NiteTalk: Gypsy Tea's Geo Darder on Opening The Copper Gallery

In South Beach, he and his Jade and Premiere model agencies helped make the place glamorous. On the Biscayne Corridor, he lent his talents to Uva 69. Then up in NoMi with his Gypsy Tea Shop, he joined MOCA in showing us there was a world above 79th Street. And when he wasn't in on any of the above, he was doing likewise down in Rio. His name is Geo Darder, and this Friday the man-about-town opens the Cuba-friendly, Caribbean-centric Copper Gallery. See you there!

Can you please tell us a bit about The Copper Gallery? It's the space that serves the Copper Bridge Foundation, which is a robust, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to advance and promote cultural and artistic exchange, especially with Cuba, while building dialogue and understanding through the arts. We'll feature Cuban artists with intervals of artist works from other countries, and we've an audio visual room for special screenings and lectures.

Who do you have on tap for Friday's opening?
The exhibit is called "Cosmic Island." I am happy to say the artist Adrian Pellegrini will be at the opening direct from Havana, Cuba. It'll be a celebration, art, food, drinks, music and friends.

We'll also have a special screening of the documentary Shared Visions. produced by PBS director David Schler, which covered CBF's first cultural exchange exhibit in Santa Fe. The doc shows us that "shared visions" do make a difference, and it's currently selected for various international film festivals.

What kind of logistical hurdles do you have to overcome to bring Cuban artists and their art into Miami? Luckily the Obama administration has made it easier for Cuban artist to be granted visas. There is a large wave of Cuban artists, musicians  and dancers that are currently touring the US.
Totally the opposite a term ago.

Were there political hurdles? There are less hurdles, but the truth is we have a long way to go - it is a very sensitive topic.

Isn't it about time we completely dispatched with all this embargo nonsense? My personal opinion, the embargo does not work. Next.

Are there any other issues and/or causes that you and The Copper Gallery are involved with? Community has always been important to me. I have always been attracted to 'hoods in transition, I kind of have the nose for these emerging 'hoods, no pun intended. First  South Beach, MiMo and now NoMi. The  Copper Gallery is located next to my Gypsy Tea Shop which I beautify with artistic murals that represent the culturally diverse community. Plus I just came back from attending Sundance Art House Convergence, a five-day conference on American art houses, which are a dying breed. CBF was one of the sponsors of the week-long gathering.  It was very cool. Michael Moore was our guest speaker (he owns an art house in Flint, Michigan), and he too believes in his community.

Civic-mindedness seems to be the 21st century's new black (or it should be anyway). Do you see a trend? I agree!! The world is in a very peculiar state with global warning and natural disasters becoming a regular occurrence. I would like to think that our society is on a trend. But I will keep it simple and close to home. Most people that are part of my life are on the same path. I think maturity leads you to conscious awareness. You do not need to save the world but a "how are you?" and "have a nice day " to a total stranger is a great trend to start!

What made you decide to locate the gallery up in NoMi anyway? There is something special about the area. It has a major museum (MOCA), mid-century row, great antique shops, countless thrift stores and wonderful little family-owned restaurants. That is what drew my attention. I have been here two years since my return from Rio de Janeiro and I feel this area is  MIA's next/last cool frontier. But NoMi is not in a hurry to prove it to anyone. That is what I LOVE about this area called "Little Bohemia."

What else is coming up for Geo Darder? This year is a busy one! I am helping organize the Art Deco World Congress being held in Rio De Janeiro in August, and I will be hosting the post event in Buenos Aires. I will also be hosting the three-day celebration Rio New Years 2012. And in between I will be working on my humanitarian and cultural travel programs.

The Copper Gallery opens Friday January 28 from 7-11pm 13151 West Dixie Highway North Miami

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