8 Local Creatives Taking Over South Florida's Art Scene
AMANDA PERNA, 33
A Coral Springs native and “Project Runway” alumna, Amanda Perna creates stunning clothes for socialites, celebrities and everyone in between who’s looking for that unique special occasion piece. She fashioned and runs two clothing lines: The House of Perna, a made-to-order luxury clothing and accessories brand featuring plush European silk fabrics, and Neon Bohemians, a ready-to-wear sustainable brand that’s made in America and in collaboration with global artisans. Both labels are made with bright, colorful pieces that simply make people happy.
F IS FOR FASHION & B IS FOR BLOG
“I’m so excited to be debuting my first book—’F is for Fashion,’ an illustrated children’s book. Just in time for the holiday season, the alphabet hardcover will be sold online and in independent boutiques nationwide. There will also be an exclusive edition carried by Neiman Marcus, so we’ll be hosting a book signing in the Fort Lauderdale store at The Galleria Mall this winter. We are a fashion-centric family, and my husband, Solomon, and I couldn’t find a fashion book for our daughter Stella—so we wrote this together and I illustrated it. Now I’m thrilled to be sharing it with fashionistas of all ages. I also started my blog, ‘Always in Color,’ a couple of months ago. It’s a lifestyle blog I created to share my experiences and celebrate life and bright colors.”
“I will be launching Mini Neon Bohemians this winter. Made for girls (sizes 2 to 5), it will be available online and sold at select boutiques nationwide. The line, which will feature a few mommy-and-me matching pieces, is made in South Florida in small batches with the goal of eliminating waste.”
“I love to repurpose furniture and even won HGTV’s ‘Flea Market Flip’ once. I also sang in Carnegie Hall in high school, and I’m a crazy plant lady.”
LASZLO BOLLOK, 45
Executive Pastry Chef, One Door East & Valentino Cucina Italiana
As a kid in Hungary, Laszlo Bollok spent his summers inside, learning to bake from his grandmother, while his coevals were outside playing. Their favorite dish to make was a sponge-like cake with sour cherries she’d pick and he’d peel. When Bollok was 14, the pastry chef at the establishment where he worked as a chef took notice of Bollok’s raw talent and urged his grandmother to foster his path into pastries. Twenty years ago, he moved to New York City and worked at Le Cirque and The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges, among others.
WHEN ONE DOOR OPENS
“I moved to Florida six years ago and worked at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne and the Four Seasons in Brickell. I was ready to try something else when I found One Door East about six months ago. This is my home.”
“The rum cake with 1796 Santa Teresa rum, bourbon vanilla chantilly cream, freshly grated nutmeg and orange zest. For the holidays I will be creating new desserts. Sometimes it takes me five minutes for the inspiration to hit, and sometimes it takes me days to come up with a new dessert.”
“I care a lot about the ingredients and where they come from—that’s what makes a dish unique. I have my roots from my teachers and chefs before me, but when I create edible art I always do my own twist. I love creating something unique and mixing savory and sweet flavors, like mango and curry or pineapple and saffron.”
A SWEET REMEDY
“Even after a long or stressful day, seeing people’s smiling faces when they’re enjoying the desserts is priceless for me. It makes me forget everything else.”
“I like to get my hands dirty by building furniture and working on cars.”
LORI PRATICO, 51
Shattering every obstacle that has been put in her way, this Philadelphia native is creating light, love and acceptance in our city and throughout the country with her art and passion for giving back to the community. An artist for 25 years, Pratico’s murals are around town at Green Bar & Kitchen, Hair Circus and Rhythm & Vine, but next year she will be undertaking one of her most impactful projects to date right here in Broward.
THE FIRST TIME
“I always wanted to be an artist. In kindergarten, I was introduced to finger painting when they put a smock on me and told me I was allowed to get paint on my hands and make a mess. My home life was the opposite—very tidy, and art was not encouraged. But in that moment, I found that freedom in being creative.”
“Growing up in a low-income area, there were low expectations for me. But I knew I’d be more than that, and I knew I was supposed to make a difference somehow. I finally figured out I could do it with my art—I had a voice but what did I want to say?
So, I sat down one weekend afternoon on my patio four years ago and created Girl Noticed, a community mural non-profit program that spotlights unique females and their incredible contributions to our society. Each mural is temporary but is tied to a permanent message of love, strength and recognition. I want to show girls they have value and I notice them. So far I’ve created 34 interactive murals in 15 states, and 300 people have attended my self-esteem motivational art workshops, which I lead together with each mural.”
“I wanted to do something local with Girl Noticed and really make an impact at home. I’ve had the opportunity to work with several Jewish organizations, and I wanted to do something with Holocaust survivors, especially women. As women, even if we’ve lived a rich life, as we get older we tend to become invisible and I didn’t want their stories to disappear.”
