Victoria Menache: Miami as Text 2019-2020

[All photos CC by 4.0]

Hello, my name is Victoria Menache, I just recently transferred to FIU and I am majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics with a minor in chemistry. I plan to go to medical school and become a pediatrician as I have always had a passion to inspire and help children. I was born in Miami and my parents are Cuban immigrants. I am also one of five children so you can imagine how lively my house gets. I decided to take this class because my cousin, Jonah Wichterich, highly recommended it and my grandfather was a doctor and an artist himself and always instilled the beauty of art in my brothers and sisters and I. I hope that by taking this class I will be reminded of not only my roots as a local Miami citizen but also as my grandfathers granddaughter who taught me how merging the arts in whatever you do makes you a well-rounded and unique individual.

Norton As Text (trip taken September 22nd, 2019)

[Photo CC by 4.0]

Picture taken by: Diana Cristancho
Name of Painting: 
Lot and His Daughters
Attributed to Pietro Ricchi

I have always been fascinated by the Baroque period. It is paintings like Vincent van Gogh’s “Potatoes Eaters” or Caravaggio’s “Incredulity of Saint Thomas”, that have always made me feel a certain way. The sense of humanity and realism attracts my attention and pulls my focus in ways that I cannot explain. Walking around the Norton I instantly stopped myself to value this painting. The only light source is the candle in the center. It is almost as if I could lean in and blow out the candle, making the painting go dark. The way the artist of the painting was able to manipulate the shadows allows you to focus on the main subject. This scene imitates Caravaggio’s style and tells an erotic yet biblical story about two daughters who seduce their father as they try to preserve the human race, because they believe they are the last people on earth.

I agree with Professor Bailly when he said to focus on the technique and the way it is painted instead of the story. This allows the observer to not only understand whythe artist painted it but how. By focusing on the technique, it distinguishes the artist and the painting from others. Professor Bailly said it best when he said, “the drive was long but it was totally worth it.” There is absolutely nothing like the Norton Museum in Miami. I know that if I was not taking this class I would have never walked in and appreciate this hidden gem.

Deering As Text (trip taken October 2nd, 2019)

[Photo CC by 4.0]

Visiting the Deering Estate is something that I will never forget. My day began by admiring the beautiful water. The scenery was by far something I did not expect when going in, the weather was perfect as it was nice and breezy. Then we went on the first hike of the day, this was my first time walking through the woods and exploring. I have always been one to be afraid and hold myself back from doing various things and I made sure to not be afraid and to really take in the experience. On the first hike, we walked through the Paleo site and on the second we visited the Tequesta burial site. 

Vanessa shared some artifacts with us as she showed us pieces of pottery, a spiral shell/rock that was used as a screw, and a mammoth tooth that dates back to 27,000 years ago. The photos I have complied together capture the variety, wonder, and history the Deering Estate embodies. The photo in the middle is by far my favorite, I took that picture in the Tequesta burial ground. The beautiful oak tree towers over in an awe-inspiring fashion. This to me symbolized the beauty of life after death and how it was personified through nature. 

 After the day was done I was able to sit by the water and look for manatees, which was a perfect way to finish the day. All in all, I am forever thankful for Vanessa and Baily as their knowledge and infectious passion made me realize how truly special the Deering Estate is. 

Wynwood As Text (trip taken October 16th, 2019)

Name of artist: Isamu Noguchi
Name: Judith (tent of Holofernes) 
Photo taken by: Marielisa Villasmil
Location: Margulies Collection

Our class started in the Margulies Collection and the tour was given by Mr. Margulies himself. I was immediately drawn to this piece of art work when Mr. Margulies explained its back story. This artist collaborated and worked with the legendary Martha Graham. She is a woman who has always inspired me. She is a well-known choreographer who gave birth to modern dance. The artist created this as a prop for Grahams rendition of the Biblical story of Judith and Holofernes. It is one of three bronze casts created from the balsa wood original that was put on stage. Dance has always taken a special place in my heart and Martha Graham was one of the women who motivated me the most. I danced competitively for so long and considered the stage to be my home. So, this piece of art work really brought me back to the happiest moments of my life. 

