Daniel “Krave” Fila is the Miami-based urban artist leading the CANVAS Collection, a massive collaboration of artwork by over 20 international and local artists for the interiors of CANVAS, the flagship condominium of Miami’s Arts + Entertainment District. In part one of our interview with Daniel, he describes the inspiration for the project, the role of urban art in Miami’s ongoing transformation, and how CANVAS will be unlike other residential property. Select pieces from the CANVAS Collection will be on view to the public beginning November 30th and for all of Miami Art Week at the CANVAS Pop Up Gallery located at 70 NE 17th Street in Miami, Fl.
What is the CANVAS Collection and how did you get involved?
Daniel: I worked with developer NR Investments and an interior designer on an art installation at the developer’s other property, Filling Station Lofts, a few years ago. It was a great experience putting together a team to collaborate with like that. So when NR approached me about potentially working on a collection for their newest residential project in the Arts + Entertainment District, I went all out on the pitch. It’s going to be something special. It’s a growth opportunity. The building is called “CANVAS,” so even by name it is an invitation for artistic expression. I originally just reached out to a few of my peers about the opportunity, and the ball just started rolling. We have contracted more than 20 artists now – many of them homegrown, Miami-based urban artists for this. Together, we’re creating around 200 original art works, including murals, interactive art and framed prints, for the building’s lobby and residential corridors.
You’re taking part in a panel discussion on November 30th called “Behind the Walls” alongside members of Miami’s traditional art “establishment”about the role of urban contemporary art in Miami’s growth. Why is this discussion important?
Daniel: There is so much to discuss and I’m excited about the opportunity to put some of these concerns on the table. Miami has become a major art hub, but we still act more as a host. I remember what it was like before Art Basel was here. What would happen if – and possibly when – that fair isn’t here any longer? Should Miami keep banking on one week in December? There’s a disconnect between the major art institutions and the artists who live and work here, and we don’t have the infrastructure that you see in other major art cities like Los Angeles and New York. The public here enjoys art, but isn’t interested enough for our major local paper to have a full-time art critic. Wynwood has become a model developers all over the world are trying to replicate, which is great, but in many cases the very artists and galleries that cultivated a neighborhood’s renaissance have a hard time surviving long term. If Miami is going to be taken seriously on the global stage, we need to be asking some tough questions and working together.
How does curating the CANVAS Collection play to your strengths?
Daniel: We aren’t just curating this, by the way. We are hiring the artists. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and it just feels like a natural progression. I started doing my thing in 1995 down here, and the business side of it started taking off for me in 2003. Being part of this scene early on and having a degree of commercial success has put me in a position where I can help others. CANVAS is the perfect platform for that – what’s happening in this building is greater than any one of us, and there will be a lot of artists involved in the CANVAS Collection who will be able to grow their audience, and their careers, as a result of this artistic collaboration. It’s an honor for me personally. I don’t have any aspirations to be a dealer, but a great opportunity is a great opportunity. I’m grateful to have such a great team, and that these artists are willing to work with me.