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Public Art adds pop of color to benches and utility boxes at NoMi’s Griffing Park

Posted By Josie Gulliksen
May 6, 2021 at 4:14 PM

The utility boxes at North Miami’s Griffing Park featuring designs by commissioned artist Cavan Koebel. Photo courtesy of North Miami CRA.

Local artist and once North Miami resident, Cavan Koebel’s colorful brushstrokes now adorn the utility boxes, benches, and more at Griffing Park on NE 123 St. and West Dixie Hwy., part of the Community Redevelopment Agency’s Art in Public Places Program.

Helmed by newly named Public Arts Program Manager Michelle McKoy, this project is one of many coming to the City. Murals and public art have been popping up around North Miami for quite some time and Artburst Miami has covered a couple of those projects. Click here to read about the Liberty Gardens mural and click here to read about the public art at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

“I’m looking forward to working with innovative artists and implementing public art that reflects the diversity of North Miami. Infusing energy on multiple levels is what art does, I’m fortunate for the opportunity to navigate this terrain using expressive art modalities,” said McKoy.

For the latest project at Griffing Park, artist Cavan Koebel (a.k.a Raw.Sol) had to work quickly, having been alerted about the Call for Artists just a week before the deadline.

“My Dad who is a realtor in North Miami and a fellow artist I know that does work with juvenile detention centers both sent me the information, saying they immediately thought of me and encouraged me to apply,” said Koebel.

He quickly checked out the Call to Artists and saw what they were looking for and trying to have done. He let the idea simmer in his head to get the juices flowing. He automatically knew the artwork had to be fun, uplifting and something that celebrated the local environment.

Colorful Griffing Park Bench in North Miami adorned with design by artist Cavan Koebel. Photo courtesy of North Miami CRA

“I incorporated Caribbean influences like native plants and animals to celebrate the natural environment of South FL when creating the designs,” said Koebel.

He created the mock-up in about two to three days with the final designs taking about four days. The designs then were presented for approval and he got to work. His colorful work was unveiled at Griffing Park on April 30.

In total, Koebel’s work is featured on four concrete benches, six utility boxes, one single-story concrete pavilion and two smaller single-story utility buildings.

This project is not Koebel’s first for North Miami, his murals grace the Mary’s Lb. pet food store on West Dixie Highway and on one of the walls of the Taco Bell on NE 125 St.

Artist Cavan Koebel.

“Just like with the big murals, I wanted to do something bright and dynamic that catches the passersby eyes and then when you step closer to it you really can see the details like the shapes and plants, water and animals,” he said. “This project was also different because it was all design based.”

Koebel also worked closely with the city in vinyl wrapping the work at the park to ensure that the designs hold up to Miami’s weather elements.

Born and raised in North Miami, he is excited to work in his hometown where he grew up right off 125 St., one of the city’s main streets that runs through Downtown. It brings him immense joy to experience the city’s growth, including the many events put on by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

“It makes me happy to see the community bringing people together to celebrate our similarities and differences,” he said.

As a full-time artist since 2017, his commissioned murals adorn walls in 10 different Florida cities and about as many states. The commissions began his last year in college – he received a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Central Florida — when he also formed a media marketing company.

Koebel was the ideal choice for the first of many of North Miami’s upcoming Art in Public Places projects.

“Griffing Park was the first one because it is city owned and so made for a quick implementation,” said Rasha Cameau, executive director of North Miami’s CRA. “Our North Miami Chief of Police Larry Juriga was instrumental in getting this initiative started.”

 A formal Call to Artists (released in Feb 2021) for the public art in North Miami’s Griffing Park garnered 23 applications and among those, Cavan Koebel (aka Raw. Sol) was chosen for his design. The North Miami CRA Board and Art Selection Committee chose the artist with a commission of $3,500 for his chosen design. He was selected by a six-member Art Selection Committee comprised of stakeholders in the community.

On the selection committee were McKoy; Geo Darder, founder of the Copperbridge Foundation; Amanda Covach, curator of Education at MOCA; Christine Carney, assistant director City of North Miami Parks & Recreation; Doris Metzer, president & CEO of DM Art Enterprises, Inc. and Rose-Philippe Coriolan, producer and host of Cinema Verite Radio Show on WSRF 1580 AM/99.5 FM.

Slated for future public art installations are Pioneer Boulevard from NE 6 Ave. to West Dixie Highway and crosswalks on NE 7 Ave. from NE 119 St. to 143 St.

“We want to do a sculpture garden on the median on Pioneer Blvd. and painted crosswalks on NW 7 Ave. between 119 and 143 St. to slow traffic down,” said Cameau. “There will be call to artists for these as well.”

Later down the road, they will work with private property owners along 125 St. to create sustainability murals and, an other upcoming project will involve painting fire hydrants in the community and will involve the Police Athletic League of North Miami (PAL) https://northmiamipal.org/.

“With the short timeframe, it was difficult for the NMCRA to get them on board; however, we have future long term projects that will involve youth groups and artistic kids from the area,” said Cameau.

A majority of the pieces are required to include a specially designed NoMi Heart to distinguish them as Art in Public Places Projects.

Keep up with the planned upcoming projects on the North Miami CRA Public Arts Programs page, go to http://www.northmiamicra.org/public-arts-programs. And to see all of Cavan Koebel’s work visit his website at rawsolart.com

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