Jesse Velazquez: Beatriz Chachamovits 2021

“I feel like teaching kids about the ocean is the biggest thing I can do … seeing their eyes shine as they fall in love with the ocean. That is everything to me.”

Beatriz Chachamovits

Student Biography

Jesse Velazquez is an undergraduate student majoring in the biological sciences. Though his studies focus on the strict laws that govern the natural processes of life, Jesse has acquired a deep appreciation for the untamed beauty that is art. Whether through music, photography or other expressive mediums, Jesse continues to expand his views and appreciate art in new forms.

Artist Biography

Beatriz with her sculptures. Photo property of 30A

Beatriz Chachamovits was born in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1986. As far as she can remember, drawing has been a major part of her life. Beatriz would enjoy creating from the mundane or ordinary. Drawing creatures she imagined from the shapes she observed, these were her first encounters with art.

Beatriz recalls the density and large size of her hometown, it was a large city riddled with large structures and skyscrapers in every direction. She would often find refuge in her home decorated with a variety of plants. Experiences like these drew her closer and closer to nature.

Though she had no previous knowledge of the art world or formal art training, Chachamovits decided to study Visual Arts at the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was here she believes she found her true calling. “As soon as I really got into it, I fell in love. I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”

Chachamovits called Sao Paulo home for the majority of her life. It wasn’t until 2018 that she moved to South Florida. Since then she has presided in Miami. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the vibrant coastal city. Here she believes she can blend her true callings, art and the ocean.

Personal Identity

BEATRIZ CHACHAMOVITS - Heloisa Tolipan :Heloisa Tolipan
Photo taken by João Ker for Heloisa Tolipan

Through different mediums, Beatriz Chachamovits has woven ocean awareness into her works. All pieces have led to the next, slowly evolving to her most current projects. These pieces act as tangible forms of her growing vision, each piece stems from the last. She believes her art is always in evolution, changing form and expanding.

When first approaching the idea of sculpting, there was some inner doubt. This was new territory out of her comfort zone. “I traded the stability of drawings and paintings, for something more serious. I knew that sculptures would not be as easy to sell, but I felt this was necessary.” Art was always more than about herself, there was a message to be delivered. Beatriz has a goal to unify all viewers. No matter who you are or where you live, we can all do something to help in the fight to preserve coral reefs. The destruction of these ecosystems will bring a downfall to all of humanity.

I believe this really sets her apart from other artist. Many may seek the life of an artist to share experiences or similar points of view, but for Beatriz it was always bigger than you or I.

Chachamovits personally loves connecting with children to spread her message. Impacting the youth is a personal mission Beatriz has taken. “If I am not doing something that can change the world, then I feel like I’m not doing enough” states the artist. “The youth have the ability to make real change, that adults just cannot do.”

Cultural Identity

Beatriz and her family would often leave the big city and vacation in the northern coastal state of Bahia, also in Brazil. She would spend days sitting by the ocean, watching the waves move back and forth and observing what they left behind. As one would do as they watched the clouds, Chachamovits would often find herself creating shapes and creatures out of the thick seaweed she’d find washed ashore. She had dozens and dozens of these sketches. Over time you can see them evolve to be more detailed and lifelike.

One time after a major storm, the entire coastline was riddled with seaweed. “As I sat there drawing these figures, I had my notebook open. A man approached me and noticed I was drawing things of the ocean.” As they spoke, the man was surprised to hear that Beatriz had never gone diving to see fish in their natural habitat. He soon asks, “have you ever seen the coral reefs?”

Though she was hesitant to follow this stranger, she believed she saw “truth in his eyes.” This original doubt soon faded as she approached the beach he was leading her to. Before they dive in the man asks “are you ready?”

Praia do Espelho Is the Best Beach in Brazil
The beaches of Bahia. Photo property of Teddy Minford for Fodor’s Travel

Underwater she was shoved into a small cavern formed in the rocks. “Small rays from the sun gleamed into this cavern where small fish surrounded and swayed around me.” The entirety of that day was spent observing the fish dance along the reef and appreciating the colors she found in nature. It was a spectacle like no other, as if a whole other part of her life was missing. She recalls this as the moment that changed her life forever.

Though she never even got the man’s name, he was a major catalyst in Beatriz’s life. She has wanted to be that person for others; the spark that motivates someone to make a real difference with their life. The artist hopes to bring the same love and wonder she felt that day into the eyes of the youth and those she reaches. Every piece not only delivers a message, but allows its viewers to peak into this underwater world that she fell in love with in Brazil.

Subject of Artwork

“There’s always a point in my career, that I look at my work and say to myself: this is not enough.”

Beatriz Chachamovits on the evolution of her works
Coral pile 11
Coral Pile 11 by Beatriz Chachamovits

No matter the medium, reefs are at the focus of this artist’s works. Exploring the concept of “dry dives,” Chachamovits hopes to expose viewers with a peak into the sea world.

Chachamovits’s first works were all drawings and sketches. She mentioned her drawings gave her the financial freedom to be an artist on her own. Though she has a deep connection to her early vision, she believes there was more to be said. Her next pieces began to work as infographics to the public; highlighting endangered marine life and what can be done to help them. This gave a sense responsibility to audiences. These acted almost as a direct call out to the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality many people have.

After infographics, Beatriz decided to paint the entirety of coral reef systems. These pieces helped illustrate the colors that can be seen underwater. This would serve as a stark contrast to her next works: sculpting reefs devoid of color. These differences reflect the problems facing reefs today, leading to the phenomenon known as coral bleaching. As these sea creatures continue to be stressed by increasing temperatures and high acidity, their colors begin to fade. The algae that keeps them alive is ejected from the coral polyps and they are left extremely vulnerable to a multitude of other dangers.

It wasn’t until 2016 that she began to experiment with sculptures. “I always imagined what I drew as a blueprint for a 3D object” explained Beatriz. These highly detailed drawings became pieces she would call “dry dives.”

Formal Elements

Triggerfish
Triggerfish – Photo property of Beatriz Chachamovits

Her first encounter with coral reefs allowed her to appreciate light and colors in a new way. “Understanding the movements and how light is able to reveal small details….For me this was a miracle.”

The outdoor world is the basis of her inspiration. “I like to focus on patterns” mentions Chachamovits when talking about her drawings. She tries to create continuity and cycles in her works, similarly to the sequences found in shell shapes and coral formations. Everything is connected in nature, and she believes it is essential to replicate these connections in her work.

