ASC Service Project 2020: Molly Schantz

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital

FIU students outside of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital after a tour organized by Molly Schantz, photo by Molly Schantz

Student Bio

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Molly Schantz is a Sophomore at the Honors College of Florida International University. She is majoring in Political Science on the Pre-Law track. After she graduates from FIU, she would like to go to law school and eventually practice environmental law. She has always believed that travel and cultural experience is the best way to get an education and being in a class where she can learn about topics outside of her major while also being outside a classroom is her ideal honors class. Molly is currently enrolled in the Honors College Art Society Conflict course and will be graduating in the spring of 2022.


Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is Miami’s local children’s hospital that is partnered with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH). CMNH is an organization that serves as an umbrella for its partnering hospitals and focuses on bettering patient experiences and providing hospitals with the resources they need to make any family feel safe and at home at the hospital. CMNH also partners with schools all around the country for an event called Dance Marathon. At FIU we call it Roarthon. Dance Marathon raises millions of dollars a year for CMNH and respective local children’s hospitals like Nicklaus. Being a part of Roarthon was how I got the opportunity to work with the hospital and found a passion for helping kids and their families that spend more time in the hospital than anywhere else.


62 patients enter a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital like Nicklaus every minute and the next steps for the children and their families are often unknown from that point on. I am fortunate enough to be healthy and able to care for myself as well as others. I think it is crucial for those who can help others in less fortunate situations, to do so. I love branching out from my major (political science) and putting my heart into activities and organizations that benefit the community and can give me life experiences regardless of what my career path is. I would have liked to volunteered with an art institution this semester as I did last semester, but due to COVID-19 I was not able to. I am glad I have the opportunity to talk about working with CMNH because it has become one of the biggest focuses in my life in the past year. I think it is important to find you personal ‘why’ for doing what you do and my ‘why’ for giving back to Nicklaus is to give kids the opportunity to not only have a future, but BE the future. I stick by my ‘why’ anytime I question why I do this or feel down in my own life. I have friends and family members that wouldn’t be alive without hospitals such as Nicklaus and everyone, sick or not sick, deserves the opportunity to live their life to the fullest and for many that is impossible without Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and the services that CMNH provide.


My specific position title within Roarthon was Family Relations Chair. That meant that I was the liaison between our dance marathon at FIU and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. It was my job to plan tours for students to help them better understand what they were giving back to as well as hosting events for kids and their families at the hospital in the Michael Fux Family Center. Prior to joining Roarthon, I had no real connection to CMNH, but being surrounded by peers who are passionate about servant leadership ignited my own passion for this cause and my specific position connected my directly with the hospital and gave me opportunities to volunteer at the hospital.


Once a month since October, I have scheduled and hosted events at the Michael Fux Family Center in Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. The family center is an area in the hospital for patients and their families to spend time in and have fun. There is a home movie theater, a room for arts and crafts, a laundry room, office space, game room, and more. The goal of the family center is to make families feel as at home as possible. Many families check in to the hospital one night and are there for weeks before they can go home. It is important to make sometimes inevitable circumstances into acceptable ones. Just because a child has to go through chemotherapy, doesn’t mean they should be stripped of their fun times and normal kid activities like watching movies or painting with friends. Volunteers and organizations can host activities in the family center in order to create variety for the patients have a constant programming schedule.

Drawings from my first event at the Michael Fux Family Center *volunteers are not allowed to photograph patients*

I organized a variety of events, but they all were arts and crafts related so that all ages could participate. My favorite event was right near Thanksgiving. We went to the family center and had set up an activity for kids to make hand turkey drawings, but after about 10 minutes they all just wanted to draw freely. There were parents, siblings, cousins, and the patients participating in the activity and for that hour, everyone seemed to forget they were in the hospital. Everyone was just having fun. Another activity we had was finger painting which brings out the inner child in everyone, including myself. Different student participants of Roarthon were brought to these events to create a stronger connection to CMNH and develop their own ‘whys’ as well as connect with patients and their families.



I learned so much from spending time at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and hope to continue next year. I will never forget the interactions I had with kids during these events. I learned more from the kids than I could ever teach them. My most memorable conversation was during the finger painting activity. I was sitting at a table with one young girl on my left and another young girl on my right. They both must have been under 7, but the girl on my right came in with an IV and had t be plugged into the wall by the nurse before she could being painting. She was wearing a hat to cover her bald head. The other girl told me that she was at the hospital waiting for her sister who was being treated at the time. We all were painting when the girl on my left told me she liked my hair and I said thank you, but didn’t think much of it. I told her I liked her hair and wished mine was curly like hers. The girl on my right then said “I wish I had hair, you both have such beautiful hair” and I immediately got emotional. I hadn’t even considered that she had lost all her hair due to chemo and how ignorant I must have sounded saying I wished my own hair was different. That was such a learning moment for me because I took a step back and remembered all the small things that I take for granted every day, including my hair. It was experiences like that which furthered my passion for helping these kids and doing what I could to give them the feeling of being a normal child no matter what situation they were in.


