Luis Gutierrez: Art Service Project 2021

STUDENT BIO

Luis Gutierrez is currently a sophomore studying English at Florida International University. He loves to watch movies, listen to old music, and play beach volleyball with his friends. He also enjoys writing and collecting vinyl records.

WHO
I volunteered with Vizcaya Museum and Gardens located in Coconut Grove of Miami, Florida. This estate belonged to famous businessman James Deering who bought many art works, sculptures, and architectural designs and then incorporated into his new home both inside and out. Today, it serves as a historical location that houses many events to the public and is a great spot for anyone to take pictures at.

The exterior of Vizcaya, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

WHY
I volunteered at this location because I was fortunate enough to grab a volunteer opportunity before the semester ended. Unfortunately, I left this project for the last minute and found myself reaching out to many art institutions to help out at. Vizcaya was one of the few locations to reach back to me and I was more than happy to assist in such a lovely and ascetically pleasing place. Also, the volunteering had me work directly off the land and I was more than used to it because of the usual yard work I have done with my father almost every weekend.

HOW

I connected with this opportunity through their website “vizcaya.org” and a second party website known as “HandsOn Miami”. Both of these websites were easy to navigate and obtain information about their volunteer opportunities. Specifically, HandsOn Miami was extremely user friendly and I would strongly encourage anyone who is in need of ANY volunteer opportunity to use their website.

WHERE & WHAT

On April 22, 2021 at around 8am, I entered Vizcaya Museum and Gardens to find a group of volunteers waiting to be instructed on where to go and what to do. I volunteered with a classmate and friend of mine, Trent, so I sat with him until we were told what to do. A lady came out and had us sign a sheet with our contact information and later told us to follow her. The group of volunteers followed her across the street and through some several paths in the different location. Eventually, we were shown a large area that contained a variety of plants and flowers. More importantly, on the path of the large area were large weeds that were erupting from the rocky trail. The woman gave us a pot/bucket and asked us to put our gloves on if we wanted to. Also, if someone didn’t have gloves, she had extra pairs so that was very kind of her. Anyways, she asked us to pull out the weeds and basically anything that was green from the path. It was a fairly simple task but quite tedious on your back and legs if you weren’t sitting down on the path. After three hours, she collected all of our buckets and thanked us for our volunteering and led us back to the original location in which we met.

The location where we were pulling weeds, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

WHEN

SUMMARY

In volunteering with Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, I was fortunate enough to contribute a helping hand to such a beautiful estate. This location has been a hotspot for many photoshoots in my family and being able to go back there and give back to the same place that housed many of my sister’s wonderful photos is pretty surreal. The opportunity was easily accessible through their website and second party website HandsOn Miami. Both aided in me finding this opportunity and overall contributed to finding more information on volunteering. The next time I decide to volunteer, I will definitely use that website for my future volunteer endeavors.

The actual experience of volunteering with Vizcaya wasn’t bad at all. I sat down with a bucket that they had given me, instructed to pull out anything that was green in the cobblestone path. It was a fairly simple task, and I did it with ease. While I was doing this some of the other volunteers were making conversation, so it passed the time even quicker. It was a fun and easy time and was probably the easiest volunteering opportunity I have ever done. I’m beyond glad I got to help out, even if it was simply just removing weeds in a path. I would strongly recommend anyone to volunteer with Vizcaya in the future.

Luis Gutierrez: Who Art Miami, Spring 2021

“Look, everything is an art, even if it is just sweeping the floor”-Randy Burman

STUDENT BIO

Luis Gutierrez is currently a sophomore studying English at Florida International University. He loves to watch movies, listen to old music, and play beach volleyball with his friends. He also enjoys writing and collecting vinyl records.

BIOGRAPHY

Photo taken by Voyager Magazine

Randy Burman is a local Miami artist who brings movements such as conceptuality and performance art to his art pieces. He also dabbles in graphic design and has a plethora of references to support it. His story began in 1947 in Baltimore, where he grew up surrounded by numerous amount of influences, one being the Hebrew parochial school he attended when he younger. This school made him rethink his artistic abilities and unfortunately left a grave impact on his perspective on schools in general because in 1968, he left the Maryland Institute College of Art to produce and attend to more meaningful things in his life.

            One person who played a role in being a significant influence in Randy becoming an artist was a man by the name of Ruben Kramer. Ruben was a Baltimore pen and ink artist his studio was the first art studio Randy had attended. Randy visited him shortly after graduating high school in 1965 and was super impressed by his studio, mainly because it had a Northern light window. Seeing his studio and having those artistic conversations with him greatly impacted Randy, so much that he saw himself in his own studio later in the future.

Randy showing me the drawing Ruben Kramer had made of him, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

PERSONAL IDENTITY

One personal experience that Randy mentioned that left a significant impact on his road to becoming an artist occurred when he was a young boy in Baltimore.

“We (his family and him) lived in a suburban type neighborhood and my parents’ bedroom faced the street. And looking out from that window, I would see all these 50s cars on the street. Also, I lived near a dealership and I was able to see the new cars that would come out in September before anyone else. Nothing could match that feeling. It was like orgasmic to me”

With viewing these beautiful cars, both parked on the street near his house and in the car dealer blocks away, Randy was inspired by their shape and design so much that he began to illustrate them. He used typewriter paper and color pencils to sketch out the profile of the cars and then tape them up on his bedroom wall. These illustrations eventually became a grid on his wall with more than 30 of them put up and every year he would update the designs of his cars. Randy also compared his actions to that of a young boy in the prehistoric age drawing buffalos in a cave.