In Brazil, she released a children’s book titled ‘Pequeno Manual de Peixes Marinhos e Outras Maravilhas Aquáticas.’ Her goal inspire the youth of Brazil to find the same love for the ocean. In her book, every page has a species in focus. Each sea creature was comprised of parts of a whole reef system. Included within each drawing was the fish that would be focused in the next page. These details parallel the interconnectedness of life in nature.

Pequeno Manual de Peixes Marinhos e Outras Maravilhas Aquáticas: Beatriz  Chachamovits: 9788574068145: Amazon.com: Books
Photo property of Beatriz Chachamovits

Exhibition History

One of her proudest moments was having an exhibition at the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She worked closely with scientists to accurately sculpt 26 native Brazilian sea life for display. “This was one of the biggest things I’ve done in my life in regards to ocean awareness.” The exhibition acted as an alarm for Brazilian residents to see firsthand what was at stake in their own homes. This exhibition was meant to be displayed for a full year, but after three months tragedy struck.

On September of 2018, a small fire had started inside the museum, eventually burning and destroying much of the property. Entire collections of fossils and essential data to many researchers were incinerated.

Though this was a major setback, new opportunities opened in the United States. August of that year, Chachamovits was accepted into a new residency position at the Studios of Key West. Not only was this a chance to be closer to coral reefs, but opened new doors in a new country. She often felt like her work in Brazil was overlooked because of her passion for the reefs. Many did not understand where her message came from or why it truly mattered.

Once in South Florida, Beatriz knew she was gonna stay. Visiting Art Basel and seeing the thriving art scene made her realize, this was going to be home. In the Keys, Beatriz was also able partake in dives almost daily. “The part of my life I spent in the Keys was the most hands on I’ve ever been with the ocean.” This would bring new inspiration as she got a firsthand look at the corals.

May be an image of 1 person
Beatriz Chachamovits beside her sculpture titled ‘Carcass’ Photo property of Beatriz Chachamovits

She was soon able to display some of her work at Art Basel, and then at the Museum of Underwater Art. In 2019, Beatriz started working with the Bakehouse Art Complex. She was also invited to the Reef Consortium, meeting with scientists and showing her work.

In 2020, her piece titled ‘Carcass’ was on display at the Frost Art Museum. This piece emulated what one would see underwater when diving in South Florida. The piece highlighted endangered coral reef species while

Beatriz is now a resident at Bakehouse Art complex, where she is able to work on her new projects in her own studio. Within only 3 years, Beatriz has been able to make a name for herself in the Miami art scene.

Student Perspective

My experience speaking with Beatriz was a one that left me inspired and creative. With a shared passion for learning about the ocean, it was extremely easy speaking with her. It felt natural as we spoke of our different yet similar experiences in the outdoors.

Once we started talking, it was very evident that she had a true passion for her message. Countless things that could have stopped her along the way, but she persevered to do what she truly loved. I have the upmost respect for Beatriz and hope she continues to succeed in the future. I cannot wait to take her up on the offer to visit her studio.

Thank you to Professor Bailly for getting us out of ur comfort zones and reaching out to artists in Miami. I learned it was much easier than i anticipated, and well worth it.

Beatriz Chachamovits explaining the details of her early works. Photo by Jesse Velazquez

Sources

Jesse Velazquez: Art Service Project 2021

Student Bio

Currently studying biology with a minor in marine biology and chemistry at FIU, Jesse Velazquez has hopes of studying and preserving the wildlife in America. With an appreciation for music and nature, he hopes to educate himself in the arts for a deeper connection to the world. Always open to learn, Jesse enjoys creative conversation about the systems we live in and the changes we can make.

Who & How

Professor John Bailly is an Artist in Residence Fellow at the Deering Estate. Next to the vast on-site nature preserve and accessibility to the Biscayne Bay, he has been able to make a deeper connection with the real Miami. Several excursions to Chicken Key have inspired him to host field days in which he brings students to clean up the island. When I heard of his next scheduled cleanup, I had to join! Luckily I was able to message the professor in time to claim my spot.

Why

The more I progress throughout my college career, the more I have learned to appreciate Miami. Not only is south Florida home to many diverse ecosystems not seen anywhere else, but it is a city with a rich history despite its relatively short time established.

The everglades contains over a million acres of preserved landscape, housing hundreds of species of flora and fauna that do not congregate anywhere else in the world. Only a few miles away coral reefs line the eastern coast of South Florida all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. This reef is the largest system in the continuous United States.

These beautiful landscapes must be protected for future generations to enjoy. This past summer Biscayne Bay had a massive fish-kill event caused by low oxygen levels from the loss of the essential seagrass beds. If these trends continue, the natural biodiversity of the area will not be able to bounce back. With another fish kill event likely coming this summer according to many scientists, it is essential to take action now.

As a student of the biological sciences with a minor in chemistry and marine biology, I have always been interested in the ocean and the outdoors. My favorite memories have always been tied to times by the coast or deep in forests when I forget about civilization. I have learned the role humans have had in the depredation of the environment and I believe it is our job to reverse the wrongs we have made, if not we will not allow future generations to thrive. Pollution is one of the lead causes of environmental degradation. A great way to combat this firsthand is to participate in coastal cleanups. I believe my best efforts to helping the community is working towards a cleaner Miami.

Where & What

On April 17, 2021 I joined Professor John Bailly and other Honors students on a kayak clean up trip on the small mangrove island of Chicken Key.

When I first got to Deering Estate, Baily and the Deering Estate staff already had all the canoes and supplies ready for us. We loaded up the boats and got the bags ready for our cleanup. Once we hit the water, Monica Barletta and I led the way to Chicken Key. With the wind on our side, we made it to the small mangrove island in great time.

At the island Professor Bailly reminded us about the importance of beach cleanups and the significance of the small island. On a recent trip to the key, Bailly noticed small turtles along the key’s coast. Excited to show his discovery, Bailly unknowingly discovered a hatching site for the Diamondback terrapin. This turtle species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and endangered in many eastern states (Diamnondback). This small island proved to be an integral location for the native population.

Our cleanup efforts help protect this land for the turtles and prevent invasive predators like rats and raccoons from making homes out of the marine debris.

Before we started, we took a refreshing dip in the water. This also reminded us of the important sea grass communities in Biscayne Bay. These sea plants oxygenate the saltwater. The massive fish kill event last summer was called by the anoxic environment created by the degradation of these sea grass communities and the algae in the water. Sea grass also provides nourishment for sea turtles.

