My husband, Stewart Stewart and I, Dena Stewart, landed at MIA in November of 1986 for a two-week vacation on the beach. The South Florida Art Center was new on Lincoln Road and as artists, Stewart and I were enticed by the opportunities we were offered – a 1,000 sq. ft. storefront studio/gallery space for $100 a month. Two months later, in January 1987, we left New York and became Miamians. We were the first out-of-state artists to benefit from the grant awarded to the SFAC.
During the 33 years I have lived in Miami Beach, I have served and promoted the greater Miami community as an activist, serving on Commission-appointed committees and as a presenter of cultural events.
In 1990, Stewart and I founded Deco Echo Artists’ Delegation (non-profit organization) to raise awareness of the culture on the Beach. Now d/b/a Center for Folk and Community Art, we use our original nationally recognized outreach program “Telling Stories Through Visuals” to address social issues by combining writing and illustrating activities for intervention, prevention and education.
In 2001, I was recognized as a “Woman Worth Knowing” by the Miami Beach Commission on the Status of Women. I served on the board of the first Miami Beach Women’s Conference, and was recognized by Miami County and Miami Beach with Proclamations for my community involvement. In 2010, Stewart and I created, and for the past ten years have been producing, an online video show called “Alive on South Beach” (for Syndicated News Network). We go behind the scenes at events to talk with the wonderful people, celebrities, visitors, and locals, who make Miami, MIAMI.
Stewart and I gave up our upper East Side high rise apartment in Manhattan to make Miami Beach our home. I have never even considered leaving Miami. We love it here. When we travel, our video show Alive on South Beach goes on the road with us, and Miami is always promoted.
What makes Miami, Miami? A picture – in my case, Alive on South Beach videos show what makes Miami, Miami! The multi-national congeniality of the community, the many art and cultural venues, the sand, sun and palm trees, and the quirky people, all together give Miami a flavor unlike any other.
Having lived and worked in Miami Beach for 33 years, I have seen the evolution of Miami, the development, gentrification, ups and downs of the social and cultural scenes, hurricanes, and gorgeous weather. I trust the future will be as exciting as its past.