www.ambiente.us  JUNE / JUNIO 2008

The Art of Being Blair Russell
by Herb Sosa
cover photo -  Manuel Buznego

Blair Russell has created a little spot on the
edge of Miami's Historic Lemon City where
coloring all over the walls is encouraged.  
A place where you can live within your art,
create art and yes, even graffiti the walls -
all in the name of improving the area and
providing a haven for  artists to live and

Located on 62nd Street off Biscayne
Boulevard, Russell bought a former crack
house four years ago and converted it into
affordable housing for local artists.

What inspired Blair to develop this project
into an art colony was his mom - "Corny but
true; she was a great artist who died at 51 so
I did it in her memory!"

Born in Palm Beach, FL., Blair has had a
successful Real Estate Sales and consulting
career on South Beach since 1991.  This is the
first time not dealing with the 'ultra-premium'
market, he says. "My clients include David
Caruso, Missy Elliot, David Geffen and so on.........so this is quite a departure from that!"

I consider myself a very creative person but am more of a collector with private mini-collections in both Miami
and Manhattan.

As for partners (professional) Russell says NO partners; they tend to cloud one's true vision and are
interested mainly in the 'bottom line' - which this is not a major money maker naturally, since rents are greatly
reduced for artists; it's my idea and baby solely.

Personally, no partner either - not at the moment - "After 3 years, he didn't get it - so he had to go" adds
Russell.  Blair is certainly not closed to the idea of becoming seriously involved with someone again. I look for
someone who is happy and healthy basically - but I tend to connect more with artistic, well-read and traveled
guys; AND love those Latinos !

- What do you hope to accomplish (other than a return on investment) with this project?

I have already been so enriched with helping younger, struggling artists of all backgrounds and mediums; but
also enjoyed them being featured in almost every local paper and even HGTV's "What's with that house?

The passion for Blair Russell comes in showing people, once again, that art and real estate can be
combined into making interesting, creative spaces.  "I first did it in 1995 with Romero Britto's commission of a
block long construction wall on Ocean Drive in SoBe....I do love to travel, and divide my time between Miami
and NYC; oh yea....must love dogs!"

I, like most, 'need' nothing but want for everything - just edit what is really important and pursue it!

Blair Russell and his dog, Paris

ARTpartments currently houses 6 units included Juan Griego, Maiya, Black Mangrove Collective, and has
spawned the famous LEBO, KEEN and Y.M.I.'s Space-Leo, and Blair  currently has one unit open for visiting
international artists and hope to expand the concept further with some rural spaces.
We took ARTpartments.com down after the request list topped 200, but we're on My Space ARTpartments or
best, BlairRusse@aol.com

This project, though, is not free of benefits or challenges. "Lots of free art; time-fighting the 1939 building /
structure from aging!"

With everything from the dozens of galleries, hundreds of artists, Art Basel, his building, etc., Blair sees
Miami's place in the global Art World as good, but...."It's very exciting during those international shows but I
like to keep art in the forefront year round without those heinous huge corporate sponsors like Target @

- What is next for Miami?  Biscayne Boulevard?   

The area from 50th - 77th Streets on Biscayne Blvd. was designated as the Miami-Modern (MiMo)
MY-MOE,  Historic District last year for the great architecturally inspired Mid-Century Moderne
motels on 'the strip' - This area is well on its way to being Miami's "next" Art Deco district success.
Growing up, Blair's parents were very supportive of your creativity. "Especially my Mom who was
English-Bahamian and an artist;  My Dad is a great guy of German decent and is also very supportive
although not as open minded with some of my installations."

- What should a young LGBT person wanting to get into real estate or Art collection do?  

Travel as much as possible and never close your mind to new knowledge.....any selling or collecting involves
small bits of knowledge on a Large variety of subjects.

- Has your personal life as a gay man ever been a factor in your professional life?
- Has it ever helped or hurt you?

I spent many years working for Hasidic Jews who paid me and my team very well to 'connect' their
developments to the early scene in South Beach....which, like every other hotspot, started with us Gays and



NEW YORK - Epicenter

ART  - Everywhere

COLLECTING - only buy from younger artists

BISCAYNE BOULEVARD -  transitional

DOGS -  unconditional

MEN - powerful

FAVORITE THING TO WEAR- neon Adidas' from Berlin

WHEN I DREAM, I DREAM OF... - clouds or anything white

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED (how) - as a Renaissance man

Blair Russell & information on the ArtPartments may be found by contacting: BlairRusse@aol.com

Copyright © AMBIENTE MAGAZINE.   Do not reproduce without citing this source.

HERB SOSA            herb@ambiente.us

Cuban-American, community activist, Miami historian, preservationist and freelance writer, Herb Sosa is a
founding member and Director of Unity Coalition/Coalicion Unida, a non-profit focused on minority political &
social empowerment.  He is also Editor-In-Chief of Ambiente Magazine, a Latino/Hispanic focused LGBT
publication and regularly offers public speaking, leadership and political empowerment training workshops.

Sosa served as chairman of Miami Beach's Historic Preservation Board for over six years, and has served on
the Board of Directors of the Miami Design Preservation League, Dade Heritage Trust, Miami Beach
Community Development Corp., Shelbourne & Fernwood HIV/AIDS Housing, and variety of other
organizations throughout South Florida.

In 1995 Mr. Sosa created and developed the Ba-BalU Store concept in Miami & Miami Beach, celebrating
Cuban heritage thru art, cigars, music and unique giftware, and earning the store the unique distinction of
being named one of Conde N'ast Traveler Magazines top 100 destinations in the world in 1996.

In January 2004, Herb Sosa was named one of Tentaciones Magazines Top Ten Latina/o activists in the U.S.
and in 2005 was named one of OUT magazines Top 100 LGBT Activists and featured on LOGO TV.

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