Girls’ Club the Club everyone wants to Join.

Sarah Michelle Rubert  at Girls' Club
Sarah Michelle Rupert at Girls’ Club

There is a gem in Fort Lauderdale called Girls’ club. have you found it?

How did I come across Girls’ Club? I am not sure, I followed a random link on Facebook calling for volunteers. So I volunteered to see the Art scene from another angle besides sipping me wine at this and that Art openings.

So I headed off to girls club. It is in a building that stands out among its ordinary neighbors, the exterior super clean and sleek. The doors open into a soaring space a worthy of an important collection.

I met with Sarah Michelle Rupert Gallery Director of Girls Club to find out about the opportunity. The second I saw her simple and chic with her long dark hair and hip little outfit I was taken all the way back to New York City the last time I, in my own chic little outfit put my head together with someone to talk in depth about Art.

Sarah zips around the South Florida Art scene with ease, I couldn’t resist asking her a few questions.

What do you think Girls’ Club’s role is in the Art scene of Fort Lauderdale?

Girls’ Club’s role is as a connector – educating, incubating, and nurturing the creative energy that is growing all around, not only Fort Lauderdale, but the greater South Florida area.

Educating with exhibitions that bring new national and international artists work to the area, with workshops by and for local artists and with an educational agenda that develops customized workshops for our community partners, guided tours to any interested, and a library of publications, artist books,and videos. Incubating by generating and facilitating discussion of

contemporary art theory and practice, by presenting the opportunity for local artists to show work and glean instant audience feedback and commissioning new work from artist and develop new audiences. Nurturing artists’ careers with professional development and exhibition opportunities as well as creating a platform for new ideas and discussion.

Operating in this hybrid mode of part museum, part art center, we’re uniquely able to connect with a multitude

Girls' Club facade
Girls’ Club facade

of audiences including students, artists, curators, art aficionados, writers and the local community. All of whom are collectively responsible for the care and growth of this bourgeoning Fort Lauderdale art scene.

How did Girls’ Club Come about?

Girls’ Club founders Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz, had been amassing an amazing collection of contemporary art for years, a collection they musingly dubbed their “girls’ club”.  They had been involved in the South Florida arts for decades, with generous contributions and a high involvement in the community development, museums and non-profit art organizations. I think they saw a void though, in Fort Lauderdale, a missing link that could connect the local community and with what was developing in other art hubs around the world and foster an active conversation about contemporary art.

So, in 2006 they decided to open a public space, not just to house and exhibit the collection, but more importantly to act as an incubator in the community – spurring innovative artist projects, leading education programs and generating a

Beatriz Monteavaro - detail of Untitled (Praying to the Aliens), 2003, mixed media on paper; photo by SIlvia Ros
Beatriz Monteavaro – detail of Untitled (Praying to the Aliens), 2003, mixed media on paper; photo by SIlvia Ros

critical dialogue.  A year later, with a remodeling from genius architect Margi Glavovic Nothard – a pioneer reimagining the architecture in Broward – Girls’ Club opened its first exhibition, Talking Heads, and launched a unique program of events and outreach initiatives.

Girls’ Club reached its fifth anniversary last month with the exhibit Following the Line. Programming has expanded to include professional development workshops for artists, panel discussions and artist talks, yearly publications, film screenings and an annual community collaboration event Art Fallout.

Here is the big Question, what do you think of the Art Scene in Broward?

Broward has a unique flavor, or multitude of flavors. There is a lot going on. Lots of pockets of activity, and different segments of the community connecting to each’s offerings.  There are concentrated neighborhoods developing their own identities – from the FATVillage to the Third Avenue Art District, to the Riverwalk Entertainment area to the beachside art areas of Deerfield and North Beach.  Some of these neighborhoods have existed for years – like the Third Avenue Art District which will host its 18th annual artwalk this coming February – some are rather new and are experience a huge surge of energy, community interest and are growing rapidly.

Broward also has these amazing anchoring institutions that are taking art engagement and education to new levels. Like the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, a launch pad to many a Miami- and Broward-based artists’ careers.

ArtServe on Sunrise, which has a wonderful art support program for local artists and guild members, with available workspace, classes and exhibition opportunities year-round.  And Young At Art in Davie (another Margi Nothard architectural wonder) which is pioneering exceptional art education for children and adults in west Broward – with nationally awarded programming and an amazing commitment to its audience.

The shows I have been at Girls club have been dynamic and really involved the audience from the post its on the wall at Art Fallout to the whole audience with their noses in their booklets for the Follow the Line. Do you consider audience involvement when putting your shows together?

Audience interaction is always at the forefront of our programming. Girls’ Club exists for this.  We want to break down the imaginary barrier audiences feel towards contemporary art. The most exciting thing about contemporary art is that it is happen right now, and we all have the opportunity to be a part of it and to be changed by it.

I notice that Girls’ club often partners with other Arts organizations like the Fort Lauderdale Museum and Fats Art village for a more community feel which I love. I’ll be checking out what is happening at the Museum and it will mention a joint venture with Girls’ Club and visa versa. What is the thought and the goals behind these associations?

Collaboration is key in fostering a strong arts community. No one artist, no one organization exists on an island. While

Shoshana Weinberger - New Fad Diet, 2010, gouache on paper
Shoshanna Weinberger – New Fad Diet, 2010, gouache on paper

each may have its own identity and focus, we are all on the same team and together can really make a difference.  Girls’ Club relishes the opportunity to work with other organizations – whether its with Young At Art presenting artist-led workshops to at-risk youth groups, with the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami to host the annual Girls Summit for innovative education programs or with the Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts and FATVillage for our all-in community celebration of contemporary art, Art Fallout.

Collaborations build audiences. They challenge us to think outside ourselves and really consider a wider interpretation or integration with new elements.

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