We started on our cleanup and even though a clean-up had been done only a week prior, the island was still riddled with large pieces of plastics. I found broken glass, countless water bottles, containers for chlorine in pools, and more. I was very much hoping the chlorine was already used when tossed in the water, as chlorine pollution is detrimental to many sea habitats. Chlorine  causes lesions and burns in aquatic life, harming their gills and ability to “breathe” underwater.

We found large plastic containers and Professor Bailly even found a large mattress home to a family of rats. The fight against rats continues to be an ongoing battle in this small island. There are traps and wildlife cameras around the island to monitor and hopefully remove these rodents.

Once we filled our canoes with the collected trash, we made our way back to the Deering Estate. Here we were able to put together all the trash we found and really get a good look at all the trash. As sad as it is to see trash plague our waters, it felt good to see the difference we made. We all helped load the back of the country truck and put all the plastic where it belonged, in designated waste areas.

Honors College and the collected plastic waste. Photo taken by Annette Cruz of FIU Honors

When

Summary

Now that I know how to get to Chicken Key, I will be returning soon on my personal kayak with friends. I hope to inspire them to pick up after themselves, especially at the beach, as we may do a pick-up of our own. I will make sure to do my part and bring back the trash I see to continue this cycle of betterment for the environment.

I am extremely grateful for Professor Bailly planning out the day and leading us on this amazing day. Not only do I feel like I’ve made a real difference with some close friends from class, but it was great to end the semester on such a high note. Art Society Conflict was the only class that I was truly excited to participate in. With a whole year of lifeless screens and no personal connections to any of my educators, it was refreshing to have a professor that inspires you to go out, explore, and make a change.

Sources

Jesse Velazquez: Miami Service 2020

Currently majoring in biology at FIU, Jesse Velazquez has hopes of studying and preserving the wildlife in America. With an appreciation for music and nature, he hopes to educate himself in the arts for a deeper connection to the world. Always open to learn, Jesse enjoys creative conversation about the systems we live in and the changes we can make.

Beach Cleanups – September 13 & October 4

Who?

The local environmental awareness organization Send it for The Sea has organized many cleanups in South Florida. The Send It for the Sea team is an educational media group bringing awareness to pollution in the oceans. Often bringing awareness to laws and regulations of the city and county, or showing firsthand evidence of pollution into waterways, they have been able to increasingly garner attention. They also use underwater photography to show the endangered systems in Miami, especially with the recent anoxic zones that were prevalent throughout Biscayne Bay. By capturing marine life underwater, they have used art and nature to spread their message.

In the cleanups I attended, they worked with fellow conservation group “Plastic Fisherman.” Plastic Fisherman is an artist that creates small fish with the plastic he picks up at the beach. The media group has been able to use the pollution he finds to create small pieces almost every day he is at the beach. Since February of this year, the Plastic Fisherman has been able to create over a hundred of these plastic fish. Using everything from plastic bags and flip flops, to plastic plates and old rope he has created colorful temporary art pieces.

Image by Plastic Fisherman @plasticfisherman on Instagram

Why?

Because nature has become a great focus in my life, awareness and conservation has come second nature. Beach cleanups are incredibly important to the protection of marine life, preventing micro-plastics from infiltrating their way into the food chain.

How?

Send It For The Sea post many opportunities for ocean lovers to join in on the cleanups, hosting one almost every week. It provides a place for like minded individuals to meet and make new connections together.

What & Where?

The cleanups I joined were at Matheson Hammock Park and South Beach. At the cleanups, each group is given bags to collect the trash. I went with my family both times. My younger brother and cousins have a deep appreciation for the ocean as well. Each group naturally chose an area to clean up, and as many people as were at the park, it seemed that there was still much more we could pick up. Pieces broken down by photo-degradation made it very difficult to gather every single shard. Realizing the damage humans continue to make brings a sense of responsibility. Only humans have created this destruction on the planet, and only we can fix it.

My cousins and little brother at Matheson Hammock Park after a cleanup with Send It For The Sea. Photo taken by Jesse Velazquez.

Once returned, all the trash is weighed and calculated for the grand total. Since their inception, Send it for the Sea has gathered over 20,000 pounds of trash from Miami alone. It is a great feeling being able to make a change, no matter how small. I hope to do more cleanups with the ASC class, as we did in Deering Estate.

Future Pacific – October 29

Who?

Originally standing as an industrial bakery, the Bakehouse Art Complex is now a hub for Miami creatives. Over 35 years old, the art complex houses many studios for artists to work in and galleries available for display (About Us). It is the Bakehouse’s mission to serve as a cultural center for the city, investing in new ways to help connect artists to the local art scene. Currently in residency, Lauren Shapiro has taken initiative to connect nature and art with her installation of “Future Pacific.” Opening November 21, 2020, the installation highlights the fragility and importance of coral reefs.

How?

After visiting the Bakehouse Art Complex with the Art Society Conflict class, I realized the power art had. I was under the impression that all available spaces to help out had been taken up, but Professor Bailly notified me that plenty of spots were still open. When the chance to work with Lauren again in a small group for her installation, I knew it was a great opportunity.

Why?

As I progress through my academic career, science has become one of my main focuses. I love learning about the mechanisms that run the world we live in. I love science and would like to share my love with others in new creative ways. I hope to one day make my own job in science. Shapiro’s project reminds me that this is very possible. With the right connections and the right idea, great things can happen.

By connecting science with sculptures, a whole new audience can be exposed to the beauty of nature. It is our responsibility as South Florida locals to protect our oceans. Shapiro hopes to inspire the community to follow suit.

What & Where?

Together with Monica Barletta, we pressed and molded over a hundred clay figures to replicate a coral reef. By mixing clays of different colors, we were able to represent the phenomenon of coral bleaching. Browns, blues and greys were prominent in all of the structures. We then placed the clay molds onto large geometrical structures on site at the Bakehouse Art Complex. As the clay dried these colors lessened in saturation and some began to crumble and flake. I believe this further connects viewers to the vulnerability of the coral reefs. Very subtle changes in ocean water chemistry can lead to the decimation of reef populations over time. The hard edges and peculiar shapes of the structures used give a sense of the harsh future we may face. I believe the name “Future Pacific” acts almost as a warning.

Monica Barletta and I with the molds we pressed. Photos taken by Jesse Velazquez.

I hope visitors of the instillation will realize that science is not something only for teachers and doctors, but something we can all use to connect with. Science teaches people about the world, and I believe art can teach one about themselves. Bringing these two together will open people’s minds.