12-year-old Randy made a breakthrough discovery with the comparison of himself to young caveman. He reflected and saw that neither his brothers nor his friends were doing the same illustrations as him and he quickly realized that he was different from the rest. Randy found out that he had a specific personality type and that there was one word that can describe what that was: artist.

CULTURAL IDENTITY

Randy mentioned that cultural and national identity is important to him in his interview, but it is also significantly evident that this was true through his artwork. He also elaborated on how some of his artworks provoke a political message and identity. One installation named “Dance to Fascism” directly compares former President Trump’s rally to a rally for Hitler and the Nazis. Here, he had rows of chairs set up with torches next to them and he also constructed banners, stickers, hats, and other objects that had the phrase “LIES ARE TRUTH”.

“I basically made a miniature MAGA rally with a video being played in the center piece. I recorded some of the outrageous comments that people who attended those rallies would say like ‘Lock him up’ and other quotes and I put them on some of my old iPhones. And with those, I taped them to the bottom of chairs to make it sound like a rally. I also put the four T’s together to get a little swastika looking thing. I didn’t feel like I wanted to do this art piece, but I felt compelled to face this reality that was going on and have other people face it with me”.

Some artistic movements that Randy identifies with are conceptuality and performance art. Conceptual art is “art for which the idea (or concept) behind the work is more important than the finished art object” (Tate).  His artwork holds a deeper meaning and more often than not, is supposed to give a message. It is not the actual art piece or installation that is sought upon but rather the symbolism for the bigger picture that it portrays. Randy has also explored performance art with several exhibitions that engages the audience into the artwork and through online videos. Both of these artistic movements showcase Randy’s ideas, emotion, and effort seamlessly.

Randy showcasing one of the buttons that were in his installation “Dance to Fascism”, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

SUBJECT OF ARTWORK

The many art pieces produced by Randy don’t all have one singular meaning. He produces each art piece as a representation of something bigger and they are always as unique in meaning as the next one. Each symbolize and produce a different vision in which Randy wants to convey. Some are for political statements while others are for the spreading awareness of certain topics and ideas such as poetry.

One of his more recent works is titled ‘Burying Racist Presidents’ and is a video that goes into depth into our nation’s long line of presidents. In this video, Randy displays busts of the heads of American presidents being buried into the ground as soil is poured over them. Along with this display, a narrator speaks on behalf of each president named and lists the forgotten, looked over details of our leaders such as their racist beliefs.

In this artwork and in many others, Randy successfully provides a story and meaning to his audience. Whether the audience agrees or disagrees, he clearly shows his message through beautiful, creative, and original means.

FORMAL ELEMENTS OF ARTWORK

Though some artists are either strictly spontaneous or strictly calculated, Randy has proved to be a bit of both. In one of his creations, known as ‘Assemblages’, he tells the tale of pure spontaneous creativity working at its best.

 “With some studio searches, occasional dumpster dives, and some Home Depot trips, I collected random objects and laid them out in my studio with absolutely no plan. With no preconceived idea, let’s try to see what’s there. Maybe this goes with this. Or this attaches to this. And in each case, it was telling a metaphysical story and that was exactly was I was looking for”.

My personal favorite from ‘Assemblages’ is a piece known as “Ivan” in which depicts the face of a man constructed from several random objects such as a bottle tap, a computer piece, and the straws from a broom.

A great example of Randy being a calculated artist as well is the installation known as “Vent-o-matic”. Here, he dives into a political statement about both current and past politicians. In this installation, there are several hand painted portraits of these politicians on a fence and a long table presented in front of them. On this long table, there are dozens of shoes that are encouraged by the public to be thrown at these portraits. And to Randy’s surprise, these shoes didn’t need encouragement to be thrown and that this “venting” was a mutual feeling for many Americans.

In this art piece, Randy did a bit of research and found that the bottom of the shoe was a sign of disrespect that can be traced all the way back to Alexander the Great. Back then, there was a bust of his face before the temple steps and people would walk over his face both physically and figuratively. And so, these shoes that were being thrown would serve as a symbol for the public to display their feelings towards politicians. Also, Randy needed to calculate the distance of the installation in regard to the fence that contained the portraits and where the public was able to throw the shoes. He needed to do this because the shoes might bounce off and ricochet back to the public. With both calculated and spontaneous methods, Randy proved to incorporate both styles into his different pieces.

Here is Randy showing me one of the portraits that were on display in the “Vent-o-Matic”, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

EXHIBITION AND PROJECT HISTORY

Randy’s artwork has been displayed in countless locations, both as permanent and temporary exhibitions. From the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University to the Art Gallery in Palm Beach College, there were and still are many opportunities to see his work.

One particular experience Randy had at Art Basel in Miami Beach one year influenced one of his works and ultimately shined light into an issue with people who attend Art Basel.

“I believe you cannot to Art Basel all in one day. I just can’t. And so I noticed that people were looking at the art works for like three seconds and then moving on to the next one. I’m thinking that each of these artists that have their art displayed probably put countless hours into their work just to have it seen for three seconds by an individual. Three seconds of appreciation isn’t enough so that’s when I had the idea of an artwork that would engage people in a way that was more than just looking”.