  • “Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Florida.” Nicklaus Children’s Hospital,

ASC Who Art Miami Spring 2020: Molly Schantz

Artist: Jennifer Basile

Artist Quote

Handmade works of Art
Photo from

“I don’t think you can teach creativity”- Jennifer Basile, talking about being both an artist and a teacher.

Student Bio

Molly Schantz is a Sophomore at the Honors College of Florida International University. She is majoring in Political Science on the Pre-Law track. After she graduates from FIU, she would like to go to law school and eventually practice environmental law. She has always believed that travel and cultural experience is the best way to get an education and being in a class where she can learn about topics outside of her major while also being outside a classroom is her ideal honors class. Molly is currently enrolled in the Honors College Art Society Conflict course and will be graduating in the spring of 2022.

Artist Bio

Jennifer Basile is a teacher, artist, and printmaker based here in Miami, FL. She was born and raised in Long Island, NY but moved to Miami with her family right before she started college. She comes from a long lineage of Italians, but has lived in the United States her whole life. Basile attended Broward Community College prior to attending the University of Miami where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts. She attended Southern Illinois University for where she received her Master of Fine Arts. She began printmaking at the University of Miami and made it her focus in graduate school. After graduate school, she moved back to Miami and began doing part time teaching at different schools, including her alma mater at the University of Miami. She also began teaching part time at Miami Dade College Kendall Campus which is where she currently teaches today. She has been teaching full time as a Painting and Figure Drawing professor at Miami Dade College for 18 years. Basile said she was able to get this position because she had spent all her time in graduate school in her elective courses learning painting and other mediums of art in order to keep her options open for her career, even though her main focus as an artist is printmaking. Many of her influences and inspirations that have gotten her to where she is today are her own professors.

Personal Identity

Boneyard Beach by Jennifer Basile, photo from LnS Gallery

Basile’s life experiences and influences have definitely gotten her to where she is now and inspired her to do what she does, but one of the biggest hurdles that she has had to climb over is being a woman in the art world. This struggle is what pushed her to succeed in the art of printmaking. In my interview with Jennifer, she mentioned how in undergrad she was doing mostly painting with all different kinds of professors from all different backgrounds and she liked having a variety of teachers, both male and female and with different artistic backgrounds. One of her professors, Lise Drost, told Basile that she “paints like a printmaker” which really first sparked her interest in printmaking as a focus. Basile began to fall in love with the “methodical and arduous process” of printmaking as she began taking classes under and working with Professor Drost. She describes printmaking as a very empowering form of art because it is gutsy and there really is no going back and sketching or fixing mistakes, you just go for it. As a woman, this practice and process was even more empowering because of how laborious printmaking can be. It can be discouraging to be passionate about a field that doesn’t open the same doors for women as it does men, but Basile found a true love for printmaking and never wanted to turn back. During her first few years doing part-time teaching, Basile also had gotten an artist residency with the Bakehouse Art Complex. She had a studio there where she was able to make large scale prints, which made her stand out from many other printmakers at the time. While at the Bakehouse, Bernice Steinbaum came to her studio one day and was so incredibly supportive of her art, that she commissioned Basile to make some pieces for her own home collection. This was one of those experiences that kicked off Basile’s career in the Miami art world. Luisa Lignarolo and Sergio Cernuda, the owners of LnS Gallery, were friends with Bernice and discovered Basile’s work right before the opened their gallery. Ever since their opening, Basile has been featured at the gallery and maintained a great relationship with the owners and been able to network with many other local artists, such as John Bailly. While these personal experiences have gotten Jennifer to where she is career-wise, the subject of her works remain fluid and don’t necessarily reflect a certain time or experience in her life.

Cultural Identity

7 Things You Didn't Know about Hokusai, Creator of The Great Wave ...
Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’

Basile defines herself as a contemporary artist simply because she is creating art in the contemporary world. As I mentioned before, she keeps the subject of her art fluid, especially since printmaking is such a unique form of art and is based on just doing more than planning. As an artist, she is really inspired by Japanese printmaking. She specifically mentioned Hiroshige and Hokusai, Both are famous Japanese printmakers from the 19th century- which just shows how printmaking has lasted the test of time. She always admired these artists, but her own work doesn’t reflect the style of Japanese printmaking. She is also inspired somewhat by the Baroque art movement. She relates this to her Italian heritage and said the “drama is very appealing” in Baroque pieces. The importance of light in art also became popular in the Baroque period and light is crucial to printmaking, but none of her pieces reflect Baroque-style paintings. Printmaking is all about making unique pieces that evolve with the artist that is creating them, rather than reflecting the time period or artistic movement.

