Stephanie Gudiel: Hammocks 2021

Student Bio

Hi! My name is Stephanie Gudiel, I am a junior at Florida International University studying psychology with a minor in business. I was born and raised in Miami, more specifically in the area of West Kendall, which is right next to Hammocks, however, I tend to spend most of my time all over Miami. Outside of school, my interests are travel, cooking, and I like to spend the majority of my time outdoors, whether it be at the beach relaxing or playing volleyball at a park.

Geography

Image by Google Maps

The neighborhood I chose is called Hammocks, it is just south of West Kendall and east of the Everglades. It is a total of 8 square miles, and known to be residential and family oriented. Hammocks is made up of houses/apartments/townhouses, strip malls, countless parks, lakes, restaurants, and schools. Although it is not part of the kendall area, geographically speaking, those who reside in the area consider it as Kendall.

This area is not anything like Coral Gables per say, or Miami Beach, it represents Miami’s average citizens, the working class with your typical 3-4 people household size. The purpose of Hammocks is to have that perfect community feel, which is why it is family centered, from the events held, to the restaurants nearby, to finding a park almost every block. Hammocks is growing with newer housing developments as well as shopping centers.

History

The Hammocks area is a relatively new neighborhood in Miami in comparison to the more well known areas such as Coral Gables. Most of the residential areas were built and established between 1970 and 1999. Before that the whole area was farmland, in fact a good part of the area still is to this day. Before Krome Ave there are huge pieces of land that serve as farmland, specifically for crops, or are simply unoccupied. Hammocks is what is known as a CDP (census designated place), which is just a concentration of population simply put.

The name Hammock originates from what the land was before they began to build on it. Hammocks is a term used to describe trees, normally hardwood, that form a contrasting ecosystem. They tend to grow in areas surrounded by wetlands, which is exactly what this area was and still is to this day in a way.

Overall, there isn’t much historical information in regard to this neighborhood as it is still being developed.

Demographics

According to the United States Census the total population of Hammocks is estimated to be around 61,516, with the median age being 38. For this estimate they used a 2019 American Community Survey. Like most of Miami, the population in Hammocks is predominately hispanic, so 71.3% are White (Hispanic), White (Non-Hispanic) 14.2%, Other (Hispanic) 5.67%, Asian 2.92%, and Black or African American 2.61%. Education wise, this area seems to be well educated as 91% of the population are high school graduates or higher. To break that down even further, 23.1% of the population have a high school degree or equivalent, 18.5% some college-no degree, 13% have an associates degree, 25.9% have a bachelor’s degree, 10.5% are graduates or have a professional degree. The median female income is $36,928 while the median male income is $45,055, which bring the household median income to $70,014 (Census.gov).

Above is a portrait of a resident of the Hammocks, who is also a long time friend of mine. She moved to Hammocks about 5 years ago but was born and raised in Miami. Before living in Hammocks she used to live in West kendall. During the interview she said that although she only moved a couple miles more south she definitely felt the difference. Since moving to Hammocks she has been able to go to the park more often with her dog as there is a dog park a couple blocks from her. She also enjoys going to the park with her mom for some zumba classes the community hosts. She likes how calm and family oriented the area is, however she does also like that they are continuing to develop the area with new shopping centers and restaurants as she likes to try out these new places and they bring a bit of change to the area. What she doesn’t like about the area is the traffic and commute when it comes to driving to the city, especially because of the amount of school zones around her.

Landmarks

HAMMOCKS TOWN CENTER

Photo retrieved from https://mdpls.org/branch-west-kendall-regional

This town center was built in 2000, I may not live in Hammocks but I remember frequently visiting this town center since I was little. It had the closest library to my house at one point, which is the West Kendall Regional Library and they would hold family friendly events, as well as tutoring every saturday. This library, currently holds online classes (due to covid) for beginner and intermediate english and spanish speakers, they also hold yoga classes, and workshops on various interests. It is all free to the public and easy to register online through the miami-dade public library system website. Apart from that, the Town center has a couple pizza places, restaurants, salons, a pre-school, grocery store, and pharmacy. The town center itself has been there for 21 years, but throughout the years it has changed a bit bringing the people of Hammocks a good spot to spend time as a family or with friends.

