Molly Schantz: Miami as Text 2019-2020

My name is Molly Schantz. I was born in Miami, but grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. I am majoring in Political Science on the Pre-Law track. After I graduate FIU, I would like to go to law school and eventually practice environmental law. My main interest in this class came from the difficulties I have when it comes to sitting in a classroom. I’ve always believed that travel and cultural experience is the best way to get an education and being in a class where I can learn about topics outside of my major while also being outside a classroom is my ideal honors class. I took art history in high school and have always enjoyed going to art museums and I am really excited to explore that interest more within this class.

Norton As Text

Night Mist by Jackson Pollack, photo by Molly Schantz

My experience at the Norton Museum was ultimately better than I had expected. I was less than excited to drive to West Palm Beach on a Sunday, but I am really glad I did. Going through the artwork chronologically painted a timeline for me of how art changed and adapted overtime and gave me more confidence in my knowledge of art history. I’ve always been fascinated by the transitions from religion to science, especially as shown in works of art, and I felt that the class got to experience that transition at the Norton.

The theme that I took away from Professor Bailly’s lesson at the Norton was that art changed overtime based on people challenging traditions and thus being a threat to society. I really began to understand this as we moved into modern art and the idea of abstraction having value. Jackson Pollock has been my favorite modern artist since my sophomore year of high school when I was first introduced to his work in my art history class. No one else in the class but myself seemed to think his work was very interesting and I didn’t understand how someone could not appreciate his pieces. I had never seen one of his paintings in real life and was surprised when we walked into a room and directly in front of me was a Pollock. I was having a total fan-girl moment. Pollock was not the first artist to popularize abstract art, but his genius sometimes goes unnoticed. He made large scale painting with absolutely no visual reference which are now sold for millions of dollars worldwide. His paintings always reminded me of artists experimenting with different types of drugs and expressing the experience through art. I find it so interesting that he only painted when he was sober. Pollock was detailed and technical in his work. He was expressive without illustration and he challenged traditional art by causing the viewer to enjoy the piece for exactly what it was; art.

The image above is Pollock’s Night Mist. I could stare at it forever because there are so many things to look at and appreciate and create meaning out of. There is no specific image to focus on, no focal point that you are intended to see, and no declared meaning or societal commentary. Abstract art is meant for the eye of the beholder, which is a beautiful thing.

Molly Schantz (2019)

Deering As Text

Photo by Brain Call, courtesy of

Unfortunately it is flu season and I caught whatever was going around and couldn’t make it to the class field trip to Deering Estate. Luckily I have gotten the chance to visit the estate before when I was younger. I wish I could have experienced it now with the lecture and as an adult who has more appreciation for art and nature in general and understand how the two concepts go hand in hand. 

Charles Deering purchased the land over 100 years ago, but the land he had purchased was rich with human occupation for about 10,000 years prior. We can’t truly understand our ancestors or the history of where we live unless we have places like the Deering Estate that preserve history and allow people to experience the past, even if we don’t have lots of technical information. 

Deering Estate is home to the Paleo-Indian fossil site. We, as modern citizens, can walk where Tequestas walked and experience the history of civilization as close to firsthand as possible. Archaeologists use this space to gather research of the people that came before us. At the site, you can see and learn about the Paleo-Indians, the tools they used, and animal remains that give a lot of context of the time. It shines a new light on the importance of archaeology in my opinion. We base so much of our knowledge on pictures and spoken accounts of history passed down many generations, but when we don’t have access to that, we don’t always know where else to look. Archaeological findings can give us the pieces we need to bring ourselves back to the past and understand the way people lived. 

I hope to go back to Deering Estate soon and get the full experience that I missed out on and may have not appreciated when I was younger. 

Molly Schantz (2019)

Wynwood As Text

Simpson Verdict by Kota Ezawa at The Margulies Collection in Miami, FL, Photo by Molly Schantz

