Barber by day, curator by night: How this Miramar barbershop doubles as an art gallery
From the outside, The Cutting Gallery is just another shop in a Miramar shopping plaza.
But when opening the door to the barbershop, customers are greeted by scents of a boutique South Beach hotel. They wait on upscale couches and listen to music through a custom-built sound system. And when they finally sit to have their hair cut, they stare at walls full of art, indistinguishable from the posh galleries of Las Olas or Wynwood.
This experience is all on purpose says Quincy Chery, the shop's owner. Chery opened the shop in 2021 after almost a decade of planning. Meanwhile, he was cutting hair and getting his Art Degree from Florida International University.
"My whole vision of this place really was to be a mecca, where people can kind of come in and exchange cultural cultural differences like artwork and poetry," he says. "It's a good place for people to express themselves, which is the centralized point of a barbershop — what it has always been, and what it always will be."
The barbershop he envisioned combines the art of cutting hair with more conventional forms of art. So far, he has exhibited three artists — all painters — who hang their work on custom-made fixtures on the walls.
"And every haircut, every person, is is like a blank canvas. Having a background of drawing and painting, and doing a lot of digital art, I've always seen it," he said.
The barber stations that line the middle of the shop had to be custom made so that Chery could move them to a storage room when he hosts gallery openings.
He enjoys letting young artists show their work — and exposing the community to art they would not otherwise experience. "We work directly with students from FIU, New World School of the Arts, and up-and-coming artists. It's a good way for them to get a chance to actually exhibit their artwork," he said.
WLRN's Gerard Albert III spoke with Chery about the project, his inspiration and goals.
The following is an excerpt of their conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity.
WLRN: You’ve been cutting hair for over a decade. And you worked at a few barber shops while you were getting your Art degree from FIU. You’re 34 now, but when did you get the idea to combine a barber shop and art gallery?
CHERY: Well, to be honest, when I first went to barber school, I always knew I wanted to have my own shop. And me being an artist, I always mirror the both of them together. And every haircut, every person, is is like a blank canvas. Having a background of drawing and painting, and doing a lot of digital art, I've always seen it, I always see it as one and I always say, that's an untapped world.
Before there was Instagram and TikTok and all these social media platforms, I always looked at it as a way of expression as far as different styles of cutting. One thing that I tell the barbers inside the shop is that, 'People are walking out with your artwork, with your fade, your signature tape up, with your signature blowout.'
You’ve curated every detail about the shop to create the vibe you wanted…down to custom barber stations. Tell me about them.
Coming up with the stations and designing the stations, I had an idea that it would have to be in the middle. And those stations are completely custom made. Because when people come in, you want to use the wall ... I call it wall estate, you want to use that to be able to showcase the work.
So far you have exhibited three artists. Do your customers engage with the art?
For most people, when you go to a typical barber shop, it's the same thing — you go for the stylist. You go in, you get your service and you leave. But for us, we want it to be where people keep asking, requesting.
And we work directly with students from FIU, New World School of the Arts and up-and-coming artists. It's a good way for them to get a chance to actually exhibit their artwork, for them to kind of get out of the rat race of trying to put their stuff in different types of galleries. For us, we give everybody a shot. Just like when walk-ins give the barbers for the first time coming in a shot, we give everybody a shot.
My whole vision of this place really was to be a mecca, where people can come in and exchange cultural differences as far as artwork and poetry. It's a good place for people to express themselves, which is the centralized point of a barbershop — what it always has been, and what is always will be.
And you aren't the typical curator… you kind of let the artists do whatever they want, right?
Exactly. My thought process behind this is, 'How am I going to tell you how to express yourself? I can't, you're the artists, you should be able to have that reign of expressing and being able to display however you want.'
I'm going to help you, if you want the lights to be this kind of way, if you want this and that. It's your place, basically, you know — my place is your place. And this is for you to feel comfortable, for you to showcase your work. Because at the end of the day, when we're curating your show, it's your show. And at the same time, too, you actually care and you actually feel that connection with the space.
As real estate gets more expensive in South Florida and artists struggle to find places to display their work, do you think this is the future of art galleries? To be DIY and share spaces?
I definitely do. I think it's the future. And this can be used in so many different ways if the person or if the business owner actually cares about the art. Because not only that, it's rewarding the community with art that they've never seen before.