One of the main topics we spoke with Professor Bailly was about innovation. The artists who in fact did it first, making their work all the more impressive. Here the artist Isamu Noguchi collaborated with an Innovator as he worked with the women who changed the idea of dance. We learned about the birth of minimalism, abstract art, and more. Then we spoke about one of the most important art pieces of all time which was Duchamp’s “The Fountain.” It was Duchamp that allowed individuals to look at an art piece and truly question its validity.  

After visiting The Margulies Collection, we were able to see more modern works of art in the De la Cruz Collection. Our class was introduced to fascinating artists like Felix Gonzalez Torres and his interactive piece of the pile of candy. This is an idea that anyone could have started but the point is that Felix came up with it first. As we go through this class I appreciate the fact that I am being introduced to the works of individuals who started movements and ideas. They are visionaries that inspired many such as myself.  

Vizcaya As Text (trip taken: October 30th, 2019)

Picture was taken by: 
Marielisa Villasmil

When I think of Vizcaya I remember the smell of salt water in the air and my eyes navigating through the inspiring architecture. The last time I had set foot in Vizcaya was about 10 years ago. I remember going for my 5 th grade field trip and running around the maze with my sister. My adolescent mind could not understand the idea that someone could actually live there. A house with 24 rooms, each with different themes and stories, a house so vast with a garden so aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Coming this second time around with Professor Bailly really made me realize different aspects and traces of Vizcaya that I never would have noticed as a child. In this class, we have been speaking a lot about innovators, the people who did it first. Vizcaya was really what set the mold for what coral gables would look like in years to come. 

I have always been known to be a very observant individual. I love seeing and appreciating the details of buildings, paintings, dances, and even patterns on plates and utensils. So, walking into Vizcaya again my eyes were zig zagging at every inch of the place. One of my favorite parts about Vizcaya were the stories about the benches and the secret garden. The idea of a ‘forbidden love’ is so crazy yet kind of romantic to me. Having these beautiful benches with these ornate figures and sculptures surrounding you must have been so special and romantic to the people who would meet there. It makes me realize how s one day when I grow up and have a lot of money I can create something like this and be as extra as James Deering was.

Design District As Text (trip taken: November 13th)

Artist: Yayoi Kusama
Exhibitions: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins 

In the Design district, we visited the Institute of Contemporary Art and were given the pleasure to see Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit. Each of us were given one minute to either take pictures or take in the experience. Walking in I did not know what to expect. The bright yellowish tint on the pumpkins reminded me of a scarf that my grandmother uses to have so walking made me remember her vibrant yet calming spirit. The infinity mirrors made me think about my future as strange as that sounds. As individuals, the choices we make puts us where we are today and I have always had a fear of making the wrong choice and regretting my decisions. So, looking through the mirrors I would look to my right and to my left and it just kept on going and going. I didn’t know where to look or which way to face, making me feel a little lost. Which is why it made me think about what lies ahead. But all in all, the decisions you make will get you were you need to be. I just need to believe in myself and trust that what I am doing now is the right thing to do. 

These were collages highlighting the American Justice System. Hence why there is a neon orange color in the background, representing the orange prison uniform.
[All Photos CC BY 4.0]

The next exhibition we looked at was the Sterling Ruby Exhibit in the Institute of Contemporary Art. This was extremely interesting to see his work and how he really dabbled in multiple art forms like sculpting, working with bleach, and then going on to designing clothing.  The way he was able to spread his talent instead of sticking to just one thing like sculpting. He is an artist that focuses on socio-economic issues and topics. One topic he really dives into is the harsh conditions in the American prison system. He has a piece reflecting on the idea of the death penalty through the electric chair called Big Yellow Mama. Just by modifying the color it makes it more childlike and non-threatening. Understand the meaning and the fact that this sculpture is twice maybe even three times my height, makes it so daunting and intimidating and that’s the idea. The Design District is truly one of my favorite spots in Miami and the more I go and visit the more I fall in love with it! The environment really pays homage to the arts and making places like De La Cruz Collection and ICA free to the public makes us realize and appreciate art around us. 