I have visited Wynwood many times in my life but this past Wednesday I got to see the art culture of Wynwood through brand new eyes. I had the honor of visiting the Margulies collection with a tour by Mr. Margulies himself. The most relevant theme for me during the tour was the use of different materials to create contemporary art. Art history really revolves around the changes that occur when tradition is broken and contemporary art completely shatters previous norms of art all over the world. Contemporary art is always my favorite because of the complexity that it can bring and the amount of work my brain has to do to find the meaning behind it and to put myself in the mind of the artist and really see the beauty of these pieces that may seem like total junk to others. I was fascinated by everything in the Margulies collection just because of how different each piece was from the next but what I found most enjoyable was the use of video to create art.  My favorite piece was the Simpson Verdict by Kota Ezawa. Ezawa is a Japanese-German cartoonist. He animated the OJ Simpson murder trial verdict in a stylystically simple 3 minute video featuring the originl audio from the actual trial. The OJ Simpson trial is a common allusion to pop culture, but a dark pop culture that people argue about to this day. It remains eerily relevant. Ezawa’s interpretation adds childlike features to an R-Rated topic. At one point in the video, the cartoon version of OJ smiles and relaxes his shoulders when he is pronounced not guilty. This small motion takes away the reality of the soundtrack in the background and emulates a children’s television show. It is almost humorous. After visiting the Margulies Collection, I couldn’t stop thinking about this piece and rewatching the video when I got home. As technology advances overtime, canvas paintings become less and less remarkable. We have endless resources available, and while they are not viewed as traditional art, they are still art when rendered by the right hands and minds. The beauty of contemporary art truly comes from the eye of the beholder.

Molly Schantz (2019)

Vizcaya as Text

Vizcaya Gardens, Photo by Molly Schantz

I have lived in Miami for over a year and have consistently heard about Vizcaya and how beautiful it is and how everyone has been there at least once. Finally this past week I got to experience Vizcaya in all its glory. It is a landmark of the history of Miami and I really got to experience that. Vizcaya was built around 1920 by the direction of James Deering and other European settlers. The area around Vizcaya had become a hub for Bahamian people in Miami, mainly because they were pushed into this area by Europeans. The European influence of Vizcaya is visible from almost every corner which makes it so interesting as it almost seems out of place. 

The rich history of Vizcaya is a reminder of the brutality that occurred in creating beautiful places. James Deering was essentially a slave owner at this time. He was recruiting the Bahamian people from across the street to execute his fantasy world of entitlement. Every aspect of the home and gardens exudes a rich lifestyle. There are even remnants of a Renaissance inspired moat on the outside of the home. A moat is a symbol of segregation and keeping people out who don’t “belong”. 

The image I chose is the ceiling in the outdoor amphitheater in the gardens. It is obviously inspired by religious paintings found in Western Europe. The ceiling is just another subtle example of this European influence and need for luxury in every part of Vizcaya.

Molly Schantz (2019)

ICA as Text

All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins by Yayoi Kusama, Photo by Molly Schantz

This past week we had the opportunity to visit the Institute of Contemporary Art in the Miami Design District. We got a tour of the current specialized exhibit by Sterling Ruby and we got to see the Yayoi Kusama installation. Prior to this class, I had heard of Kusama because of the documentary on Netflix about her life called Infinity. I hadn’t watched it but had heard about it from friends. Her life story and her artwork are so fascinating and to witness it in person brings a whole new light to the psychology behind art and the interpretations of contemporary art. 

The ICA is home to her piece All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins. This installation is a room of mirrors with glowing orange pumpkins covering the floor. You get exactly 1 minute inside the box to experience the piece. The minute goes by so fast because there is so much to take in even though it seems so simple. All of Kusama’s work is representative of what brings her joy while also giving viewers an experience of self reflection. Kusama is currently living in a mental institution in Japan which she admitted herself into. She still makes art from inside the institution and is the highest grossing female artist worldwide. 

My experience inside the installation was joyful, but quick. We talked a lot about the social pressures that come with contemporary art these days. Everything is made for an aesthetic and it is more likely to be successful if the piece has a social media appeal. People crave an interactive aspect in art, even if that just means the ability to take pictures and share it. I felt this internal dilemma of wanting to enjoy the art but also wanting the get the perfect photo inside so I could share it on social media. It made me think about how many memories are lost because we are more focused on what to do with that moment after it has happened and forget to experience it in the present. I’m not sure if Kusama wanted her audience to have this dilemma or if the deeper meaning was unintentional and came with the fact that this era is dominated by social media.

Molly Schantz (2019)

Miami Art Week as Text

Mira Maylor at Art Miami 2019, Photo by Molly Schantz

Miami Art Week and Art Basel is such a glorified time in Miami and something I had never imagined myself being immersed into. I learned a lot about the art world and the unregulated market of art that is so fascinating and unique. The status tiers that exist within art markets are so underground yet so relevant. Whether you are a collector, a curator, or an artist yourself, you have a place in the art world and recognized in that status by the sellers and other members of the community and their attitude towards you is based on your status inside the market. 

