Miami in Miami: Jose Rosales

Photo by Lily Fonte

Biography

Hello everyone. My name is Jose Rosales, my family emigrated from Cuba about 10 years ago when I was 14 years of age. I am a FIU undergrad who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in Biology. I plan to graduate next semester and attend Medical School with the goal of becoming a great neurosurgeon.

I basically grew up in Miami, but I have never exploited the fact that I live in such a popular city. If you go to any country (or any other state for that matter) and you say that you are from Miami, the first thought that goes into people’s minds is that you are a wealthy individual who lives a luxurious life and enjoys all the benefits that the magic city has to offer. I for one, have always taken for granted the fact that I live in such a popular city. I have never taken the time to get to know my own city. Hence, I decided to join professor Bailly this semester so that alongside him and my classmates we can truly discover everything that this weird, yet attractive city has to offer.

Metro as Text

Miami: A City Full of Hidden Treasures By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on September 11, 2019

I have lived in Miami for the past 10 years and never had it occurred to me to ride the metro. There is this misconception that people have that public transportation is unsafe and just not practical. I have lived in Miami for the past 10 years and never had it occurred to me to ride the metro. There is this misconception that people have that public transportation is unsafe and just not practical. As time progresses, our society becomes more and more dependent on technology. We try to connect with people through applications such as Facebook and Instagram when in reality we just end up isolating ourselves from other people. Applications like Uber and Lyft make it easier to get to a desired destination with the click of a button, some of their more affordable options even include carpooling which is great for the environment and helps decrease the number of cars on the streets. However, these benefits are nothing compared to the advantages bestowed upon us by public transportation. The first big difference we can see is price, the metro is a transportation method that is fairly inexpensive. Riding the metro allows you to connect and interact with people, you get to see how they go about their everyday life. Even if you do not approach the passengers and establish a conversation, you still find yourself encountering all kinds of different people and of different social classes. Hence, get to connect with the more humane aspect of your life. Not to mention how much faster you can reach your desired destination, since you are avoiding all the traffic that encompasses living in a city as overpopulated as Miami. One of the downsides of riding the metro (or any form of public transportation for that matter) is what is known as “the last mile”, which basically means that these transport methods can often warrantee to get you within a mile of your objective. However, I like to see it as an opportunity to exercise your body by either walking or riding a bike. Overall, I had a great time learning how to ride the metro and discovering areas of Miami to which I had never been before.

Vizcaya as Text

The Jewel of the shoreline By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on September 25, 2019

Vizcaya Museum & Garden is a place that is often associated with quinceañeras and weddings due to this historic landmark’s astonishing beauty. I have lived in Miami for the past 10 years and I had never paid a visit to this monumental village until our first trip with professor Bailly. Turns out Vizcaya is much more than just a magnificent architectural jewel, it is the epitome of cultural appropiation.

What once was an endless shoreline of mangroves and inland native forest, billionaire James Deering turned into an extravagant villa that would later embody Miami’s essence. As you disembark the train at Vizcaya Metrorail Station and you make your way towards the villa, there is a bridge that dances with the flora and moves out of nature’s way in a zig-zag pattern that is both beautiful and respectful. As you reach the west entrance, you are greeted by a sculpture of Ponce de Leon and two flowing fountains that lead the way to the estate’s façade as you walk under a massive arch formed by trees that rise from both side of the walkway. James Deering’s goal was to create an Italian Renaissance style Villa as authentic as possible, and he did, it looks as though a European architectural piece had been magically removed from its rightful place and it had been planted on the coast of Florida. Deering wished for his winter residence to be a representation of his wealth, and he made sure that his guests acknowledged that. A statue of Dionysus can be found at the entrance of the mansion that captures the essence of Miami –as Dionysus is the god of wine and pleasure. He wanted his guests to know that his residence was a paradise, a Garden of Eden. He understood the very nature of Miami, of what it should rise to be, a city that is as weird and extravagant as it is beautiful.

Deering Estate as Text

The Sister Jewel By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on October 13, 2019

The Deering Estate is a four hundred- and forty-four-acre time travel machine that allows you to retrace the steps of history. It grants you the opportunity to walk the same paths as our predecessors. Thus, facilitating discovery as you dive deeper into its prominent hammocks, which house the subtle secrets that it has to share with the eyes of the meticulous explorer.

