Artist Kelly Breez memorialises Miami’s vanishing dive bars

Dive’s Dirt recalls the grungy world of the barfly

Dive bars hold a special place in American pop culture, their grungy and endearing interiors immortalised in Beatnik fiction and music videos alike. Today, they’re an endangered species, with many shuttering due to the pandemic, gentrification and changing patrons’ tastes.

Miami-based artist Kelly Breez memorialises South Florida’s lost dive bars at her immersive installation, Dirt’s Dive, on view at the Faena Art Project Room in Miami Beach during Art Week.

‘One of the first kinds of community spaces, the bar is a place where people gather and tell stories, and Breez’s installation is a celebration of that’, says Faena.

Patrons step into a fictional bar that feels both familiar and strange, enlivened by cut-outs and life-size figures, and a bright green neon sign that hands above a mounted fish. The bar back is filled with bottles and ‘relics’ – a treasure collection of memorabilia and knickknacks.

If everything feels a little ‘off’, that’s because Breez plays with scale, creating and crafting an alternative universe with an Alice in Wonderland quality that hazily toys with the feeling of familiarity.

While Breez is drawing attention to the disappearing nature of the dive bar, it’s not a rose-tinted lament: the seedier elements are also there, beneath the surface, as is the absurd. Ultimately, It’s a gritty and humorous repose to the ‘glitz and glamour’ of Miami Art Week.

‘Kelly Breez: Dirt’s Dive’ runs until 9 February 2024 at Faena Art

Photography: Faena Art
Photography: Faena Art

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