This idea for an artwork was titled ‘Art of Destruction’ which involved three shredders placed on a table and across from them is another table that contained hundreds of small prints. And On these prints were famous paintings and artists from history such as Van Gogh and the Mona Lisa. Finally, on the back wall was a luminated sign that read the words, “Old art must die in order for new art to be born”. People who walked into the exhibit would be encouraged to pick one of the prints up and place them in the shredder. Randy mentioned that he would ask some of the participants why they chose those artists or artworks and the answers he received were quite humorous. One participant said that they chose the Mona Lisa because she made the participant wait hours in a line to see her.

This art piece really challenged viewers to be engaged and be a part of the art instead of just viewing it. Especially just viewing it for only three seconds. It serves as a representation to take in the art when you can and really dissect it with both your eyes and mind.

‘Art of Destruction’, photo taken from randyburman.com

STUDENT PERSPECTIVE

I had the wonderful privilege of not only interviewing a great artist, but also a great man. Randy was very easy to talk to and answered my questions with more than enough responses. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the experiences that shaped him into becoming an artist and the more recent ones regarding his artwork. He made me laugh on numerous occasions during the interview and was superb all around. I would absolutely enjoy working and talking with him again.

One of the main takeaways that I received through this interaction was that all art has meaning. I know many believe that some art is created with no purpose or meaning, but I truly believe this to be untrue. Whether the artist intentionally put a meaning or not, every piece of art has a story attached to it and a purpose for it being written. From the small scribble in a notebook to the Mona Lisa, every piece of art has one. And I think that is incredibly extraordinary to ponder on.

Randy and Luis, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

CITATIONS

Tate. “Conceptual Art – Art Term.” Tate, www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/c/conceptual-art.

Randy Burman. randyburman.com/.

Gutierrez, Luis, director. Interview with Randy Burman. Zoom, 21 Apr. 2021.

Stories, Local. “Meet Randy Burman, Artist and Cultural Interventionist in North Miami.” Voyage MIA Magazine | Miami City Guide, 9 Aug. 2018, voyagemia.com/interview/meet-randy-burman-randy-burman-artist-cultural-interventionist-north-miami/.

Luis Gutierrez: Miami Service 2020

The Deering Estate

Student Bio

Luis moments before meeting his prom date, 2019

Luis Gutierrez is currently a sophomore studying English at Florida International University. He loves to watch movies, listen to old music, and play beach volleyball with his friends. He also enjoys writing and collecting vinyl records.

Who

I was lucky enough to volunteer at the Deering Estate. This institution is a historical site that is a common destination for tourists and locals for a variety of events, classes, and tours year-round. Their estate contains two historical buildings that were built by Charles Deering and the Richmond family in the early 1900’s. It also contains hiking trails that are open to the public and transport you into what Miami looked like in the past. Whether you are interested in their history or the scenery, the Deering Estate is a great place to visit and volunteer at.

Entrance of Deering Estate, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Why

         I selected this particular volunteer opportunity because I had a great experience in our first in person class with Professor Bailey. The actual estate is beautiful and the people that work the grounds seemed like genuine employees that care about the estate and its significance. It doesn’t relate to my major exactly, with my major being English, but it did provide an opportunity that was quite exciting and fun to be a part of. I had reached out to them first but was scared they wouldn’t accept my volunteer request, so I reached out to other establishments as well. When I heard back from them super-fast, I was both relieved and excited to be a part of the activity I signed up for.

How

         I connected with this opportunity through their website. I saw that there were many volunteer options that I knew I had to email them directly for more information. Once I emailed them, I heard back from them the following day about all their opportunities with more information regarding them along a few papers I needed to sign. After sending back the papers I signed and the acceptance of one of the volunteer opportunities, I heard back from them that they were pleased to have me on board immediately.

Where & What

         I was assigned to check people in and physically keep track of how many people were walking through the gates. I was given two clickers on December 4 and was told click one if the person was 4 and younger and to click the other if they were older than 4 but younger that 16. I did this activity while standing and greeting the people who were entering for 5 hours. After all the people were checked in and began to leave, I was instructed to pass out a flyer that promoted the Deering Estate and its events for the upcoming year to the leaving guests. Before I was assigned at this post, I was told I could walk around the estate and go through the houses before the people began to walk in. This allowed me to see everything that was decorated and prepared for the people entering.

            On December 12, I was assigned the same task but instead of having two clickers, I had three. The other clicker was to count people who were older than 16. I was also instructed to tell the people coming in to follow the main path and check in into the booth at the front. I did this also for 5 hours, even when it began to pour with rain for 2 of the hours.

Christmas decorations in one of the rooms, 2020

When

Summary

Overall, I am really thankful for both of these opportunities to volunteer and help out with the Deering Estate. I had a lot of fun which was surprising because I thought it wasn’t going to be much but it ended up being something really grand. I also had some great company the whole time standing and helping out so that was a great plus. I met a lot of genuine people such as Vanessa and Emily that really care about all of the guests, the employees, and the volunteers.  

Even though the task was more of a repetitive one rather than one I would learn from, I still very much enjoyed doing it. Both of these opportunities also were Christmas themed and that really put me into the holiday spirit.

