Isabel Romer is from Venezuela, but has friends from around the world. Last week, she attended an event called Creative Mondays at Tripping Animals Brewing Company in Doral. Nearby, about a dozen other people painted and made collages.
Romer, who goes by the nickname “Pichi,” has been attending the gatherings since they began in 2019. She says she introduced the idea of Creative Mondays to her friends in New Zealand, and they have made it a tradition ever since.
Pichi enjoys painting whatever is on her mind, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. That includes a duck surfing on a microwave.
About her creative process, she says, “There’s just such a beautiful idea behind just creating for the sake of creation.”
Tripping Animals Brewing Co. is a community-driven brewery that promotes various art and music initiatives as well as inclusivity. Since January, the five-year-old brewery has been hosting Creative Mondays by Venezuelan artist Camila Castillo. What started as a group of 8 to 10 of Castillo’s friends in her house on Mondays in 2019, then grew to 40 to 50 people who needed more space to create.
From the start, Castillo has provided supplies, including canvases, paint, brushes, markers, magazines, and more to support anyone who wants to make art. Instead of instructing others, she encourages them to let their imagination flow and to trust their own processes.
Many Miami breweries now offer many kinds of events to promote activities to their audiences. There is a Brews N’ Bingo at Lost City Brewing Co. In North Miami, karaoke at Lincoln’s Beard Brewing Co. in Coral Terrace, and Union Craft Beer Store in Little Havana is even hosting a monthly professional wrestling show.
“I think that if people can come and take art with them…they let go of their anxiety, preoccupations, and anything, you have that moment,” Castillo says. “I’ve also seen a lot of people that came to paint on a Monday and then sent me a picture on Saturday and be like, I needed to paint more.”
Creative Mondays start at 6 p.m., when the regulars show up and start to socialize. Some meetings have DJs or special speakers who usually talk about community events. Art from previous attendees is displayed along the sides of the space. Creatives gather in the brewery’s outdoor area, where there are picnic tables.
Around 7:15 p.m., Melissa Bonilla was the first artist to arrive last Monday. She is one of the movement’s organizers. Bonilla, who grew up in Venezuela, explored her art through painting, sculpting, creating videos, DJ’ing and even painting her bedroom walls when she was a child.
Bonilla enjoys meeting new people who share her passion for art. She says Creative Mondays have helped her make new friends. She’s become more extroverted and is now more open creatively as well.
“It’s such a different way to start the week,” Bonilla says. “And just like sitting down and having a meaningful conversation with everyone, some of them have become the closest of friends.”
At 8 p.m., Castillo’s friends Jess Lathulerie and Toni Gutierrez start their portion of the event, which is called Queer Talks. Castillo has provided their organization a space in her Creative Monday events to open up a conversation about the political climate, especially regarding the LGBTQ+ community and laws that may affect them.
“Well, usually I’ve been coming to Creative Monday to create, to share art … today we got invited to share the new project that we’re working on called Queer Talks,” Lathulerie created the meetup after her partner was having a tough time with the political climate. She was struggling to come out to her family. She felt like they needed a space to share these issues and talk about them with other queer people.
Lathulerie wanted to find a community to help her partner through her situation and couldn’t find anything. She was tired of the Miami queer scene revolving around bars and drinking. She brought Castilo the idea to collaborate and wanted to open up a space to have conversations about the political climate of the queer community.
While both of them are artists, they are also bringing awareness to the injustices directed at the queer community, and encouraging people to fight back through art.
Artists clean their spaces towards the end at 11 p.m. They leave with new friends and carry finished artwork.
Creative Mondays take place every Monday, encouraging those who need an outlet to build community and express themselves.