Summary

Both experiences were great ways to expose myself to the different forms of environmental conservation. Previously, I believed it was hard for the individual to make a real change in the environment. With new and creative approaches I have learned this is a falsehood I will no longer follow, change is real and change is happening now. The more ways the message can be shared among people, the more change we will see.

Hours

Citations

“About Us.” BAC, Bakehouse Art Complex, http://www.bacfl.org/about-us.

Plastic Fisherman, http://www.plasticfisherman.com/.

SENDIT4THESEA. SENDIT4THESEA, sendit4thesea.org/.

Jesse Velazquez: ASC See Miami Fall 2020

Rubell Museum

Jesse Velazquez is an undergraduate student majoring in the biological sciences. Though his studies focus on the strict laws that govern the natural processes of life, Jesse has acquired a deep appreciation for the untamed beauty that is art. Whether through music, photography or other expressive mediums, Jesse continues to expand his views and appreciate art in new forms.

Photo by Jesse Velazquez, channeling his inner Narcissus.

Geography

The Rubell Museum is currently located at 1100 NW 23rd St, Miami, FL 33127. Neighboring the thriving art scene in Wynwood, the collection stands in the neighborhood of Allapattah. An area riddled with industrial warehouses, it seems that the area around the museum is very working class. Surrounded by apartments and graffiti, it is evident many residents work near or among these buildings.

I believe the new location of the museum will continue to bring new attention to the area and eventually alter the nearby developments. Down the street from Hometown barbecue, a New York transplant barbecue restaurant with high price points, it is not hard to imagine new similar businesses congregating in the area in the near future. It will not be long until Rubell will be in the middle of a larger socialite scene.

A place that gains its reputation for being a place where those with no voice are able to express themself, the installment of the collection in this new area will most likely silence the nearby community. Though the location change was necessary for the expanding collection of the Rubell family, they do realize the adverse effects of their move. The have stated before that “art brings change.” This continues to inspire the family to work so closely with local communities.

History

The Rubell Family collection started the year Don and Mera Rubell married, 1964. Don was studying in medical school and Mera was a school teacher. Starting with a modest budget from Mera’s salary of $100 a week, the couple would save $25 of that to purchase art. Often from artist they met and felt a connection to, their collection began to grow. With over seven thousand pieces now in their possession, their collection has pieces from over a thousand artists.

After moving to Miami in 1990, the couple opened their first gallery in Wynwood in 1993. They had a large role in the formation of what Wynwood has become today. After years of growing their collection, the Rubell family decided to migrate to a location with more room. On December 4, 2019 the Rubell Museum opened its doors once again in Allapattah.

Mission

Because of their rough beginnings, the Rubells did not have a large budget for the pieces they collected. They found up and coming artists that they felt stood out and purchased their pieces. The entirety of the Rubell collection has been based on their “gut feeling” about an artist. With names like Jean-Michael Basquiat, Keith Haring, it is evident that they had great taste.

The Rubell family likes to learn about an artist and their ideals before adding them to their collection. They focus on finding artists and bringing them out to the limelight. Their ability to choose talented artists so well has gained them a reputation for having the “Midas touch” of art.

Don and Mera Rubell with Keith Haring, 1989. Courtesy of the Rubell Museum, Miami.
Don and Mera Rubell with Keith Haring, 1989. Photo property of Rubell Museum Miami.

With no formal education in art or art selection, they have trusted only their intuition when investing in an artist. They believe the more they get to know the artists they meet, and the more they can understand their approach to art, the more they can trust their future as an artist.

Formerly named the Rubell Family Collection, their gallery has been renamed the Rubell Museum. This is in efforts to highlight their connection to the community, hoping to share their extensive selection with the world. They believe “art cannot be learned unless it is seen.” By exposing young people to the art world they hope to inspire new generation of artists.

Access

Being only few blocks away from the Santa Clara MetroRail station, the new location of the Rubell Collection allows for ample space while still providing an easy access to contemporary art from some of the most well-known names in art. Now that fees have been waived for all transport on the Miami Metrorail, all residents of Miami have access to this gallery.

Museum Hours

Monday and Tuesday – Closed

Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday – 11:30 am to 5:30 pm

Friday and Saturday – 11:30 am to 7:30 pm

Single-Day General Admission Ticket Prices

At reasonably affordable costs, the youth of Miami are able to appreciate the pieces of some the most well known contemporary artist. Several offers are available for reduced pricing, accommodating fsenior citizens, students, and even veterans.

Adults – $15.00

Seniors (65+ with valid ID) – $12.00

Students (with valid ID) – $10.00

Youth (7-18) – $10.00

US Veterans (with valid ID) – FREE

Memberships

For frequent visitors of the collection, several membership packages are available. These memberships offer behind the scenes looks and special opportunities not available to general visitors. Each membership lasts for the year.

Individual – $50

  • Free Admission
  • Invitations to previews
  • 10% discount on Rubell Museum Merchandise
  • 10% discount in Leku Restaurant

Artist – $30

  • Same as above

Dual/Family – $90

  • All of the above for two adults & two children

Friend

  • All of the above plus free collection or exhibition catalogue

Family Friend

  • All of the above
  • Director led tour of the museum for you and a guest

Patron

  • All of the above
  • Director led tour of the museum for you and four guests

Benefactor

  • All of the above
  • Director led tour of the museum for you and ten guests
  • Invitation to private VIP opening at the beginning of Miami Art Week
  • Invitation to visit & meet with artists in residence

Director’s Circle

  • All of the above
  • After hours cocktails & director led tour for you and ten guests

Collection

The clean white walls. Concrete floors. One gets a feeling of passivity when entering the Rubell Museum. Large open rooms bare of distractions. The pale walls act as highlights of the dissonance. The art is left to speak for itself. With thousands of pieces in the Rubell Collection, they have set aside their most intriguing and well known pieces to display. Each piece, regardless of size is given special attention. Each room curated to insight a specific emotion. Sensations of uneasiness, relief, and struggle, are all apparent as you travel the maze of expression that is Rubell.

Keith Haring

Probably one of the most famous contemporary artist in America, Keith Haring has a large permanent display at the Rubell museum. As an artist that has reached almost all facets of popular culture, including being the cover of music albums and worked with many skateboard companies, I believe this display is only fitting. His works have only increased in popularity since his passing; ranging from expressions of love to powerful statements of life, everyone can find a piece they resonate with. His bold lines and unorthodox approach made him stand out in the 1980s, and has allowed him to perpetuate his legacy.

Photos taken by Jesse Velazquez at the Rubell Museum.