More Christmas decorations in one of the rooms, 2020

This volunteer opportunity also made me realize how much society thrives off of human interactions and tradition. This tradition of meeting Santa and siting on his lap is something that happens every year to children. Even though COVID is still around and is still a threat, families around Miami still are pushing to keep tradition and make sure that their children are having a childhood that they would remember and cherish when they look back. The human interaction and coming together for the holidays is one that shouldn’t be frowned upon even through the times that we are living in currently. Though I mentioned earlier that this task didn’t really have a learning opportunity and was rather a busy task, I realize that there was a time for reflection and acknowledgment that this time of the season should be recognized and encouraged no matter what. It makes me smile knowing that institutions such as Deering Estate are following regulations and still pushing the envelope on making these events happen for both children and adults. Seeing the children walk in super happy and energetic and excited to meet the real Santa made me realize that the holiday spirit can be crushed by a disease. As long as people are coming together and having a good time with friends and family, there is nothing that can bring down the holiday spirit. This realization made me jump up in joy and blast Christmas music on the way home after volunteering with the Deering Estate. The volunteer opportunity brought me into the Christmas spirit and raised some big ideas without me even knowing when I initially emailed them about my interest. I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering here and I would volunteer here again in a heartbeat.

Luis Gutierrez: ASC See Miami Fall 2020

Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College

Student Bio

Luis moments before meeting his prom date, 2019

Luis Gutierrez is currently a sophomore studying English at Florida International University. He loves to watch movies, listen to old music, and play beach volleyball with his friends. He also enjoys writing and collecting vinyl records.

Geography

The Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College is located at 600 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida. It contributes to the many institutions and other places in the heart of Downtown Miami. Two blocks from its doors is the bay and with that comes the famous Bayside Marketplace and its Observation Ferris Wheel. The parking is extremely slim and is hard to find around the actual building but instead it is found in nearby lots and garages that charge by the hour, and in my case 5$ an hour. The actual building can be seen from a mile away and easily stands out from its surrounding buildings with its culmination of different architectural designs and overall height.

History

One of the displays showcasing the history of the building, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

The history of this building and museum goes all the way back to 1925, the year it was initially constructed for the Miami Daily News. Shortly after, it was leased by the U.S. government and became known as the Freedom Tower which served as a reception center for Cuban refugees in the early 60’s and 70’s. It became a monument and a “lighthouse” for refugees that were leaving the communist rule of dictator Fidel Castro. Similar to New York’s Ellis Island, the Freedom Tower became home to many Cubans and to this day still serves as a representation of that story of a Cuban exodus.

“El Refugio” or “The Refuge” became a common nickname made for the building and it fits very well. Cubans that were seeking refuge here found healthcare, education, housing, and so much more. The Freedom Tower became a “one stop” for these refuges but when the government found out that there were a lot more Cubans walking in than they had expected, they knew the building needed some advancements. This is when the different number of floors expanded and became other necessities such as a dental clinic and a record center.

Another image displaying the Cuban refugees in the Freedom Tower

In 1974, the United States government decided to close the Freedom Tower and two years later was purchased by a lawyer from New York. The ownership for the next two decades is transferred through many people and companies but in 2004, it is sold to the Pedro Martin Family. This family brought back this significant building back up with donations and repairs and four years later receives the long-awaited designation of “National historic Landmark”. Miami Dade College then establishes an exhibition space on the second floor and hosts many operations tied with the Miami International Film Festival and the Live Arts. Shortly after, it opens the Cuban Diaspora Cultural Legacy Gallery and the Cuban Exile Experience in 2014. Today, it still represents the struggle the Cubans went through in the 60’s and 70’s and how this building served as a beacon for them in their time of need through its current exhibits.

Mission

On their website it displays that their mission “is to provide open, critical, and collaborative frameworks for artistic experimentation and interdisciplinary risk-taking that explores the intersections of art, design, and other art forms with cultural action. MOAD advances Miami Dade College’s core values, contributing to the intellectual life of the college, engaging students and audiences from the community and the world beyond”.

This mission statement describes how the MOAD focuses on the importance and variety of elements that comes with all forms of art and design. It then ties its own college into producing fundamental and significant values that necessary for both their students and appreciators of the arts.

Access

The museum is open from 1-6 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday. It is also open 1-8 p.m. on Thursdays.

For Admission:

-$12 general

-$8 senior and military

-$5 students

-Free for children under 12, MDC students, faculty, and staff

Collection

The Kislak Center: Jai and his Devotion to the History and Cultures of the Early Americas

Entrance to the gallery of the Kislak Center

One of the two permanent exhibits in the Museum of Art and Design is the Kislak Center. This exhibit explorers the different perspectives, processes, and expansions that our country went through and the artifacts that came with it. This exhibit goes hand in hand with the other Kislak exhibit in Washington, D.C. that also explores these same ideas.

Treasures of the Kislak Center

Throughout the exhibit, there are many artifacts that symbolize different cultural points and religious beliefs. In the picture above, we are shown a handful of the treasures that are tied with the history of Mayan mythology. The plate, bowl, and vase all have drawings on them that represent stories, cultural personalities, and other items that the Mayans thought were significant such as their crops. The small figurine in the middle, my favorite of the four treasures, were typically found in tombs of people that had a higher social class. Its hunchback symbolizes a ties with the supernatural rheum because in their culture, someone who has a hunchback has spiritual powers.

Cuban Cultural Legacy Gallery: Josefina and Her Photos of a Transforming Miami

Entrance to the Cuban Cultural Legacy Gallery

In this gallery, Josefina explores the history of Miami around the same time the Freedom Tower became a refuge for Cuban immigrants escaping Fidel Castro regime. She was a documentarian in Cuba in the 1940’s and later when she was exiled in the 1970’s, Josefina grew to continue exploring the life and impact Cubans have in Miami through photography. In this small room, there are many different framed photographs of different locations around Miami. Some locations are well known and renowned while others are just a typical neighborhood or store that you would see in that time period. These photos bring into light the impact Cubans had in Miami and how quickly they would transform this city forever with their amazing culture.

