Luis Gutierrez: Miami Service 2022

Luis Gutierrez is currently a junior 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.


I volunteered at the Deering Estate located off 172nd Avenue in Miami, Florida. This estate contains the Stone House which was built in 1922 and the Richmond Cottage which was built in 1896. It all belonged to the Richmond Family and Charles Deering but shortly after in the early 1900’s, Charles Deering bought hundreds of acres of land including the Richmond Cottage. After Deering’s death, it was passed down through his family and finally became part of the National Registry of Historic Places in 1986 when it was bought by the State of Florida. Today, they offer a bunch of events that can be enjoyed through an inexpensive membership that lasts the whole year!


I did this specific volunteer opportunity thanks to my Professor John Bailly in the Honors College at Florida International University. Our goal was to pick up as much trash from the mangroves as we can.Though this volunteer opportunity was not an interest of mine nor has any relation to my major, it was very fun and satisfying to give back to the environment.

Deering Estate, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez


I connected with this opportunity through my professor. It was one of our planned class meetings to do a clean-up at the Deering Estate.


On April 20, 2020, Professor John Bailly sent an unfortunate message to his class regarding the morning clean-up at the Deering Estate. He had postponed this class two weeks due to strong winds but still, the strong winds had followed the class. The original plan was to go out to Chicken Key on canoes and pick up any form of trash on the island. I believe I can speak for the entire class, including the professor, that we were quite disappointed with the entire situation that was completely unavoidable.

Luckily, the Deering Estate and the professor had an alternative to still be able to make an impact. The plan was that we were still going to be able to pick up trash in the mangroves but this time it would be through the mangrove boardwalk nearby. This boardwalk, however, did not look like a boardwalk. To quote Professor Bailly, it was “Minecraft gone wrong”. The boardwalk was destroyed and the remains of wood were scattered everywhere through the mangroves which made traversing through them a bit more difficult.

In the mangroves, I found small bottle caps, chip bags, lines of plastic, and many more miniscule things that tend to be the more dangerous in harming an ecosystem rather than the large items. The class was given large bags that would tie on the top once filled to transport the trash easier. Through this, I wore my water shoes due to the amount of mud and water that slowly grew in quantity the deeper you went in. I tried to carry a stick with me to swat the spider webs and to keep my balance if I took a misplaced step.

Afterwards, a handful of students took the bags of trash to the dumpster on the other side of the estate. We dumped the trash into the bin but kept the bags to reuse for another clean-up. To celebrate our accomplishment and also our final class together, the class had lunch together by the water in the windy yet beautiful weather.

The reusable bags that were used to pick up the trash, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez



This experience was extraordinary and really fun to accomplish, even with the change of plans in the morning. The picking of trash is always a great time to reflect and immerse yourself physically and mentally with nature so it is always an adventure. Though I am not a fan of the amount of spiders I ran into during the clean-up, I pushed forth and focused on the reason that I was here. Overall, I enjoyed it entirely and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Mangroves in the Deering Estate, photo taken by Luis Gutierrez


“Deering Estate History: Historic Miami Mansion & Gardens.” Deering Estate, 21 Oct. 2021,

Luis Gutierrez: Tamiami 2022


Luis Gutierrez is currently a junior 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. 


Tamiami, located in Miami, Florida, is a well-rounded neighborhood that contains both an urban and natural landscape for its residents. It stretches from NW 12st all the way to Bird Road and SW 137th Ave to SW 117th Ave. It contains many roads, homes, and shopping centers but is almost balanced out by the number of local parks and green landscapes in the neighborhood. 

Photo taken from “Wikipedia”

This neighborhood’s urban landscape is one that can be seen throughout other neighborhoods in Miami and involves homes, town houses, and shopping centers built in the last century. The natural landscape of the neighborhood involves parks that contain several opportunities for activities for the residents of all ages such as sports, celebrations, and events. 

Photo taken from “Miami in Focus”


Tamiami’s history, like most famous stories, starts with the choice of a name for it. The name Tamiami originates from the name of a famous strip of road that connected Tampa Bay to Miami and was known as the Tamiami Trail. It went through the Everglades and improved trade for Florida significantly when it finished its construction in 1928. The rest of Tamiami’s history is just major events that impacted the location of some of its major landmarks. A great example of this is the Tamiami Airport that had closed in the early 1960s for the construction of a university now known as Florida International University along with a well-renowned park known as Tamiami Park. 

Photo taken from “Pintrest”


The population and characteristics of the residents in Tamiami are very interesting and can be found through the United States Census website. There, it spoke of the age, gender, income level, and cultural roots that the residents hold as well as listing that this information was both gathered and estimated in the year 2020. 