Subject of Artwork

Muir Woods II by Jennifer Basile, photo from LnS Gallery

“I’ve never been a statement artist”, said Basile about her subject of prints. She has always appreciated the aesthetic value of art over the political or social statement trying to be made. She tips her hat to artists that can make pieces with a subtle statement or message while remaining aesthetically pleasing and challenging the viewer to find the meaning, but she doesn’t base her pieces off of deeper meanings. She is relatively consistent with her prints being of landscapes or things found in the natural world. She doesn’t let that limit her subjects, but it is just what she prefers to make. She is an environmentalist as heart and loves spending time outdoors. Some of her work may have a subtle message about the environment, but instead of making the statement that we are destroying the environment, she uses her prints as a way to create documentation of the environment as it is in the present. Her form of “research” is going on elongated hikes or ventures slightly off the beaten path and capturing photos of the landscape. Documentary in art often creates a yearning for preservation in the viewer.

Formal Elements of Artwork

“Ernie” Everglades Alligator by Jennifer Basile, photo from LnS Gallery

In discussing her creative process, Jennifer said one of the most important parts is the initial research or experience that she has with her subject of a piece. Immersing herself in the landscape or environment and capturing hundreds of photos and getting a better understanding of what she is going to emulate in a print is very valuable. Documenting her subjects through photos allows to her recreate the spacial elements. She doesn’t regularly do sketches or preliminary drawings and is more spontaneous with her process. Light is the most important forma element to be aware of when making relief prints and she uses photography to grasp the lighting of her subjects. She mentioned that the Baroque period of art history is an inspiration of hers because of the vast evolution of adding light and shadows to artwork and creating depth.

When it comes to teaching, there are basic techniques that need to be learned in order to successfully make prints. She allows her students to be creative and fluid in their own subjects and creative process, but emphasizes the technicalities of prints and challenges them to try new things once they have mastered a skill.

Exhibition/Project History

Little Pots by Jennifer Basile, photo from LnS Gallery

Jennifer Basile has had her work consistently shown at the LnS gallery for the last 3 years, but has done some individual traveling shows as well as a fellowship program out in California. She did a solo exhibition in Richmond, VA at the Iridian Gallery. It is an LGBTQ+ gallery that was doing a show featuring artists from the LGBTQ+ community, but wanted to move away from showing art that made statements about the community and instead just highlight artists from the community. While she was there, she got to work with students from VCU and speak to different classes about her work and printmaking. Basile also did a fellowship with the Kala Art Institute in Berkley, CA. She was there for 4 months making art and showing at the institute. She is currently trying to venture out in her career and is applying to different residencies and shows around the country.

Student Perspective

John Bailly’s FIU Honors Class “Art Society Conflict” at Jennifer Basile’s studio at Miami Dade College

I really enjoyed working with Jennifer Basile. She is super down to earth and blunt with the way she talks about art and I really appreciate that. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to spend much time with her in person due to COVID-19, our zoom meeting was very helpful and I learned a lot. For a class trip earlier in the semester, I did have the opportunity to visit her studio at Miami Dade College and make some prints. I definitely do not consider myself an artist, but that was such a fun experience and I enjoyed learning from her and allowing myself to get creative and try something new. I think printmaking is an underrated form of art and I have a lot of respect for the work that Basile and other printmakers around the world create.


  • “About.” Jennifer Basile,
  • “JENNIFER_BASILE.”, 25 Mar. 2020,
  • “HOME.”, 13 Apr. 2020,

Italia Spring 2020 Ineffable Miami: Coral Gables by Molly Schantz

Molly Schantz is a Sophomore at the Honors College of Florida International University. She is majoring in Political Science on the Pre-Law track. After she graduates from FIU, she would like to go to law school and eventually practice environmental law. She has always believed that travel and cultural experience is the best way to get an education and being in a class where she can learn about topics outside of her major while also being outside a classroom is her ideal honors class. Molly is currently enrolled in the Honors College Italy Grand Tour Redux course and will be graduating in the spring of 2022.


Coral Gables City Limits, Photo from

Coral Gables is a city on the eastern side of Miami-Dade County. It is a residential area that neighbors South Miami and Coconut Grove. The city begins at Red Road to the West and ends around Douglas Road. It is bordered on the North by Tamiami Trail/8th Street and the southernmost point is just North of the Deering Estate. Coral Gables is the home of the University of Miami as well as a multitude of desirable neighborhoods. It is also home of many multinational business headquarters and tourist landmarks such as the Biltmore Hotel.


Coral Gables, Photo from the Hotel Colonnade

Coral Gables was founded and developed by George Merrick in the early 1920’s. Merrick had inherited the land from his father when they were citrus groves at the time. He began to develop the groves into one of America’s first planned cities. By 1926, Coral Gables covered 10,000 acres of land and over $100,000,000 had been spent on city development. 

George Merrick, Photo from Florida Photographic Collection

George Merrick first served as the county commissioner for District 1 in 1915, where he truly made his mark by leading road construction in South Florida. Some of the most notable projects he worked on was the construction of Tamiami Trail and South Dixie Highway, also known as US-1. The projects would later be crucial in his creation and planning of Coral Gables. After his time as commissioner, he began designing the city of Coral Gables. His true passion was design and aesthetic which is why even today, Coral Gables has strict zoning and design policies and many of the buildings follow a very similar aesthetic. 

