Location/Address: 300 SW 12th Avenue, Miami, Florida 33130
Hours: by appointment
Founded by: Anna Goraczko and Luna Palazzolo-Daboul
Operated by: Anna Goraczko and Luna Palazzolo-Daboul
Most Recent Exhibitions: SOFT: Carrington Ware; Yiayia. Nana. Abuela. Grandmother featuring artworks by Tori Scott, Maria Lino, Alex del Canto and Arsimmer McCoy; Sun, but in substance: David E. Olivera
Isabella Marie Garcia: Tell me more about the physical home to these artist studios and how you came to finding the tunnel that houses the project room. As the concept of being “underground” is quite uncommon at Miami’s low elevation, what’s the history behind this gem of history in Little Havana?
Luna Palazzolo-Daboul: In October of 2022, both our leases ended on our former studios. A few months before, an acquaintance had mentioned that he was giving up his recording studio, but in that moment, we didn’t pay attention. It wasn’t until we were in need that the thought of these space(s) reappeared. I came to see it on a rainy day, and because it wasn’t flooded and it was cheap, I took it. It was three of us in the beginning: David Olivera, Anna and I. That was our first space, what now is shared with four artists (David E. Olivera, Alejandra Jimenez, Shelby Slayden, and Alicia Bilbao). We wanted to spend as little money as possible, considering the three of us are artists full-time, so we started by bringing someone else into the project. Organically it happened that the space next to us freed up. It was neon green and it had chalk drawings on the windows, but we couldn’t look at it and not imagine how many things could be done in a space with so much character. We came up with a name, which was easy as Anna came in one day and suggested it. Titles are so important. I liked it because it is also the title of one of my favorite childhood books. But we needed more people in order to make the numbers work. From there on, we started to realize how big of a need there was and how little affordability is taken into consideration. When a third space became available, we took the opportunity and passed it on to another artist and so forth. Most recently, we have welcomed our tenth artist in residence (Connor Dollan, Ben Chomitz, Lauren Reilly, and Santiago Ibañez).
We work a little bit like a co-op, in the sense that the studio spaces are passed onto artists at the same rate that the landlord gives it to us. Everyone takes care of their own space for as long as they want to, with the only condition to leave it to another artist when and if they leave. The building is an old shopping center from the 1980s called El Capiro. In the building there’s social working offices, a charter school, an abandoned floor, a couple barbershops, a shoe store, a church, and a grocery store that also serves amazing food. We think that everyone has been there for quite some time, considering they all know each other. Everybody in the building has been so receptive and supporting. El Capiro has its own personality and we always recommend you come and let it speak for itself, because when we try to describe it, we fall short of words and fail to properly express it’s magic.
IMG: In researching more about the space’s mission, I noticed an open call submission form for project room ideas to be presented in January 2024. How do you organize your programming since the space’s conception earlier this year? Are artists encouraged to submit their work for consideration of solo / collective exhibitions, or curators who are interested in making their proposals come to life? What are you looking for in regard to project room ideas, if anything specific at all?
LPD: Our open call is for anyone and everyone. We needed to find a way to equalize the opportunity range and we came up with “Up for grabs,” which we will be reviewing in October. Because the project room happened spontaneously, the artists that we exhibited and will continue to exhibit this year have been approached by us personally. Some of them are our friends and most of them are colleagues that we admire. All of them are formidable artists anchored strongly in their practice. For next year, there’s a mix of everything; we want to know what and who is out there that we don’t already know about in the city. We have a broad understanding of what “art” encompasses, so we try to stay as detached from judgements as we can. We make it so it’s easy to reach us: send us an email, come to our space, DM us. We are ambitious people and the most important thing about this little room is that it is given to artists with no pre-conditions regarding what to do in it. To us, there’s a future for Miami artists that will prove that we are serious in the art world, and we want to help grow that. Every time we notice someone who could be interested in exhibiting, we let them know we are taking proposals until October 1st. We have two exhibition spaces, Tunnel and Touché Boutique—a public facing storefront located on the first floor—with lots of foot traffic.
IMG: You both have your own artistic practices outside of Tunnel Projects. Can you tell me about what it’s been like operating an artist-run space while growing your own practices?
LPD: I think we are fortunate to be compatible, Anna and I, and very communicative with each other regarding what our priorities are. We are able to do both things because we are a good team. I always thought of myself as a person who loved making things and seeing them through. I work on Tunnel as if it was a physical artwork, and there are no gray areas there: I give it my all. When I came to Miami 11 years ago, I didn’t know how to do much else besides assist artists in the fabrication of their artworks, and later on by working in galleries. I didn’t know anyone or anything, and it took me so long to understand how things worked. It’s truly my pleasure to be able to do this and keep expanding my personal work and my career as an artist. I never did too well in traditional learning settings, so I taught myself to educate myself through people and experiences. And that’s what I am doing, what I always wanted to do. Yes, it is difficult, everything worth the time is.
Anna Goraczko: For me, running Tunnel has been a motivator to push me to do more for my personal practice because I see my business partner doing it and it inspires me to stay up on open calls, grants, etc. We support each other to get our individual projects done as well, and when sometimes it seems like there’s a drought or nothing is going on with my personal work, Tunnel is always there to keep me busy and engaged.
IMG: What’s on the horizon for Tunnel Projects?
A: For the remaining part of the year, we are hosting exhibitions by Comedor Azul, Amanda Linares, and Cornelius Tulloch / Arsimmer McCoy at Tunnel Projects, and we have three activations at Touché Boutique. We are also having our first open studio event on September 23rd at 3pm, for anyone interested in checking out the spaces in-person. For the long term future, we have some plans, but we can’t tell. Not because it’s a secret but because we are fans of working hard, adapting, and recognize good opportunities when they come our way.