The population of Tamiami is approximately 55,000 with 21% being 65 years older and 16% being under the age of 18. The gender of the population is almost at the half mark with 54% of people living in Tamiami being female. 82% of the population is White along with 92% of the population being Hispanic. However, the percentage of people that are White but not Hispanic is 6.5%. The median household income is around $63,000 although 11% of the population in Tamiami is considered to be in poverty. 

Portrait of Resident

Name: Emily Fornaris

  1. How long have you lived in Tamiami? -I have lived in Tamiami for almost all my life. My family and I moved when I was very little from Pinecrest due to some financial issues.
  2. What do you like most about your neighborhood?– I think I like most about my neighborhood is that I am close to everything I enjoy such as FIU and my friends.
  3.  If you were to change anything about your neighborhood, what would it be?– I would want there to be less traffic on 8th street if possible and maybe less people living here because it tends to get crowded in some areas like the grocery store but other than that I can’t think of anything to change.


Our Lady of Belen Chapel

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Our Lady of Belen Chapel is located inside of the Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. It lies on the corner of its campus so it is easily seen when driving by it. It is currently under construction and has been for the past 2 years, but the school plans on opening it to all visitors in its community very soon. Recently, the cornerstone of the building was blessed and this is a very significant event in the building of any sacred structure. Also, this blessing reassures eager locals that the construction of the chapel is close to being complete.

Prince of Peace Catholic Church 

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

The Prince of Peace Catholic Church is located on NW 6th St in Tamiami. The parish was established in 1987 by Archbishop McCarthy to create a multiethnic community in the neighborhood of Tamiami. The actual building of the church was built in 1999 and was dedicated to the Archbishop. Today, this Catholic Church hosts masses weekly in both English and Spanish as well as several events to commemorate diversity, the community, and Catholicism.  

Memorial Cubano

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Located in Tamiami Park, The Memorial Cubano or Cuban Memorial is a tall rectangular monument that has the Cuban flag on all four sides. This was built in 2014 to commemorate all of the victims that were affected by the dictatorship of Fidel Castro. It specifically recognizes 10,000 Cubans that lost their lives fleeing Cuba. Surrounding the memorial are the names of the victims engraved on black marble as well as small lights that keep it illuminated throughout the night as well. 


Tamiami Trail Park 

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Tamiami Trail Park is a very small park that is in front of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. It contains a good sized playground for children to enjoy as well as a curved path through the grass for walking. Though it is small, it has enough grass for picnics and get-togethers. Out of the three parks listed here, this is the one I would least recommend to have any parties or big gatherings due to its size and location being in front of a busy road and school. 

International Gardens Park

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

International Gardens Park is a mid-size park that has some opportunities for activities such as a baseball field and basketball courts. It also has a playground in the middle of the park for children to play around in. Surrounding the playground and basketball courts are picnic tables and benches for the opportunity to bring some food and relax. Towards the back of the park, it opens up and it leads to a large patch of grass that is perfect for any outdoor activity. 

Tamiami Lakes Park

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Tamiami Lakes Park is the largest of the three parks listed and has everything that a park needs to have. It has large spaces of grass between its activities such as baseball, basketball, and soccer. It also contains a playground that is covered by a large tent to block out the rain and sun. The park has several picnic tables that are also covered by a roof for weather protection. The large patches of grass that separate each landmark such as a field or picnic table really adds to the park aesthetic and doesn’t make it feel cluttered. 



Photo taken from “Miami Dade.Gov”

The Metro-bus is a well-serviced bus that contains routes that go all around Miami including Tamiami. Tamiami has several bus stops in its neighborhood such as one on SW 18 St & SW 124 Pl. It gives a mode of transportation to all parts of Miami for both residents and non-residents of Tamiami for only $2.25 a trip or a monthly pass for $45. 


Photo taken from “Apple Insider”

Besides taking a bus or having your own car, residents of Tamiami use technology to designate where they want to go. Through applications such as Uber and Lyft on their cellular device or laptop, they are able to input their desired location and instantly be connected to a driver in the area that can take them there. It is easy and efficient but the farther the location, the greater the cost. 


Milly’s Empanada Factory

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Milly’s Empanada Factory is a great place to enjoy tequenos, pastelitos, and of course, empanadas! She also serves more American food such as cheeseburgers, hotdogs, and churros. The founder Millincett Martinez arrived from Venezuela in 1995 and brought her passion for making empanadas to the beautiful city of Miami. Today, she is still providing wonderful food for her community that just can’t get enough of it!

