NAEMI Features Art From The Inside Out

On Saturday, March 16,  Storefront Art Studio in Downtown Hollywood will be exhibiting and having a fundraiser for the art organization NAEMI. The gallery is near it’s first year anniversary and is daring you to look at this great work.

NAEMI is the National Arts Exhibitions of the Mentally Ill. An organization based in Miami for over 30 years. Its longevity alone shows the dedication to the cause and the interest in its being. Juan Martin, the executive director and founding member has given the last few decades of his life to have this art seen. It will be a rare opportunity to also purchase some of the art from the permanent collection to help continue its existence. Juan’s goal is to find a permanent museum to house a collection of hundreds of art pieces that he has acquired from North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Art by the mentally ill you may ask? You shouldn’t. Art is from the mind of the maker to the eye of the beholder. This organization was established when in the late 1980’s Juan was working in the mental health field and was fascinated by some drawings a client had made and felt it would be interesting to see more. His journey brought him to many countries and dozens of artists. The organization had exhibitions with the cultural affairs departments of many countries and cities. The art has been viewed in prestigious galleries in Europe and the Americas.

My wife and I discovered NAEMI more than two decades ago. We had been private collectors of American Folk Art and Outsider Art or what is known as Art Brut. To us it was art of the people. No fancy fairs, no power brokers. You just drove up to the artists’ house and had an afternoon with them. We befriended Tamara Hendershot who had a gallery on Miami Beach named Vanity Novelty Gardens. Tamara’s heart of gold shined through with her dedication and treatment of the artists. She turned us on to NAEMI knowing our interests. We have since volunteered to help with NAEMI exhibitions, catalog artwork, or whatever is asked.

The art chosen for this exhibition include four of NAEMI’s most known artists. Misleidys Castillo’s (Cuban) muscular male figures are a burst of color and a sight to see. Isaac Crespo’s (Cuban) real life characters are intertwined with the absurd and irrational. Sebastian Ferreira’s (Paraguayan) line drawn building and cityscapes are one of perfection (one of his works is featured above). Boris Lopez’s (Cuban/American) Patron Saints are a burst of color and dots, his drawings are a contrast of intricate line detail and definition.

Leave your inhibitions at the door and let your inside out.

The exhibition runs from March 16 – April 20 with a public reception on March 16, from 6 to 9.30 pm. Storefront Art Studio is the exhibition space and the working art studios of Jill Weisberg and Brian Gefen. Storefront Art Studio supports the local community through exhibitions and programming that are free to the public. Located at 2019B Hollywood Boulevard in Historic Downtown Hollywood, hours are by appointment only and can be scheduled by writing to or calling 954-546-0773.

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Steven Toth

Steven Monroe Toth is Mr. Entertainment. Observer of the art and music world plus Florida living.