Thursday September 7, 2006

The chilling effect

new ac

Here’s Brook Dorsch hanging out on the roof of his Gallery, with one of three gigantic new A/C units, which are recently purchased (e-bay, baby), shipped from California, installed, wired, debugged, and switched on. And they work great — the opening this Saturday (Lucas Blanco and Marc Roder) shall take place in a pleasantly cooled gallery. So I sat down yesterday to chat with Brook about the A/C, the future of the Dorsch, and Wynwood in general.

The units were purchased (new) from California at a bargain price because a recent law made them uninstallable there. But it turns out that wasn’t the problem; nor was the problem installing them. The big pain in the ass was wiring them for power, which required a whole new electrical panel for the gallery, and ended up costing thousands of dollars. But nevermind: they work.

Standing on the roof, it’s impossible to miss the gigantic new power-lines running down the block eastward — not the ones you see in the picture, the much bigger ones supported by the fat pole rising in the the mid-right). They were rush-installed by FPL to power the almost-complete Midtown development, and they crackle softly in the damp air, murmuring about the changes rapidly approaching for the neighborhood.

When Dorsch moved his gallery from Coral Gables to Wynwood six and a half years ago, the only art-related thing there was “Locust”: and maybe the “Rubells”: (though they weren’t open to visitors yet). He was the first of dozens of galleries which flocked there at first because rent and property values were cheap, later because everyone else was there. But now, thanks to Midtown, the art-ification of the neighborhood, and general property-boom, property values are maybe about ten times what they were then. And when Miami 21 hits and almost certainly re-zones the whole area from industrial to some sort of residential/commercial combination, it’s really going to take off. At some point (methinks less then five years), the forces of the marketplace are going to force the galleries to begin to move out, and the Lincoln Road cycle will begin again somewhere else.

Update: Brook mentioned this about a million times, but not enough for me to remember: Onajide did a podcast Steve Kaplan did a podcast on Onajide’s blog about the AC. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but there it is. Why isn’t Critical Miami podcasting? Why is the Miami Art Exchange blog opening in a funny box (rendering permlinks useless)? What do you get when you drop a piano on an army base? All excellent questions.

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  1. Gus    Thu Sep 7, 09:30 AM #  

    Excellent observation, Alesh. You have masterfully taken what some might call a mundane interview with a gallery owner and shed some light on Miami’s chilling future.

    I agree, the galleries will be forced out. Not because I see a huge boom in business on the horizon. Far from it. The marketplace will force the galleries to move because Starbucks and Banana Republic stores don’t have to make so much money.

  2. Onajide    Thu Sep 7, 11:06 AM #  

    Nice image. It took me a few days longer than I wanted to get the podcast up and online. It should be nice indoors now.

  3. Manola Blablablanik    Thu Sep 7, 11:58 AM #  

    Geez, I guess this will make the Miami art community forever bohemian (as in moving around, gypsy style). If only there were rent-control/capital funding for artists.

  4. Franklin    Thu Sep 7, 12:07 PM #  

    Being able to link to individual exhibitions was your idea, champ. I made it so, and you don’t? Don’t make me come down there.

  5. alesh    Thu Sep 7, 01:05 PM #  

    I know, i know. It’s a wonder I didn’t botch this post any worse then it is. People must wonder whether the person who runs this site is a functioning adult.

    Are those permlinks a new thing, tho? I see them now. Anyway, I added links above, but I haven’t tested them, so I wouldn’t count on them working. And if they work, they probably go to the wrong place. Click at your own peril.

  6. alesh    Thu Sep 7, 01:07 PM #  

    on the plus side, you have to admit I’m pretty good at linking to my own old content, right?

    And thanks for dropping in. How’s it going with TXP?

  7. oldswish    Thu Sep 7, 02:06 PM #  

    Uh, hate to spoil the party, but has anyone bothered to ask why these units were illegal in California?
    PS the outer fringes of little haiti still has reasonable prices.

  8. alesh    Thu Sep 7, 02:12 PM #  

    I know more about those units then you can imagine. They passed a law in California between the time the original owner purchased them and the time he installed them that increased the required minimum efficiency of newly installed A/C units, and these fell just short of the new requirement. Hence brand new units that needed to be unloaded across state lines at a big discount.