As we ventured further into the grounds (avoiding certain poisonous trees and solution holes) we came across different fossils that date as far back as 50, 000- 100, 000 years. I was fascinated at the fact that I stood where many creatures now extinct, such as mammoths, once roamed free, the only thing that stood between us was time. Let alone the fact that it never crossed my mind that at any given point in time mammoths wandered in Florida. I will never forget the moment I got to hold in my very hands a fragment of such magnificent creature’s teeth, something that I can now proudly check off from my bucket list.

Paleo Indians, Tequesta’s and Seminoles have lived at different times in the land encompassed by the Estate. During our hike we also stumbled upon many artifacts that serve as living proof of the Tequesta’s trading methods. We discovered different colored pieces of pottery that hail from different parts of the nation. We know this based on the elemental composition of such fragments. These native Americans would trade pottery items for conch shell tools, which were modified by them to serve various purposes. We also had the opportunity to visit a Tequesta burial mound where their loved ones now rest in peace. A colossal oak tree lays at the center of the burial, serving as its very own Taj Mahal. I can only hope that more people would take the time to enjoy this magical experience, and by effect learn more about our past.

Chicken Key as Text

In Preservation of our Shoreline By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on October 23, 2019

A week had passed and I found myself back at the Sister Jewel. This time, however, with a different goal in mind, to save the lives of many marine animals that struggle to fight against the wreckage that we as human leave behind. As we gathered by the bay, professor Bailly detailed out the instructions on how we were to proceed once we got to Chicken Key. I remember having a hard time keeping focus due to the inexplicable beauty that lay before me. It was a sunrise like no other, and I just kept thinking that it was at last the time for me to make a positive impact on our local environment. We traveled by way of canoe, after paddling for approximately 45 minutes we arrived at a small island that would prove to be the beginning of our adventure. Once there, we were faced with an overwhelming amount of marine debris. There were plastic bottles, shattered glass, plastic bags and all kinds of rubbish scattered all around. It was just a heart-breaking moment, to come to the realization of how much unnecessary harm humans can cause not only to the beautiful and innocent creatures that inhabit our waters but to the planet itself. Freeing up the island from so much pollution is definitely one thing that brings peace to my mind and something that I can be proud of. I wish people would become more conscious of all the damage that we are doing to our planet. We as human are so proud of our technological advancements and exalt ourselves as a superior species. Yet, in truth, we are just the most brutal, selfish and cruel organism of them all.

Wynwood as Text

A look into Contemporary Art By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on November 6, 2019

People often spend months, even years, planning trips to European countries such as Italy and Spain in order to visit museums and experience masterpieces by the greatest artist of all times, such as Picasso and da Vinci. However, something that I did not know is that we have on our very own backyards (metaphorically speaking), some of the leading contemporary art collections in the world. Collections that people from Paris, Rome and from all over the world desperately long to visit. It is funny how everything is a matter of perspective, how one finds more desirable that which one cannot easily obtain (or have access to for that matter). To be honest, art has never been one of my strong suits. Though I was excited for the visit to the art collections, I did not expect to be truly captivated by anything. I was expecting to see what I always believed to be overpriced abstract paintings that I couldn’t understand. However, much to my surprise, we came across some fantastic and very unique works of art. At the Margulies Collection, we were extremely fortunate to have Mr. Margulies himself take time out of his busy schedule to give us a tour of the premises. As we walked by the different rooms, he explained how art was not only about being visually appealing to the audience but that it was also about conveying a message. Art can take on many forms, from a simple photograph to a sculpture, to a urinal hung up on the wall. I remember he said, “if you take a shirt and hang it on the wall, then it becomes art… that does not mean it is good art, but still art nonetheless”. When he said this, everyone laughed because it was so funny, yet also true. He gave us a little insight on how he collects the works that he believes in and he even let us take a peek to what he had in storage. After visiting both, Margulies and the De la Cruz Collection, I finally understood that, as the saying goes, you cannot judge a book by its cover. One must first approach the piece and try to understand it whether it be visually appealing or not, and only then should we decide whether we like it or not. I will be definitely be coming back with my family and friends and share with them a little bit of what I have learned.

HistoryMiami as Text

The Land of Freedom By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on November 20, 2019

Located at the heart of Downtown Miami, there lies one of the largest history museums in the State of Florida, The HistoryMiami Museum. Founded in the year 1940 (under a different name), this museum serves as the second oldest cultural institution in South Florida. This fine facility takes you back in time and gives you the opportunity to re-live the history of Miami, since it houses thousands of historic images and artifacts recovered from all throughout Miami’s history. This varied collection ranges from dire wolf fossils, to a trolley car from the 1920s, to hand-made rafts that successfully carried those desperate and courageous enough to flee their countries in search of refuge.

During our stay in the museum, we were accompanied by Maria Moreno, who served as our tour guide. She did a phenomenal job explaining every otherwise elusive detail, among which were the differences between the various eras exhibited as we were guided through the facility. We were even given the unique opportunity to hold in our very hands a knife carved from the jawbone of a crocodile by the native Tequestas, this tool among many others are believed to be over a thousand years old. A particularly striking story was that of Negro Abraham, a “slick” African Seminole warrior that earned the respect of Indians and federal officials alike for his rare ability to translate.

America is built upon united sacrifice for the principle of freedom, yet this is often taken for granted. I was profoundly moved at having learned of the many hardships that those immigrants before me had undergone for an opportunity at freedom, to be deserving of a better life and the chance to give their progenies the opportunity of a brighter future. On display there was a crude hand-made raft that was recovered from the shores. It so happens that many years later a family would come to visit the museum and one gentleman claimed that said raft was the one used by his family to escape the Castro regime. In order to support his claim, he described the raft in full detail and even told his story, of how 5 people boarded the little boat with nothing more than a couple of gallons of fresh water, a very limited food supply, and the reckless hope of reaching what was known to many as “The Land of Freedom”. This really puts into perspective how privileged we all are to live in a nation that although far from perfect, provides everyone with opportunity in equal measure regardless of color, ethnicity or beliefs.

After what proved to be quite a memorable tour, we made our way to the Freedom Tower, a building that serves as our very own Statue of Liberty. This stunning example of architecture was once used to process, document, and provide medical and dental services for the Cuban refugees who somehow through sheer determination managed to escape from an oppressive communist regime.

In retrospect, it is keenly poetic that this tour would have occurred when it did, as it served as a terminal point of unification for all the knowledge that we have gathered through our multiple adventures in the Magic City.

Miami Art as Text

“The Birth of Abstractions” By Jose Rosales of FIU at UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach on December 4, 2019

The concept of art has existed for as long as humankind could grasp abstraction. It has always served as a means to record historical events in a way that transcends the barriers of language. Art has no tongue, and regardless of the medium being used, finds a way to transcend to the audience’s subconscious and transmit a message that could be both visual and subliminal.

This week we were scheduled to visit the UNTITLED ART fair at Miami Beach. I have never really cared much for art myself. Needless to say, I had no idea that such fairs even took place so close to my own hometown. Untitled Art is a curated art fair that was founded in the year 2012 by Jeffrey Lawson. The fair focuses on integrity and curatorial balance across all the different disciplines of contemporary art. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Emily, who graciously took time from her busy schedule to talk to us about the history of the event. Good art is only one of the many requirements that needed to be met in order to make it to Untitled. It takes massive amounts of time and determination to go through the application process, to find a good gallery to represent your work, to have the monetary means to have your works of art shipped from (quite possibly) the other side of the world. Unlike Art Miami fair, Untitled is primary market for the most part, meaning that the art works being sold at the gallery are making their first appearance. Here the price of the artwork is established for the first time. What I found so fascinating about Untitled is that we had the honor to meet many artists that were at the exhibit presenting some of their pieces, guiding us to decipher the meaning of their work. Having the opportunity to experience works of art from all parts of the world, seeing how the team at Untitled had managed to make such a beautiful and well organized event possible was incredible. Galleries from all over the globe representing their cultural art and folklore. Prior to attending the fair, professor Bailly had mentioned various details of the event, but I definitely did not expect to see a Cuban gallery at the fair. El Apartamento, from Havana, CU had on display some works that were rather abstract, using wax from melted candles to represent different landscapes. Paintings that depicted Cuba’s history and folklore. However, what had the greatest impact on me were some wooden sculptures that looked rather rudimentary. They represented two teenage boys playing with homemade wooden scooters and skateboards, I was instantly transported back to my childhood and a notion of nostalgia invaded my heart. This is a power that I believed elusive to art, and it was simply beautiful.

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