Christine DiMattei talks to artist Rolando Chang Barrero about his efforts to spearhead the growing arts scene in Boynton Beach.
If you’re looking for Boynton Beach’s arts district, you won’t find it near any trendy restaurants or high-end boutiques. Actually, the closest business is an auto shop and the nearest place to grab a bite to eat is a gas station on the corner.
But if no one took this artists’ enclave seriously 18 months ago . . .
Barrero is a local artist, with roots in the Coconut Grove and South Beach art scenes. Seeking an inexpensive workspace, he rented a garage bay in an industrial park just west of I-95 in 2011. Things got a little lonely, so he scooped up whatever spaces became vacant and invited fellow artists to settle there. Before long, painters were using the garage bay doors as mural canvasses and some of the compartments as mini-art galleries.
Barrero feels artists should take responsibility for building their own communities.
“In every historical art period, you always had the integration and the collaboration of all the arts," says Barrero. "In order to make an impact in this century, I believe it’s necessary again."
Barrero is also working with urban farmers to create a raw foods garden on the property. And a half a block away, there’s a plot of land he’s setting his sights on for a performing arts center.
But while the city supports the revitalization effort, the district is pretty much on its own when it comes to funding. Barrero says he’s had to rely on private donations of money and art supplies to keep the Boynton Beach Arts District alive.