    Go ahead – ask me some more questions. Anyone want to know why the 3rd unit isn’t working? Anyone want to know how many “tons” of coldness they pump out?

  9. J-J    Thu Sep 7, 07:52 PM #  

    Have you guys heard about the Collins Park artist’s community district on Miami Beach? Its supposed to bring rent controled apt/studios to artists living in and around the burg(from Bass museum to the New world symphony). Mayor Dermer supports it, so maybe we’ll have something, at least an ordinance pass, before the end of the year. That would be so cool. Anyways if you are interested keep an eye out for it:)

  10. NicFitKid    Fri Sep 8, 09:00 AM #  

    I’m game for A/C trivia. So what’s the SEER rating on those babies, and what SEER did Cali just mandate?

  11. alesh    Fri Sep 8, 09:49 AM #  

    J-J~ Artspace is a really really interesting organization to look into. They have something they’re working on in Broward. Some sort of project in Miami, too, but that one’s much more preliminary/someday/maybe status as far as I know.

    Nic~ They’re rated 10. The new California law mandates 13. Next!

  12. circuitmouse    Fri Sep 8, 05:17 PM #  

    What do you get when you drop a piano on an army base? Um… Homestead after Andrew?

    Those CA air conditioners don’t blast you the way SoFla ones do; except Palm Springs is the only place where you can walk around with a sweater or jacket onhand for when you go indoors.

    As for a pool as to where the next artists’ colony will be, look to where there’s a concentration of under-utilized warehouses – Say, West of MIA or maybe even Opa Locka.

    There’s a joke in California that when you see a real estate agent’s sign stating, “perfect for artist’s loft,” you know that artists can no longer afford to live there…

  13. circuitmouse    Fri Sep 8, 05:31 PM #  

    One thing LA did do right for their artists (although the City of Los Angeles had precious little to do with it) was when Fort MacArthur was decommissioned, and it became the Angel’s Gate Cultural Center. Not as developed, funded or advertised, perhaps, as SF’s Presidio, but million dollar real estate (gasp!) being used as non-profit gallery and studio space. Of course, if that was tried in Florida, it would end up being in the Dry Tortugas…

  14. Onajide    Sat Sep 9, 12:28 AM #  

    Alesh, my name is spelled Onajide, not Onjide. Thank you, sir.

    In regards to the ArtBlog opening into a page on miamiartexchange: I was previously using an RSS feed which allowed the text to be rendered in the regular formatting of the site. In July, 2006, the site was hacked (along with several thousand others) and the RSS feed was disabled because of security issues. I could circumvent that by rebuilding the site entirely. The current database would have to also be totally rebuilt. It took me two months to upload all the data into the database once I started using a database. Now, I have two additional years of data. I don’t have the time right now. I have other more pressing issues to deal with. However, I would love to do a rebuild of the site but, it won’t happen for a while.

    Also, the podcast was done via celphone technology. Now that I realize it can be done that way, I have no excuse to not do more podcasts. It was only during this current podcast that I realized this was a viable alternative.

  15. nobody    Sat Sep 9, 11:37 AM #  

    ambrosino gallery is a new addition to the neghborhood at 2628 NW 2nd ave…

  16. KH    Sat Sep 9, 11:42 AM #  

    Yes, nobody, but is Ambosino open yet?

  17. Manola Blablablanik    Sat Sep 9, 04:01 PM #  

    New World symphony musicians already have their apartments and studios across from the Bass. Arison donated the buildings when the symphony was founded to house the musicians.

  18. nobody    Sat Sep 9, 04:06 PM #  

    Ambrosino is doing a “soft” opening tonight. 7 to 10…not a real show, but gallery artists works will be on display…

  19. Steven Kaplan    Sun Sep 24, 08:39 AM #  

    Sunday, September 24. I’m back in NY. The last two weeks have been fairly hectic, so I’m just now checking up on the Miami blogosphere. Kudos to Critical Miami for its coverage of Brook’s new Chiller Theater. But I’m surprised Alesh has not listened to the podcast on MAEx, because he is cited. Perhaps that’s why Brook “mentioned it about a million times”, huh dude?