Photo of La Carreta in 1976, taken by Josefina

This photo is my favorite of the gallery and showcases the famous Cuban restaurant of La Carreta on 8th street in 1976. Though there are other restaurants highlighted in this gallery as well, this one in particular resonates with me due to how many times I have been to that restaurant with my grandparents who were Cuban immigrants. This photo highlights the Cuban culture’s expansion in Miami and the speed at which it expanded.

Exhibitions

The Body Electric

Entrance to the Body Electric exhibit

The only current exhibit that is being showcased in The Body Electric which presents different forms of artwork, media, and technology to express controversial topics in our society and ultimately our understanding of them. Through the wide variety of art in this exhibit, people are shown a new lens into how technology is changing our identity, body, and everyday life, whether we like it or not.

Photo of “Corrections” by Vito Acconci

One of the art pieces displayed in the exhibit is “Corrections” by Vito Acconci. It displays a man brushing a lit match around the back of his neck and upper back. The video continues on a loop until the man shakes the lit match, extinguishing it. Vito’s artwork in the 70’s typically involved body-based performances such as this one that were vastly open to interpretation by its audience.

Special Programs

Free Day & Free Family Program

This sponsored event happens every last Sunday of every month and includes free admission for everyone. It involves hours of fun activities that push you and your friends and family to create your very own art works.

Critical Conversations

This program involves discussing important topics that dwell in visual and art design. They offer a mailing list that invites individuals to these conversation circles.

Visitor

Amanda Linares, Miami Resident and Miami Dade College Student

What made you come to the museum today? Have you been here before?

  • I was recommended to come to this museum through a friend because she knows I love history and art. Overall, I enjoy visiting establishments and museums that are similar to this one. I have not been to this museum before but I am enjoying it thus far.

What has been your favorite piece of artwork here in the museum?

  • My favorite is the “Constructing Roberta Breitmore” in the exhibit on the second floor. I read about it afterwards and it talks about how a performance artist adapted this role for four years and then created this artwork in the 70’s. I love the story behind it but I really love the actual art of it.

Would you consider yourself an art person?

  • I would indeed consider myself an art person because I really love exploring all forms of art and I am an art major at Miami Dade College, so it really consumes my life with no problem.

If you were to alter something about anything in the museum, what would you alter?

  • I would include more exhibits and maybe make it more people friendly so that people aren’t confused on where to go in this exhibit in particular.

Would you come back to this museum again?

  • Yes! Absolutely! I love seeing the exhibition and I heard there are different ones every couple of months so I’m looking forward to the next one!

Portrait

David Carl, Gallery Assistant at the Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College

What made you start working here? How long have you been working here?

  • I have been working here for 3 years and I was on a work study here before COVID. When they opened back up in October, I applied as a gallery assistant because I love this museum and I got it. 3 years ago, I was looking for a job because it was my first semester in Miami Dade and I found this opportunity and I knew it was for me because of how easy and relaxing it is.

What is your favorite thing about the museum?

  •  My favorite thing about the museum is probably the people. My other coworkers are like my second family and they always have my back for anything. Also, the people that walk into the museum are always polite and sometimes have really cool stories relating to the exhibits and galleries.

What is your favorite artwork in the museum?

  • There was an exhibit here before that was called the City of People and it talked about how our society functions as a whole. It also talked about transportation and how it evolved over time which I thought was really cool.

Has there been any changes to the museum due to COVID?

  • Yeah, so there is now plexi glass in the front when you walk in to check in and obviously there are hand sanitizer stations, social distancing, and other basic regulations that we have to follow now. The amount of people has pretty much stayed the same even with COVID; its hard to tell because our numbers are pretty random for the days.

What is your least favorite part about working here?

  • I ultimately have no dislike or least favorite parts about working here to be honest. I plan on staying here as long as I can because I love everything about my job thankfully.

Summary

The Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College is truly something extraordinary. The history tied to the actual building is expressed beautifully through a walkthrough of the timeline on the first floor. The Cuban Cultural Legacy Gallery is simple yet so effective with its assortment of photographs that transport you to that era of transformation for Miami. The Kislak Center also transports the audience to a point in time that gives us a point of view in life back then. The culture, religion, and way of life in the early Americas are displayed through an assortment of presentations, art, and treasures.

On the second floor is the The Body Electric exhibit that showcases how technology is reshaping the human condition and everything that comes along with being a human. The art work that is displayed here is really different from anything I have seen and is ultimately quite disturbing. I feel like the disturbing factor goes hand in hand with what the exhibit’s message is and really tells the public what is happening to us through raw and unsettling images.

Overall, I really enjoyed visiting the museum and I loved reading about the history of it. I am a Cuban American and my parents had to leave the communist country of Cuba to find a better life here in Miami. Looking at all the images and historically significant photos really resonated with me and made me look back at how much my parents sacrificed to live here. I didn’t find anything in the museum that I did not like or would change so I highly recommend this establishment to any museum goer, Cuban American, or lover of history and the arts.

Source

The Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College Website

http://www.mdcmoad.org/explore/events.aspx

Luis Gutierrez: Miami as Text 2020-2021

Luis moments before meeting his prom date, 2019

Luis Gutierrez is currently a sophomore studying English at Florida International University. He loves to watch movies, listen to old music, and play beach volleyball with his friends. He also enjoys writing and collecting vinyl records.

