The once salmon and purple colored sky transformed into a vast expanse of a jet-black night sky that engulfed the alleyway of the Boca Raton ROC Urban community spaces. Stars fill the sky like pale corn being turned into the freshly turned ground. Most alleyways make people feel as if something eerie is just around the corner. But The Flamingo House located at 4160 NW 1 Ave Suite 16 in Boca Raton turns the alleyway into a night of art, live music, vendors, and more.
The fading of the sunlight also meant the fading of the heat. The Flamingo House is a promise of life in the darkness of the alley, a sense of warmth springing from the cold air that night. The Flamingo House, which gets their name from the way flamingos and other birds do better together, has different ideas for the alley and warehouse spaces. Once a month, The Flamingo House offers food trucks offering barbeque and beer, live music to fill the air, and vendors selling original art and fashion pieces from out of decorated warehouse spaces.
City council member Andrea Levine O’Rourke has said, 'The Flamingo House is our art district, our little Wynwood in Boca.'
Boca’s The Flamingo House also provides creative co-working for the community, personal studios for tenants, and network meetings for all kinds of creative and artistic individuals.
According to photographer Michelle Guerra, “The Flamingo House also offers these work environments that are more fun and creative than the traditional nine-to-five work environment. It’s an escape from the social norms and work ethic.”
The music soared through the air without effort, the sound rushing in and around every person in the room. The guitar player holds the heavy wood guitar in his hands, twisting his fingers in odd shapes, and the strumming sound dances out the guitar making him smile brightly through his dark stubble. Some react to the beat, others continue to chatter, but the music always speaks to them in some manner. A lively tempo moves the crowd, some people dance, every person is like an island, and the music makes them all feel the same tidal flows feeling warm. Then like a tsunami, the applause rolled forward to the guitar player.
Humming to the live music is a vendor and handmade jewelry creator Megan Webb. When the butterscotch blonde with some swirls of buttermilk coloring isn’t listening to her favorite Hip-Hop and Christian tracks, the full-time mom is a first-time art vendor.
“This is my first time at any art event,” said Webb. “I’ve only been creating jewelry and accessories for only about two months. My Etsy shop ‘Ashes2BeautyDesigns’ has grown, and my husband and son are my influences,” said Webb.
Webb hopes of growing her business into a boutique and she ended by saying she loves the Boca atmosphere.
Arrayed on the table are gems that glare like electricity. Visitors at the booth stood mesmerized with their eyes following the solid rows of sparkles like a glistening ocean under an unshielded sky.
Ellie Vail stands confident, cool, and comfortable in her dazzling sparkles golden as honey in the sun. Her bangles and necklaces, each one untouched and glittering, matches her form-fitting Baroque style dress that matches the suns radiance and soft as the gleam after the sunset.
Vail, is a tenant at The Flamingo House, and she is creating classic-cool jewelry for the everyday woman with a mix of classic looking pieces combined with some of the latest trends.
“I think some people are too safe,” said Vail, “Don’t wait until something is overly cool to wear it. By the time you wear it, no one will really care anymore. So just be yourself.”
Vail, who has previously styled the likes of Sofia Vergara and Celine Dion, said, “I’ve done six or seven of these Art in the Alley events and the event has grown quite a bit by 50 people each time.”
Vail, whose jewelry can be found in up to 250 stores worldwide, has recently partnered with Nordstrom and Vail said, “My dream project would be to do an exclusive line for them creating an exclusive collection for Nordstrom. That would be next on my list.”
Like a canon, the large barbeque grill pushes out smoke in a rapid deliberate burst. The smoke is hazy, floating upward and drifting like a lazy ghost in the breeze. The warm smoke mixes with the cold night air creating a fog in the alley. Art in the Alley also offers great food and drinks for everyone, chug down a couple of cold ones while listening to live music. Barbeque sits on the grill, sizzling to a sweet and tangy texture. A man in a fedora licks the brown dripping barbeque sauce off his pink fleshy lips and guzzles the golden-glow of beer in his cup to wash away the rest of the sauce.
He then walks on over to a booth and is greeted by healing art and jewelry maker Dani Meighan. When Meighan isn’t listening to Chaka Khan’s “Papillion” or painting, she is creating healing stones, pendants, and bracelets with positive energy for both men and women.
“On November 11, 2016, I had a near-death experience,” said Meighan, “After that and a breakup I needed to find something positive to focus on. So I started crafting jewelry to encourage hope and personal power that we can see on us.”
Her jewelry is inspired by her parents and the Belizean culture. Her unique and bold beaded bracelets each resemble different meanings.
Meighan said, “The tone for everything I create has some message behind it. Some of the designs symbolize strength, luck, and peace. I love it when someone puts on one of my pieces and they connect with it. I eat and breathe creating every aspect to help people feel emotionally attached in a positive way.”
Meighan has also attended Miami Fashion Week, Boston Fashion Week, and L.A. Fashion Week, but she enjoys seeing how Boca is growing in a more artistic direction.
“I’ve been at The Flamingo House’s Art in the Alley since it’s started and there were about five people here when it first started,” said Meighan, “Now we have so much more here and it’s spreading through the rest of Boca.”
One young man moved like an artist, his eyes taking in more details than the average person, his arms dancing as he paints. There was a streak of baby blue paint on his canvas, almost the same shade as his ripped jeans. The stroke lines are bold and the images are like novels condensed onto a single page.
David Restrepo, an 18-year-old artist from West Palm Beach is turning his passion into progress. “My grandfather who started painting in his later years has inspired me to paint, do photography, and get out there,” said Restrepo.
This is Restrepo fourth time at an art event, but Restrepo says Art in the Alley holds a special place in his heart.
“The difference is here it’s like family,” said Restrepo, “Everyone is so friendly and this is one of my favorite places to come and meet new people and they even challenge me to grow.”
Restrepo, who has also been inspired by American visual artist Man Ray, said most of his pieces are black-and-white, but lately, he has been introducing more color into his pieces.
“Most of my pieces are black-and-white and I try to bring out emotions on people. But I’m also going into colors to bring me out of my element because people see more colors in a positive way,” said Restrepo. “The colors can add a layer of positivity and that positivity will reflect on me and the artwork will show that,” said Restrepo.
The painting dominates the canvas, every color is bold and every line is painted with precise, curved yet sharply defined. Restrepo runs a finger along the black framing.
“This is my Neptune portrait,” said Restrepo.
Restrepo’s painting of a statue of Neptune shows the masculine God of freshwater and the sea crying. The tears are like a budding flower, slow and gentle, but it rose to a wail that could tear through a heart. Over lands and seas, through forest and valleys, every ear could hear not only Neptune’s cry but Restrepo’s message behind the artwork.
“This Neptune portrait resembles when I changed schools and I went through Hurricane Matthew,” said Restrepo.
Restrepo talked more with his hands than his mouth, the words almost existing as an explanation to the movements.
“I was stuck in my house for three weeks,” said Restrepo. “I felt like a statue and a little lifeless. I felt sadness and the sculpture symbolizes feeling lifeless like a statue yet feeling something real, a real emotion.”
Restrepo hopes to one day have an art piece with a message on an even bigger canvas. Restrepo has recently started his own club called Artist Awareness to inspire other artist and non-artist as well.
“Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist or a creative person, you have a unique message that you’re feeling in your heart and that’s what being an artist is all about,” said Restrepo. “Everyone can get out there, be in it, and be an artist.”
If you would like to be at The Flamingo House, attend Art in the Alley or one of their other events, you may call (561) 405-8600