Art attraction Magnetic opening in Pompano Beach

Rei Ramirez's untitled collage combines pages of Playboy magazine issues from the 1980s. (Phillip Valys /

This past January, at the sprawling Pompano Citi Centre, across the atrium from a Subway, a J.C. Penney and a carousel, the pop-up art space Magnetic debuted in an empty storefront. Spoken-word poets, sculptors, dancers and musicians dropped by for "ArtPop#kinetic," a group exhibition, filling the 2,700-square-foot space with painting demos, cocktails and conviviality.

The other mall tenants were understandably concerned about "ArtPop#," or any art space using hashtags to court millennials, launching anywhere near their franchise.

"A few businesses thought we were bringing in macaroni art, and I'm like, 'Come on!'" recalls Byron Swart, Magnetic's curator and artistic director. "Then, we brought in these 6-foot, massive sculptures, and other phenomenal works, and I think they started to take us seriously. It didn't hurt that 300 people visited us that night."

Now a gallery supported by the city of Pompano Beach and the folks formerly behind Arts Garage and Bailey Contemporary Arts, Magnetic will open Friday, May 6, with music, spoken-word and a new art exhibit, "ArtPop#StrangersFace."

Swart describes the space as a "hub for people who want to see the best of the best artists," where he can test-run programming every week between now and January 2017, when the Pompano Beach Cultural Center opens next to Pompano Beach City Hall. The cultural center will be a 20,000-square-foot gallery decked out with digital media centers, a library, a gallery and a 374-seat auditorium.

For Adam Collier Noel's untitled work, the artist pastes photographs of the grandfather (a WWII Navy crewman) of his 60-year-old partner, along with writings of 1940s medical journals. (Phillip Valys /

"Where can you go if you're a musician or artist in Pompano? You go here," Swart says. "This is like a microcosm of what people will see in the cultural center — music, spoken word, dance, everything. We're trying to get Pompano used to us. But until we move in, we're doing the Magnetic pop-up in unusual environments, like the mall."

Magnetic, Swart says, will stage every-Friday gatherings and monthly art walks, which will clog City Centre's atrium with art and craft vendors. This Friday's kickoff has spoken-word poetry hosted by resident poet Eccentrich and a new dance piece by Umoya. The May 12 edition will offer a documentary screening on Miami gallery pioneer Bernice Steinbaum, and the May 20 event will feature music by Grammy-winning salsa pianist Marlow Rosado and a post-concert jam session with local musicians. The May 27 Magnetic, the same night as the art walk, will feature painters squaring off in an art battle.

Diana Contreras poses with her painting on display at the Magnetic art space at Pompano City Centre. (by Misstakes / Courtesy)

The "ArtPop#StrangersFace" exhibit, a showcase of 69 works by seven artists, also coincides with each Magnetic event, Swart says. Inside the rectangular gallery, metal floral sculptures by Fort Lauderdale sculptor Tin Ly decorate the walls and center pedestals. Painted portraits of women wearing costumes and wolf masks by Broward's Nate Dee and Miami's Diana Contreras gaze out from each canvas.

"We go through points in our lives where there are big changes, and artists capture them here in the eyes of strangers," Swart says. "The eyes seem to be staring into you, demanding you make the best of those changes."

The Magnetic pop-up gallery will kick off 6-11 p.m. on Friday, May 6, at Pompano Citi Centre, 1955 N. Federal Highway, Suite 104, in Pompano Beach. The show will close May 27. Admission is free, and $10 for the spoken-word poetry. Call 954-839-9578 or go to

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