Islas Canarias

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Islas Canarias is a restaurant that was founded in 1977 by a husband and wife known as Raul and Amelia Garcia. They strived to bring the Cuban and Spanish culture that they knew and love through the food they were serving. The restaurant makes local fan favorites such as croquetas, Vaca Frita (Fried Cow), and Bistec Empanizado (steak sandwich). Tamiami residents love to come here to enjoy a nice meal at any time of the day or even just to hang out with some old friends and enjoy a cafecito(Cuban coffee)!

JC’s Pizzeria

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

In a small corner of a shopping center in Tamiami, a little pizzeria known as JC’s Pizzeria resides. This restaurant is everything you want in a pizza place: cheap and good food, fast service, and the scenery of a pizzeria. They have been serving Italian food since 2008 and is a great place to grab food after catching a movie in the theater that is located right next to it. 


Family Paintball Center

Photo taken from “Family Paintball Center”

Family Paintball Center is located on 137th surrounded by storage containers and large fields. This place allows people of all ages to participate in paintball games with either their friends or random players. Even if you don’t own any equipment such as a mask or paintball gun, people are able to rent equipment through their business before playing. You can also reserve to have a large party play on the fields without any random players interfering. Overall, this location allows for a fun activity to commence for all levels and ages of paintballers. 

Mac and Chess

Photo taken from “WSVN”

Mac and Chess is located on 8th Street next to a Regions Bank. This restaurant can be considered part of the Food list above but this one offers something that the other food locations don’t: activities! While chowing down on the many mac and cheese flavors they offer, you can also play a board game with your friends. They have dozens of board games that are free to play while you wait for your food or while you eat. This hangout spot knocks game night and dinner all in one go. 

Palace 18/AMC Tamiami 18

Photo taken from “Miami News Times” of Palace 18 before renovations
Photo taken from “Miami News Times” of Palace 18 after recent renovations

Palace 18 is a theater located off 26th St in a small shopping center. This movie theater was created by Cobb Theaters in 1996 and showed plays rather than films. After a couple years, however, Palace 18 was bought by Regal and then slowly began to display movies on the big screen. In 2015, it was bought out by AMC and continues to display upcoming movies to hundreds of fans. Unfortunately, through recent renovations, AMC has taken out the Palace 18 neon sign and has replaced it with an AMC sign, thus removing all physical history of the theater. Many locals, including myself, will still always call this theater Palace 18.


Tamiami is a small and quaint neighborhood that adds to the Miami lifestyle and culture. The amount of greenery that can be seen inbetween the houses and streets makes it feel both urban and natural. I believe that Tamiami is a great neighborhood but there is nothing that makes it stand out from other neighborhoods unfortunately. It easily blends into its neighbors and is overshadowed in an instant due to its lack of unique businesses, restaurants, and landmarks. Many of the sights that are in Tamiami can be found in almost any other neighborhood in Miami. Though it is easily overshadowed, many of the residents love their neighborhood and wouldn’t trade their community for anything.


Explore Census Data,

Martinez, Teresa. “Belen Blesses Cornerstone of New Chapel.” ADOM, – Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, 10 Nov. 2021,

“Our History.” Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 2 May 2021,

“Tamiami Trail Officially Opened in 1928.” Miami History Blog, 12 Mar. 2022,

Transit Fares and Parking Fees,

Luis Gutierrez: Westchester 2021


Luis Gutierrez is currently a junior 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.


Westchester is home to both an urban and natural landscape that can be seen easily throughout the neighborhood. It has the right combination of parks and busy roads to balance the background that many people reside in.

Photo taken from Miami Dade County Memorandum

It contains many schools such as Christopher Columbus High School and St. Brendan Highschool that contribute to the urban feel of the neighborhood due to the large number of buildings each of their campuses have. Close by these schools or other large buildings, there are small parks or large patches of grass that add on to the natural landscape.

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez


Westchester has an interesting history that dates all the way back to 1862. There was a Homestead Act of 1862 that indicated that the land of Westchester couldn’t be lived upon. This was mainly due to the large amount of rain and flooding that the location bared. Thankfully, around the 1920’s, the construction of canals led the water elsewhere and the land in the area was now dry. Then, for 30 years, the land sat there waiting for some form of development to occur. In 1955, a place called Westchester appears on the map after WWII. Afterwards, the neighborhood skyrocketed in the development of businesses and community life. This area then attracted many Jewish families and so a man by the name of Rabbi Samuel April led the construction of the Temple Or Olom in the 1960’s. Along with the Jewish culture, Catholics and Hispanics jumped on the idea of a nice place called Westchester. With all of these culutres and businesses, Westchester began to thrive.

