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

For nearly 2 decades South Florida has been my home. Excited to show the ‘Art 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. 

ARTVENTURE #3: Timpano & NSU Art Museum

October 6, 2022
As Heather and I strolled through downtown Fort Lauderdale I couldn’t help but feel excited. Finally, the moment I have been waiting for all my life...Eat, drink, museum, art galleries, repeat, all right in my backyard. 
We started at the newly renovated and highly anticipated Timpano on the iconic Las Olas Boulevard. We agreed on just one little cocktail to warm us up to the art and an appetizer to fuel our third ArtVenture. We also agreed on a “Purple Peacock”, and I am not surprised. The peacock signifies strength and confidence, something I tend to notice artists have in common. A gold peacock adorns a mural on one of the walls and also its menus, the showpiece in the newly renovated space. The purple drink is not only beautiful and foamy but delicious. Gin, Italicus, lemon, lavender, and egg white, I get excited when the bar knows what they are doing! From the kitchen, we got the truffle arancini with caciocavallo cheese and I immediately regret not ordering more but we had art plans to attend to. 
From Timpano we walked to the NSU Art Museum under perfect October South Florida weather. Every First Thursday of the month the museum offers ‘Sunny Days’ which gets you free admission from 11 am to 5 pm and 2-for-1 wine specials and light bite menu selections at the Cafe. Good to know for next time. We skipped the wine, feeling warm enough and ready to see the exhibitions. I had not done a lot of homework and the Keith Haring and Pierre Alechinsky Exhibition had ended a few days ago. I, however, am never disappointed so we marched on, and perhaps it was the universe rewarding me for missing Haring, as I found out that two of my favorite artists were under the same roof so I was already giggling forward. 
Now showing until January of 2023 (plenty of free Thursdays for you to go), “Lux et Veritas” focuses on a generation of artists of color who attended Yale School of Art for graduate studies between the years 2000 and 2010. The exhibition is curated by the incredibly knowledgeable Bonnie Clearwater, the Director and Chief Curator of the NSU Art Museum.
The first floor of the NSU Museum allows this exhibition to shine with its high ceilings and vast space. With so many grand pieces of art, it is really hard to concentrate on one at a time. For me, strolling through the museum is just like eating and I am trying to save my favorite living artist for last, Kehinde Wiley, but because his work is placed at the very beginning of the exhibition I decided that sometimes you have to start with cake. The sheer size of his work always overwhelms me as it commands space and dwarfs me if I even dare to come near it. The intricate details begin to come alive and I lose myself in every corner of the painting. With three paintings in total and one that you are not allowed to photograph, the wall feels like the Holy Trinity is staring down at you, and trust me it is divine and powerful. 
I was delightfully schooled on the efforts of artists John Espinosa, Luis Gispert, and william cordova. These ambitious artists were part of the 1990s generation of Miami artists who benefited from the city’s rapid rise as an international art center. They were also friends who often collaborated and actively contributed to the art community and shared distinct ideas, influence, and experiences. “Machu Picchu After Dark” by artist william cordova is hard to miss. It is a massive installation of 200 speakers, candy, pennies, vinyl record jackets, and candles, but for me, what caught my attention was his also massive mixed media collage with gold leaf and the significance behind his work. In addition, cordova assisted in the curation and direction of the exhibition itself which makes it come alive with the many journals, photos, documents, and videos incorporated throughout. 
The rest of the museum has 3 more exhibits including a short film by internationally acclaimed William Kentridge, a large collection of artworks and archival materials from William Glackens, and sketches by political cartoonist and social realist William Gropper. My conclusion is William is a popular name, but I also enjoyed Gropper’s sketches in the “History in the Making” Exhibit with Andy Warhol’s ‘Mao’ Prints. This thoughtfully curated exhibit marks the 50th Anniversary of two landmark events of Richard M. Nixon’s presidency and you can catch it until November 6, 2022. As for the “Mao” Warhol Prints, these are also a MUST-see. The ten vividly colored screen prints of Chairman Mao Zedong give you a feel for who Andy was. Unapologetic to his method of reproduction, Warhol was also fascinated by the role mass media played in producing fame and as I stared at each silkscreen I couldn’t help to compare the familiarity of the work to an Instagram post with many different filters and colors.
The museum personnel, who I learned that some of the ladies on that day had been there for many years, were very helpful and cordial. Respecting artwork is something my father taught me very early in life, so when I was kindly reminded that two of the “Lux et veritas” artworks were “no photographs” my embarrassment showed. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty that I did not notice the tag. The museum attendant warmly approached me and encouraged me to continue to photograph everything else. That connection could have only come from someone who cares for artwork and I left happy knowing the museum was in very good hands.   
Since the night was young and the weather perfect I took Heather right across the street to “Rooftop” at 1 West Las Olas. Part of the TRP group, the Rooftop offers great views of the city, craft cocktails, and bites. Part of the amazing view is the very own NSU Art Museum with its beautiful dripping paint mural “Acid Free” by local Artist Jen Stark. We ordered the “Pink” cocktails for which they donate a part of the proceeds to breast cancer during October. Win-win. 
Fired up from my two cocktails, I decided on one more local gallery to wrap up our evening. From there, we walked literally through art, as we passed under the “Thrive” sculpture by South African Artist Daniel Popper. We headed back east on Las Olas Boulevard, again enjoying the stroll through the city and we arrived at the “New River Fine Art Gallery” where we were greeted by Tom Rosetti. Tom, a South Florida native, is not only knowledgeable but a great artist and showed us his work and what the gallery has to offer. The gallery presents original works and fine prints from impressionist, 20th Century, post-war and contemporary masters, mid-career, and even emerging artists. Definitely worth peaking in. 
Living or visiting Fort Lauderdale and skipping the art scene and culinary explosion would be tragic. With so many options in only one street, it is no wonder Las Olas Boulevard never gets old for me. I highly recommend visiting and supporting the beautiful NSU Art Museum and staying up to date with its incredible exhibitions. The rest of Las Olas is a see-to-believe experience. With a tropical garden feel, Las Olas runs parallel to the New River, and you can find many fantastic stops in between your stops while walking or taking the Water Taxi.
Do you enjoy our “ArtVentures”? Help us continue them! Fund Us :) Any donations made will be used towards the entrance to museums, shows, or any other art-related funding matter only. 

Thank you!