Merrick started with the 3,000 acres of land that his father left to him. He designed residential neighborhoods that catered to the growing upper middle class. Within 3 years he had designed and developed 1,000 mediterranean style homes that complimented the architecture of the historic Biltmore Hotel. He began to incorporate spanish-style architecture in his designs after that to add some diversity. The spanish-style roofing that you see on most of the homes in Coral Gables today is attributed to this. 

Coral Gables began to expand rapidly, especially with the addition of the University of Miami in 1925 which Merrick donated 600 acres to. Unfortunately the success and expansion of Coral Gables came to a halt in 1926 due to the Great Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression.  Merrick could not continue building Coral Gables as he went into debt and was asked to leave the Coral Gables Commission. 

While George Merrick is rightfully credited with the creation of Coral Gables, it is important to remember the historical context in which it was built as to not idolize him and recognize the origins. Merrick built this city with the intention of housing upper middle class white families and was even credited with saying that an ideal Miami would have all of the black people removed from the city limits. The demographics of Coral Gables in 2020 are much different than Merrick would have wanted, but it is still known as a wealthy residential part of Miami-Dade county.


Based on 2019 Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau:

50,999 people are residents of Coral Gables. 51% of residents are female and over 50% of residents are between the ages of 18-65. 58.9% of residents identify as hispanic or latino and 34.4% identify as white alone. 39.3% of residents identify as a person not born in the United States and there are 1,202 residents that identify as veterans. There is an average of 2.59 persons per household since many are families with children. 96.1% of residents ages 25+have a high school diploma and 65.5% of those residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The median household income for the residents of Coral Gables is $100,000 which attributes to the city’s stigma of being catered to the upper middle class. 

Interview of Susan Becker, Coral Gables Resident

Susan Becker, picture courtesy of her daughter, Julie Becker.

Susan is a Miami native. She attended Coral Gables Senior High School where she met her husband Irwin, another Miami native. They raised three children in South Miami and moved to a condo in the Gables in 2002 and have been there ever since.

Molly: What first attracted you to Coral Gables?

Susan: Location, location, location. It was easy access to everywhere; the airport, downtown, Coconut Grove, Key Biscayne (which is where my husband was working at the time.

Molly: In your opinion, what has changed the most within Coral Gables since you have lived here?

Susan: Population density. It feels like the population has at least doubled since we first moved here. There is a lot of congestion now.

Molly: If you could change anything about the city, what would it be?

Susan: Honestly, the synchronization of the traffic lights. I know it sounds trivial, but it feels like only in Coral Gables, none of the traffic lights coincide with one another. It causes a lot of unnecessary traffic.


The Biltmore Hotel

The Biltmore Hotel, photo from

The Biltmore Hotel is part of the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels chain. The name is derived from the Vanderbilt family and their Biltmore Estate which is now a mass tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. The hotel was built in 1926 by John Bowman and George Merrick. At the time it was built, it was the tallest building in Miami, modeled after Giralda which is the medieval tower of the cathedral of Seville. The Biltmore Hotel was a place of luxury since its grand opening gala. It exemplified George Merrick’s aesthetic dream of mixing Italian, Spanish, and Mediterranean architecture with the lush landscaping abilities of the South Florida climate. In 1996 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. To this day it remains a high end hotel to host tourists and important figures that come to Miami from all around the world.

Venetian Pool

Venetian Pool, photo from

George Merrick designed the Venetian Pool to be a community hangout for residents that would go along with his idealistic small-town paradise that he had created for the City of Coral Gables. It was originally a rock quarry, but transformed in 1924 and renamed the “Venetian Casino” where it is reported that A-list visitors and celebrities would convene at when they were in town. The pool as we know it today, was created in 1989 as the need for a neighborhood casino became minor and a pool seemed to fit the family-centric lifestyle of the city. Some of the original limestone from when it was a rock quarry still makes up the surface of the pool. The Venetian Pool is the only pool on the National Register of Historic Places which makes it a hot tourist destination and makes quite a bit of revenue for the city every year. Admission fees range from $8-$13 and the pool is also available to rent for birthday parties or special events. They also have the Venetian Aquatic Club which offers swim classes and lifeguard certification and first aid courses.

The merrick house

The Merrick House, photo from

The Merrick House is the childhood home of George Merrick, the creator of Coral Gables. George Merrick’s father owned citrus groves behind the home. Those groves are the first pieces of land that Merrick used to build the City of Coral Gables. The house is now on the National Registry of Historic Places and offers tours to visitors of the home and 14 rooms inside. The house has been refurbished to its 1920’s state and filled with furniture and artwork that the Merrick family originally owned. General admission is $5 and tours are offered three times per day. Tourists can also schedule private tours with at least a two weeks notice. The house is closed to the public for the time being in cooperation with the Stay-At-Home order in place, but as soon as the order is lifted I would be interested in taking a tour after doing this research on George Merrick and his family.