Photo taken from Miami Dade County Memorandum


This neighborhood has a melting pot of characteristics for its residents. The population is around 56,000 people and of that number, 93% of them are White. 90% of the population are Hispanic or Latino and 65% of all residents are foreign born. This means that only 35% of the people that live in Westchester were born here! Most of the residents, 54%, are under 65 years old but older than 18 years. The median household income is around $55,000 but the percentage of residents in poverty is 14.6%. All of this information is taken from the U.S Economic Census data from 2019.

Portrait of Westchester Resident:

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Name: Guerline Camille

  1. How long have you lived in Westchester?

-“I have lived here my entire life which is 24 years. I have lived in the same house that entire time. My parents moved into that house a week before I was born.

2.  What do you like most about your neighborhood?

-I like how welcoming it is; every restaurant or store that I visit, everyone is very warm. I enjoy the diversity in age. There is a large elderly population but there is also a lot of young adults I can relate to. I like how everything is accessible and close together such as retail and food options. I also like the community that is here. For example, every Friday night in the tropical park parking lot, there is a food truck event that brings together residents to enjoy great food.

3.  If you were to change anything about your neighborhood, what would it be?

– I don’t think there would be anything I would change. I love this neighborhood and I plan to live here all my life.


Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Coral Park Baptist Church:

The Coral Park Baptist Church located on 16th Street is easy to spot due to its interesting design. This church was the first Baptist church to be constructed in Westchester and it was done due to the expanding Jewish culture that came in the 50’s. This church is known for its appearance that it gained the nickname “the whale church”.

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Statue of Antonino Diaz Pou:

This statue located in the Miami Dade Public Library commemorates Antonino Diaz Pou who infiltrated Cuba to sabotage their operations and librate Cuba from Castro’s communism. Unfortunately, he was captured and sentenced to death by a firing squad. This statue being in Westchester and Miami  is very important because it conveys the terror that many Miami residents ran from.

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

St Brendan Catholic Church:

St. Brendan Catholic Church is located on 32nd street next to Christopher Columbus Highschool. This church was founded in 1954 and it slowly added an elementary school that same year. In 1980, a new church was built to recognize Archbishop of Miami Edward McCarthy. It is a fantastic church made of inlaid red cedar and Mexican onyx with the inclusion of a 50ft cross made ouf aluminum.


Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Banyan Park:  

Banyan Park is located on 32nd Terrace across from Christopher Columbus High School. It is part of Banyan Elementary School but is free to the public for use. This park contains many trees that surround a large plot of grass which is great for any kind of sports or outdoor activity. When I went to Columbus back in 2019, I would hang out at Banyan Park after school with my friends since it was just across the street. Also, Columbus students typically have practices and intermural tournaments for some of their sports such as flag football and lacrosse. Along with a massive plot of grass, there is a small playground that is available for children to play with.

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Coral Estates Park:

Coral Estates Park is located on 97th Avenue across from Coral Park Elementary School. This park usually contains many small children because of the elementary school being so close by. It is a relitevely small park that has even smaller parking availability. If you manage to park your car, you will be able to see tennis courts, basketball courts, and a playgroud.

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Rockway Park:

Rockway Park is located on 27th Dr and is surrounded by residential homes. This Park is a great small park that is easily accessible to everyone, especially those who live across the street from it. It includes several activities such as swimming pools, basketball courts, and a playground. Towards the back of the park, it opens to reveal a large plot of grass that is great for picnics and other outdoor activities.


Photo taken from “Lohod”

Bee-Line Bus:            

The Bee-Line Bus is a form of transportation that is exclusive to Westchester County. Studies show that over 65% of residents in Westchester are walking distance to the route the bus takes. It serves over 27 million passengers a year and assists these people in taking them where they need to go such as their workplace or place of residency. To ride on the bus, each fare is $2.75 unless you buy the unlimited Metro Card which is $33.00 for 7 days or $127.00 for 30 days.

Photo taken from Miami Dade Transit

Photo creds: Miami Dade Transit

Miami Dade Transit:

The Miami Dade Transit contains a Metrobus that has a route that passes by Westchester. This Metrobus is known as the 82 Westchester Circulator which contains stops by Florida International University’s Modesto Maidique Campus and by Tropical Park. The bus also contains free WIFI for any technological needs. The fare for the bus is $2.25 for a regular trip.


Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Arbetter’s Hot Dogs:

Arbetter’s is located along 40th St and clearly sticks out in the street corner that it lays in. It is a great small restaurant that sells all kinds of hotdogs. From chili dogs to cheese dogs, this hotdog establishment is a great place to swing by and get a cheap, quality hotdog. In the restaurant, they have memorabilia of sports teams and pictures of celebrities that have visited covering the place from floor to ceiling. They also have a sign that says “Free Boston baked beans the day after the Red Sox win the World Series” and believe me, they hold up to their word. Another fun fact is that when you go to get a refill, you must tell the employee that you love Larry Bird or else each refill costs 25 cents.