Deering as Text

“Flight Into Egypt” photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“Shining Glass from the Heavens”

By Luis Gutierrez of FIU at The Deering Estate, 14 September 2020

The Deering Estate located in Miami, Florida is home to many works of art and historical artifacts. One of the works of art that can be seen here is the “Flight Into Egypt” stained glass panel. It shows Mary, Joseph, and an infant Jesus on their way to Egypt. Though Joseph appears to be breakdancing, this work of art is ultimately timeless and beautifully colorized. This panel is one of two that were lost after the death of Charles Deering but thankfully, they were both found, restored, and are now up for display at the Deering Estate. The restoration process was expensive and needed skilled artisans to handle and recreate the beautiful artwork of that time. Though we don’t know the exact date it was created, historians believe this and other religious stained glass panels can date back to around 1150 and 1500.

Before entering this particular room which houses the stained glass panels, Professor Bailey gave a short synopsis of how tragic and unbearable life was during the medieval era. He then began to say that glimpses of God were one of the only things that kept people going at the time and that this was one of those glimpses. Professor Bailey really hyped up what we were about to see, and might I say that this “glimpse”, lived up to that hype.

I am a Catholic who used to attend Church fairly often prior to entering high school. I would attend this particular church from my middle school, St.Agatha, here in Miami that also incorporated stained glass artwork. All around the top of the church was the story of Jesus’ life depicted through colorized glass that would shine different colors on the people in the church when the sun would pass through. I used to be a very religious person and one of the reasons I would love to attend this specific church was because of the stained glass that would shine on me. Especially during the homily or the slower parts of mass, I would look up and see the story of this particular man that changed the world forever. The stained glass in my church and the ones in Deering State both had emotional and spiritual connections to me that made me look back at my life as a Catholic. These panels also give hope to those who see them especially in times of despair such as the medieval period and the times we are living in today.

The Deering Estate transports you back through history with its historical, religious, and lively artifacts and artwork that gives you a quick sight into life in the past, even if this life had a breakdancing Joseph.

Work Cited

Kersten, S. (2019, October 19). Pre-17th Century stained glass panels restored for display at Deering Estate. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from https://communitynewspapers.com/featured/pre-17th-century-stained-glass-panels-restored-for-display-at-deering-estate/

South Beach as Text

Monument of Barbara Baer Capitman, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The First Hero in the Fight for Design Preservation in South Florida”

By Luis Gutierrez of FIU at South Beach, 27 September 2020

If you walk along Ocean Drive in Miami, Florida, you will find a wide variety of buildings that include hotels, restaurants, and spots for locals to hang out. But if you just beyond the ordinary, there are many buildings that stick out from the other ones that appear to be more modern, specifically sky rises. These buildings contain historical, architectural, and design qualities that make them seem like they belong in a time capsule. Without the help of an activist by the name of Barbara Baer Capitman, these buildings, which many tourists and locals love today, would seize to exist.

Barbara fought for the preservation of these structures and the respect of the local residents who had low-income by founding the first Miami Design Preservation League in 1977. With this league incorporated, a large portion of the Art Deco district was placed in the National Register of Historic Places. However, with many successes in preservation, some buildings couldn’t be saved and were unfortunately demolished such as the Boulevard Hotel and the New Yorker Hotel. Despite this tragedy, Barbara kept at it, raising awareness for the preservation of these structures through many events nation wide. She eventually wrote a book “Deco Delights: Preserving the Beauty and Joy of Miami Beach Architecture”, where she documented her cross-country adventures she experienced along the way.

       Though briefly mentioned in Professor Bailey’s lecture, Barbara’s efforts continued to resonate with me after class. Here was this person who fought for something that she really cared about and actually made a difference in her community. This idea of fighting and creating a meaningful impact was something that stood out to me because, in my opinion, it is something that should be encouraged nowadays. This also stood out to me because leaving an impact on the world and especially my community is something I constantly think about and strive to achieve in life.

Dallas. (2014, September 03). Barbara Baer Capitman: South Beach’s Art Deco Hero: National Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved September 28, 2020, from https://savingplaces.org/stories/barbara-baer-capitman-south-beach-art-deco-hero

Bakehouse as Text

Art work in progress, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“Saving the Reef Through Art”

By Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Bakehouse Art Complex, 11 October 2020

When art is mentioned in conversation, some people immediately think of it as forms of entertainment and passion. Though this is a very true description of art, many tend to forget its special ability of promotion and encouragement, especially for important matters that tend to be forgotten. One important matter that needs awareness and assistance is the destruction of the coral reefs.

The artwork shown above, when finished, will soon depict a large, corroded piece of a coral reef. This is done by having several workshops where people can mold different shapes of coral in different colors. After the molds are made, they are placed onto large wooden ramps covered in wire to hold the clay in place. Once the entire ramp is covered, the clay will harden and crack, giving the impression of a coral reef. Personally, I had a ton of fun molding the different coral and placing them in strategic spots on the ramp. I highly recommend this to anyone who has a couple hours free out of their day because it is a unique experience to be a part of an art piece that will have such an impact in the awareness of such an important topic.

This act of applying art to have a bigger picture and to make people think about their choices and their surroundings is extremely interesting. Art should be applied like this to many controversial and meaningful topics that are displayed in our modern society for the public to be aware of what is happening in our world. This application of art truly brings out people’s “thinking caps”, in this case, simply by having them see a depiction of a large coral reef. After the thought and understanding is implanted in their head after it was shown to them through a form of art, the people are one step closer to believing that they can enact a change for the better.  

