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Boynton Beach Arts District Picks Up The Pieces After Flood Loss

Christine DiMattei

There goes two-and-a-half years of work.

That’s what Rolando Chang Barrero says he was thinking as he surveyed the damage from last week’s flash floods on the Boynton Beach Arts District he founded not long ago.

“I was scared to open the door,” says Chang Barrero of the scene he walked into last Friday.  “The water was above the door about seven inches.  I just didn’t want to open the doors or the gates because I didn’t know what I was going to find.”

Chang Barrero says the floods destroyed about $70,000 worth of artwork and equipment stored in the old garage bays turned mini art galleries.   Chang Barrero set up shop in an old industrial area just west of I-95 in 2011 and other artists soon followed.  Within months, they rehabilitated the blighted bank of warehouses, covering most of the garage bay doors with murals and creating an inviting space for both visual and performing artists.

Also washed away was an urban garden that Boynton’s artists and urban farmers have been working on for months.

Meteorologists say the nearly two feet of rain dumped on parts of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach last Thursday and Friday was a once-every-1,000 years weather event.  The resulting floods forced school and road closures and are being blamed for the deaths of two people.   

Lost in the flood were thousands of dollars’ worth of sound equipment that the Boynton Beach Arts District (BBAD) needs for “Boynton Beach Live,” a monthly open mic night.

“We had platform stages, speakers, mixers, microphones.  And all of that got ruined,” says Chang Barrero.

But he says the arts community is banding together for a fundraiser to bail BBAD out of its predicament.  A fellow artist, Christian Bentall, organized the event, which will be held Friday, January 17 at Respectable Street, a West Palm Beach club.

Meanwhile, the show goes on.  Chang Barrero says the flood damages will have no effect on an event BBAD has been working on for a long time.  ART al' FRESCO, the first of six satellite exhibitions for the ArtPalmBeach International Art Fair, will still be held next week.

The Boynton Beach Art District Relief Fundraiser is at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17th, at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach

For more information, please e-mail boyntonbeachartdistrict@gmail.com

Years ago, after racking her brains trying to find a fun, engaging, creative night gig to subsidize her acting habit, Chris decided to ride her commercial voiceover experience into the fast-paced world of radio broadcasting. She started out with traffic reporting, moved on to news -- and never looked back. Since then, Chris has worked in newsrooms throughout South Florida, producing stories for radio broadcasts and the web.