Vivian Acosta: See Miami Project Fall 2020

De la Cruz Collection

Student Bio

Photo by Elena Osorio CC BY 4.0

My name is Vivian Acosta, and I am a senior at Florida International University majoring in psychology. I have always been passionate about highlighting the importance of mental health and overall well-being. After exploring different psychology areas, I discovered that helping organizations create a healthy environment for their employees is what I wish to devote my time into; therefore, I am specializing in industrial-organizational psychology.

I enjoy learning about different cultures, history, and societal issues. I believe that all of these topics merge through art. Feelings, fears, emotions, traumas, beliefs, and ideas are also expressed through art. I have seen on canvases what many can’t put into words–I find it fascinating to see visual representations of a variety of themes; therefore, I have recently added visiting museums to my list of hobbies.

Geography

Photo by Vivian Acosta CC by 4.0

The de la Cruz Collection is located in the Miami Design District, specifically at 23 Northeast 41st street. The museum counts with three spacious floors filled with beautiful art. From the outside, the museum is a large modern building with glass windows on its first floor. The building does not count with a sign to identifying the place from far; however, it does have a large black and white billboard of a small bird flying in an empty sky. This is a work by Felix Gonzalez- Torres, Untitled (Bird).

Many other art galleries are located in this luxurious area, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, which stands next to the de la Cruz Collection. The Design District is famous for its art, luxury stores, restaurants, and bars. The de la Cruz collection contributes to the sophistication of the zone. The pedestrian-friendly street in a neighborhood where art is appreciated seems like the perfect spot for this museum.

History

(Star Gazer, 1956 by Rufino Tamayo) Photo by Vivian Acosta CC BY 4.0

Rosa and Carlos lived in Spain for ten years. Then, in 1975 they moved back to the United States. They began to attend auctions to look at art, since this has always been their passion. Back then, buying art was not their priority since they had 5 children, which means they had numerous expenses such as their children’s education.

In 1988, they purchased their first artwork with their money in an auction. They acquired a painting by Rufino Tamayo, which Carlos really liked. Today, you can find this piece at the de la Cruz Collection.

Rosa and Carlos began to collect pieces for their house. They had the idea of collecting pieces by Latin American artists only; however, their collection changed direction when they obtained a work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres in 1992. Since then, they began to collect contemporary art from artists of different backgrounds.

As their collection grew, Rosa and Carlos began to invite people in their house. People were able to go to Rosa’s and Carlos’ home by appointment; however, at some point, they had approximately 2,000 people over, so, eventually, they had to look for an extension to their home. From 2001 to 2007, the de la Cruzs shared their collection at a new location: the Moore’s building.

In 2009, Rosa and Carlos opened the museum, or as they like to call it, space, or extension to their home, at its present location in Design District. This space is open to the public free of charge. This year’s exhibition was named after a light blue paper Felix Gonzales sent them in a letter along with a picture of the sky, “A Possible Horizon.” This name is ideal for the uncertain times we are currently experiencing. Carlos and Rosa would like to spread a message of Hope in such tough times.

Mission

The de la Cruz Collection’s mission is to share their collection with the public at no cost and to expose them to new ideas. The collection brings art to the community as an intellectual pursuit. The de la Cruz Collection also assists the community by providing the youth with education programs such as lectures and scholarships.

They also aim to make Miami known for its contemporary art.

Access

The museum opens from Tuesday through Saturday at 10:00 AM and closes at 4:00 PM. Admission is free for everyone. They offer guided tours at no cost. If you choose to explore the place on your own and have any questions, the staff will gladly help.

Admission in times of COVID-19: The museum is operating at a reduced capacity due to safety guidelines. Only 30 people can be in the museum at a time. Visitors must register at the entrance by scanning a QR code. They must then agree to terms and conditions, apply hand sanitizer, get their temperature taken, and, most importantly, wear a mask.

Collection

Salador Dalí

Portrait of Dolores Suero Falla, 1955
Photo by Vivian Acosta CC BY 4.0

One might not expect to see a classic painting in a contemporary art collection; however, this case is exceptional. This work is a portrait of Carlos de la Cruz’s mother, Dolores Suero Falla, painted by Salvador Dali in 1955.

