami.

When the Miami-based artist who goes by 131 Projects moved into the Bakehouse Art Complex in 2009 for a residency, he realized something troubling about the place. A painter known for tightly woven, almost frenzied abstract canvases, he cut his teeth in Miami's quasi-legal street art world. And, to someone with a background in dashing through brightly painted alleyways, the Bakehouse walls looked pretty empty.