Coral Gables has more green spaces and a larger Parks and Recreation Department than I had first assumed. According to the Coral Gables Parks and Rec open space inventory, there are over 50 open green spaces within the city limits. Most of the land past SW 88th Street that is encompassed by Coral Gables is green space. For a comprehensive list of green spaces, visit and see the Community Recreation department. I’ve highlighted some of the largest green spaces and my personal favorites below.

Granada golf course

Granada Golf Course, photo from

The Granada Golf Course was designed and opened in 1923, before Coral Gables was even a city. Granada is the oldest operating nine-hole golf course in all of Florida. Anyone is allowed to play, but residents/members of the golf course get cheaper play rates. The golf course is 6,700 yards of green space and has a 1.8 mile radius. While it serves as a golf course year-round, it has been serving as a space for outdoor recreation during this pandemic. Hundreds of residents can be seen everyday creating their own outdoor gyms on the course or biking and jogging on the outskirts of the green. It is interesting to see how a privately owned golf course has become a public recreation park during this time of isolation and hardship.

Matheson hammock park

Matheson Hammock Park, photo from Trip Advisor

Matheson Hammock Park opened in the late 1930’s and has since become one of the most treasured county parks in Miami-Dade. It marks the southernmost part of Coral Gables and spreads across 630 acres of the coast of Miami. The design of the park is very intentional so that an individual or family could spend an entire day there doing different activities. There are hiking trails, biking trails, and natural swimming pools that are safe to swim in. There is also the full service Matheson Hammock Marina where visitors can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. They also offer powerboat lessons. The park includes Matheson Beach and a fishing pier as well as picnic benches and grills. It is a good distance from central Coral Gables and wasn’t created by George Merrick to be a part of his utopic city. It actually had nothing to do with Merrick at all. William Matheson donated the first 85 acres to begin the project and William Phillips put the park into fruition.

Fairchild tropical botanic garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, photo from

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens opened in 1938. Dr. David Fairchild was a renowned plant explorer and scientist and chose to retire in Miami in 1935 after a long prestigious career. Combining the brain power of Fairchild, environmentalist Robert Montgomery, county commissioner Charles Crandon, and architect William Phillips, the Fairchild Gardens were born. Many of the plants featured in the gardens were collected by Dr. Fairchild during his travels. Major expansions of the garden happened post World War II, but the first few years were dedicated to building up the plant species diversity and using the acreage available to showcase tropical plants year round. In 1984 the garden became a member of the Center for Plant Conservation. After hurricane Andrew in 1992, the garden’s mission shifted slightly and has since been focusing on the preservation of native plants in South Florida as well as the identification of invasive species and how they arrive here. The Fairchild Gardens are also located in the southern part of Coral Gables, right across from Matheson Hammock Park. The gardens are another example of a successful part of the city that was not created by George Merrick and exemplifies the diverse landscape within the city limits of Coral Gables.


Coral Gables Trolley

Coral Gables Trolley, photo from

The Coral Gables Trolley is a free transportation service. The trolley began its route in 2003, managed by the Miami-Dade County Half Penny Transportation Surtax, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the Metropolitan Planning Organization. The trolley has two main routes. One goes up and down Ponce De Leon Boulevard, starting at the Douglas Metrorail Station and going all the way to Flagler Street. The other is the Grande Avenue Loop Route which starts at the Douglas Metrorail Station and has four main stopping points which create a loop and ends back at the station. Both routes run every 15 minutes from 6:30am-8:00pm Monday through Friday. In 2017, the trolley service began operating on holidays excluding Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. According to, the trolley provides free transportation to around 5,000 people every day.


Freebee Trolley in Coral Gables, image from gallery

Freebee is a transportation service company based in South Florida. It is an app that allows you to request a ride similar to Uber or Lyft, but minus the cost. Freebee is completely free for riders as the company has partnerships with the cities that it serves. The City of Coral Gables partnered with Freebee to offer more environmentally conscious transportation methods and reduce traffic congestion in conjunction with the free trolley service. Freebee is more accessible than the trolley as it operates on weekends, but the hours are 10am-10pm every day.

Both the trolley and Freebee are innovative and beneficial to the environment and the city, but I believe they should be implemented in neighborhoods where free transportation is more of a necessity. The demographic of residents in Coral Gables is not one of poverty or misfortune. Most residents have cars and have the income to afford personal transportation. In regards to environmental impact, it is crucial to have carpool services and green transportation services no matter where you are, and I hope other cities and counties take notice of these transportation methods and implement them where they are needed and less as a luxury service.


The majority of the dining options in Coral Gables are high end restaurants that cater to the upper middle class, as the neighborhood was originally intended. There are some fast casual chains opening up every once in a while, but the general trend is upscale dining experiences. In general, Coral Gables lacks the Hispanic flare of Miami that most other neighborhoods are identified by and this is prevalent in the style of restaurants. The lack of Latin food doesn’t have to discredit the local restaurants that do exist in the Gables.