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama currently has two major works at the Rubell Museum, the Narcissus Garden and The Infinity Room. The Narcissus Garden (on exhibition) is presented throughout the main hall of the museum, leading you down the large warehouse. It is almost everyones instinctual reaction, as it was mine, to take a picture with the mirror-like balls. It is basically a garden of the self. This same theme is present in the Infinity Rooms. This body of work remains at the museum. Whoever stands in front of it will see many reflections of themselves. Kusama has found a way to make everyone love her art, no matter what knowledge they may have about art. It’s hard not to love a piece when you are the focus of it.

The Narcissus Garden (left) and Infinity Mirrored Room (right) by Yayoi Kusama. Photos taken by Jesse Velazquez

Gilbert & George

The search for power through God, through the innocent eyes of youth make Finding God my favorite piece at the Rubell Museum. Towering at over 10 feet tall, it is a grand exhibition of color and the lack of it. The polar side of belief and the uncertain in-between. Who is God and what does he mean to you? I am personally not a very religious person but the aesthetics of the Church have always been something I could appreciate. Utilizing aspects of religion and nature with design elements that remind me of an 80’s new wave album cover, the piece distinguishes itself to me among all the other pieces..

Finding God by Gilbert and George photographed by Jesse Velazquez

Richard Prince

Photos of Richard Prince works taken by Jesse Velazquez

Many photographs by Richard Prince are display at the Rubell Museum. I find his pieces to be rather controversial. At first glance I fell in love with his unnamed series of American cowboys. After further research I learned that his photographs are taken from Marlboro advertisements and not from himself. I do not believe he has any right to share these photos as his own; but then again what is art with no controversy?

Exhibitions

There are currently four artists displaying their works on exhibition at the Rubell Museum. The Narcissus Garden is very prominently featured. Other artists include Hernan Bas, Genesis Tremaine and Natalie Ball.

Genesis Tremaine is currently the artist in residence of 2020 at the Rubell Museum. Her works are greatly inspired by the bible. Her exhibition is named The Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary by Genesis Tremaine photographed by Jesse Velazquez

Learning Programs

Since her days as a teacher, Mera Rubell has had a personal commitment to help the youth. The Museum has partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, connecting thousands of students every year with the art world. They also work with universities offering seminars and critiques to many students.

The museum offers internships for students hoping to dip their toe in the great pond that is the art scene. Whether working in the on-site research library or helping with guided tours, interns are able to learn about the inner workings of art museums. Curatorial training is also a major aspect of the internship. The artists in residency program has been one of the most influential programs, bringing somewhat unknown artist to the forefront of art collectors around the world.

Visitor

What is your name and how old are you?
Hi! My name is Mariana, and I’m 21 years old.Are you currently a student?

Where do you study?
Yeah, I’m currently a senior at Brown University studying Sociology.

What brings you to Miami and The Rubell Museum?
I’m from Miami, so really I’ve just been home with my family since March. It’s been therapeutic to be back home for so long. Ever since I moved to Providence for school, I haven’t really had a break to be in Miami for extended periods of time, so I’m trying to take advantage and explore the places that I haven’t gone to before. A friend of mine told me about The Rubell Museum, and I immediately wanted to go see all the cool art myself. Personally, I really enjoy visiting any type of museums, but my favorite ones are definitely art museums.

Do you come to art museums often?
Not as often as I’d like to, but yes, I love going to art museums whenever I get a chance! Luckily, there’s an amazing art school in proximity to Brown called the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), so I get to see a lot of stunning art around me when I’m up there.

Are there some you like to visit in Rhode Island?

One of my favorite art museums in Providence is called the RISD Museum. Every time I visit this museum, there’s always something new to see. I especially love that one of the floors at this museum is dedicated to the works of current and past RISD students. Admiring the talent of peers that are around the same age as me is always inspiring. Also, I feel like looking at the students’ art gives me insight to where the future of art is going. I feel like art and life are constantly in flux and reflecting one another. It makes me very curious to see what the RISD museum will look like next time I visit.

What has been your favorite museum to visit?
Honestly, depending on my mood, I might prefer one vibe over the other. If I had to choose, though, I think my favorite museum has been the Louvre. I love that it’s so big that I could easily get lost while I’m in there. Also love seeing all the tourists getting excited to see the iconic Mona Lisa, and not caring about looking ridiculous while they take selfies in front of her. Admittedly, I once was one of those people too, hahaha.

How does the Rubell Museum compare to the other museums you’ve visited?
One thing that stuck out to me about the Rubell Museum was how boundless some of the artworks were. It was kind of a stark contrast to the Louvre, especially with the Mona Lisa exhibition that is surrounded by velvet ropes so that visitors can’t get too close. For example, one could walk through Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden installation which really gave the museum an interactive feel.

Employee

What is your name?

My name is Claudia.

How long have you been working at Rubell and what do you do?

I’ve been working here for over a year now. I am an usher and security guard.

What drew you to work here?

I wanted to work here because it’s near my house and I get to look at art all day.

How many people do you usually see here a day? What kind of people do you see?

I probably see about 100-250 people a day on average, there is definitely more on the weekends. With quarantine I think people have been wanting to get out of the house to do little things with families. I usually see younger people or families. Not too uncommon to see older visitors too. European families are very common.

Have you seen more of a certain group lately that yu probably wouldn’t have normally?

I’ve definitely seen a couple more teenagers than usual. Mainly in groups of friends or like a date.

Summary

It was after my first visit to the Rubell museum that I began to realize the true complexities of art expression. As one coming from a musical background I never looked at art very deeply. I believe this museum is one that those from all walks of life can enjoy. There is something to appreciate from every piece, with a diverse collection of theme and style. The perfect start to the art world, I look forward to my next visit to the Rubell museum.

Citations

Jesse Velazquez: Miami as Text 2020-2021

As I travel through space and time on this rock we call Earth, I hope to partake in as many riveting experiences as I can. Currently studying biology at FIU, my dream is to research different ecosystems around the nation and hopefully the world. The realization that we have such a short amount of time to experience our lives has driven me to learn about new philosophies and new outlooks on life. I believe this course will allow me to appreciate my home city of Miami in a new light, acknowledging the untold histories and unspoken forms of expression evident through the constant change Miami endures. I strive to make everyday an adventure.