Dolores Suero Falla never posed for her portrait. Instead, Dali captured her expressions and personality while having breakfast with her every morning for a couple of days. Seeing Dolores regularly was enough for him to capture every detail and transfer it to his canvas. Many people visit the museum searching for “the Dali,” a unique piece that embodies the de la Cruz’s family passion for art and reminds us of Dali’s virtuosity.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

“Untitled” (31 Days of Bloodworks), 1991
Photo by Vivian Acosta CC BY 4.0

This piece consists of 31 gridded canvases with diagonal lines crossed from the top corner to the bottom corner. Through this piece, Felix Gonzalez-Torres relates a melancholic, personal story: the decline of his partner’s (Ross Laycock) health, the weakening of Ross’s body, and their decreasing time left together. This piece reminds us of how frail and vulnerable we all are. One day we can be at the top of the graph and suddenly begin to descend to our inevitable end.

“Untitled” (Last Light), 1993
Photo by Vivian Acosta CC BY 4.0

This exhibit utilizes a mundane object to narrate a profound reality. It involves a string of lit lights hanging from the ceiling. Even though a bulb’s light shines bright and it serves its purpose, to illuminate, its light will begin to dim down until it burns out–just like a person’s life. We live, we love, we serve our purpose, but our light will eventually burn out.

After a bulb burns out, someone can buy a new one at any store and replace the old light bulb. We are also replaceable, and when our light burns out, someone else might take our place, and the world will go on.

“Untitled (Last Light)” evokes nostalgic feelings. It touches on our mortality, loss of others, and the passing of time while reminding us that we are not indispensable.

Sterling Ruby

Head Trekkers + Gated Doors 2, 2010
Photo by Vivian Acosta CC BY 4.0

This work consists of spray-painted horizontal lines coming in and out of focus. At the center of the piece, two rows of skulls go down until they meet with a set of doors. This piece includes one of Sterling’s main themes, life in prison, and mediums, spray paint. His fascination with spray paint comes from graffiti paintings in the streets.

The skulls seem to disintegrate as they get closer to the doors. This could symbolize the psychological states that individuals experience while they are incarcerated and how their well-being declines with time. Sterling believes that the criminal justice system should be reformed, and he often mentions bail inequalities (delacruzcollection).

Special Programs

Travel

These programs aim to enrich students’ education through the first-hand experience of different cultures and art.

Design and Architecture Senior High (DASH):

-Forty students from DASH selected by their teachers travel to New York during summer every year. They participate in a three-week pre-college program at the School of Visual Arts and at Parsons School of Design: The New School. They receive college credit and have he opportunity to experience New York’s art and culture firsthand.

New World School of the Arts (NWSA):

Every year, the graduating BFA class travel abroad to Europe and visit places that are meaningful to art and history such as Venice, Florence, and Rome. Travel accommodations, new luggage, and per diem are given to the students.

Scholarships
In partnership with the Knight Foundation, the de la Cruz Collection has supported education programs such as scholarships.

-Architecture and industrial design students from DASH participate in an annual design competition to win awards ranging from $500 to $1500. All participants receive a monetary scholarship.

Workshops

Free summer workshops are offered for students between 7 and 18 years. Local artists teach the classes which focus on contemporary art practices.

Lectures

The de la Cruz Collection hosts lectures from artists, curators, and educators throughout the year.

Visitor

Photo by Vivian Acosta CC BY 4.0

What do you like about the museum?
I liked the variety of works they have in here! They are all beautiful and unique. I like their taste in art.

What’s your favorite piece?
 

(“Untitled” Portrait of Dad by Felix Gonzalez-Torres) Photo by Vivian Acosta CC BY 4.0

I enjoyed several pieces for different reasons. One of them was “Untitled “Portrait of Dad by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. It’s so sweet of the artist to share his father’s favorite candy with the public in his memory. It’s bittersweet. I have a picture of my mother in my room, while Felix Gonzalez-Torres has a pile of candy that weighs 175lbs just like his father— two different scenarios, but our intentions are the same.

I also got very excited when I saw the first painting Carlos and Rosa purchased. “This is how it all started,” I thought. Years later, they own hundreds of pieces! It must be a really special work for them.

What’s something you learned today?
I learned that art has a voice. Through art, all kinds of messages can be shared. Many artworks narrated stories, other pieces expressed different perspectives, and others were open-ended. Some artworks were about the techniques the artists used, which made me imagine the process and admire the artists.