Orantique on the mile

Orantique on the Mile, photo from Urban Dining Guide

Orantique is a family-owned Caribbean restaurant opened in 1999. The Hutson family opened the restaurant to create a fine dining Caribbean experience. The inspiration comes from owner Cindy Hutson’s travel experience in the Caribbean. Known for its unique cocktails and island decor, Orantique stands out from many of its surrounding restaurants. It is one of the only Caribbean restaurants in Coral Gables yet the owners are American. The restaurant has fantastic reviews, I just found it interesting that it may be branded as authentic simply because there is no comparison within the area. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, they are closed and I wasn’t able to try the food, but as soon as they reopen I plan on trying it out. My grandparents who are residents of Coral Gables speak highly of Orantique so I will take their word for now.

Threefold CAfe

Threefold Cafe, photo by The Hungry Post

Opened in 2014 in Coral Gables, Threefold has become a staple in Coral Gables. It is trendy, family friendly, and partners with other local Miami businesses such as Zak the Baker. Since they opened in the Gables, Threefold has opened two other locations in Miami. This is one of my personal favorite places to eat in Coral Gables. The food is really consistent and most of their food, including the coffee, is locally sourced which I appreciate. My family all the way from my grandparents to my baby cousins like going to Threefold as they have options for everyone. Threefold Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, but not for dinner as they close at 4pm daily. I am a big avocado toast fan and I highly recommend trying theirs, it is amazing and they use bread from Zak the Baker.

Caffe Abbracci

Group photo of Nino, Eduardo, Mauro and Loris
Caffe Abbracci Owners, photo from

Caffe Abbracci is one of the most well known local establishments in Coral Gables. Opened in 1989 by Nino Pernetti, Caffe Abbracci serves authentic Italian meals to regular locals as well as guests from all over the world including three U.S. Presidents and two sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Nino Pernetti started as a barista in his hometown of Lake Garda, Italy. He traveled around the world to 15 different countries working for hotels and restaurants before he landed in Miami to which he claims is the most international city in the world and thus the perfect place to have a restaurant. Caffe Abbracci has 16 employees that have been there since the start in 1989 which contributes to their success and consistency. This is my grandparents favorite restaurant to order take-out from which has really come in handy during the Stay-At-Home order imposed by Governor Ron Desantis. Before the pandemic, I would always see the restaurant packed with people every night and I hope things return that way once life is back to normal.


Commercial development in Coral Gables began to boom in the 1950’s with the addition of Miracle Mile. Also know as “the Mile”, it is essentially a strip of restaurants and commercial businesses that cater to residents and tourists alike. At the time of major construction in the late 50’s and early 60’s, many of the original architecture guidelines were broken and high rises were built and store fronts we constructed without the consistent mediterranean architecture of the residences first designed by George Merrick. Some of the businesses have been around for 50+ years while others are up and coming trendy companies that are appealing to the younger population of Coral Gables.

Actor’s playhouse at the miracle theatre

The Miracle Theatre, photo from Cinema Treasures

The Miracle Theatre first opened in 1948 in Coral Gables. It was a neighborhood movie theater with 1600 seats. It went through multiple name changes, but remained successful as a movie house up until 1990 when the City of Coral Gables purchased the theatre and began renovations to make it into a performing arts center in conjunction with a local theatre company called the Actor’s Playhouse. In 1995, the movie theater permanently closed and became the Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre. As commercial movie theaters became more and more popular, the success of a neighborhood movie theater decreased so I believe transforming it into a performing arts center was appropriate for the time. The one thing that to this day hasn’t changed, is the iconic art deco “Miracle” sign out front of the theatre.

As a kid I remember seeing performances of Annie and The Wizard of Oz at the Actor’s Playhouse and I have wonderful memories of the place. Not only do they offer performances, but the Actors Playhouse offers a full schedule of Theatre Conservatory classes as well as their youth summer camp (which, yes, I also attended as a child and played the Cheshire Cat in a rendition of Alice in Wonderland).

Books & Books

Books & Books, photo courtesy of Books & Books

Books & Books is an eclectic independently owned bookstore located in Downtown Coral Gables. Mitchell Kaplan opened Books & Books in 1982 with the purpose of creating more than just a bookstore. The historical context of Miami at the time of its opening is interesting to look at. Immigration was booming and hundreds of thousands of families were left living in tent cities attempting to integrate into society and immigrant children were not acclimated into the current education system. From the beginning, Kaplan had free and public poetry readings and literature events within the bookstore which created a name for Books & Books as being a community space and cultural hub. Books & Books is one of the few places in Coral Gables that does not signify the luxurious upper class nature of the city. It is simply a place where you can read books, buy books, see monthly art exhibits, hear authors read their books, hear and perform poetry, and much more. It is also one of the only places in Coral Gables that offers free live music. Books & Books is one of my favorite places not just in Coral Gables, but Miami as a whole.