Deering as Text

“Take Care Not to Burn Your Bridges” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Deering Estate on September 9, 2020

Photo taken by Annette Cruz / FIU Honors

Before South Florida has become the cultural epicenter it is today, Charles Deering made his home in what is now known as Cutler Bay. Surrounded by the lush green jungle that is the pine rocklands and wetlands, he erected a lone bridge to aid him cross a creek on his evening walks around his estate. Unbeknownst to him, the bridge has become a symbol of much more.

As the lands of Florida were developed, the natural flow of water from the Okeechobee was greatly disturbed. The creek that this bridge was built over had now disappeared. The bridge stood for years as a glimpse of what used to be. It was not until recently, scientists have been able to restore this flow of water through the use of new technologies (Staletovich, Wetland). As a research assistant currently studying the effects the draining of the Everglades have done to the native flora and fauna, it brought joy to my heart to know that there is a chance for change.

During our time at the estate, we were asked what art meant to us. This question resonated with me as I took this course to try and understand what art can mean to me. I still wouldn’t be able to give a clear answer but the bridge came to mind. Built by the hands of black men on land they were eventually restricted from inhabiting, in an ode to an architectural style that originated halfway across the world, now standing as a testament to the past and how man is able to correct the wrongs of his elders; I believe nothing in the estate truly encapsulates what art can mean than the Chinese Bridge.

I can’t help wonder what others in the early 1900s must have felt when coming across the bridge. In the middle of what was then nowhere, stands a brightly colored bridge with intricate designs reminiscent of a distant land. It is evident Charles Deering tried to bring different aspects from around the world to his home. I wish I could ask the men building it what they thought. It amazes me how much can change in only 100 years.

Source: Staletovich, J. Urban wetland at Deering Estate offers glimpse at successful Everglades restoration. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article1962423.html.

South Beach as Text

“The Drug Store Massacre” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at South Beach on September 23, 2020

The “world famous Hollywood Landmark.”

When I was about ten years old, one of the scenes that was forever imprinted in my mind from Scarface was the chainsaw bathroom scene. I believe it was that scene that set the tone for the rest of the film. The story of a man in search of the American Dream is a story that hits close to home for many Cubans that have migrated to Miami. You would imagine that a movie that has brought so much attention to Miami would be celebrated.

As we walked down Ocean Drive, the streets told stories of a time before. Light blues and curved lines, reminiscent of the ocean waves. Wide buildings structured like cruise ships. The buildings gave me a sense of optimism from the past, the buildings were designed to be an everlasting aesthetic. A prediction of the future from the past. The neon accents that outline the strong lines at night add to the sense of modernity. For the most part, each building was designed to stay.

The trend continued until we came across a CVS. The building was a flat and dull structure. There was no idea being expressed, no lines to move your eyes, no colors to elicit emotion. The developers completely rejected the South Beach design, it was a disrespect to those who had a vision for the future of Miami. Then as we approach the building, in a small corner away from view reads a sign. “This scene depicts the chainsaw massacre (from Scarface) and is a world famous Hollywood Landmark.” To add insult to injury, they have transformed what housed an iconic scene in film to an incorporated drug store.

It seems that this theme of disregarding the past is prevalent in the development of Miami. The entirety of this city is based on the destruction of wildlife and homes of minorities. The history of Miami is a history of massacres. This class continues to open my eyes to the reality of this world and how humans have so recklessly altered it.

Bakehouse as Text

“Sea of Change” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Bakehouse Art Complex on October 7, 2020

Photo taken by John Bailly / FIU Honors

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution scientists have warned the public of the dangers of the American lifestyle. Thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted daily by human activity. Whether through the use of cars or from industry, these greenhouse gases have settled into the ocean. With unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the ocean has begun to acidify. With such rapid change in ocean chemistry, many organisms are at risk. Corals have been one of the biggest groups affected by ocean acidification.

As a student focusing on environmental biology, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the science of global warming. Constantly reading articles and studies about the harm humans have done to the planet, at times one can feel hopeless. Speaking with Lauren Shapiro made me realize how inclusive science can be. I have always appreciated music and art, but never tried to combine it with my love for science. I believe there is so much ground that can be covered this way. It was inspiring to hear from artists bringing awareness to heal our local ecosystems.

The best way to seek support from all walks of life is to find something everyone can connect to. Lauren’s project is a means to connect with the public. There aren’t many opportunities when one can have a hands-on experience like this project allows. Being a direct part of an art piece inspires people to take part in art projects of their own and makes the topic in focus fun and digestible to the everyday person. As we were able to recreate a coral reef system using molds crafted from real corals, I wanted to learn more about these beautiful creatures.

As Lauren stated, scientists and artists can gain a lot from each other. A collaboration of knowledge at this scale can produce life changing results. I hope to do something similar with science in my future. My goal is to lead research initiatives in different parts of the world, while connecting with local artists. I hope I can spread my message of conservation wherever I go with the community through song or visual art, motivating the youth to pursue a life in the arts and sciences.

Rubell Museum as Text

“Rude Boys on Ice” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Rubell Museum on October 21, 2020

When I first saw this piece, I immediately thought of the two-tone ska movement of the 1980s. Black and white photographs of men dancing in full suits were a staple of this genre. The “rude boy” aesthetic became synonymous with the entrancing upstrokes of ska guitar. The most famous dance of this scene was the skank, a march-like dance in which the body would swing along to the music. Circular mosh pits filled with skankers was a common sight in this scene.

As I read about the artists thoughts behind this piece, I tried to put myself in his shoes.  My interpretation of the piece is that Robert Longo was trying to capture the commotion and kinetic energy behind music. His whole approach to this piece was similar to the way one would write a song.

This piece opened my mind to the true meaning of violence. What is the true definition of violence? Where is the line drawn when an act is seen as violent or expressive. From the outside a mosh pit may seem like a cesspool of anarchy and hate. Once you are in, it feels like a natural flow of energy. The movements are an extension of the song. I believe these pictures are meant to highlight the relationship between man and violence.

This trip to the art museum was an unexpected experience. I have never really sat down and observed art to try and understand its meaning. I would like to immerse myself in more similar conversations. Hearing how others view things and often times the world can open one’s mind to new outlooks. I hope to view things more like an artist in my life.

Deering Hike as Text

“The Dead and Mounded” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Deering Estate on November 4, 2020

The incessant rains and hurricane force winds that hit the coast of south Florida make it almost impossible to give current Floridians an idea of how life before colonization was. Luckily for historians and appreciators of Florida’s history, the nomadic Tequesta tribe have offered a peak into their lives. In the Deering Estate Nature Reserve stands a large oak tree towering over a large mound.