JAMES DIX, 43
This emerging photographer’s captivating photos of Fort Lauderdale make us feel lucky to live in this paradise. His lens captures the city’s sun, sand and the soaring skyscrapers redefining our skyline.
FROM THE BEGINNING
“I picked up a camera when my son, Bradley, was born 21 years ago because I wanted to take photos of him. But I’ve never had any professional training. I had been working at Home Depot for 20 years when I started posting a few shots on Instagram. My wife, Lori, is my biggest fan. Without her support and encouragement to follow my photography dream, I wouldn’t have had the guts to quit Home Depot and start shooting full time about two years ago. I just feel the need to create, and it really excites me when other people enjoy my creations.”
BEST PART OF THE JOB
“The traveling! I never left the state as a kid. Now I get to see the world.”
FAVORITE THING TO SHOOT
“I love to fish and be on the ocean. In 2012, I bought a GoPro and started shooting video, then I bought a drone and became an FAA-certified drone pilot two years ago because I love to shoot aerial shots of buildings and the beach. Currently, I am a drone videographer and photographer for ‘Uncharted Waters with Peter Miller,’ which airs on the Discovery Channel.”
“I grew up in Miami and moved to Broward 20 years ago. Back then it was nothing like Miami. I have loved watching it grow—seeing all those cranes in downtown. I also love the art scene here with FATVillage and the MASS District. It’s really become an up-and-coming community.”
“I grow and shape bonsai trees. I have like 20. And I grow orchids, too.”
MARCUS BORGES, 37
A graffiti artist by trade, Marcus Borges took the leap into the art world with his creations 10 years ago and never looked back. It’s challenging not to get caught up in people’s opinions and be afraid, he says. Thankfully, his fearlessness pushed those thoughts out. Today, his murals are creating happiness and intrigue in our community, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
BEST KNOWN FOR
“I have been painting in FATVillage for 10 to 15 years. One day I painted a 3D piece, and Doug (one of the district’s founders) was impressed by it, so we started talking about Leah Brown’s design, Idea Journey, which was going onto a 75-foot wall of the Extra Space Storage building. It took me one month to paint floating 15 feet above the ground. My style is very retro and nostalgic to the ‘80s—it reminds people of Trapper Keepers, ‘80s video games and retro comic books. It’s a reflection of my childhood and myself. I was really into math and science as a kid, too, so that’s where the geometric pieces come into play.”
“I grew up in the hip-hop community and am still very involved in it. My graffiti name is GRAB, which stands for graffiti, rap, art and breakdancing—all the things I love to do.”
BEST PART OF THE JOB
“I do what I love and there are no limits. Some people get scared not knowing where their next paycheck is coming from, but I love it. I have control of my time, and I don’t see a ceiling in my work. I also love exploring the world and get to do that through my art.”
“I grew up in a poor town in Brazil, and every year I go back home and paint. You see so much poverty, and I just want to try to lighten up the community and add color. I get emotional every time. I think of my 9-year-old daughter when I see these kids in the streets. I want to show them that I came from where they are, and they could be doing this one day.”
NIKI LOPEZ, 44 / TABATHA MUDRA, 37 / NIKKI SARAIVA, 42
Coming from a variety of different artistic backgrounds, this group of tenacious creatives is carving the path for women in film and beyond through their thought-provoking films and resonating vibrant voices. As the first team of women to win the Best Film award at the Miami chapter of the 48 Hour Film Project (an international film-making competition) for multiple years in a row, the 1310 Bandits are a force to be reckoned with.
PASSION & INSPIRATION
Lopez: “When deciding what type of film to create we have to feel strongly and connected with the story, not just because a topic is popular or safe. We evaluate what’s currently not being said or how we can tackle a subject differently. Our storytelling advocates consciousness, social responsibility and diversity.”
MEANING OF ART
Saraiva: “Art for me is my self-expression, my therapy, my passion and my fun. It’s an extension of myself.” Lopez: “It’s a form of advocacy, an opportunity to be a voice and be the change I want to see in the world.”
Mudra: “We all live and work at the 1310 Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts, and we have all at some point almost gotten kicked out. We like to stay on the edge of boundaries, so that’s why we called our group 1310 Bandits. People want to work with us because of our tribe-like energy and our resourcefulness. We will do whatever it takes to elevate our production value.”
Mudra: “We’re in the process of writing our next feature. It will be a choose-your-own-adventure that follows a girl for 10 years of her life to show how different decisions affect her life’s outcome. Currently we’re seeking funding and the project will take anywhere from one to two years to complete.”