Artist: Sterling Ruby
Name of artwork: Big Yellow Mama

[All Photos CC BY 4.0]

Art As Text (Trip taken on December 4th, 2019)

Untitled Art Fair

The day went by so fast as we rushed through each booth, fumbling through the crowd and trying to get to the front so we could hear what the different directors and gallerists were saying. We started by visiting the Untitled Art Fair in Miami Beach and outside the fair was an installation by Xavier Cortada called Letters to the Future. This was an interactive piece where we were asked to write a letter to the future in 2119. This piece was trying to focus on climate change and how detrimental it is and will continue to be in the years to come. Cortada wanted to get the community to see the invisible by allowing the participants of this project to practice “radical climate empathy.” 

As I wrote my letter to the future I had a moment of self-reflection and imagined what the world would be like for my children and grandchildren. As I put my card up on the platform I glanced at everyone else’s card and they all ended the same, with an apology. It was such a desolate and despondent feeling seeing “I’m sorry” written at the end of almost every piece of paper. It was in that moment that I was able to gain an understanding on how crucial it is to take action in trying to help the environment. The people that will live in our world in 2119 don’t deserve apologies for things that we can change now. 

Artist: Joana Choumali
Gallery based in Ghana named Gallery 1957
Name of artwork: Sometimes I wonder if they can hear it as well, Series Alba’hian

[All Photos CC BY 4.0]

Gallery 1957 was probably the most interesting booth we visited in the Untitled Art fair as it is a gallery based in Ghana. This gallery was selling works from an artist named Joana Choumali, she was a photojournalist that mixed her passion for photography and sewing into her artworks. Joana embroiders directly onto the images, creating this slow yet introspective gesture. Most of her work focuses on Africa and how she learns about the variety of culture that surrounds her. The one on the top is one that truly caught my attention because of how she was able to capture the sky. If you look closely you can see the detail and the preciseness of her work.

Art Miami Fair

Name of Artist: Mira Maylor
Name of instillation: Freedom Project (wood-glass-mixed media)
Name of gallery:  ZLGallery
[Photos CC BY 4.0]

This artist was one we had the pleasure of meeting in the Art Miami Fair. This was a mix media project made from wood and glass. The artist wanted to talk about the idea of freedom and the irony behind it. We claim to be “free” in this day in age but what Mira Maylor wants us to understand is that not everyone is actually free. Yes, we profusely use this word in our constitution and our national anthem even states that we are the “land of the free,” but when we get a job and a family we create this delicate little lifestyle that we work hard to protect for the rest of our lives. This becomes our cage, our gentle cage that we don’t want to break.

This piece really spoke to me as I see this idea of living in this caged lifestyle in my father. He has always restricted himself from doing things with the constant stress of money, his job, and family. But that’s life, we build our own cages and bad things can happen outside of it but I believe we should try to step out of our comfort zone and immerse ourselves into the unknown, even if it might break our cage.

I am thankful for this semester and everything professor Bailly has taught us so far. I am truly appreciative of the experience of going to both fairs (for free I might add) and learning something different each time I attend class.

Fountain Head Studios and Bakehouse As Text (Trip taken January 15th)

Picture on the Left: Don’t Set Yourself on Fire to Keep Others Warm Picture on the Right: You Had One Job 

[Photos CC BY 4.0]

The first trip of the new year was more diverse than most. We were able to step into the studios of local Miami artists in the Bake House Complex and Fountain Head Studios. We were not just entering their studios, we were entering their creative spaces and homes away from home. Therefore, as we were given the chance to step into their sacred space, each artist welcomed us with genuine excitement and gratitude for what they do. Their compassion for what they do was illuminating through their eyes and gestures and it was so inspiring to see. 

