France Spring 2020 As Texts: Connor Grim

” I’m not James Deering; An Introspection” by Connor Grim FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
As I sat down to write this assignment, looking for a picture I had taken to pair with whatever I was going to write, I realized that the foolishly silly Snapchat you see before you is the only evidence of me ever being at Vizcaya; this was the one and only thing I thought worthy enough to preserve forever as a photograph. Initially, I was dismayed, but as I reflected about my experience at Vizcaya and what the property meant to me, I gathered that this lion begging for reprieve was an accurate reflection of what truly stimulated me about the mansion: The ideal of taking something from another time, another context, and bending it, warping it to fit what appealed to me. It is evident Deering did much the same as he embarked on creating Vizcaya.

I mean, come on. Vizcaya is an ancient Mediterranean, humanistic French, gilded, seaside beacon to the gods built by a gay, racist inheritor from Maine. This man, James Deering, and his house were together as rococo as most of the rooms located within, and that’s where I found my connection to the manor. Its sporadic, half revivalist half paradigm-breaking style is what I could relate to the most. The utter subjectivity Deering had when it came to what he was working with, much less the practicals and moreso the themes associated with them, is something I enjoy seeking for myself; music, humor, architecture- in any realm.

I could see myself in James Deering, making many of the same moves he did. A painful attention to symmetry, “J’ai Dit” cresting the windows I would stand under, painted marble upon the walls: Truly, had I been in his position, I doubt our visions would look dissimilar. I would have adorned my halls with beasts that looked like pathetic excuses for lions, attempted to legitimize my presence in Miami as the second coming of Ponce De Leon, and maintained my garden meticulously.

However, I am not James Deering. I am blessed with being born with the privilege of regarding non-whites and non-males equal to myself (I find Deering’s anti-minority moat in equal aspects pitifully hilarious and sickening). Sure, I see myself rebuilding Vizcaya much the same should I have been in Deering’s shoes, but not in a vain attempt to sneer down at other wealthy, but less-wealthy, property owners. No, I would stand underneath “J’ai Dit” in irony, mock my lions, boast in my curator’s talents in picking artworks the significance of which I could never understand. I wouldn’t front. At least, I hope not. No, I believe my humor would remain much the same as “noo pwease noooo dont pwease no.”

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