NiteTalk: BAR Creative Director Pres Rodriguez Kickstarts the Art

Call it what you want: Bar, Black Bar, the OHWOW Bar, or, if you're really at a loss, the joint that used to be PS14. But make no mistake: this hang is unlike any other hang in the city. First off, everybody here really does know everybody else's name. Second, it completely transforms itself every two months, and each makeover is as vivid as the last -- and the next. Third, as we mentioned, it's OHWOW affiliated and approved, so you know what's on tap is only the most with it. Keeping it all creative is Pres Rodriguez, who let Niteside in on what's what at BAR.

You're BAR's Creative Director. Can you tell the folks what all that entails? The main responsibility I have at BAR is selecting and working with the artists that we invite to reinterpret the space every two months. Yes, every two months. We have had people come in after not being there for a few weeks and think we shut down and another place opened until they notice the staff and vibe is the same. People are finally getting hip to the concept now so there's less shock and actually more anticipation for the next installation. I also produce a limited edition item of some sort with each artist. Everyone on the team lends a hand in all aspects of the venue but this is what my main focus is.
Who are some of the artists you've had installed thus far? First up we had Alvaro Ilizarbe AKA Freegums. He's a Miami native with a super slick black and white style. He also has a t-shirt line under the name Freegums. One of the drawings he did for his installation got scooped up by Stones Throw Records and used for a special edition t-shirt/usb drive/music video by Mayer Hawthorne. That's now spawning a whole series of drawings for Mayer's next album.

Then we had Todd James AKA REAS. He's an artist from New York that got his start painting subway trains in the '80s and has now done everything from showing at Deitch Projects to designing the puppets for Crankyankers. For BAR he turned the space into a temple of cartoon sex and violence in a bright pink and yellow color scheme. We even re-felted the pool table pink for the two months his work was up to match the giant pink naked ladies on the wall behind it.

Right now, we have Mike del Marmol. He's by far one of the best graphic designers in Miami that's under everyone's radar. He's been at it since doing skate 'zines in the '80s, from MIAMI, PRE-INTERNET! His installation is a heavy dose of Miami nostalgia mixed with seemingly nonsensical randomness on over 60 posters he designed specifically for BAR combined with large, bold stripe work that takes over the rest of the space. Even our ATM machine couldn't escape the stripe treatment.

Who's on tap for August?
For August we have Cody Hudson from Chicago. I've seen a preview of what he's gonna do and the space is going to take on a whole new feel. He's really touching more than just the walls. We're even making a limited edition set of pint glasses and newsprint 'zine for the occasion.

The opening for his installation is Mon., Aug. 2. Like every Monday, we'll have a free BBQ in the patio, but this time we'll only be serving Chicago style hot dogs. I can't wait.

Since Bar's an OHWOW endeavor, you must work closely with the cadre itself. Do you have an official position over at HQ? Yes. I've been involved with OHWOW since before BAR opened. I've curated shows there, introduced artists to the space, produced events, consulted and generally just helped however I could. There are some secret projects that'll be unveiled later this year that I'm focused on right now. Really everyone over there puts in a tremendous amount of work. They're like the meat and potatoes of the place -- I'm more like the salt and pepper.

How'd you connect with OHWOW anyway?
Honestly, I can't pinpoint it. Miami has a way of blurring how exactly you met someone or when it happened.

In addition to your curatorial duties, you also handle graphics and logos for some of the MIA's most visible ops. Where might we have seen some of your handiwork? Lately, it's mostly been logos. Like the new Poplife logo, DJ Ross One, Gorillas, Pase Rock, Jack Splash and some others you might have seen around.

Any other art-wise offerings we need to know about? DADARHEA! The next opening at OHWOW on Aug. 13. It's hard to describe but imagine an artist summer camp where all you did was come up with absurd video ideas and you happened to have a full video production studio to film it all in for a month. You end up with paint exploding turkey dinners, East River shark attacks, a culinary massage parlor and s--- talking amongst other things. That's pretty vague but you really have to see it to get it.

And always be on the lookout for anything FriendsWithYou, Alvaro Ilizarbe or Jen Stark have their hands on.

Rumor has it you were an unborn member of the Mariel boatlift. How has that narrative affected your life? Yeah, my mother was pregnant with me when she came over to the U.S. during el Mariel. I narrowly escaped being born in Cuba. Being an immigrant gives you the perspective to appreciate what you have because you know what your family back home doesn't. Your parents will remind you every chance they get. Thinking about my mom, 18-years old, getting on a rickety boat, pregnant, with just the clothes on her back and starting a new life in another country where she doesn't know the language just blows my f------ mind man, seriously. I have to take advantage of what she did in order to set me up.

When you're not at BAR, where else in town do you most dig hanging out? When am I not at BAR?! It's starting to become my living room. 
What's coming up for Pres Rodriguez? Less beer. More liquor.

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