Rubell as Text

Keith Haring’s artworks in Rubell Museum, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“Artwork That Speaks Volumes”

By: Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Rubell Museum, 25 October 2020

The Rubell Museum houses many great artworks from different eras and from all around the world. Specifically, the museum holds a small gallery containing a variety of different pieces done by the famous American artist Keith Haring. His art, along with the other artworks in the museum, has a story and meaning behind it that can only be found through self-reflection, research, and perspective. Even art pieces such as the vacuum on display in one of the galleries has a deeper connotation behind it and I find that to be extremely intriguing. Such a simple piece of art containing a deeper meaning behind it is very interesting and is one of the reasons I had so much fun visiting this museum with my class.

This particular artwork done by Haring is one of my favorites of his. It contains two stick figures that seem to be dancing in front of a large heart. One of the reasons I really like this artwork is because of how simple it is yet it still catches the human eye like any other painting. It is untitled and was painted with acrylics on vinyl in 1982 during the AIDS pandemic. His art depicts lovers intertwined with the massive heart that connects them both. This art piece is a great representation and example of how most art has either a story behind it or a deeper meaning behind what the viewer is shown.

Artwork like Keith’s shows how art can enlighten others about any topic whatsoever. Whether it’s history, a story, or just a joke, art is a form of media that connects the viewers with the artist no matter the setting or time period. If a viewer sees a piece of art, they are forever connected with the artist’s story, portrayal, and livelihood. I think that this connection is very cool and is something that everyone should experience and be aware of the next time they see a piece of art.

Deering Hike as Text

Large tree that rests above burial grounds, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The Lives of the Past Continue to Thrive”

By: Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Deering Estate, 6 November 2020

The Deering Estate located in Miami, Florida provides an amazing glimpse into the past through its architecture and wildlife. Specifically, it is home to the Cutler Burial Mound which is one of the few burial mounds in Miami. In the picture above, a massive tree lies above this burial mound which houses more than 10 burials.

In my class, we hiked a few miles around Deering Estate and saw many astounding sights from a demolished plane to a well that was built by the Free Masons. The most astounding sight was the tree shown above but its history is even more astounding. What lies below are several burial mounds that are associated with the Tequesta peoples from around 200 BCE. Thankfully, this burial mound is now protected by the Deering Estate and houses a massive tree that can be seen from miles away.

Though burial mounds signify death, this one in particular actually signifies both life and death. From the death of the Tequesta people sprouts new life through this tree that produces a home for many wildlife. This symbolism can be seen in many things that through death, something lively and beautiful can be a result and actually sprout from it.

Downtown as Text

The “William English Slave Plantation Longhouse“, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The Oldest House in Dade”

By: Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Downtown, Miami, Florida, 6 December 2020

The house shown above may look like any other historical house that someone may come across but with this particular structure, there is a massive amount of history and significance that ties along with it. The little cabin was built by a man named William Wagner who then lived there with his family for many years. After it was created, the house became a meeting point for church services in the community and travelers who were catholic until an actual church was built nearby later on. The house is very significant but the people that lived in it are held to contain even more significance.

            The Wagner parents were an interracial marriage with William being a German immigrant and Eveline a Creole from Haiti. Their marriage is seen to be revolutionary especially since it was done here in Miami at around the 1850’s, where slavery was soon to be abolished. Another interesting fact was that the Wagner’s were very close with the local Seminoles in the area. They were so friendly to each other that the Wagner’s typically had dinner with them and William would offer large amounts of clothing to the Seminoles in exchange for friendship.

            This house, the family that lived in it, and the different amount of people that went to visit are a prime example of the life that was in Miami in the 1850’s. This shows us a part of history, both in Miami and in our country, and how important it is to reflect on it. Structures like these preserved and sometimes restored act like a beacon in our community and county. They serve as monuments to the people and events of the past. They also serve as a constant reminder for what our community has to strive for everyday: to be better.

Everglades as Text

PIcture from the Everglades, taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The Peace Found in the Everglades”

By: Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Everglades National Park, 25 January 2021

The Everglades National Park is a wonderful establishment that is home to many forms of wildlife. Whether you are from Florida or another state, walking through this location is truly a remarkable experience and should be done at least once in every human’s lifetime. I was lucky enough to embark on this journey with my class at Florida International University. At first I was terrified, not knowing what I was really getting into but excited to do something different to the regular Zoom classes I had the previous week. I was overall glad I had the opportunity to have this experience of learning and self-reflection.

Throughout the journey of walking with the Park Ranger, our class talked about an assortment of topics ranging from the tress standing tall above us to the small little fish swimming under us. The white Cyprus trees are extremely tall and begin to get denser the deeper we walked into it. The wildlife that surrounds the trees and us were so noticeable and seemed to be straight out of a mosaic painting. Every small step and the side chatter amongst ourselves was the only noises we heard and it was quite interesting to reflect on it after having that minute of silence with the group. That moment of silence to only hear a handful of birds and other animals was probably my favorite part of the whole trip.

Though we didn’t talk about the conflicting issue of politicians wanting to drain the swamp, I believed that before and after walking through the Everglades, that draining the swamp is a terrible idea. The amount of wildlife there that depend on the swamp and how it will overall affect the ecosystem is too great of a consequence. Though mosquitos rely on the swamp as well, the other factors that are connected to the swamp are far more important. Walking through the everglades made me remember why this location is so sacred and why people are fighting for it.

