'ArtVentures' a blog by: Heather Renee & Ornella Verano

For nearly 2 decades South Florida has been my home. Excited to show the ‘scene’ to my new friend Heather Renee, fellow artist and recent SoFL transplant, we came up with what is now officially “ArtVentures”. These adventures aim to document and share our unique experiences living and working in the vibrant arts community of South Florida, in a fluid non formal way. 

Our first exploration led us to a lively opening reception at the newest “HOTSPOT” in Oakland Park, a collaboration between super talented photographer Dennis Dean and HotSpots Gallery featuring local artists. The Gallery is located in one of my favorite new strip of businesses which extends from our very own Funky Buddha Brewery all the way south to the intersection of Oakland Park. Definitely make sure you check all the businesses here. Our very first stop: Rebel Wine Bar. Your neighborhood wine spot and women-owned by badass Larissa Castelluber. Larissa had the vision to open a new wine bar last year in what was previously a quiet little street, now the whole block is thriving and growing. Heather and I sat at the bar and sipped glasses of Routas Rose while Erica Gard played acoustic guitar and sang. Rebel has a rotating roster of live singers, painters (including yours truly Heather Renee), and curates ArtsUnited Artists on its walls. Currently showcasing: photographer Robert Figueroa-Peggs, if you missed his solo show at Bona, you do not want to miss this one. A collection of G.I-Joe portraits framed like Polaroids that really pop against the deep green of the Rebel walls. This incredible collection would have made Andy smile, so clever! 

Speaking of Warhol, I’ll continue with what we saw and experienced at Dennis Dean’s Gallery… Here a rotating list of South Florida hottest artists gather to celebrate the Arts to its fullest expression. The current exhibit features world-traveler photographer Paul McDermott, sculptures by Susan David, and art by Andrew Campbell-Smith, Jim Kiselica, and Andrew Hollimon. Dennis also features his own photography and artwork from some of my favorite local artists, collage enthusiast Enrique Cirino, multimedia master Tedd Davis and the infamous Diane Lublinksi sculptures, to name a few. And of course, it would not have been a party without a live model! The space, also Dennis’ office, features two exciting portraits. An underwater portrait by badass photographer Suzanne Barton and a massive red portrait by artist Axel Martinez, again one that Andy would giggle in approval of. The utilization of color, sheer size, and the attention to detail and symbology hidden in plain sight really leaves you mesmerized. As Heather and I continued to flow through the different rooms, there he was, a framed picture of Andy Wharhol and Dennis Dean. We looked at each other and laughed. The perfect evening. The perfect party. Andy would have been proud of us! 

We couldn’t close the evening without bringing in the love for the culinary talent of our beautiful city. Summer nights call for summer breeze so I quickly decided on cocktails at the Dunes by Michelin-starred Chef Laurent Tourondel. Chef Tourondel is completely killing it here! Although we skipped on appetizers this time around, the cocktails were delicious and the service and vibe were great also. This place transports you to French Sint Maarten so no brainer chef Tourondel has it handled. We also learned from a fun 78 year old resident that the pool has a Fernando Botero sculpture “La maternidad”, but we had to take his word for it, as our meter parking time expired we moved on to the next stop.

Now Hungry, we decided on S3 “Sun, Surf & Sand”  by The Restaurant People located at the Hilton. A staple of mine and keeps the beachy vibes going. This spot has gotten a recent facelift and a super talented acquisition chef Lyndsey Waters, another bad ass woman. We sat at the outside bar with chilled Chandon and ordered the grilled oysters, arrowhead roll, and ceviche. Sharing food and stories about art on a beautiful summer night with the wind in our hair. This is the true story of two artists having fun in town. The first ArtVenture of many, and a highlight of our current artists, cultural scene, talented chefs and incredible businesses that move this beautiful town…