ArtCenter/South Florida is dead. Long live Oolite Arts.
That’s one of two major announcements from one of South Florida’s most impactful arts organizations today. ArtCenter, which has renamed itself Oolite Arts, plans to move its headquarters to Miami’s Little River neighborhood, it also announced this afternoon.
The organization is working with firm Jones Kroloff to find an architect to construct a signature building for its new headquarters at 75 NW 72nd St., in the heart of Little River about halfway between Biscayne Boulevard and I-95. The new building will open in 2022, according to the announcement.
“With the move to Miami, Oolite Arts will be able to expand on its mission to strengthen and support the visual
artists of Miami,” said president and CEO Dennis Scholl in a statement.
The change in name was inspired by oolite, the layer of sedimentary rock that forms the foundation of South Florida itself. “Like its nominative inspiration,” the announcement explains, “Oolite Arts seeks to be the bedrock of Miami-Dade’s visual arts community.”
Founded by Ellie Schneiderman 35 years ago, Oolite, then known as ArtCenter/South Florida, transformed vacant storefronts along Lincoln Road into artist studios. Its former headquarters near the intersection of Lincoln Road and Jefferson Street became an iconic mainstay, even as Lincoln Road evolved into a pricey shopping destination.
But in 2014, Oolite sold that building for a cool $88 million — funds it has used to create more opportunities for artists in South Florida. It continues to show work at 938 Lincoln Rd., and last year introduced the Ellies, a series of grants funding South Florida artists. It also developed a Cinematic Arts Program to help local filmmakers.
That work will continue in Oolite’s new HQ, the announcement says: “The new home, slated to open in 2022, will enable the organization to expand its artist residencies and provide local artists with a top-tier exhibition and theater space, in addition to a makerspace, and classrooms for the 200-plus annual classes already offered to artists and the surrounding community.”