OUR LADY OF LOURDES

Since the population of Hammocks is mostly hispanic, there is a tendency for religion to be very important to its population. Most hispanics are catholics which is why I am considering Our Lady of Lourdes a Landmark. Our Lady of Lourdes is a very well known Catholic church, not only in Hammocks but by people all over Miami. It is a church as well as a private school for Pre-k3 through 8th grade, their curriculum is based on the beliefs and mission of the Roman Catholic Church. The church in itself has many ministry groups for people to join, whether they’re new believers, if they want to grow in their faith, they also have different groups for different ages. This helps build that sense of community in Hammocks. The church holds many masses throughout the week for the convenience of the people. Monday through Friday they hold spanish mass at 7pm, Monday through Saturday they hold mass in english at 8am. On Sunday’s they hold masses from 7am to 6:30pm in english and spanish. Religious or not, I do believe it is a place worth visiting, everyone has always been welcoming the times I’ve gone and it is very serene and calming walking through the campus.

U-PICK STRAWBERRIES & TOMATOES

On the eastside of the Hammocks, on 137th ave there is a U-Pick. Depending on the season they have tomatoes, peppers, or strawberries growing on the land. It is open for the public to pick their fruits or veggies and purchase them. I remember going as a kid with my parents every now and then and it was always a fun time. The prices are reasonable, and with the pandemic it is a great opportunity to get the kids out of the house for some fun in the sun. It’s normally not crowded which is great during these times.

Green

wild lime park

This is my favorite park, it has a little bit of everything which makes it perfect for people of all ages. There is a playground for kids to play that has a tent like cover to block off the sun during those hot summer days, there are many benches around the playground for parents to sit and watch their kids play. There is also a sheltered area that has picnic tables, bathrooms, as well as a concession stand that sells snacks, drinks, and ice cream. Next to the playground there is an area with outdoor gym equipment, anyone can use them and enjoy a workout in the nice Miami weather. Each piece of equipment has instructions along with pictures to guide anyone who is new to working out. Further down there is a soccer field with LED lights for those night practices. There is a trail from the park that leads to the huge Hammocks lake, anyone can walk or bike on this trail along the lake. Throughout the trail there are benches to take a break, there’s sheltered picnic tables facing the lake, there are small beach like areas with sand leading to the water, and there is also a volleyball court. This park is open for everyone from 7am to 7pm.

BARK PARK

This is a dog park that is split into two, one side is for smaller dogs and the other for dogs over 35lbs. The whole park is fenced so the dogs can run free and socialize with other dogs. There are sheltered picnic tables for people to sit and watch their dogs from a distance, or meet other dog parents. The dogs have small water fountains for them, as well as ramps and other tricks they can practice or show off with equipment set up. The park is open for anyone from sunrise to sunset.

CAMP MATACUMBE

This is a rustic themed park, it is more kid focused because of the type of recreational activities available. It is one big playground that follows a rustic theme, so there’s wooden tree houses, a rock themed slide, an outdoor jungle gym. Some people can also go and practice their archery. Unlike the other parks, this one has no shelter for parents or children for those hot sunny days, but there are benches available around the playground. This park is open from 9am to 5pm.

Transportation

Most Hammocks residents commute using their car as they don’t normally work in the area, they normally take about a 45 minute commute. However, like the rest of Miami there is the metro bus available throughout Hammocks, the residents that tend to use this option are Miami dade college- Kendall campus students, or those who need to use the Metrorail station. The route generally used is the 104 bus as it passes through Killian and Kendall Drive.

Food

Punto peruano

This is a food truck that is normally parked next to the Ocean Bank on 156th and 88th Street. They sell authentic peruvian food and are open from 7pm to 1:30am. My mom is Peruvian, year after year I go visit Peru and whenever I’m missing that delicious Peruvian food this is where I go. No other place has been able to serve the food as if I was in the small town of Trujillo. They have your typical Peruvian dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado, and anticuchos, but they also serve the authentic dishes I haven’t been able to find anywhere else like Hamburguesa a lo pobre. I highly recommend trying them out if you want a taste of Peru and have reasonable prices for the big portions.

BONJOUR FRENCH BAKERY

Photo retrieved from Bonjour Bakery

Not your typical Miami bakery, this is a French modern fusion bakery found on 166th and 88th street. The pastry chef Eric Buffenoir was born on the Blue Coast of France and started to bake since he was 7 years old at his family’s bakery. Later on in life he worked on a cruise that docked in Venezuela, there he picked up some hispanic techniques and flavors. A few years later he went to Spain and opened up a French Bakery there. In Miami he mixes the sweet French flavors with Caribbean aromas to keep adding to the growing culture in Miami. They are a bakery but also serve breakfast and lunch. Every item I’ve tried from their bakery has left me wanting more, from their food menu I recommend trying the Charolais which is Strogonoff beef tenderloin, paprika, mushroom and cream. Their prices are a bit more on the high end for what is typically known in this area, but I would say it is worth it. They are open from 8am to 6pm.

AMICIS

This is an authentic Italian restaurant at Hammocks Town Center. They are open from 11am to 10pm, and serve what you would typically think of when it comes to Italy, pasta, pizza, and soups. This restaurant has been there since the Town center was built, I remember going when I was a kid with my parents, and later on it would be a hang out spot after ice skating to grab a slice of pizza with friends.

Businesses

Kendall ice arena

The town center also has the Kendall Ice arena, which was my favorite spot to hang out with my friends in middle and high school. The only other ice arena close to Miami is in Pembroke Pines. The Kendall Ice arena is open for public skating, private lessons, birthday parties, and are home to the Miami Toros Hockey team. They do have varying weekly hours for public skating because they host figure skating competitions throughout the week, but it is on their website. Public skate admission with skate rental is normally $15, but on Wednesday and Thursday they have “cheap skates” days which reduces the admission with skates to $12. On Friday evening they normally have a Live DJ to have a more lively environment. The ice arena also has air hockey tables, as well as some other games to enjoy if you want to take a break from skating.

urban air trampoline and adventure park

This is an indoor adventure park that is open from 4pm to 9pm everyday. This is a great place for people of all ages, it is a family friendly environment There are trampolines, dodgeball, wall climbing, warrior obstacle courses, runway tracks, and much more. Depending on how many attractions you want to go to there are different packages available for purchase. They also hold birthday parties and have a cafe when kids or parents get hungry and want to grab a bite.

Jungle gym fitness safari

Similar to the adventure park in a sense, there is a jungle gym fitness bus. This is a small family owned business. Essentially it is a bus that was transformed on the inside to be like a fitness gym for kids. So it is all matted and they can wall climb, they can swing, there’s a trampoline and balance beam. This is more of an after school/summer camp program to enroll your kids so they can be entertained and let out all their energy.

Summary

Overall, Hammocks is a small, relatively new neighborhood that is still in the process of developing. However, it shows the real lives of the average Miami citizen, away from the tourism and glamour. Hammocks did succeed in building a tight knit community from the events they host, to the family friendly parks and recreational activities around. The only thing I would say they did not succeed in is when it comes to having its residents make their commute, with school within every block it takes them a good while in the mornings to get where they need to be.

Stephanie Gudiel: Miami Service Project 2021

STUDENT BIO

My name is Stephanie Gudiel, I am an FIU honors student majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Business. I am a little introverted, but I enjoy every opportunity to put myself out there and experience something new and at times different.

WHO

I volunteered at the Chicken key cleanup and the institution that made the cleanup possible was Deering Estate, which was the home of Charles Deering until 1927 when he died. Since then it has become an archaeological, environmental, and historical preserve open to the public with a paid admission. The estate is currently open for people to walk around and go in the main houses, normally they also hold events such as hikes, kayaking tours, ghost tours, nature walks, and even yoga, however due to the pandemic some of these events are no longer operating, or they are very limited. Before Charles deering made this land his home, there used to be Tequestas that settled in this land, and Seminoles that used it as hunting grounds. It is very interesting to see and walk the same paths as these indigenous people as well as early Miami settlers.

Photo by Stephanie Gudiel (cc by 4.0)
WHY

I chose this specific opportunity because it portrays who I am pretty well. I like to be outdoors, enjoying the sun, being by the water; simply put, it’s my happy place. At the same time, I always try to consistently volunteer, giving back to my community is something I am passionate about, currently I volunteer at my local church and before that I used to volunteer at my local hospital. In this case, I wasn’t giving directly back to my community but I was helping the environment and supporting a very important cause that in my opinion should have more awareness. I would say this opportunity was the perfect combination of my two favorite activities.

HOW

I connected with this volunteer event through my Discover Miami Honors class from FIU. This class as a whole has brought me many new unforgettable experiences and shown me a different side to Miami.

WHERE & WHAT

On April 9th 2021, I woke up and noticed it was nice and sunny, the weather was perfect for the adventure that lied ahead. I drove out to Deering Estate to meet my classmates at the dock by 10am. By the time I got there, the kayaks and canoes were lined up with life jackets and paddles, ready to be pushed onto the water. Professor Bailly gave us a rundown of how the day was going to go and what to expect of this day. We each chose a classmate to partner up with to canoe out to Chicken key. Chicken key is a small island about a mile off of Deering estate, a lot of trash and debris gets caught in the mangroves or is left behind on the island which affects the ecosystem as a whole. We packed up our canoes with trash bags, water, and our personal items, put on our life jackets and one by one pushed our canoes into the water. We each settled into our canoes with our partners and figured out how to paddle to go in the right direction. Once we managed to get the hang of it, Professor Bailly guided us through a mangrove trail that was absolutely breathtaking, being surrounded by nature and seeing our reflection perfectly in the water was astonishing.

Photos by Stephanie Gudiel (CC by 4.0)

We turned back around to head back in the direction of Chicken key, I will admit canoeing to the island was not as easy as I thought it’d be, especially since we were going against the current. When we reached the island as a group, we each pushed our canoes onto the shore and tied them to each other so they wouldn’t drift away. We left our life jackets in the canoes, grabbed our lunches, water, and trash bags and took them into the island with us. A few steps into the land there were little benches where we sat to relax a little bit, some of my classmates decided to jump into the water to cool down and others decided to enjoy their lunch. After everyone was re-energized we picked up a couple trash bags each and took them with us to explore this uninhabited island and pick up any trash we found in our path. There were so many items I found, all kinds of trash and things that simply did not belong in that ecosystem, some of them had been there for so long they almost became part of the environment. The animals built homes in some of the bottles found, or the plants themselves were wrapped around sandals and plastic. The majority of the items found were just trash that floats around in the ocean and gets caught in the mangroves, but if it is not picked up it can float back into the ocean and endanger sea life. Many fish and sea mammals accidentally eat plastic they find floating in their path and die from it, it can be something as small as a bottle cap that can kill one of these beautiful animals. Which is why these cleanups are very important, this island is covered in debris everywhere you look, but little by little as these cleanups continue and we each help out, we can help improve this ecosystem. We kept picking up trash for about two hours, and each of my classmates filled up about two to three trash bags, myself included.

We then headed back to our original sit down site with the benches, ate a little snack and jumped back into the water to cool down. Some of my classmates were exhausted and decided to take a nap, I wanted to enjoy the cold water and have some fun after walking around the island in the sun.

After some time we packed up our canoes once again, splitting the trash filled bags and headed back to the estate. Canoeing back was slightly easier as there was a part of the way where we were able to just lay back and let the current drift us to shore. Once we reached land we lifted our canoes back onto the dock and disposed of all the trash properly.

Photo by Jenna Nassar (CC by 4.0)
WHEN

Below is the proof from Honors college.

SUMMARY

Overall, this experience was very rewarding, and something I would like to do again, although it was physically demanding. While I knew pollution was a serious issue and many organizations have actively been trying to help with this, I did not understand the gravity of the situation when it came to sea life and their ecosystems. What I enjoyed the most from this experience was seeing every single one of my classmates put in their part and be equally motivated to do their best.

Stephanie Gudiel: Miami as Text 2021

Stephanie Gudiel/CC by 4.0

Hi! My name is Stephanie Gudiel, I am currently a junior in the FIU Honors college majoring in Psychology with a minor in Business. I’m currently 20 years old and love to travel, however due to covid I have slowed down on the travel aspect. Aside from that, I enjoy working out as a way to destress, I have been teaching myself how to cook a little bit, and I enjoy being outdoors trying new things. I decided to take this class because even though I was born and raised in Miami I feel as if there is still so much I don’t know about Miami, from its history to hidden gems, so I hope to gain more insight and a deeper understanding on how Miami came to be what we know it to be today.

Downtown Miami as Text

Photo by Stephanie Gudiel (CC by 4.0)

“Unspoken Past” by Stephanie Gudiel of FIU at Downtown Miami

Growing up in Miami I learned about the side of history educators wanted us to be proud of. I was taught that Henry Flagler was a founding father of south Florida, and most of what is around us today is thanks to his hard work. I was also taught about the history of slaves in the America as a whole. But it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that professor Bailly took our class to Lummus Park, that I was able to have a deeper understanding about the history of Miami, and realized our history isn’t as clean or simple as the textbooks put out to be.

In the 1840’s the Longhouse in the picture above was constructed by one hundred enslaved Africans that belonged to Colonel William F. English and it was part of a slave plantation here in Miami. English had obtained the title of the 640 acres that belonged to his uncle, who had already been running the slave plantation about a decade before. The current location of the Longhouse is not where it had always been, the slave plantation houses were originally constructed on the north bank of the Miami River. English left Miami for the California Gold rush leaving the Longhouse and all the land to be requisitioned by the Army in 1849 who decided to call it Fort Dallas.

Fort Dallas was used as barracks for soldiers during the Seminole Wars to push the Seminoles further out west by blocking their trade and isolating them. Once the army was satisfied with the land they took from the Seminoles they left. By 1889, Julia Tuttle was acquiring properties of the Biscayne Bay Company, and in 1891, she and her children moved into English’s former Slave Plantation.

This is when Julia Tuttle lured Henry Flagler down to South Florida, she gave him prime land on the mouth of the Miami River while she kept English’s properties for herself, in return he built his famous railroad all the way down to Miami. This is how Julia Tuttle became the Mother of Miami, she single handedly transformed a former slave plantation into a city, she is the only woman to have founded a major American city. After Julia Tuttle passed away, the Longhouse was shortly transformed into a gambling club and then into a Tea room in 1923.

In 1925, more than 75 years after the Longhouse had been built, it was moved from its original location to Lummus Park and this was the first time in Miami history that a building had been preserved for historical significance. This one building has been part of so many significant events that transformed Miami into what we know it to be. I never knew this building existed, much less that there was once a slave plantation where Downtown is today. This is to prove that although the building is standing in Lummus Park today with a summary of events in front of it, there is much of Miami’s past that is unspoken of.

Everglades as Text

Photo by Stephanie Gudiel (CC by 4.0)

“Uncharted Territory” by Stephanie Gudiel of FIU at the Everglades

As I walked into the cold murky water I thought, to myself “What could I possibly see here? What could I learn from walking through this dome?” I came to the realization, it’s not about learning, it’s about being able to experience and be one with nature. Being able to know and see a different side of the world, a side that has not been touched or changed by humanity. A place so self-contained with no trace of society, that it has its own sound, its own system and way of living that depends on no one and nothing but itself.

Walking deeper into the dome I saw fallen cypress trees, its roots lifted from the ground due to natural disasters, one would think that is how this cypress dome would slowly be destroyed, through natural disasters, or at least I did. Only to find out that from the roots began to grow more flora, life did not end there, from the fallen tree rose beautiful greenery to continue the cycle that is life. This ecosystem had the perfect balance as it was so pure and self-sufficient.

At one point we stopped, a safe distance from the road, completely immersed in the dome that I was able to hear the chime the wind created as it stirred within the trees, the birds chirping and gliding between trees even the flow of the water. It was something I had never experienced before. There was so much life, so many things going on in this one place that wasn’t undisclosed, simply unexplored, it was so easy to pass by on the road and not think anything of it.

To think that once upon a time this land was once home to the Tequestas, these grounds were walked by them everyday to the extent that they were just like our modern-day drive to our nearest publix to them, yet to us it is mysterious uncharted territory. I was simply a guest along with the rest of my class, wandering through this mesmerizing dome. And there will continue to be more just like me in the future, hundreds of years from now this dome will still contain its beauty and its distinctive qualities and will continue to captivate others.

This experience has made me appreciate the world from a new perspective, there is so much beauty I have yet to see, to feel, and encounter. So, we must appreciate each time we may face the untouched raw world and embrace it to preserve it, so future generations can relish and have this unique experience as I did and be one with nature.

South Beach as Text

Photos by Stephanie Gudiel (CC by 4.0)

“Built History” by Stephanie Gudiel of FIU at South Beach

I was enjoying the sun on my skin as well as the light breeze as we were walking down Ocean drive. Looking left and right trying to take in all that is South beach, as I hadn’t been there in over a year due to the pandemic. It was like going there for the first time. The road was blocked to allow the restaurants to continue to operate with outdoor seating, I heard loud music playing in the background, the sound of people talking and laughing, simply enjoying their day. I thought to myself, this is Miami, this is what people from all over the world come to see and feel, this vibe that is unique to my hometown.

Music and culture aside, what really completes South Beach are the architectural styles we run into. It hadn’t been something I had thought about until Professor Bailly pointed it out. I had been to South beach countless times, however, this was the first time I realized there are three main architectural designs that give South Beach the ambiance we long for. They each serve their purpose and show a bit of the history of Miami through them.

The mediterranean revival style was most prominent in the early 1900’s, and this style reflects the influence of the mediterranean coast. These types of buildings mostly show the spanish baroque style with the columns and balconies, they also typically have the stucco walls and red tile roofs. In the old days, the red tile roofs were actually made by hand, the women would use their thighs to give the clay tile that curved shape. As we walked through South beach we saw a few buildings resembling this architectural style.

South Beach is most well known for its concentration on Art Deco style, it actually has the highest concentration of Art deco buildings making it the iconic style for Miami. From the pastel colors used, to the “eyebrow like” balconies and its unique curves, it’s everything that comes to mind when you think of Miami vice. It is typically easy to identify using the 3 by 3 rule, meaning they tend to be three floors, and its colors are split in three, they also try to reflect the ocean so they generally use blue when making these buildings. This design was meant to embrace the machine age and a perfect example of it would be the Ocean five hotel.

Lastly, we encountered Mimo, which is eclectic on its own and relatively new. Simply put, it takes Art deco and modernizes it, making it glamorous yet minimalist. Miami Modern style is easy to distinguish with its curves, bright colors, and walls with geometric shape cutouts.

All three of these styles are seen walking down Ocean drive, one building after another with its own unique twist on one of these styles are a typical example of them. Each one resembling a piece of history that made Miami what it is today, and reminding us what it once was. One would think all this variation of styles on one street would look off putting, but it’s quite the opposite, this is what attracts all kinds of people to Miami.

This class brought me to a different kind of awareness, when we go anywhere the first thing we acknowledge is the culture of the place which is normally noticeable through the music and people. But sometimes we need to step back and see the bigger picture, quite literally see where we are as each place tells a story of its own from our surroundings. The colors set the mood, the shapes built into the walls speak volumes, from glamour to tranquil. This will allow us to appreciate and understand the world as it is.

Deering Estate as Text

Photos by Stephanie Gudiel (CC by 4.0)

“Sight to see” by Stephanie Gudiel of FIU at Deering Estate

It was a sunny day and I could feel the humidity as we walked into Deering Estate. As we walked through, the view was breathtaking, from the water to all the beautiful vegetation and flowers I encountered. At the dock, where the fresh water meets Biscayne Bay, we were able to see quite a few manatees, living in their own world they were turning on their backs, coming up for air every few minutes it was fascinating to see as I’d never seen them so up close.

After walking through six different ecosystems that were all found on the Deering Estate, we were able to walk through the Stone house and the Richmond Cottage. Charles Deering, an industrialist, environmentalist, and art collector bought the land that is now known as Deering Estate, and constructed the Stone House in the 1920’s. Deering bought the land and property from Samuel H. Richmond who constructed what is known as the Richmond Cottage, this was the first and only hotel between Coconut Grove and Key West during that time. Next to the cottage is where Deering built the Stone house, in which most of its architectural influences are from the mediterranean revival style but still reflects some islamic influences through the doors and windows. The Stone house was used more of a way to showcase his valuable art collection rather than a home. Aside from the aesthetically pleasing designs throughout the house as well as parts of his art collection displayed, the part that intrigued me was the hidden wine cellar. There was a wine cellar down in the basement hidden behind a vault and a bookshelf, all this secrecy was of course due to the fact that this was during the prohibition era. This cellar was only discovered after Hurricane Andrew flooded and damaged part of the property.

Vizcaya as Text

Photos by Stephanie Gudiel (CC by 4.0)

“Living Lavishly” by Stephanie Gudiel of FIU at Vizcaya

I made a sharp right turn as I almost missed the exit from US1 to head towards Vizcaya. Driving through the entrance I was surrounded by trees it felt like I was driving through a forest until I began to see statues to my left and right. After parking, I walked through heading towards the gates and the main entrance to this beautiful Italian inspired villa. The view of the walkway to go to the house was simply awe inspiring. The symmetry of flowers and a stream of water flowing in the middle of them on both sides of the walkway, with the Mediterranean revival style main house in the middle really set the tone for the rest of the estate.