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Frank’s Pizza:

Frank’s Pizza is located on Bird Road and is easy to find since it has a big light up sign outside of it. This pizzeria is known to be the oldest one in Miami due to its opening dating all the way back to 1955. They have stayed at that location for more than 60 years and their food backs up why they haven’t closed shop after that many years. They serve pizza made from a homemade tomato sauce and other natural ingredients. It is an icon of a restaurant that celebrates everything that there is to love about pizza.

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

La Carreta:

La Carreta is located on Bird Road and is usually accompanied with a large group of Cubans on the side of it. The first one was founded in Little Havana on Calle Ocho in 1976 but after the political take over, La Carreta needed to find a new home. This new home was the melting pot of Miami and it continues to thrive on its Hispanic food attracting natives and nonnatives alike. There they serve famous and original Cuban food that is hearty and authentic. The restaurant serves as a beacon not only for Cubans but also those who wish to dive into this fabulous culture.


Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Bird Bowl:

Bird Bowl is located on Bird Road and can be spotted by finding the 20ft bowling pins that reside outside the doors. Established in 1956, Bird Bowl is home to sixty lanes for bowling, pool tables, and an arcade. It is known for hosting bowling tournaments, pool tournaments, and birthday parties. It is a hotspot to hang out and bowl with your buddies or just have a good time.

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Martha of Miami:

Martha of Miami is located on Bird Road and can be found by looking next to the shop that has a large PAWN sign above it. It is a small shop that sells Cuban themed merchandise. This merchandise includes hats, shirts, pants, masks, and home décor. All of her collections have some sort of Cuban culture attached to it such as an inside joke, the Cuban flag, or a play on a Spanish and English word combined. It is a nifty little shop that welcomes you with open arms and a Cafecito (small Cuban coffee).

Photo taken from Yesterday and Today Records on Facebook

Yesterday and Today Records:

Yesterday and Today Records is located on Bird Road on the second floor of a small shopping center. This place is a hotspot for lovers of music and the vintage aesthetic. It houses hundreds of vinyl records and cassettes that range from music from the 50’s all the way to the present day. Any person that enjoys music will find something they love here and it is even easier to find since it is sorted in alphabetical order by the artist/band name.


Westchester is a constantly changing yet authentic neighborhood that really captures what is means to be a resident of Miami. It combines many cultures together through its restaurants, businesses, and community hotspots. If anyone were to get a taste of what Miami is, I would highly recommend them to check out the beautiful neighborhood of Westchester.

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez


Luis Gutierrez: Miami Service Project 2021


Luis Gutierrez is currently a junior 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.


I was fortunate enough to volunteer with the Deering Estate located on 72nd Ave in Miami, Florida. They are a massive estate that contains the Stone House that is a preserved home that was built in the 1920’s and belonged to the famous Charles Deering. There is also the Richmond Hotel which was the first hotel in between the neighborhoods of Key West and Coconut Grove. Finally, the estate houses the Cutler Fossil Site which is an excavation site that contains remains of Paleo-Indians. It is all around an extremely historical place that is beautiful to walk around and experience.

WHY: I did not select this specific volunteer opportunity because it was one of the class meetings I had with my professor. Though I did not select it, I had an absolute great time and bonded with my fellow classmates and professor.


I connected with this opportunity through my professor, John Bailly. He managed to get our whole class to contribute in this service project and I am very thankful we were able to provide service with such a lack of challenges and obstacles.


Our class met on October 6, 2021 around 10:00am at the water which is located further into the Deering Estate. When I first walked over, I saw a group of students already there along with rows of canoes on the shoreline. Once the professor noticed that everyone was here, he began to talk about the importance of what we were doing that day. He also spoke on tips for paddling and that we needed to have a partner. The person in the front of the canoe would act as the engine while the person in the back would be in charge of steering. Unfortunately, we had more people than canoes so my canoe needed to have 3 people inside of it. Once everyone got into their canoes we immediately set sail to Chicken Key which was around 3 miles from the Deering Estate shore.

We arrived to the shore in like 35 minutes unless it was longer and it seemed fast for me. We tied our canoes to the mangroves with a long rope. Since paddling over took a lot of energy, the whole class decided to take a small break and go into the water. The water was super refreshing and gave us the energy we needed to continue our mission. Our personal goal was to fill 4 bags with trash that does not belong on the idea. We went all along the shore and found many piles of trash along with loose small pieces of garbage such as bottle caps. We filled many bags and proceeded to load them up onto the canoes. After loading them up, we went around Chicken Key and took in where we were. We relaxed for a bit and took some pictures before returning to the Deering Estate shore. We threw the trash onto a truck and then unloaded it into a dumpster. There we said our goodbyes and left with a smile on our faces.