I saw so many pieces by some of my favorite artists such as Keith Haring and Picasso, as well as discovered some amazing new artists such as Mira Maylor (pictured above). Mira Maylor was one of the featured artists at the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery booth at Art Miami. She is based in Tel Aviv and took the time to talk to our class about her piece shown in the booth. On her website it says untitled, but in person she referred to the piece as “Freedom”. It is a mixed media sculpture featuring synthetic flowers against a board painted with black and gold. A bird cage hangs from each board in front of the flowers. She explained the cage as representing society and freedom because while it is so fragile and can break so easily, it is so beautiful that we don’t want to break it and that is often how we handle conforming to society and pretending as if we are free, but in reality we put ourselves in this cage. 

Maylor was so interesting to talk to as well as all the other artists who took the time to speak to us and give us an inside look into their work or their lives selling art even though they knew we weren’t there to shop. I really appreciated that some of the gallery owners and artists stripped away those status tiers and recognized us for being there to learn and gave value to the fact that we were students inside this elitist art world.

Molly Schantz (2019)

Bakehouse Art/Fountainhead As Text

Works by Alex Nunez, Photo by Molly Schantz

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit the Fountainhead Artist Residency. We got to speak to Alex Nunez, a local artist who specializes in free form multimedia pieces inspired by pop art. We experienced so many amazing artists throughout the day, but Alex stood out to me. I’m a huge fan of abstract and contemporary art as well as kitschy nostalgic things and her art somehow encompasses all of that. My mom is also an artist and her demeanor and inspiration from the 80’s and music were so similar to Nunez. She spoke a lot about her art being a “stream of consciousness” which is very unique and hard for many artists to accomplish or even attempt. She also explained her process which includes lots of music, mixed media, and not a lot of planning. I think it’s rare to come across an artist who is so genuine and accepting of her own mistakes within her art and who just lets their creative process shine. 

Another aspect of Nunez is that she is an artist in residence. I truly didn’t understand what that meant until I experienced both the Bakehouse Art Complex and the Fountainhead Artist Residency. Places like these allow local artists to thrive and work in a city that is very difficult to succeed in without copious financial success. Having a space like Nunez does, allows her to have a home base for creating without limiting her options. Her studio at the Fountainhead was filled with her pieces, both old and new, ones she loves and ones she hates, as well as art in process. The piece on the left (pictured above) was created outdoors at the Deering Estate, but her indoor space allows her to look at it in a different light and also add to it and broadcast it to herself before consumers or galleries. Artist Residencies are tackling major problems like gentrification and housing costs in creative ways and supporting a specific community of artists that otherwise may not receive that support here in Miami.

Molly Schantz (2020)

Rubell As Text

Karon Davis

The Rubell Museum is a brand new establishment owned by the Rubell Family. They have had a private collection for years and are well known art collectors in Miami, but the museum was a dream that finally came to fruition. The mission of the museum is to feature all different contemporary artists with different appeals and visions that force viewers to think and experience the meaning behind the art and the social concepts the pieces are criticizing. We had the chance to speak to the owner, Mira Rubell, and she told us about how long they wanted to have a public institution aside from their private collection and have the opportunity to share art with others and also allow others to build their collection. 

Visiting the Rubell Museum was nothing less than familiar to me as it is my place of employment, but experiencing it through a tour opened my eyes to works and information I had never known prior. When I work, I do have the chance to walk around the galleries, but I am usually stationed in the Kusama Infinity Rooms so I don’t always get the chance to experience all the pieces. One of the galleries that I had not spent much time in featured two sculptures from Karon Davis. This specific piece (pictured above) hit me really hard once I understood the concept. Davis creates cast sculptures that highlight the black experience in modern America. This sculpture features a mother and father hugging their child. The child has on a backpack which indicates he is going to school. The antlers represent the fact that black people are ‘hunted’ in America. She reveals the fear that people feel in every day actions just for belonging to a specific racial group. I think Davis’ work is a great example to highlight what The Rubell has to offer. Contemporary art often exists as a reflection of the society in the time and place that it was created and The Rubell Museum highlights works that do just that.

Molly Schantz (2020)

MDC Printmaking as Text

Photo by Molly Schantz

Jennifer Basile is a well respected local artist and professor in Miami. She teaches Printmaking at Miami Dade College. I had never done printmaking before, but Basile gave us the opportunity to come into her classroom/studio and create original prints. We did monotype printmaking which means there is only one of each print you create which made the experience even more special. 

