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Photo credit: Claudia Castillo Art studio

Art & Inspiration with Claudia Castillo

By John Hayden

A little piece of fabulousness sits along Wilton Drive, but you’ve likely walked past and never noticed. Inside Claudia Castillo Art Gallery sits dozens of stunning, original works made by local artist Claudia Castillo and other exhibitors. Brad Welch’s Sensual exhibit is on display until February 4, 2022, and the colorful, fun winners of the Justin Flippen Manatee Contest are up until January 7, 2022.

Castillo took some time to talk about creating the Rainbow Bridge leading into Wilton Manors, the importance of art, and her brewing creative visions.

John Hayden: What is inspiring you right now?

Claudia Castillo: I recently returned from Florence, Italy, where I exhibited at the XIII Florence Biennale International Contemporary Art Exhibition. It was such an emotional and empowering experience to exhibit in the city where such great art masters have created architecture and art throughout time. I was so inspired by the energy and beauty of all that I saw, and am excited to convey it in the artwork that I am working on.

JH: What are you working on for 2022?

CC: I have so many projects in progress now. My most important one is the new collection of art pieces that I am doing and will be showing at my studio in the upcoming month. These pieces will have my heart and soul and convey my feelings and the experiences of Florence. I am also working on my business and expanding the services we provide at the studio. We are engaging more local and international art talent to exhibit to give opportunities to artists and to provide the community with new contemporary art. I’m also continuing my service on the boards of several local non-profits such as the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Wilton Drive Improvement District, and other initiatives such as the Justin Flippen Manatee Contest and collaborations with Wilton Manors and Broward County to expand diversity, culture, and art education for the community.

JH: Art can be a luxury for individuals, but is a necessity for a community. How do you feel the art scene is doing in South Florida, especially in Broward County?

CC: I think the art scene is strong in South Florida, especially as we come out of the pandemic. We are seeing a trend where people are reevaluating their lives, appreciating art, and choosing to acquire artwork that they can enjoy day to day. As the borders open up, international art shows are now able to open up again and have been very well attended. We are blessed in South Florida as many people from the north visit and have a second home here and they are very used to frequenting art galleries and discovering new and innovative artwork they can acquire.

JH: The biggest addition to our local art scene is the Rainbow Bridge. It’s been a bit since both sides have been completed, what has the reaction been? Did it raise awareness of you and your work?

CC: I am so proud of the Rainbow Bridge, especially since it was my mission last year to assure this became a reality as it was the idea of our late Mayor Justin Flippen. We worked together on this initiative in January 2020, and due to his passing and the COVID pandemic, the completion was delayed. I receive so much gratitude from locals and tourists that visit my gallery who see it as a tremendous icon for our community. The bridge has an important location as it is the window to the central business district and Arts and Entertainment District of Wilton Manors and it serves as the connection between the City of Wilton Manors and the City of Fort Lauderdale. The Rainbow colors celebrate the cultural diversity and inclusion for all people of this great community.

To see more of Castillo’s work and featured artists, visit her Wilton Manors gallery at 2215 Wilton Drive, or visit her website,