This volunteer experience was really something special. I loved paddling with my classmates and bonding with them. Even though it was hot day, I had a ton of fun doing something meaningful and cleaning the world that we live in. In my opinion, the whole excursion was a complete success due to everything being planned out perfectly. Because of the professor doing this several times, he knew exactly what to expect and prepared us well. Taking lunch, a water cooler, wearing sleeves, and water shoes were just some of the tips that really made this trip comfortable and free of problems. The part in the volunteer experience that really resonated with me was the portion where we stopped to relax on our canoes and let the waves slowly take us to the Deering. It was a moment of pure bliss and quietness, even though one of my classmates in my canoe was playing soft music. It allowed for reflection and time to process what just happened and how small experiences like that move our society into the right direction. I’m beyond thankful for this trip and I most definitely do it again.


Luis Gutierrez: Miami as Text 2021-2022

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.

Downtown as Text

“Piece of the Berlin Wall” photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The Wall that Needed to Fall”

By Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Downtown Miami, Florida, 13 September 2021

Downtown Miami, Florida is known for capturing many famous and iconic scenes of our world’s history. From statues to monuments, to houses and museums, everywhere you turn there is an opportunity to catch a glimpse into the past. One of these opportunities resides on 3rd street, right outside one of the campuses for Miami Dade College. Though many pass by this graffitied piece of cement, once you are informed, the power and importance it holds is breathtaking.

This piece of cement was a portion of the Berlin Wall before its collapse in the late 80s. The Berlin Wall was placed to divide East Berlin from West Berlin and to stop emigrants from crossing freely. This separated families and friends instantly and soon caused riots around the wall to appear. Residents, desperate to get over the wall, would jump from the surrounding houses and even create makeshift hot air balloons. Eventually, in 1989, the leaders of East Berlin announced that the wall and its power will be stripped away, and all residents are free to cross the border. To celebrate, people would bring tools such as pickaxes and anything they had to tear down this concrete border that divided their people.

This portion of the wall now serves as a reminder of what those people experienced for over 20 years. The thought of being divided from my friends and family for even a couple months sends a shiver down my spine so I cannot imagine the thoughts and emotions the residents of Berlin were experiencing. This should also serve as a reminder of all the abstract walls that are now built up today and how they divide us as both a nation and as a species. Though we cannot see these walls, they nonetheless are serving the same purpose of dividing us and making our people weaker. We must come together as a people and strike down these walls that surround us.

Overtown as Text

“Outside of the Historic Lyric Theater” photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The Showcase in Overtown”

By Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Overtown, Miami, Florida, 26 September 2021

Overtown contains many historical landmarks that showcase the history of Miami’s community. Specifically, the black community that added a massive chunk to the foundation of what Miami is today is showcase in several locations around town. One of these locations happens to be The Historic Lyric Theater that proudly stands as a Historic Place on Second Avenue.

The theater was home to many performances and gatherings in the late 1920s up until the  1960s. It was a hotspot for tourists, Miami residents, and especially the black community. Along with being a home for entertainment, this building also served as a gathering place for schools, civic groups, and other special events. It also served as a movie theater and later a church. Unfortunately, as time went by and this part of Miami became forgotten, the theater was boarded up and closed for years and years.

Although closed in the 60s, The Historic Lyric Theater is now protected and lies on the list of National Registered Historic Places. This means that it has been restored and will continue to be restored along with being protected from any modern installations or companies. This building now serves as a representation of what life was back then for this community and now continues to represent the beautiful culture of Overtown.

Vizcaya as Text

South Beach as Text

“Inside H&M/Lincoln Theater where a projection is being showcased on a wall” photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

Out with the Old and In with the New…or Maybe Just a Bit of Both?

By Luis Gutierrez of FIU at South Beach, Miami, Florida, 3 November 2021

South Beach, Miami, Florida holds a lot of Miami’s history as well as our state’s history that can be seen in many landmarks and buildings. Many of these buildings unfortunately were remodeled to fit today’s standards and be as advantageous for big employers. Though some were remolded over the years, some remain intact as either a historical site, museum, and even commercial property. Commercial property? How can a building that is over 30 years old be used for commercial property?

A great example to this question is the Lincoln Theater. This place of cinema was popular around the 1940’s and housed many performances, shows, and films. It was a hotspot for the people of South Beach and even tourists from around the globe. Unfortunately, it was closed in around 1980 but was then later bought by New World Symphony in 1990. Later, in 2012, H&M signed a contract that allowed them to transition the interior into a retail store for their company but were required to keep a lot of the art deco and theater elements intact. Now, it is still home for H&M customers yet it still carries the aura of its previous utilization of being the Lincoln Theater.