Bill Baggs as Text

Walkway leading up to the Lighthouse, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The History that Resides in Key Biscayne”

By: Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Key Biscayne, 14 February 2021

Key Biscayne, Florida is home to many wildlife and artifacts of history. Though it has beautiful beaches and other different locations to relax in, Key Biscayne used to be a ground that would suffer many attacks both by nature and by man, especially around the Cape Florida Lighthouse that is seen in the photo above. Even from suffering from a dramatic history, this landmark still stands today, only after a handful of physical adjustments over the years.

The worst of the attacks that affected the lighthouse was the Seminole attacks. Two European/American settlers, Thompson and Carter, took precaution from these attacks and fled into the lighthouse. Unfortunately, they didn’t last long because of the spears and arrows that were being shot at them and the smoke that engulfed the lighthouse from the fire that started below. Carter didn’t survive but Thompson made it out due to the Seminoles thinking that they both had died up there. After a couple days, some approaching ships had caught their attention by Thompson on the lighthouse and safely brought him down with a large rope. They then aided him immediately and took him to a hospital to have some treatment. This attack, along with some from the Civil War and a handful of hurricanes, made this landmark a significant part of Florida’s history.

Cape Florida Lighthouse serves as a beacon both literally and figuratively. It gives us an insight into how life was back then and how far we have come as a community in Florida and in the world. If the settlers that lived here all those hundereds of years ago knew that there community would soon become a diverse colony full of all races and religious people, they would be flabbergasted. This lighthouse serves as a reminder that we as a community must only keep moving forward and to the look to the past for notes on what worked and what didn’t.

River of Grass as Text

Missile in the HM69 Nike Missile Base, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The Missiles That Would Affect Millions”

By: Luis Gutierrez of FIU at the Everglades, 1 March 2020

The Everglades located in Miami, Florida contains many astonishing things to look at and experience. One of these things is located further inside the Everglades and can easily be seen from an airplane. The HM69 Nike Missile Base is a historical site that transports its visitors to a significant time period in our nation’s history. This base was constructed in the early 60’s, shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was made for protection from any possible attack from either the Soviets or any other prominent danger that was on the horizon. The missiles in the base were used as anti-aircraft defenses to serve as a barrier for the people of the U.S.A. Fortunately, none were used and were deactivated; one can be seen on display in the historical site with tons of information regarding the step-by-step process in making one.

This base now serves as a historical site for visitors to come and see. Unfortunately, COVID has decreased the number of visitors in the actual site, but they are still open for public viewing! With this site, visitors have the opportunity to take a look at our nation’s past, at what we did right and what we did wrong. It also serves as a reminder to what our country almost sent off and had to use. The thought of someone in command being in charge of affecting millions of lives with the push of a button still baffles me to this day.

Though this site transports us into the past with significant items used during that time, it actually can make you look at how our nation is right now, and the path we are on for the future. From the past, we can learn and analyze what they experienced and make sure these scary times don’t come again. Unfortunately, the threat of nuclear attack from foreign nations is still in the air. So, by visiting this site, you may see that history does in fact repeat sometimes for the worse.

Frost as Text

“Tesoro” exhibit, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“All of Art Sparks Controversy”

By: Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum is home to many extravagant paintings and sculpture from a number of decades. One exhibit, located on the second floor of the building, showcases a little sprinkle of art that can be seen in a variety of cultures. This showcase, though it is absolutely stunning to look at and walk through, brought up the controversial topic of if it was being offensive in how it was presented. And if this offense is related to the “cancel culture” controversy that is so widely seen nowadays.

The “Tesoro” exhibit contains Mirror; Mirror, Procession; Cabinet of Curiosities and several more that provide a glimpse of the different artwork over time throughout many different cultures. The picture above shows one of the displays in the exhibit that are clearly seen to be masks of different sizes and shapes. They are hung on a wall, close together, behind an elaborate set of designs. In my opinion, the designs behind the masks seem half-fast and lazy and really don’t go well with the masks that are hung.

The masks and ceramics in the exhibit are displayed nicely throughout the room but can also be seen to be a sign of disrespect for the culture. The masks on the wall, for example, can be seen to have one mask more important than another because it is higher or more in frame with the rest of them. This also goes with a display of statues and that the one that is taller or standing behind them, signifies that it is more important than the others. This obviously wasn’t the purpose of the art curator in any way but the public and people from that culture can take offense and see it differently. But isn’t that how art is supposed to be looked at? In any interpretation and vision, whether it is controversial or not?

Vizcaya as Text

“Leda and the Swan”, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“Expression of Love Through Art” by Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 11 April 2021

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens located at Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida gives participants an opportunity to see beauty, love, and passion through an assortment of different art works. These art works such as paintings, sculptures, interior and exterior architectural design, and others were a direct message from a rich businessman known as James Deering. He expressed his thoughts and emotions with everything that is tied to the museum. Every little intricate thing has a story and meaning to it and was not done by accident.

One of the art works displayed at the Museum is a statue of “Leda and the Swan”. The story behind this statue is that Zeus was pretty attached to a mortal known as Leda. He then took the form of a swan and made love to Leda and thus is represented through this statue. It is probably one of my favorite pieces in the museum because of how out of the ordinary it is and how it may seem to those who don’t know the story behind it. Also, it is amusing to see a woman kiss a swan.

In this statue and other pieces of artwork, James proficiently expresses his ideas. Some historians believe that James was homosexual and that there are several hints to that in his possessions. Though this may not be true, the fact that James was able to provide an insight into his life through the purchase and construction of this now known museum is extraordinary. It really shows how impactful art and design can be and how impactful it is to what story others will be told in the future. Art serves as a beacon and time capsule for time periods and should be given that opportunity continuously and freely.