Photo of Tequesta Burial Mound by Jesse Velazquez

The mound holds over ten bodies of tribal members, all forming a circle. In a time when energy was conserved because one’s next meal was never promised, it took the manpower of at least 15 men to form this hill and bury the dead.

I find it extremely powerful that the members of the Tequesta tribe decided to plant an oak tree at the top of the mound. Whether they transplanted an already developed tree or placed a seed to be nourished by the decomposing bodies of their fallen members, an understanding of the cycles of nature and giving back to the land that provides to them is obviously present. I believe this was a site of prayer or ritual practice. I am sure this became a place of contemplation, possibly a place of gratitude for the seasons and good weather. The tree grows up and out to the sun. Oak trees are some of the biggest trees in south Florida.

Such a sacred monument to their elders tells a lot of the morals of the Tequesta tribe. Unlike many depictions of native Americans as savage warriors ravaging lands, the mound shows that they mourned their lost brothers and sisters. They reflected on their lives and the significance of family. I believe we have much to learn from our past.

Downtown Miami as Text

“The Hand That Feeds, Also Kills” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at Downtown Miami on November 25, 2020

The more I learn of Miami and the world, the more I realize the extent to which humans have taken it upon themselves to completely alter it. I sometimes forget that places like New York City and downtown Miami were once thriving ecosystems full of flora and fauna. As the professor mentioned, I tried to truly immerse myself into the world that was before. I like to imagine a time-lapse of the land. A land devoid of concrete structures, covered in green. I wonder what the natives thought when they saw the Spanish ships of Ponce de Leon land on their shores. It would have impossible to imagine that in a few centuries their lands will be tainted with buildings replicating the architecture of this distant land. The influence these “visitors” have completely overshadow that of the original inhabitants. Paths that have been used for hundred of years will be renamed as streets of the white man. Statues will be erected glorifying these white men, giving no appreciation for the natives for years to come.

Though I do wish the natural landscape could have been preserved more carefully, there is a point when I believe you must accept what has happened and look to the positives. Miami has become a cultural center evident through the different influences in architecture and languages. As we walked through the city, graffiti was present all throughout. Whether a full mural or a simple tag, it is the voice of an unheard group trying to be noticed. Similar to cave paintings the Tequesta may have done, those that inhabit the inner city try to say something with their art. The more I learn about Miami the stronger my love-hate relationship grows.

The Everglades As Text

“The Tranquil and the Inconsequential” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Everglades National Park on January 14, 2021

The Amber Bloom / Photo Taken by Jesse Velazquez

The reason I have been drawn so much to nature is the same the poet spoke of in “Pahayokee.” To me, nature reminds me of my true role in the world. The ties to work and stress are all cut loose. I am surrounded by the untouched. There is no deadline, there is no worry. We have become so entangled in our own personal problems we forget of the constant balance found in nature. Every push has a pull, every up has its down. There is no waste in nature, everything serves its unique purpose. All processes happen at the pace it was meant to be. The trees grow, the water flows, and life is but a means of supporting another. A cycle that knows no good nor bad, only the necessary.

I remind myself that this is not an escape, but a reminder of the truth. Park Ranger Dylann Turffs spoke of the disconnect among people and the natural world. I believe the more people reach out and spend time in the outdoors, they will realize the importance of conservation efforts. These efforts are not merely for the preservation of land that is “nice to look at,” but a protection of what is true on this Earth. Millions of years of evolution have led to the world we live in now, and in a mere hundreds we may lose it all. Every day it seems we are told of new ways we are different from each other; things that pull us apart as people. Nature is the only thing we all truly have in common.

The Margulies Collection as Text

“A Struggle, the Same” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Margulies Collection on January 27, 2021

Photo taken by Jesse Velazquez

The story of humanity is one of plight and pain. Through the hardships we face, we are able to come together. In these moments of vulnerability we see our true strength. Many of the pieces at the Marguiles Collection emphasize the different aspects of human struggle. Whether it be through the hunger many people face, or the persecution and hate others encounter, every group has a story to tell.

These are the stories in which we learn from each other as a people. It can inspire people and give them hope for brighter days ahead. It can also serve as a reminder of travesties of the past and how to learn from our mistakes. I was personally drawn to Depression Bread Line by George Segal and Hurma by Magdalena Abakanowicz. Both pieces reflect a time in different countries that face a similar struggle. One’s next meal was not promised, it was unknown whether a father could provide for his family.

The stories my grandfather would tell me of his time in Cuba came to mind as I learned more of these pieces. Like Abakanowicz, both saw first hand the injustices brought on by the Soviet rule. People were seen almost like livestock in a cattle farm, they were just heads to feed. At many times, they still did not receive many basic needs. Though capitalism is not perfect, I believe there is more oppurtunity to make something of yourself from whatever background you come from in America. Individuality is an important aspect of the American culture. I believe this idea is shown in Segal’s portrayal of American’s waiting in soup kitchens during the Great Depression. Each man in line has his face highlighted in green, a great contrast to the headless bodies of the Hurma piece. Though these were incredibly harsh times in America, there was always a respect put to each American. The Fireside chats by President Franklin D. Roosevelt acted as words of promise to the American people. As families sat next to their radios at night, it seemed as if they were directly talking to the president, continually offering support. No one felt alone in their time of need.

Though we are living in unprecedented times, I am inspired by the possibilities of how humanity will flourish once we overcome.

Bill Baggs As Text

“Sands of Yesterday” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at Bill Baggs State Park on February 10, 2021

Photographs taken by Jesse Velazquez

My dad used to tell me of the days when Bill Baggs was a dense forest. Monkeys that escaped from the Crandon Park Zoo made new homes in the large Australian pines that surrounded the coast, often throwing things at the beach visitors. Now it seems that raccoons have taken their place, stealing food instead. Though Hurricane Andrew completely swept down what had stood, it gave the park an opportunity to start fresh in a new direction. Now covered with a vast array of native plants, the park may seem unrecognizable to patrons of the past. The only thing that remains is the lighthouse.

Originally discovered by Ponce de Leon (as far as we are told) in 1513, Cape Florida was seen as a paradise of the new world. It wasn’t until 1825 that the original lighthouse had finished its original construction. Shortly after during the Seminole Wars, the natives attacked the homestead at which the lighthouse stood. They believed they were fighting back their oppressors who continued to cast them out of their own land. The two lone land keepers fought back as much as they could. They rain into the lighthouse in hopes of finding protection, but it seemed to be more of a trap. The natives lit the lighthouse on fire and the men were forced out into the observation deck. Hoping for a quick death, the men threw the last gunpowder they had into the fire, causing a massive explosion. Though one of the men died, the explosion was not enough to bring the lighthouse down. Soon after the lighthouse was restored and erected another 30 feet.

