Kathryn Mikesell: Brings global artists here, houses local artists affordably
For Kathryn Mikesell and her husband, Dan, the Fountainhead Residency and Studios began as ways for the arts enthusiasts to give back to the Miami arts community in a unique, lasting way and foster the city’s cultural growth.
While the central missions of the two passion projects remain intact today, each has grown substantially, as has the couple’s involvement in supporting artists through a growing number of related programs.
Founded in 2008, the Fountainhead Residency brings up to four artists each month from across the globe to live in a house in the Mikesells’ neighborhood, where the artists cohabitate, collaborate, experiment, enjoy professional feedback and interact with local institutions, curators and collectors.
Once a month, the public is invited in to meet the artists and view their work. Two additional events, added more recently to improve artists’ chances of making lasting connections while here, include Welcome Cocktail, a night in which members of the Fountainhead Experience donor program can meet the artists early into their residencies; and Artists’ Presentations, a formal members-only event where the artists walk guests through their personal stories and career trajectories.
The Fountainhead Studios, which started a few months after the residency program, was the couple’s answer to a need pervasive in the Miami arts community: affordable studio space.
To meet that need, Ms. Mikesell – whose many years working in software and tech, as well as the couple’s activity in the community, provided her a broad range of connections – reached out to her network of friends in commercial real estate and found a space.
The studio project in Little Haiti started small – about 7,000 square feet – but has grown to encompass nearly 25,000 square feet in three connected warehouses housing 25 artists who open their studios to the public twice yearly.
Other programs the Mikesells introduced include Artists Open, a countywide event in which more than 300 artists unite in opening their studios to the public; Artist to Artist, an arts career workshops funded by the Knight Foundation; and numerous collaborations, partnerships and fellowships with arts and philanthropic organizations worldwide.
Most recently, the couple launched MEET, a monthly dinner funded by the Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation for local artists to converse, welcome new artists and build relationships.
“We’re trying to break down the barriers in the art world,” she said. “Many people look at it as having these walls around it. That’s not the art world in which I live. It’s people of all ages, races and cultures from around the world, and that’s a beautiful thing. I want more people to be exposed to that.”
Ms. Mikesell sat down with reporter Jesse Scheckner.
See below the interview, recorded by Jahmoukie Dayle.
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