By Craig Davis, Craigslegz.com
The Fort Lauderdale art scene is getting funkier, and it is inspiring to see the trend gaining momentum in turning on a creative light in a couple of formerly dingy warehouse districts.
The vibe was on display during July’s MASS District Art Walk which featured 10-foot LED-lighted robots jive-stepping through several blocks lined with a burgeoning array of galleries and music venues.
While the robots, from the Light Up the Night lighting effects company, were fun and eye-catching, their greatest contribution was to draw attention to the determined artists attempting to create a creative niche under an eclectic affiliation known as Music and Arts South of Sunrise.
It was refreshing to see art for art’s sake in a community setting that is a throwback to pre-digital times, with focus on canvas rather than the screen of some device.
Sandwiched between Federal Highway and the railroad tracks, MASS is breathing some vitality into a no-where zone tucked behind Sears Town. That is being achieved not only by the work going on inside the buildings but the whole district is being viewed as a blank canvas through the district’s #muralize movement. Those efforts can be viewed at Muralize.MassDistrict.co.
MASS is an inevitable offshoot of FAT Village, which previously gained a foothold in another formerly overlooked warehouse district to the west near Andrews Avenue to blossom into a hip urban art enclave.
This was my first visit to the MASS district, and it was exciting to see the raw potential and look forward to discovering how it unfolds. No one is getting rich but there was a palpable spirit of trying hard to get noticed.
There was plenty of talent on display, such as Mark Cameron, a Jamaican artist whose paintings are inspired by the people and natural beauty of his homeland. His creative statement is, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Nonetheless his work is loaded with depth: check it out at Markdezines.com.
At the center of the district on Northeast Fourth Avenue is a sprawling art and entertainment venue Jump The Shark, formerly The Bubble, which has a couple of music stages, a beer and wine bar and a wide range of art covering the walls.
An artist stretched out on a bench was intently working on a canvas he held on his lap while a musical duo known as Cog Nomen was on stage performing an intriguing blend of what has been described as electro-pop and psych-Indie rock.
Much of their unique sound emanates from drummer Ulysses Perez, who sings through a device known as a Vocoder. Guitarist Buffalo Brown enhances it with his distortion pedals.
“We make a lot of noise with electronic toys,” is the group’s self-explanation.
Many of their songs can be sampled at Cognomenmusic.com, including “As I’m Playing on the Drums” and “Whack Attack.”
FAT Village, situated at Northwest First Avenue between 5th and 6th streets, was percolating with activity the same summer evening. A free trolley was running between the two districts, and both had food trucks and music.
Upstart MASS has some catching up to do, and it will be interesting to track its creative course. On this night it earned bragging rights with the LED robots.
Too soon, perhaps, to call it a sibling rivalry with FAT Village. But it is not uncommon for the younger child to ultimately surpass the first born.