Bellissima Bridal

Miami's 18 Best Bridal Stores for Wedding Dresses and Accessories ...
Bellissima Bridal, photo from Racked Miami

There are tons of bridal shops in Coral Gables, it almost feels overwhelming. I wanted to highlight Bellissima Bridal because they are a family-owned company that has been designing and selling wedding dresses and formal attire for over 75 years. Up until 2007, they operated without a true storefront, but the Coral Gables location is there only bridal salon. They pride themselves in being a family company as well as the clients they serve internationally. Bellissima has employees that are fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese in order to accommodate to their may clients that come to visit the shop from all over Latin America. Bellissima Bridal is a great example of a growing business in Coral Gables that caters to the ever-expanding tourist industry, rather than just residents.


Miami carries a heavy stigma worldwide of what it should be; diverse demographics, world renowned night life, skyscrapers, luxury hotels, and beaches. While some areas of Miami do include all of those things, it’s important to recognize the cities and neighborhoods within it that don’t fit the stereotypes. Coral Gables is essentially a utopian small-town that clashes with all different spectrums of Miami. It is nothing like Midtown or Miami Beach while it is equally nothing like Homestead or Westchester.

Coral Gables has been an up and coming neighborhood ever since it was created and has been successful in living up to its name- The City Beautiful. Some things that Coral Gables does well that should be a model for other communities is definitely the transportation services and green spaces. The implementation of a free trolley and a free ride-share service has benefitted Coral Gables environmentally and with street congestion. Free transportation lifts a financial burden off many people which would be beneficial no matter what neighborhood you live in. Coral Gables is home to many national landmarks as well as lush green spaces within its residential and commercial areas. The inclusion of Matheson Hammock Park and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens make Coral Gables a popular destination for tourists and also a neighborhood in high demand for residents and future residents.

Within all its luxury and aesthetic uniformity, it’s important to look past the beauty and attraction of the city and consider its problematic uprise. Coral Gables was created with the intention of catering to wealthy people and upper middle class families. It was also created with the intention of pushing black people out and essentially “purifying” the demographics of the residents. This gentrification is deeply rooted in history and hard to change. I think it’s interesting that George Merrick has so many namesakes and people visit his childhood home to learn about him when he would be considered very problematic by todays standard. He created his ideal community which excluded so many people in the surrounding communities and to this day, Coral Gables is not very accepting of those same people. There will always be “rich” and “poor” neighborhoods everywhere, but it is unfortunate that Coral Gables was created with the intention of gentrification of the area. It is a high end neighborhood set right in between areas that my mom wasn’t allowed to ride her bike around as a kid because it was considered the ghetto or a “bad neighborhood”.

Despite the discrepancies in its formation, The City of Coral Gables is a beautiful neighborhood with important historical context and I recommend taking a visit to see what it’s all about.


Italia As Text: Molly Schantz

My name is Molly Schantz. I was born in Miami, but grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. I am majoring in Political Science on the Pre-Law track. After I graduate FIU, I would like to go to law school and eventually practice environmental law. I have never been to Italy before, so I am extremely excited to experience a new place full of such rich history. I’ve always believed that travel and cultural experience is the best way to get an education and being in a class where I can learn about topics outside of my major while also being outside a classroom is my ideal honors class. Our lives are related back to European history so heavily, especially Italian history and I can’t wait to find my connections to that history through this class.

Vizcaya As Text

Molly Schantz (2019)

“Eastern Europe in Our Backyard” by Molly Schantz of FIU at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

I had visited Vizcaya before with a different class, but my second time experiencing the place was very different. The parallels between Rome and Vizcaya became very clear on my most recent visit. Vizcaya was built around 1920 by the direction of James Deering and other European settlers. The area around Vizcaya had become a hub for Bahamian people in Miami, mainly because they were pushed into this area by Europeans. The European influence of Vizcaya is visible from almost every corner which makes it so interesting as it almost seems out of place. Also comparing Miami as its own city with the religious customs of Roman history is easy to do at Vizcaya and creates an interesting dynamic between what we think is a Christian/Catholic world versus what we actually live within. 

Vizcaya was created in the image of a European Palace. Everything is inspired by greatness, victory, and luxury that we often associate with Rome. There is an victory arch that leads to the gardens, and classic Roman Catholic inspired ceiling mural, and my favorite ode to ancient Rome, the statue of Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine, that greets you right at the front door. The image of Bacchus is what I found most interesting because it shows how little James Deering actually cared about classic European principles of religion and tradition. Bacchus is the perfect representation of America in that he is a Roman God who represents drinking wine and living in luxury which is exactly the image that Americans want to have of Europe. It also represents Miami as a place of sin covered by luxury and rich architecture. 

Vizcaya is a unique experience especially nowadays for people to visit such an out of place piece of architecture. It’s unlike any other in Miami with it’s direct Roman influence. 

MOAD As Text

Photo by Molly Schantz

“I am Italy, You are Italy” by Molly Schantz of FIU at the Museum of Art and Design

The Museum of Art and Design at MDC is located inside of the Freedom Tower. The Freedom Tower is a historic landmark in Miami as it is where immigrants from Cuba were processed and the first place they were brought to in their new home. The museum is full of rich history and artifacts from the Pre-Colombian era and the very beginning of exploration in the Americas. 