The Lincoln Theater isn’t the only location that something similar has happened to them. Around South Beach, there are a handful of buildings, especially on Ocean Drive, that contain original architectural elements with having a restored, modern approach in the interior. This technique of revitalization yet keeping the style of its predecessors is one that should be seen more often. Many buildings have just completely been scrapped and turned into a skyscraper or a parking lot. Though there are regulations now that protect certain buildings, one of South Beach’s top priorities should be keeping their roots and history alive through their buildings.

Deering as Text

“Wine Cellar at the Deering Estate” photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The Secret Stash”

By Luis Gutierrez of FIU at the Deering Estate, 10 November 2021

The Deering Estate is a marvelous place and contains a whole story that is significantly connected to Miami’s history. From Tequesta Burial Mounds to a preserved stone house, the Deering Estate has something for everyone. In this stone house that Deering had built in 1922, there are tons of rooms that showcase a bit of history through the pieces of furniture and the architectural designs. Though there are many rooms to explore, one room was found later in history when it was bought from the Deering family.

This room, as shown above, was a wine cellar. Now, this wasn’t an ordinary wine cellar. This one was hidden behind a bookcase and a massive vault door. When the new owners found this door, they asked the Deerings if they had known anything about it and they responded with, “A vault in the basement?”. This was one for the books and it required a master locksmith to break into it after several days. Once it was open, they found hundreds of broken bottles due to damage from storms and the hurricane at the time.

What is interesting about this wine cellar is that why would it be hidden? There are many theories out there that question it but the one I personally believe is that it was hidden because of the Prohibition. And so this became a side hustle for Deering to export and import wine and then store them in his basement. Whatever the truth is, the Deering Estate and house holds a historical tie to it predecessors. With estates and museums such as this place, we are fortunate enough to take a glimpse into the past. These locations should be preserved and promoted in every way.

Rubell as Text

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“We are Frozen”

by Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Rubell Art Museum, Miami, Florida, 24 November 2021

The Rubell Art Museum is a great place to find art pieces that exhibit emotion, history, and the essence of humans. It has several floors that contain totally different pieces that all are different expressions of art. Some stand out in color and size while others stand out in meaning and detail. Regardless, every work of art shown in the museum is magnificent and should be paid attention to greatly.

One of the pieces of art is “Men Trapped in Ice” by Robert Longo. This artwork was done in 1979 in New York and was created from a dream that Robert had. This dream was of many men that had their feet frozen in ice and that they could only move from their ankles up. The artwork depicts these men being in torment while their feet are frozen. And also, since it is a two-dimensional piece of art, they are frozen from the ankles up as well. Robert also added that he wanted the men to be in punk/ rock and roll uniform so that they follow a sort of rhythm within the paintings.

This artwork stood out to me because it looked as if the men were dancing like the main singer from the band Joy Division, Ian Curtis would dance. Though with further inspection, the piece of art was nothing like the idea I had formulated in my head. But this process of seeing what the painting or work of art meant to me and then reading what the artist had intended was very interesting. Art should be interpreted by the viewer in any way they want or imagine before seeing what meaning is behind the art, if there even is one to begin with.

Everglades as Text

Photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“In the Heart of the Everglades” by Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Everglades, Miami, Florida 30 January 2022

One of Miami’s most interesting and distinguishable places is the Everglades. This national park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and has both a wet and dry season. It has several different fauna that can easily be seen in the ground as well as floating in the water. The beauty of the Everglades is that, once completely immersed, you can see nature fully, without one man-made structure in sight.

I have been to the Everglades several times through the class I am taking through the Honors College known as Miami in Miami with Professor Bailly. In all the times, our class was fortunate to have a park ranger to guide us and give us information regarding the ecosystem and the Everglades as a whole. Every visit is a different and memorable experience that leaves me a changed person for the better. An excursion in nature is one that I would recommend to anyone, regardless if you live in Miami or not.

Coral Gables as Text

Photo taken to Luis Gutierrez

“Ghosts Roam the Halls You Now Walk ”

By: Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Coral Gables, Miami, Florida, 13 February 2022

Coral Gables located in Miami, Florida contains an abundance of history that can easily be seen in its architecture. One of the most famous pieces of history is the Biltmore Hotel that is now on the U.S National Register of Historic Places. Whether it’s for a gala, a sports event, or a weekend vacation, this beautiful hotel is a complete luxury for whoever stays at it. After WW2, it was a bed hospital that aided injured soldiers in the Army. Much of the building became covered with concrete such as the walls and flooring of the hotel. Coral Gables became the new owners in 1973 and slowly restored it to its now astonishing beauty. The restoration process was lengthy but much of the décor was preserved due to the Army covering much of the building with concrete. Today, it grants visitors an amazing experience that they will never forget.

