Inside the artists' studio

"Things will end before they start," the TM Sisters' recent installation at the Moore Space. The Sisters are part of the Up & Comers, a downtown-based collective. Photo courtesy of the artists.

By Vanessa Garcia

Most of the time, we view art in the sterile white spaces of galleries and museums, worlds away from the studios where artists actually work, pushing pieces from half-formed inspiration to completed piece. Visiting an artist’s studio gives you a chance to see the process behind the product — the hacking, painting, molding and dreaming that eventually results in what you see on a gallery wall.

A few Miami artists happily invite visitors into their studios to show how they work, think and plan. There’s no requirement to buy art, and there’s no charge to visit the studio; just call ahead for an appointment and show up on time.

At Federico Uribe’s studio, horses are made out of corks; Superman is made from shoelaces; and a set of torsos are built with screws. Born in Colombia, Uribe started out a painter, but his technique changed over years spent in the Andes, Cuba, Mexico, Russia, England and now Miami. It was in Mexico City that he started picking up things from the street — baby-bottle nipples, plastic forks, screws, coins, cleaning supplies – and began painting with them. Best known for his pencil paintings, Uribe’s studio is a testament to his process – while teeming with bits and pieces, the space is neat and ordered. The front space is a display area with paintings and sculptures depicting farm animals and some portraits/ Uribe’s work space is separate, behind a dividing wall. Uribe does his painting in a small upstairs room, where you can observe him sitting in front of an easel, working at one of his shoe-lace paintings and drafting out a study of color, pinning the laces to the canvas and weaving them into the work.
260 NE 60th Street, Miami; 786-286-8407.

Just next door to Uribe’s studio, you’ll find a wholly different sculptor. Carolina Sardi creates organic, flowing shapes with industrial materials. The end result is pristine, but the process is messy and perilous — Sardi sculpts with taped hands, the better to protect from sharp razors and metal shards. Her work plays upon the juxtaposition of industrial material and organic shapes. melding what she calls the micro into the macro. Using minimalist lines, points, and planes, her pieces delve into concepts that deal with everything from politics to the origins of the primordial egg. Her current show at Pan American Art Projects in Wynwood, open through Feb. 26, features a new series of sculptural wall installations.
250 NE 60th Street, Miami; 305-535-1020. Email Click here to view an online portfolio.

LEBO’s postmodern cartoony murals, emblazoned all over many businesses and walls around Miami, have made him one of the region’s most recognizable artists. Born David “LEBO” LeBatard in New York but now a full-time Miamian, LEBO is a versatile painter and graphic designer who paints soulful, line-based abstractions against solid, flat color fields. He’s designed and painted murals for the likes of Burdines, Macy’s, the annual Langerado music fest and the Jam Cruse, as well as graphics for Nestle and Bacardi. His current projects include designs for the Miami Heat’s 20th anniversary.

LEBO’s studio is simple: it’s his apartment. “I got used to traveling and doing commissions and then going back to my hotel room and working on my own stuff, I’m used to working in small spaces,” says LEBO. Here, paint cans line a long table in his living room, drips and drops mingle on the floor. In the corner, a computer knocks out graphic images. On the shelves – books that range from Austrian textiles of the 1920’s to Mexican Propaganda Art. And all the while, LEBO kicks back, telling you about how lucky he is to make a living doing what he loves.
2829 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach; 305-206-4049. Email:


Skulls, paper flowers, and video tape…Sometimes the art world makes room for a spot of creative bliss, where artists come together and commune to make things happen. This studio is among those spaces. Some of Miami’s youngest and hottest – Miami’s art gang of up & comers, so to speak — all under one roof. The TM Sisters, among them, just exhibited at GEISAI, Takeshi Murakami’s Japanese Pop Art exhibit at Miami Basel 2007. The group’s studio is on a second floor over a fabric store in the middle of downtown Miami. Everyone has their own individual space in the studio, but there are communal areas too. Among the shared and collective spaces and equipment are multiple photocopiers, a T-shirt screening station, lighting, tripods, boomboxes, music, and a button maker. There is wireless internet throughout; along with a fridge and shelves stocked randomly with goodies. Sometimes cluttered, but always cozy, this place is a little spot of artist-shared heaven.
212 North Miami Ave., Miami; 305-377-0769. Email:

Up & Comers members:
Pres Rodriguez (Graphic Design-Collaborative Happenings-Paper Jams)
Tasha Lopez De Victoria & Monica Lopez De Victoria/aka: TM Sisters (Mixed Media-Interactive Digital-Video,
Jonathan Peck (
Jen Stark (Paper Sculptures-Drawings,
Manny Prieres (Mixed Media on Paper,