PAMM Art + Soul Honoree Marcus Samuelsson Offers a Taste of Red Rooster Overtown

The Pérez Art Museum Miami is honoring one of its newest neighbors for the eighth annual celebration of its Fund for African American Art.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson, who recently opened Red Rooster Overtown in Miami, will join museum director Franklin Sirmans in conversation during the virtual Art + Soul gala event on Saturday. Samuelsson is on double duty, having also designed the evening’s dinner menu. Although the gala is digital this year, dinner will be delivered to guests at home along with wine curated from Black-owned wineries. The menu will be pulled from the Red Rooster menu — cornbread, ceviche — blending Southern comfort food with Caribbean influences. (Other tiers of tickets include a “celebration” bag with gifts from local Miami Black-owned businesses, and for $75 supporters can tune into the livestreamed program.)

The evening will support the museum’s Fund for African American Art, established in 2013. Since then, PAMM has acquired works by artists including Nari Ward, Faith Ringgold, Tschabalala Self and Terry Adkins.

“I’ve known Franklin for a long time and when I went on this journey to open in historical African-American neighborhoods like Harlem, like Overtown, art and culture is part of that journey,” says Samuelsson, who was introduced to Sirmans through Studio Museum in Harlem director Thelma Golden. When the chef decided to open a restaurant in Miami five years ago, he brought Sirmans into the conversation.

Samuelsson’s new restaurant, originally a pool hall, is located in Miami’s original entertainment center, coined the “Harlem of the South.” (Overtown is also the setting for Regina King’s recent film, “One Night in Miami.”) The chef imagined it as a neighborhood restaurant, and so far, the restaurant has been well received by the community — Dwyane Wade held his birthday party there, and Rick Ross was an early celebrity guest. But although it’s popular with the city’s bold-faced names, Samuelsson hopes to speak to the wider Overtown community.

The restaurant works with local galleries in Little Haiti to bring in young artists alongside established names like Theaster Gates and Kara Walker. The outdoor patio’s centerpiece is a tamarind tree, where they installed a Sanford Biggers sculpture. “Every time we bring a piece in, I think about Frank,” says Samuelsson, who eventually plans to host cultural conversations and exhibits in the second floor space of the restaurant.

“We really thought through the art, how it fits into the conversation of what we’re trying to say and have a large conversation in Overtown in Miami,” adds Samuelsson, who recently returned to New York after several weeks in Miami. “It’s not about being pretty or not. It’s really about indicating the place.”

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