We learned the process of making prints and got to take our own prints home with us. Monotype prints are usually made on a fiberglass plate using ink in a paste form. We learned how to soften the ink and spread it on the fiberglass. We used different objects and tools to remove ink from the glass in order to create designs and patterns. I love how free-flowing printmaking can be. You can essentially use any object to create images and you never truly know how it will turn out until it is finished. I used a broken paint brush to create a pattern that ended up looking like records spinning on a record player. Once you create your design on the glass, it is transferred onto damp print paper and set aside to dry. The end product is unique to you at that moment and there is nothing exactly like it anywhere in the world. My end design had a very retro look and reminded me of the 70’s with disco ball shapes and records/discs. I gifted it to my dad since I grew up around his records and music from his childhood. 

Overall, the experience with Jennifer Basile was amazing and I recommend anyone to try printmaking. I definitely do not identify as an artist, but thoroughly enjoyed being creative and trying out a new skill.

Molly Schantz (2020)

Deering Estate as Text

View of the Stone House in the 1980s
Stone House at the Deering Estate, photo from

“Art Appreciation” by Molly Schantz of FIU at the Deering Estate

The Deering Estate has been occupied land for over 10,000 years, but was purchased by Charles Deering in the early 1900’s. The Deering Estate is a preservation center for its history as well as a natural wonder in Miami. The estate has nature trails, docks, and direct access to Biscayne Bay and Chicken Key. While it is a magical place for visitors and locals alike, the Deering Estate is also a landmark for art appreciation, both in a historical context and a contemporary context. The two houses on the land, the Richmond Cottage and the Stone House, are reminiscent of the 1920’s and are available for tours. They are architectural masterpieces and feature some of the art collections of the owners of the houses. The Deering Estate also has an artist-in-residence program which really highlights the institution’s passion for artistic relevance and appreciation.

The Deering Estate artist-in-residence program was established in 2006 and has supported and welcomed over 70 artists with studio space and career opportunities ever since. Charles Deering was passionate about art and collected art throughout his life. The program was consistent with his vision and appreciation for art. Artists may apply for the residency and receive an on-site studio space at the Deering Estate for no cost. Throughout the residency, artists have the opportunity to connect with other artists, exhibit their work at the Deering Estate, and have increased opportunities for grants and partnerships- not to mention the daily access to the Deering Estate and constant muse and inspiration from the grounds themselves.

Through the artist-in-residence program, the Deering Estate is supporting the artist community in Miami and giving back to up and coming artists. It is so important for programs like this to be available to artists and to help emphasize the value of art, especially local artists, throughout history and for years to come.

Miami Beach as Text

South Beach Miami art nouveau architecture | Miami art deco ...
South Beach, photo from Pinterest

“An Architect’s Paradise” by Molly Schantz of FIU at South Beach

The eccentric city that is Miami Beach might be best known for its art deco design patterns found all throughout the city; restaurants, hotels, churches, synagogues, schools, and even grocery stores. The architecture reflects the early 1900’s and the fascination with machines, which is why many of the buildings look like spaceships and have shiny and sleek design elements. There are ten consistent design elements of art-deco that can be found throughout South Beach, but I want to highlight some of my favorites.

First is color. Neon colors may seem tacky or in some cases offensive when paired with the wrong environment and architectural design, but on South Beach, neon colors are essential to the architecture and give the city a vibe that no other area of Miami really. Think about the Miami Vice logo which can now be found integrated into any brand that signifies Miami. It is the iconic combination of neon pink and neon blue that we automatically associate with Miami. This color combo can be found in the architecture within Miami Beach. It brightens up the city and the neon colors give homage to the nightlife even during the day. Another element of art-deco that I want to highlight are porthole windows. While they are a small detail that many people might not notice just passing by, I think they are so special and create a geometric aspect to architecture that would be missing without them. The circular windows give the look of yachts or cruise ships which not only is an element of art-deco design, but a major element of Miami’s environment. You could look one way and see the cruise ships docking at the Port Miami and then turn the other way and see the Ocean Surf building (see above) and they parallel each other with the nautical elements such as porthole windows. The circular windows are eclectic and truly make you feel like you are in a coastal city.

While many of us may not know what elements of architecture are important to look at or pay attention to, we know that those elements create the vibe of a city and make us feel certain ways. I believe that the design elements on South Beach create a sense of nostalgia and positivity. Miami Beach will always be a place of preservation for art-deco architecture and the early 20th century.

Author: miamiastext

Admin Account for Miami in Miami

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