Included with its long history are a few tragic and even shocking events. One in particular involved a shooting of a big time mobster in a speak easy. Another involved a woman jumping from a high floor to save her child and unfortunately fell to her death. These and several other deaths add to the hotel’s rumor of it being haunted. Many shows have taken place here to debunk the theory of it being haunted. If it is haunted, why do people still spend the night? Do they not know that the rooms they sleep in might already be occupied by a former resident? Whichever the case, the Biltmore still stays being one of the most luxurious places to stay at in Miami, Florida.

River of Grass as Text

Design District or Wynwood as Text

“Die Erdzeitaler” photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“Tower of Faults” by Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Margulies Collection in Miami, Florida, March 20 2022

The Margulies Collection located in Miami, Florida is a great place to witness works of art that each hold a unique weight. Whether this is emotional, historical, or physical weight, each piece affects the viewer differently. In one case, the weight of an art work is both in its physical and emotional attributes. The piece I am referring to is “Die Erdzeitalter” or Ages Of The World.   When walking into the room that contains this art work, a sudden weight is put on your eyes and shoulders. It’s presence in the room diminishes any sound or sight and fully takes hold of your attention until you leave the room.  In order to fully view it, you must walk around it completely and take it all in through several perspectives, angles, and levels.

“Die Erdzeitaler” is the culmination of canvases, rocks, photographs, and other elements that come together to form a disfigured mountain that closely resembles rock sculptures that are placed in hiking trails. To me, this piece resembles a tower that is made up of mistakes, faults, and regrets. It is the product of all the never said goodbyes, the chances and opportunities that were never taken, the last hug that you didn’t know was going to be the last one. It is a large tower of all of those things and soon, after a couple more pieces are added on to it, a couple more moments added to the tower, it will collapse and fall piece by piece. I believe this piece serves as a reminder to check on your loved ones and those who surround you, because you never really know how tall their tower is.

Coconut Grove as Text

“Coconut Grove Playhouse” photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“Ageless Playhouse” By Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Coconut Grovve, Miami, Florida 4 April 2022

Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida contains an assortment of houses and buildings that give residents a glimpse of what Miami used to look like in its past years. One of the buildings that gives this unique glimpse is the Coconut Grove Playhouse. It was constructed as a movie theater and opened in 1927. It was home to a variety of movies and plays through the course of its lifetime until it unfortunately closed in 2006. Though its abandonment and closure, it eventually landed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places some years later in 2018. There are rumors of renovation and potential opportunities of reopening it in the future throughout the community and county commissioners.

The Coconut Grove Playhouse is an example of what Miami’s architecture should be revolved and focused on. Though cities and corporations always tend to put innovation and profit as their main priority, small buildings such as this one should have a say in how the area around them is kept. A house on the same block is also a historical house and yet it is being kept in such a poor condition and is not being up-kept at all. There should be a shift of focus in regards to reopening this playhouse to not only gain profit, but to more importantly, keep one of the few pieces of Coconut Grove history alive and well kept.

Key Biscayne as Text

“The Lighthouse” photo taken by Luis Gutierrez

“The Resilient Lighthouse” by Luis Gutierrez of FIU at Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida, April 6 2022

Bill Bags Cape Florida State Park is a great vacation spot that has access to many learning opportunities as well as a renowned beach for visitors to enjoy. In this park, there are several historical landmarks as well as several historical artifacts dispersed around. One of the historical landmarks is a lighthouse that can easily be seen from the shoreline or the long pathway that leads up to it. Located next to it, is the lighthouse keeper’s cabin that would be the home for the person who would keep the lighthouse operational. Both landmarks can be entered by the public (only on specific days that the rangers allow the public to enter) and is an experience every person should have.

The Cape Florida Lighthouse is the oldest structure in Miami Dade due to it dating back to having been built in 1825. It is also fortunately on the National Register of Historic Places so it can be protected from any future construction or renovation. This tall, sleek monument containing over a hundred spiral steps has gone through a lot of events and turmoil such as hurricanes and even a Seminole attack that severely damaged the tower. Fortunately, it was rebuilt in 1846 it still stands proudly today as a beacon of resilience not only for sailors but for admirers of history as well.

Luis Gutierrez: Art Service Project 2021


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.

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

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.


I connected with this opportunity through their website “” 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.


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



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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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


Tate. “Conceptual Art – Art Term.” Tate,

Randy Burman.

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,

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.


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


         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.


         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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


The Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College Website

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

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

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.

%d bloggers like this: