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The Canvas Project: Miami

August 30, 2021

Story: Punch Staff

photos: Pati Barreto

Six bartenders showcase the projects that engage their creativity beyond the bar.

The 2021 Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Canvas Project, presented by Bombay Sapphire, is dedicated to supporting the artistic passions that fuel creative bartenders across the country. Through a series of grants, the Canvas Project empowers bartenders to realize their imaginative pursuits in the form of projects that help knit neighborhoods and communities together. This year’s featured bartenders, grouped by four major regional markets and working in a diverse array of mediums, are showcasing at gallery events this fall and winter the work that fulfills them when they’re not behind the bar.

In Miami, a city of sea, sun and the vibrant intermixing of cultures, art flows out into the streets, inseparable from the daily hubbub of conversation and community that feeds creative minds. Focusing on photography, drawing, painting and leatherwork, the six featured bartenders from the Canvas Project’s Southeast region—who showed their work in Miami—share an exploratory drive. These bartenders hit the pavement with a painter’s eye or a camera in hand, searching for inspiration they can bring home to internalize and reproduce in their art. In the words of Alexandra Martorano: “When I create something, I take every ounce of emotion I have and focus it into the piece.”

DIEGO VARONA

Current city: Miami

What is your creative passion or outlet?
Photography—specifically, film photography, mainly due to the process involved. It allows me to slow down and watch the world around me at a different pace, where I can see the beauty in the mundane. There is no preview after you take a shot, and you only find out if you’ve made a mistake once you process your film. The beauty is that the art isn’t about perfection, more the imperfections.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
[I’m] presenting viewers with some images of Miami that I’ve taken in the last couple of years. Showing the way that I see Miami, the city that raised me. Focusing on the bright colors and warm people that call Miami home.

Follow along at @loathinginmiami

WILLIAM DALLA POLA

Current city: Miami

What is your creative passion or outlet?
My creative outlet is photography. I enjoy a challenge and experimenting in the darkroom. Shooting early in the morning or late at night is when I am most creative. I like the world when it is at its quietest, just like the darkroom.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
For the Canvas Project, [I am] displaying shots which were taken during my first few semesters in the forensic photography program at Barry University. In these photos, I was experimenting with positive and negative litho prints, dabbling with the photo enlarger while printing in color, and creating digital images printed on matte paper.

Follow along at @_dalla_bill_

YSABEL ROSSI

Current city: Miami Beach

What is your creative passion or outlet?
Photography and painting. I love telling stories with my art.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
Ah, my roots, my culture. From bold, bright playfulness to the soulful poetics of heartache. I’m blessed to come from such rich, vibrant cultures fusing together into something bigger… to be a constant explorer of life and what it can become. My photography is the chronicle of that story, visually manipulating landscapes and nocturnal cityscapes. My project [is] a series of mixed-media visual poems in 10×12 and 12×14 prints, documenting the journey of life. I use my digital and film camera.

Follow along at @ysarossimia

ALEXANDRA MARTORANO

Current city: St. Petersburg, Florida

What is your creative passion or outlet?
My creative passion is leather craft; I specialize in handmade leather harnesses and accessories. I am the sole owner and operator of Othala Leather, a project I started during quarantine in my garage.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
I [am] showcasing my leather collection, NOIR Pt. 1. I buy whole vegetable-tanned hides at a time. I cut, clean, dye, condition, finish, and burnish each piece. Every item I make is adorned and made by hand. With time and patience and a little bit of love, you can take something chaotic and ugly and transform it into something amazing. When I create something, I take every ounce of emotion I have and focus it into the piece.

Follow along at @othalaleather

ORESTES CRUZ

Current city: Atlanta

What is your creative passion or outlet?
My creative outlet is painting and drawing. I like to work with FastDry paint and be very expressive and bold with the colors. I tend to have a level of abstraction in my artworks.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
This project is a way to say thank you to all the people that work in the service industry, as well as the regular customers who patronize my bar. In Mexico, where I was raised as a kid, the milagritos (or “little miracles”) are devotional items and offerings that people give to thank someone for something. One of the most common shapes is the heart, which I chose to represent in the form of a drawing or painting. I hope to send these hearts to people who will in turn share memories of positive times at bars, or restaurant memories, in videos that will be available to watch online.

Follow along at @orestesmixdrinks

GINA HOOVER

Current city: New Orleans

What is your creative passion or outlet?
I am an oil painter; I use pouring as my brush and the variables of viscosity, gravity and time to inform my work.

What is the Canvas Project you’re showcasing?
I [like] to highlight my process, which has been crafted to cater to bartending both in scheduling and concept. I blend my paints by shaking, and I consider how the colors converge on canvas to mimic a conversation. I paint in short sessions [over] long periods of time, bearing reference to how a relationship is built. What I have chosen to show is the beginning of a series that is focusing on internal experience and external representation.

Follow along at @ghooves

©2021. BOMBAY SAPPHIRE AND ITS TRADE DRESS ARE TRADEMARKS. IMPORTED BY THE BOMBAY SPIRITS COMPANY U.S.A., CORAL GABLES, FL. GIN – 47% ALC. BY VOL.

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