For nearly 200 years the barrier island has stood as a point of hope and recline. Acting as a last meeting point before slaves ran away to the Bahamas, the beach was the last glimpse of America many had before they reached freedom. The lighthouse stands as a beacon into the night, a light that guides those who are lost, and a reminder of what has been. Through many hardships, nothing has been able to bring down the lighthouse.

I have made many day trips to the park, yet I was completely unaware of the story it had to tell. I hope we may come back as a class and enjoy our paradise at home.

Reference:

  • Thompson, John W. B. “The Attack on the Lighthouse” (text of a letter from Thompson to the editor of the Charleston Courier), in Drimmer, Frederick. Editor. 1985. Captured by the Indians. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

River of Grass as Text

“Holding the Untouchable” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Everglades National Park on March 3, 2021

Photo taken by Monica Barletta

Every class, Professor Bailly reminds us to make the most of our experiences. I used to believe this only applied to overtly extravagant times in our lives, like the big trip I’ve planned months ahead of time or the day of my graduation. I’ve learned in quarantine that every day should be held to the same regard, no matter what you do. It’s easy to find the little things to appreciate, if you know where to look.

This class in the Everglades especially reminded me how simple these pleasures can be. The sunset’s last shimmers of amber on the green leaves shifting in the wind, making your favorite person laugh, or making conversation with someone you’ve never met that opens you to new friendships. It was truly a great day.

The life we live is all dependent on the mindset we have. In the late sixties, the world as we know it was at the brink of collapse, and the agents of destruction were stored in our backyard. We have now advanced past the need to perpetrate such fear among the population. We have been given a chance, now reminded by the pandemic, to grow from these past ideas and flourish in a new direction of hope.

The Everglades and its ancient landscape are an example of how beauty can persevere through intense hardships and be restored to new heights if proper care is given. I hope to visit the Everglades in a couple years time and see the newly developed landscape on the land we ventured this week.

Frost Art Museum as Text

“Flowers Everywhere” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Frost Art Museum on March 11, 2021

Collection of petals, photo taken by Jesse Velazquez

Given to him by friend who soon lost his life, Roberto Obregon spent years dissecting what makes a rose meant to him. Classifying the individual components that make up the physical body of the rose, and taking a deeper dive into the emotional connotations a rose may have, Obregon hopes to show viewers the complexities of relationships and life through a rose.

I believe his infatuation of the roses originated from the strifes he faced in his life. Not always beautiful, sometimes painful, but always sight to behold. The thorns of the rose remind one of the hardships you face, but it is overshadowed by the flower; similar to the moments you remember most with the ones you love. It was impressive to see how Obregon was able to shine a new light on a flower that has become a somewhat cliche and commercial symbol of affection.

Another impressive work of art we observed was the mural commissioned by Carlos Alfonzo. In this piece he seems to come to terms with his loss of life. The fragility of life is on display in his final piece, reflecting the different phases of his life. Whether in the city of Miami, or from his upbringing in Cuba, he reflects his life with the bright colors of the city and Caribbean. Every day I come to FIU, I’ve passed by the mural and never realized the importance of the work.

The AIDs epidemic continue to have lasting effects on culture and society today. Art serves as record of the struggles of people in different eras of history, even so recently as only thirty years ago. I believe it is great to see pieces of art installed across the campus of FIU, reminding students of these struggles and the hardships that bring us together.

Coral Gables as Text

“The City of Wanting Moor” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Frost Art Museum on March 25, 2021

Influences from other lands. Photos taken by Jesse Velazquez

When George Merrick came to South Florida in the 1920s, he had a vision for what the land could become. His mind often drifted as he worked on his guava plantation, taking him to the places he read about. He would often revisit the story What was at the time seen as a waste of land, Merrick designed and developed a city straight out of the pages of his favorite stories. This city would eventually become Coral Gables.

As you walk through the city, elements of the coral limestone rock have been incorporated into many homes and buildings. Clay tiles crown almost every home, and the colors remind one of the summer. George Merrick hoped to bring the culture and charm of Spain and the Mediterranean to Miami. He wanted to design a city for the middle class to have access to the amenities that were once offered only to the rich.

Sadly, it seems this original vision has started to fade. Coral Gables is notoriously expensive to live in, and majority white. The University of Miami has a tuition rate that requires only those with a great scholarship or high income to enroll. Where there is beauty, there will be money, and it seems that Coral Gables is no exception.

I will still enjoy walking through Coral Gable’s Miracle Mile, and taking a dive into the famous Venetian Pool, but I will know it no longer stands for what was intended. It seems that Miami is a place of opportunity and dream, but this innocent hope is easily clouded by dollar signs and power.

Vizcaya As Text

“Where Ecstasy Calls Home” by Jesse Velazquez of FIU at the Frost Art Museum on March 25, 2021

Dionysus greets guests to the estate of ecstasy. Photo taken by Jesse Velazquez

When one has worked the majority of their adult life working to amass a fortune beyond comprehension, what better way to reward yourself than with a palace of pleasure? Beginning construction in 1914, John Deering designed his estate in the untouched Miami coast as a testament to his life and his triumphs. Secluded from almost all government authority, the mansion served as a hub for all forms of debauchery and ecstasy. Late night parties riddled of sex and alcohol were common occurrences. It seems that James Deering not only set the model for the architecture that would dominate South Florida, but also conceived this mindset that would develop into the “Miami lifestyle.”

Bringing artifacts and art pieces from Europe, Deering ensured to encapsulate all forms of high class living. From the priceless carpet owned by the historical Queen Isabella of Spain, to the incorporation of modern technologies of the time, no walk of life could ignore the class and wealth that radiated from the estate.

It seems that Deering often had trouble finding his own identity, he believed he had to masquerade as someone of old power. He had no ties to ancient aristocrats or nobility, so he created his own figure to aspire to; the spanish explorer Vizcaino. His riches were not enough, he wanted to be the hero of his own story. He wanted to claim new land for himself, like the king of his own castle. Similarly to Graceland and the King of Rock and Roll, Vizcaya served as an irrefutable proclamation of power.

Though every room tells a different story, Vizcaya has a unified message and feeling. It is an oasis, seperated from reality. As you enter you are immediately envious, imagining the wonderful times Deering may have had there. I hope to live a life of beautiful and new experiences as James Deering.