Alex uses glow in the dark paint in some of her paintings, so she was demonstrating how it would look if we turned the lights off.
[Photos CC BY 4.0]

I saw this in the way Alex Nuñez spoke about her work. She is an artist that resides in the Fountain Head Studios, where she creates most of her pieces. I was honestly very impressed by her story and how she got to where she is now. She basically studied around the world, not a lot of people can say they have studied and spent time in Florence, Barcelona, New Orleans, Boston, or even New York City. 

Her studio and artworks are a great representation of who she is as a person, a very creative and vibrant human. Her works are very intricate and include different aspects of pop-culture. She has a staining method where she mixes pools of acrylic paint combined with glitter, confetti, and mixed media. She also makes these small featherlike structures that are mixed into these giant explosions of vibrant colors. These aspects combined really distinguishes Alex between different artists. While I was at the Deering Estate I was looking around and was able to pinpoint her paintings due to these aspects. With the abundance of art in Miami, it is a huge compliment for ones work to stand out enough to be recognized and with Alex Nunez’s spontaneity and modernized way of thinking, I’m sure I will be noticing and seeing more of her work as the years go by. 

Rubell As Text (trip taken January 29th,2020)

Brightline by: Keith Haring
[Photos CC BY 4.0]
Three Ball 50/50 Tank by Jeff Koons
[All Photos CC BY 4.0]

Today our class was able to pay a visit to the Rubell Museum and Michael Loveland’s studio. Out of all the museums and collections I have been to so far, the Rubell has been one of my favorites. It is known to be one of the largest private museums in the country, being that it is filled with 40 different galleries and early works from a range of well-respected artists like Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Kehinde Wiley, Amoako Baoafo, John Miller, Damien Hirst, and of course Yayoi Kusama. They also have one of the largest art research libraries in South Florida. 

Walking in to the Rubell, I noticed how its architecture, as simple as it is, makes the museum all the more impressive. It is a one-story building, no stairways, or large columns. It is an endless hallway of these outstanding works, and each time you turn your head, there is a new corner, dedicated to its own idea. 

Sleep by: Kehinde Wiley
[All Photos CC BY 4.0]

The painting that made a very strong impression on me was Kehinde Wiley’s, Sleep. I love Wileys style, it is an interesting take on classical European paintings of nobleman, royalty, and aristocrats as he modernizes them with these African American models. His use of color is memorizing as I could just sit and stare and his paintings for hours on end. 

Where the Lights In My Heart Go by: Yayoi Kusama
[Photos CC BY 4.0]
Lets Survive Forever by: Yayoi Kusama [Photos CC BY 4.0]

Of course, I loved the Kusama exhibits. Each time I enter a work by Yayoi Kusama it gives me a sense of relief. That relief I think comes from the fact that just for one minute I am able to take in and appreciate its beauty by myself and in my own space. Walking into a Kusama, I truly see it as a time for self reflection.

[Photos CC BY 4.0]

The next stop was in Michael Loveland’s studio. When meeting Micheal, you can quickly tell that he was born to do what he does.  He is a very passionate individual and utilizes his talents in the best way possible. He works with a number of mundane objects and reconstructs them to find a new meaning behind them. He works with any thing that he can get his hands on, from used table tops and glass he finds on the street. His love and desire for what he does, really put things in perspective for me. I hope that with the career I choose to pursue I will feel the same.

Dade As Text (Trip taken Feburary 12th)

Today we were able to get out of our comfort zones and walk into the world of printmaking with Jennifer Basile, a very talented artist and professor in Miami Dade College Kendall Campus. She was kind enough to allow our class to come inside her printmaking shop and teach us how and what printmaking is. One of the most important aspects of an artist or professor is having the desire, ambition, and love for what you do because this will emit to the individuals around you. I definitely felt Professor Basile’s positive and vibrant energy, it made me more excited for what was to come. 

