Kathryn Mikesell and her husband Dan have created the Fountainhead Residency and Studios. The Residency is just that, a residence across the street from their own home in Morningside. The Mikesells provide flights and host artists to give them the space and environment to find a new source of inspiration (a fountainhead). Fountainhead Studios in Little Haiti provides affordable, flexible studio space for over 41 local artists. Their mission is to introduce visiting artists to Miami’s art community and supporters, to infuse Miami with artistic inspiration, and to enable our art institutions to realize more ambitious shows.
JP: What brought you to Miami and this area?
KM: My husband. We were introduced over the phone for a business deal and it blossomed into a love affair. We didn’t describe ourselves physically because we were having an incredible time getting to know the individual, heart and soul, over the phone and through written correspondence. Then I came to Miami, we met for the first time and shortly after that, I moved here. Shortly after that, we married.
The funny thing about Morningside is we actually started here. Soon after, we did what most young people do, and moved to the Beach. Eventually, we realized it wasn’t where we wanted to be long term. Everyone was partying all night and sleeping all day. We were like, wow, we have jobs. When we were looking for homes, we fell in love with Morningside. It’s so eclectic, in the homes, the people, age, race, everything. It gives our neighborhood such tremendous character. It’s this little paradise and is central to everything.
JP: How did you get interested in art?
KM: It came through [my husband], Dan. After we married, we put up two pieces he had and I said, “It’s incredible to live with these works. We have more empty walls. Let’s buy more art.“ We got involved with the local art community. We both traveled during the week for work, would visit galleries, and on weekends we’d come back and share what we liked and visit more galleries or museums.
JP: You’ve stepped into the artists’ world to find out what they need and provide it. You’re so engaged in the process. What have you discovered?
KM: Every artist we have to the residency has helped us look at life differently or realize something about ourselves. It went beyond our wildest dreams. Our children are being shown the only limitations in life are those you put on yourself. What greater lesson? We bring people from around the world; our family has experienced diversity through individuals and sharing experiences. It’s caused us to answer questions early, “Why does Raul dress like a girl? He’s a boy, right?” People have a right to live life as they see fit. That doesn’t mean we can judge them. We can inquire. It’s fine to ask questions because you want to understand. For the kids to learn that has been amazing.
JP: Can you comment on the changing art scene in Miami?
KM: If you look at where Miami is today, we have the Arsht Center, New World Symphony, PAMM, Miami City Ballet, Florida Grand Opera, Young Arts — many of these have been around for some time, but weren’t on the forefront. Now they’re receiving the recognition they deserve.
Miami’s the only city where as an individual, you can have a significant impact both with financial means and with doing. I don’t know another city that has the world’s attention, is still so young, and has such opportunity. And it’s beautiful. It’s one of the first things almost all the artists say, “Your light is so different from anywhere in the world.” The community is supportive of what we do and of the artists who come here. We don’t have hierarchical divides that exist in other art communities. Here there is a unique level of engagement because rising tides raise all ships. We want to work together to make a difference.