Do you visit museums often?
I have visited a couple of museums in the past; this one has been my favorite one so far.

Would you recommend this museum?
I would definitely recommend people to visit this museum. I would like to come back in the future. It is a fun experience—something different, fun, and meaningful to do.

Portrait

Photo by Vivian Acosta CC BY 4.0

Ray Anthony-
My name is Ray Anthony, and I’m a photographer. I enjoy working here because I like art, and I enjoy listening to people’s perspectives, and I like to share mine as well, which is basically what I do here.

Can you tell me a little bit about the museum?
This museum is Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz’s private art collection. They invited people to their house and showed them their art there, but it began to get overcrowded. They built this 30,000 square feet museum to share their private collection with everyone. Nothing here is for sale.

Are the exhibitions temporary, or are they permanent?
The exhibitions change. We rotate pieces that they have collected over 30 years. Every once in a while, we get new pieces; however, we also have permanent pieces.

What’s your favorite art piece?
There are many pieces in here that I genuinely enjoy. This one here is very special *points at Untitled 31 Days of Blood works by Felix Gonzales-Torres*. The artist recorded his partner’s declining health for 31 days. On the back of the canvases are memories of the two, such as pictures and letters. I see it as a way for the artist to cope with his loved one’s death, but also a sign of his love.

Thank you Ray!
It’s my pleasure.

Summary

Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz do an excellent job of making their space welcoming. Ever since they started collecting, they have been content to share their art with the public. First, they opened the doors of their house to people who wanted to see their collection. Today, they have an extension to their home, and the access remains free. It is evident that they genuinely want to share their passion with others. They collect art to admire it, share it with the world, and spread new perspectives. They believe that art must be public; everyone should be able to enjoy art, learn from it, and feel inspired by it at no cost– and that’s precisely what they do at the De la Cruz Collection. Carlos’ and Rosa’s actions show how fond they are about art and how committed they are to giving back to the community. The museum has an explosion of colors, mediums, and styles that somehow look perfect together. Regardless of the diversity, everything matches perfectly, just like this city. While I was in the museum, I came across many pieces that evoked various emotions such as happiness, admiration, shock, and melancholy. This roller-coaster of reactions was thanks to the diverse artists and artworks that Rosa and Carlos have chosen for their collection. You can tell that they meticulously select their art. Aside from being beautiful, many of the pieces share strong stories, and others opened up my mind and challenged me. I felt like much of the art was interactive; I was never bored. After enjoying three floors filled with art, I only wanted to see more and more! Visiting this museum was a great experience.

Photo by Vivian Acosta CC BY 4.0

The museum has a very convenient way of informing its visitors about the artworks displayed. There are Quick Response (QR) scan codes on the walls that can be scanned with any phone. When you scan the code, a pdf file will open up on your device with information about the exhibit and its artist. I found this extremely helpful. I felt like I got to see a fuller picture of the artwork in the museum. I learned about the different artists, their styles, and the themes they commonly use. When I got to the second floor, I was able to identify some artists’ works without looking them up since I became familiarized with their style! I was able to engage with the art on a deeper level. It was almost like I got to experience the exhibits’ full stories, not only the “front cover.”

Even though the Quick Response codes were very informative, they did not share insightful, personal perspectives, or curious details about the art like the knowledgeable staff did. They were all very friendly and welcoming. As I walked around the museum, I engaged in conversations with two different staff members. They were always around in case I had a question, which I always did! They were knowledgeable about the artists, the mediums used, and the pieces’ intent. They also knew about the “behind the scenes” of the installation process and the artworks’ meaning to the owners! I also got to share my perspectives on different artworks while the staff members also shared theirs. It was interesting to engage in conversations about art because we shared our viewpoints on so many topics in such little time! I definitely learned a lot and had fun at the same time.

The visitors’ experience is definitely a priority in this museum. The staff is welcoming, informative, and helpful. The de la Cruz Collection is my favorite museum for numerous reasons: I enjoyed their mission, the environment, and the unique artwork. I enjoyed my visit to the extension of Rosa and Carlos’ home, and I highly recommend this wonderful place.

References

De La Cruz Collection, http://www.delacruzcollection.org/.

delacruzcollection. De La Cruz Collection | Lecture with Sterling Ruby. 8 Apr. 2015, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP8nnQAOsXY.

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