The concept of fine art accessible to children is a novel one. A simple idea was borne from a moment of brief introspection, artist Christine Lyall, who one day during an art exhibition noticed a child standing on tippy toes struggling to view her painting. His tiny stature barely registered over the bottom frame of the canvas. As Lyall watched across the room, the seedling of an idea shot up and flourished.

“It was an ‘a-ha’ moment,” she recalls. “I thought, oh my gosh, that could be a whole show! Have adult art, like fine adult art not childish art, not juvenile art but fine art and just lower it a few inches so that everyone could see it.”

Lyall pitched the idea to a few like-minded people and two arduous years later, JustMyHeight Art Shows became a reality. The organization creates exhibits where fine art is displayed at a child’s level. That’s just 36 inches off the ground, instead of the standard 52 inches (“center line”).

On Friday, April 8, it will present its most recent gallery event, Secret Doors, in collaboration with Talking Off the Wall magazine and The Warehouse Project at Wynwood. Painter and sculptor Danilo Gonzalez will donate warehouse space that will be transformed into a lofty art gallery featuring the best of street artists and muralists, specifically for adults and their respective mini-me’s.

The concept is an appealing one. At times, art galleries seem like a stoic environment. No longer bound by height restrictions, this concept allows the young to be curious and expressive, and learn from the anti-establishment masters (street-art, after all, can be seen that way). In turn, the long-forgotten world of childhood dreams and imaginative things, eluding adults since bills, jobs and responsibilities have taken precedence, are once again within reach.

Adds Lyall, “(The parents) see the art through the children’s eyes. When the kids express what they see, the parents are often like, ‘oh wow, you’re right! I didn’t even see that!’ Kids just see things that we don’t see.”

It enthused others to participate in this exhibit, including Miami-based photographer Pascal Doytier, founder of Talking Off the Wall.

“As soon as ( Christine ) mentioned her idea of the show, what she was doing, I was like ‘Okay, I want to work with you. I definitely want to work with you!’ It’s an exciting project; it’s very, very new. I’ve been to many, many art shows and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Secret Door features 15 of South Florida’s most legendary and gifted street artists:

  • 8Bit Lexicon
  • Aquarela
  • Luis Barros
  • DaveL
  • Nate Dee
  • G.G.
  • Kazilla
  • Monique Lassooij
  • Ernesto Maranje
  • Miguel Parades
  • Jenny Perez
  • Ruben Ubiera
  • Derek Wilson

All paintings at Secret Doors are original works and were commissioned by Doytier and Lyall. The artists were given very little instruction, simply told that it must speak to the concept “Secret Doors” in some way.

Gonzalez asks the three of us,  Lyall, Doytier, and me, who are congregated on a round table on location at The Warehouse Project for an interview about the project, what we would say to an artist who believes he or she has integrated the concept into his or her artwork.

After a bit of a heated debate, Gonzalez shrugs.

“Art…it’s the purest form of expression,” he reasons, his gorgeous black and white oil canvas behind him suddenly coming into focus. We all agree.

Doytier was the liaison to the artists, having acquired quite a rapport with many local (and non-local) virtuosos through his magazine. During its almost three-year run, the publication supported Miami’s street art community, from those who painted fine art on the walls, to (sometimes illegal) graffiti artists.

The evening will include adult refreshments for the older folk courtesy of Peroni and activities for the kids in addition to the art. This will include spray-painting, a scavenger hunt, a pop-up gallery, and arts and crafts. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the non-profit organization, ArtCares for Kids, and specifically the children at Jackson Memorial Holtz Children’s Hospital and Baptist Children’s Hospital. Kids will be encouraged to create get-well cards for the children at Jackson Memorial Holtz Children’s Hospital and Baptist Children’s Hospital.

Coloring books, featuring the paintings from the show, will be produced by Talking Off the Wall and JustMyHeight, will be sold at the event. Copies will be donated to children benefited by ArtCares.

Secret Doors opens on Friday, April 8  from 6 to 10 p.m. and will be on display through Sunday, April 17 at the Wynwood Warehouse Project located at 450 NW 27th Street, Miami, FL 33127.Adult admission is $15 when purchased ahead of the event, and $20 at the door. Children admitted free.

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