    The back story: I dropped by Brook’s on Saturday, September 2nd, just to shoot the breeze (as it were). I was hardly expecting to witness the dawning of a new era. But there was, decidedly, a new atmosphere present, and according to Brook this new atmosphere was no more than ten hours old. Dorsch Gallery had entered the modern age. The era Before Conditioning (B.C.) had come to a close. From this point on, history would be measured off in years of Air Dorsch (A.D.)

    This required immediate commentary, a marker, a commemoration. But time was of the essence. I was on the prowl in Wynwood, and could not sit still for a written commentary. Also, Brook mentioned that Alesh was following the story and had been promised a “scoop”. The solution: a podcast, giving me (and MAEx) the worldwide all-media debut but preserving the text entry for Critical Miami.

    We called Onajide, who suggested a MAEx voice mail call-in number that allowed us to speak in two minute intervals. Hence the choppy nature of the podcast. Brook and had to call back several times, passing his cell phone between us. 7 minutes 32 seconds later the deed was done. History had been served.

    I felt like Edward R. Murrow during the London Blitz.

    In any case, I gave a shout out to Alesh during the podcast, indicating that while I had “scooped” him in an all-media sense, the text version was still his to blog. Which he has done, splendidly. Except that while I took pains to address him in my coverage, he has neglected to mention me. So I will, right now: Steven Kaplan.

    As to the larger issue of power lines, and real estate, and zoning. Yes, at some point the galleries might be pushed out by Starbucks and condos. Hasn’t Rocket already closed its doors? It’s the old, familiar dance: artists making new, marginal neighborhoods safe and palatable for the bourgeoisie, and as a result pricing themselves out of the very place they helped create. Nothing new here. But since Brook owns his warehouse, and also the (sweltering and still un-A/Ced) bungalow/ex-crackhouse next door, he won’t have to leave anytime soon. Unless some developer makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

    My question: why doesn’t FPL bury some of those power lines in terra firma? Because when the big wind comes a blowin’, it hardly matters whether you’re a product of gentrification. We’re all in the dark together.

  20. alesh    Sun Sep 24, 11:55 AM #  

    Hi Steve!

    Yes, I see what you mean; even my “update” to the post really kind of skewered the truth; I’ve fixed it now. A lot of stuff on this site gets half-assed due to my lack of time, absentmindedness, distraction, or plain old drunkenness (of which I think all were involved in this particular case). Even still, the one thing I try not to cut corners on is giving credit where it’s due, and since clearly I botched that in this case you have my apologies.

    Moving on… FPL are a bunch of asses. The excuse they gave Brook for not going underground with those monstrosities (“oh, we have other stuff underground, too!”) is that there wasn’t enough time. Those lines feed Midtown, which is scheduled to open in less then a year. Of course, it’s not like they only just found out about Midtown; they slept, and then their sloppy catchup game marrs another neighborhood. (It’s also interesting if you drive around following that powerline the strange twists and turns it takes through the neighborhood, suggesting that politics were in play, and some particular blocks were off-limits, but who knows?)

    I believe that Rocket’s closing was unrelated to rising property values, though who knows—you’re right in that Rocket was not one of the galleries that owned their space.

    How do rising property values force galleries out even when the gallery owns the property? The same way that the big fancy condo buildings in nearby Edgewater force out the smaller affordable apartment housing. Firstly, as you suggest, it’s with big-time developers walking around with unrefusable offers. The second is property taxes, which track property value. I don’t remember the numbers, but I believe Brook’s taxes have more then doubled since he’s purchased his property (Which to me suggests that they have more rising to do, especially if/when the rezoning happens).

    At some point, you start to weigh the pain-in-ass factor of moving against the sort of place you could get in a neighborhood you might be happier in anyway vs. the amount of money you stand to gain from such a transaction (witness Franklin, who was able to sell his house, move to Boston without worrying about where he would live, and take at least one full year off from employment (not sure about the particulars there, but the gist is true).

    Once the first gallery moves out of Wynwood, it might open the door to a mass exodus. And I’ll say it again: especially once the rezoning happens. (In fact, some of the galleries may be holding out just for that, or maybe for the next building boom, which of course . . .)

    Really, you could go on and on analyzing this. I’m going to go have some more coffee.