From that moment it was clear that James Deering was not a fan of humility. This became more evident as I noticed the arches right outside of the entrance of his home. There were triumphal arches, which were known to be used by the Romans to commemorate victorious generals or as a symbol of founding new colonies. James Deering had no historical significance for them, simply wanted them to aesthetically enhance his estate and I believe it also suits his personality. He personalized these arches to fit his estate by adding seahorses throughout the arches.

Walking into the house the first object to catch your eye would be a statue of Bacchus, the god of wine and pleasure, on top of a tub with two children on each side. This fountain is a great representation of what James Deering had in mind for his villa, a place for entertainment and to showcase his wealth. Deering did not refrain from spending when it came to styling his home. Every room was designed around objects brought from Europe, more specifically the majority of the objects and style came from Italy. He put Paul Chalfin, an artistic director, in charge of assembling his rooms together, and Diego Suarez in charge of his landscape masterpiece.

John Deering’s architectural style and lavish life essentially influenced the whole city of Miami, as it is what Miami is known for to some extent, the lively entertainment and mediterranean revival style.

Margulies as Text

Photos by Stephanie Gudiel (CC by 4.0)

“Up close and personal” by Stephanie Gudiel of FIU at Margulies Art Collection

The Margulies art collection at the warehouse is a nonprofit institution that is dedicated to sharing and educating the public on contemporary art. Martin Z Margulies has even donated some pieces to educational institutions, such as FIU and UM. His goal is to be able to share his appreciation for art which is why he presents seasonal exhibitions, he changes the works in his warehouse every year so people can keep experiencing new things. His passion to collect art is not simply to acquire works, it gives him the chance to learn and gain knowledge from colleagues, artists, and fellow gallerists.

I’ll be honest and say contemporary art is something I had never understood or at least understood the attraction to it. After visiting the Margulies art collection in Wynwood, I changed my mind, it opened my eyes to a different world of expression one that is so personal it tells a story through a series of images or sculptures.

When I first walked into the warehouse, to my right was a series of headless figures in a separate room. There were 250 hollow headless human figures, of varying sizes to represent different ages, all made of resin soaked burlap or cast bronze. This is a very well known work done by Magdalena Abakanowicz, who successfully portrayed human condition from her experience. She did this by making these headless figures lack any identifiers, whether it be race, ethnicity, or culture, they all look the same simply different sizes. The key to these figures is that they’re headless, meaning they don’t have a mind of their own, as if they don’t have emotions, thoughts, opinions. The reason her works tend to be headless is because she grew up during difficult times, she was only 9 years old when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, which is where she lived. She endured many years of war, which is why her works express loss and hardship. The headless figures represent people being stripped of their identity, a common occurrence in times of war, like the jews who weren’t seen as people to the Nazis in the Holocaust, they were all just a number despite their age, they all went through the same hardships.

The beauty of contemporary art is that it’s very personal, it does not have to make sense to everybody, as long as its creator understands it and the work holds meaning for them, that is what matters. What I love about it is, it makes you think outside the box, the creators break all boundaries and expectations when it comes to art. You can play with it, you can walk in it, feel it, even smell it. It’s like you’re walking into a personal story the artist is trying to express, or it can dig up certain memories you’ve forgotten of. My favorite piece from the warehouse was by Ernesto Neto, it was these sockets hanging from the ceiling filled with aromatic spices. The second you entered the warehouse you could catch a hint of the smell, what’s intriguing about this piece is it is not at all what you expect or what comes to mind when you think of art, yet it has an impact on anyone who approaches it. The sense of smell is one of the most important, many of our memories are connected to a certain smell and we may not even realize it. This work is very interactive as you’re meant to approach each socket as some have different spices, to me some smelled like pepper which easily reminded of my dad, others smelled like cinnamon and cloves, reminding me of my childhood and my grandma. Each of these memories that were triggered by these smells brought up different emotions, and what’s mesmerizing about this piece is that it affects everyone differently, we can be smelling the same socket, the same spices, yet it can produce very distinct reactions and emotions.

Every work in the warehouse was unique, some told similar stories or were in remembrance of a specific event, but no two were alike, it amazes me to this day. Having this be the last class held some significance, I feel as though I have gained a newfound interest and appreciation for art.