            The day started off with vigorous training and teaching from Professor John Bailly. He took us outside and taught us about the effortless works of Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh. We sat around sketching trees trying to mimic the works of these great artists. It was a very freeing exercise and gave us inspiration for the prints we would create later with Professor Basile. It was an amazing experience and I am very lucky to have been a part of this class, as it continues to push me to try new things and allow myself to learn about things that I wouldn’t normally learn about on a day to day basis. I am thankful for Professor Basile as she was very patient and welcoming. I am excited for what the rest of the semester holds for out class, because as of now it just keeps getting better and better. 

After, we put our paper through this press [Photos CC BY 4.0]
Here is the finished product right after you put it through the press. [Photos CC BY 4.0]

Deering As Text

[ALL Photos CC BY 4.0]

The Deering Estate is a hidden treasure filled with copious amounts of history as archaeologists have discovered anthropological inhabitation dating back 10,000 years. My first time going to the Deering Estate, I visited the cutler fossil site and the Tequesta burial mound. The Cutler fossil site is a restricted area not open to the public and 16-foot sinkhole where bones of different types of animals ranging from bones of dire wolves, mastodons, camels, llamas, and saber-toothed tigers.

The Tequesta burial mound is one of only two unearthed Tequesta burial sites. It is believed that 12 to 18 Native Americans, including women and children, are buried there in a circle. A 400- to 600-year-old oak tree looks over the site. Our tour guide Vanessa showed us different tools that the Tequestas used back then to drill or dig holes. After experiencing those two hikes, I went and sat by the water and gazed at the manatees swimming in the water. The Deering has a way of making you feel more at ease and allows you to self-reflect on how important it is to have the right amount of knowledge on the historic significance of where you live.

This is a tool that the requests would use to drill holes to the ground. [Photos CC BY 4.0]

Due to where the world is at this point because of COVID19 it is not safe to leave our homes. Therefore, Professor Bailly designed a virtual walking tour of the Deering Estate. Going through this virtual tour, the spot that I was most interested in was the Cocaine Cowboys plane, this is an event that occurred in the 90s and the Deering has not touched it since it is incredible how they have kept it intact as other museums would have taken it inside and put it behind glass. The Deering managed to keep it there making enhancing its authenticity as I would imagine that when you go on the hike it must feel as if you’ve discovered it for the first time yourself. When this madness is over, I hope that I’ll be able to visit this spot soon. 

This is the Cocaine Cowboys Plane
(photo taken by John Bailly) [Photos CC BY 4.0]

Miami Beach As Text

When I think about Miami Beach, I think of my childhood and the times that I would go there with my family. I remember walking around with my parents and gazing at the architecture. I remember the art deco style with its geometric patterning and long thin forms and letters. I later learned that this design was originated in French luxury goods before World War I. Below is a picture of The Carlyle and the Colony Theater. The structure of these buildings is a perfect depiction of the style, I hope I can go and visit these places soon. 

While reading the walking tour that professor Bailly posted, I came across some interesting information on a common misconception on Miami beach. Most people assume that the island of Miami Beach was a swap back then, at least I did. But, it was instead a mangrove-populated barrier island separating Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s pretty crazy how you can grow up in an area all your life and be oblivious of its history. 

Photo taken by: John Bailly
[Photos CC BY 4.0]

Throughout this whole pandemic, I have been able to self-reflect and think about the things in my life that I have taken for granted. The main thing is time and the ability to use it to go explore. Time is very fleeting and we never know if things like these are going to happen. I regret not visiting Miami Beach more often and appreciating it more. All in all, when the issues with the Coronavirus subside, I hope to visit this area and view these buildings in person and refer to Professor Bailly’s walking tour, whilst allocating and looking at the ten aesthetic devices that are used in the Miami Beach area.

Author: miamiastext

Admin Account for Miami in Miami

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