Art Pop-Up on Giralda Plaza

“A Subtropical Affair III” Was the Latest Pop-Up in Downtown Coral Gables

During last month’s Illuminate event, one of the sideshows was on the second floor of the old post office building on Giralda Plaza, now home to Coyo Taco and Sweetgreen. There, in a raw, concrete space, the pop-up art show “A Subtropical Affair III” displayed the works of six female artists from the area. 

Put together by Good To Know.FYI, a Miami-based curatorial collective, the one-month show was the third in a series “to highlight the local community,” said Alexandra Valls, the collective’s director. Valls, a Gables native who now commutes between New York and Miami, put together the exhibit after meeting Venny Torre, one of the co-creators of Illuminate. 

Torre’s construction firm, along with building owner Maven Realty, agreed to sponsor the show. It was the latest in a string of downtown pop-ups that began last fall with a half dozen Studios on the Mile in empty retail spaces owned by Terranova. Most of those spaces have now been rented out, but that is part of the point – to both activate the street and to introduce potential tenants to the neighborhood. 

“Having pop-ups encourages retailers to try something new and creative,” says Aura Reinhardt, director of the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID). That is clearly the case with Vinya Wine Pop-Up in the former Le Provençal space on Miracle Mile; they are now becoming a permanent restaurant. 

That is not the case with “A Subtropical Affair III,” however, the space for which will be occupied by Prana Yoga. But for artists like Amanda Keeley, the exposure was what mattered. Keeley’s neon “EMPATHY WILL CHANGE THE WORLD” was the latest of her works that use invented typographies as mediums of expression. Keely had three pieces at the show, as well as a display for Exile Books, her nonprofit that promotes publications by artists. 

Keeley has other links to the Gables, including her pop-up book display at Books & Books, “a movable cart on wheels with crazy colors” that stocks artists’ books. Keeley’s next work in Coral Gables, to be unveiled this fall, is on a much larger scale: A perforated steel skin wrapped around a building at South Douglas Road and Sunset Drive, an “anamorphic illusion” of text that can only be read from certain angles. “I just feel like it’s important to have a presence here,” says Keeley, who lives in Coconut Grove.“I love the community of small businesses.” 

Amanda Keeley next to “Empathy Will Change The World” at the “Subtropical Affair III” show on Giralda Plaza.