Fountainhead Residency founder and director Kathryn Mikesell speaks on the Miami-based artist incubator’s rich 15-year history.
Visitors in the studio of artist Ernesto Kunde during Artists Open 2023 PHOTO: BY KARLI EVANS, COURTESY OF FOUNTAINHEAD RESIDENCY
For over 15 years, the Fountainhead Residency has hosted three international artists in Miami every month. Housed in the residential Morningside neighborhood opposite the founder’s home, Fountainhead has catalyzed multiple creative collaborations. In 2019, the nonprofit initiated a countywide project, Artists Open, inviting the public to visit multiple artist studios. Miami magazine talks to founder Kathryn Mikesell who, together with her husband Dan, has grounded Fountainhead Residency and its expansive program as a Miami staple. 690 NE 56th St., Miami, fountainheadarts.org; artistsopen.miami
Joiri Minaya in her studio at Fountainhead Residency PHOTO: BY ZACHARY BALBER
What inspired you to start Fountainhead Residency?
Dan and I began collecting art in 1998, and we realized what drew us into the art world was artists, not only their artwork. We started Fountainhead to help build artists’ careers by introducing them to Miami’s diverse cultures while providing Miamians unique access to artists. To date, Fountainhead has hosted over 500 artists from 49 countries.
Artist in residence Leasho Johnson with a visitor to his studio at Fountainhead Residency. PHOTO: BY CAROLINA MENENDEZ
What are Fountainhead’s essential programs?
The Residency is in a home, which is intentional, as it’s a more welcoming environment. Each month we open the Residency to the public, schedule studio visits with local art professionals, introduce visiting and local artists, view museums, institutions, private collections and galleries, and explore nature by kayaking, going to the Everglades and spending a day at the beach. We also commission local photographers and filmmakers to document, which ensures each artist leaves with professional photos and a mini-documentary about their practice. In 2022, we began an annual publication with essays about the artists by expert writers.
Natalie Ball in her studio at Fountainhead Residency PHOTO: BY CELIA D. LUNA
What are your highlights within Fountainhead’s history?
Welcoming an artist for a first visit to the United States is a gift. We’ve taught artists to swim, bike, drive a stick shift car, and overcome a fear of water. It has also been rewarding when alums are invited back to exhibit at local art spaces. Then, seeing visitors get emotional from an artwork or a story an artist shares at the Residency is equally priceless.
Artist in residence Angela Davis Johnson in her studio at Fountainhead Residency. PHOTO: BY CELIA D. LUNA
What is your vision for Artists Open?
I’m often asked, “How do I find local artists?” So, we began Artists Open with more than 300 artists opening their studios to the public. The event is accompanied by an interactive directory by neighborhood linking the artists’ Instagrams or websites so visitors can plan their day (the directory is also accessible year-round). Like the Residency, Artists Open supports artists and makes art accessible.
Photography by: Photos By Karli Evans, Zachary Balber, Carolina Menendez and Celia D. Luna