What I found most intriguing were the world maps from the 15th and 16th century or around that time. Today we have maps that are tracked by satellite and available at our fingertips, but hundreds of years ago explorers had to draw maps by hand based on their own travels and almost trace the land borders and coastlines by foot and boat. When I was looking at these maps, I found myself laughing because of how inaccurate they look to my eye as someone who has grown up with virtual navigation access. I viewed these hand drawn maps as trivial when in reality they were a major innovation at the time they were made public. This all just goes back to how we ARE Italy or we ARE Rome. Almost every concept in our daily lives can be traced back to European influence. America is named after an Italian man. Maps were created by Italian or Western European explorers. We often feel so comfortable in the things we have access to that we forget where they actually came from and how fascinating it is that we have these things. They also have the first Atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, which was such an anomaly when first discovered because it contained 53 maps bound together in a uniform style and in order of continent and country. 

When you really think about it, these maps are so significant because of the amount of work they took to create and the genuine belief of accuracy and opportunity for knowledge that they brought to society. 

Miami Beach as Text

South Beach, photo by John Bailly (CC BY 4.0)

“Nostalgia” by Molly Schantz of FIU at South Beach

My dad spent his entire childhood living in South Beach and all my life has referred to South Beach as “the back of his hand”. He watched the city grow from the late 60’s to the early 90’s and he grew with the city. I spent many vacations staying at my grandparents house on the bay side of South Beach, but learned the city very quickly as a child and get to learn it and love it more now as an adult living in Miami. My word association with South Beach will always be nostalgia. Every part of the city brings back memories, not only for myself, but my whole family and I believe the art deco buildings, the colors, and the general vibe heavily contribute to the nostalgia and that feeling of being transported back to a different place.

South Beach holds a lot of history that may not be apparent to the naked eye. My family is Jewish and has lived on South Beach for over 50 years now and something they appreciate is the large jewish community in the city. The history of the jewish community in South Beach is unfortunate. Carl Fisher and Henry Flagler, two of the main developers of Miami Beach, discriminated against Jewish people and tried to push them out of the up and coming city. From the time Jews began settling in Miami Beach in the 1930’s, there were signs posted on businesses and hotels explicitly stating that they were not welcome. There was a rule for many years that jews were not allowed to live north of 5th street on South Beach. Beth Jacob was the first synagogue built on Miami Beach in 1929 between 3rd and 4th street in compliance with the rule. In 1986, the synagogue was transformed into the Jewish Museum of Florida to commemorate and celebrate the rich history of the Jewish people in this country. The building is consistent with the Art-Deco design of South Beach. The original stained-glass windows and bimah still exist inside. The shift from discrimination to now pride of the Jewish people in South Beach is a beautiful thing and encourages thriving diversity.

The eclectic vibe of South Beach and Art Deco design features, such as neon colors, glass bricks, and porthole windows, can be found in every corner; restaurants, clubs, hotels, and even religious sanctuaries and history museums.

Deering Estate as Text

Deering Point at Biscayne Bay, Photo by John Bailly (CC BY 4.0)

“Miami’s Hidden Gem” by Molly Schantz of FIU at the Deering Estate

The Deering Estate is the epitome of what tourists and visitors wouldn’t expect to find in Miami. This historical landmark was once the home of Charles Deering, but before that the land belonged to Tequesta tribe. The current state of the estate is reminiscent of the 1920’s, but some areas of the land date back 10,000 years to when the Tequesta people lived there. The Tequesta Burial Mound and the Cutler Fossil Site are two examples of places within the Deering Estate that hold historical value that goes much deeper than any other place you could visit in Miami.

The Deering Estate features the Richmond Cottage and the Stone House which are architecturally intriguing, but I think the most interesting part of the Deering Estate is all of the natural areas that lay within the boundaries of the estate. It does cost money to take formal tours and to see the homes, explore Tropical Hardwood Hammock, tour the Nature Preserve, and watch the manatees at the Boat Basin, there are opportunities to see Miami in all its glory for free.

The Deering Estate is on the coast of Biscayne Bay, giving visitors perfect access to the water and away from the city life that we associate with Miami. The People’s Dock is open to the public and a great place for fishing or just experiencing the bay in whatever way one feels is best. The dock is located near the Visitor’s Center. There is a lack of access to Biscayne Bay all throughout Miami, but the Deering Estate just happens to have multiple points of access, making a visit even more desirable for locals and tourists alike. The other public access point is Deering Point. Deering Point is located at the very southernmost point of the property and is open for non motorized boat launch, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and more. There is free parking, public restrooms, and first come first serve shade pavilions. I feel so fortunate to have places like the Deering Estate within a 20 mile radius of anywhere in Miami. There are stereotypes about Miami, that it is a city of skyscrapers and nightlife and wealthy people partying and while, yes, sometimes that is true, Miami should be known for its deep history within the native Americas and the beautiful environment and natural spaces at every corner. The Deering Estate is a perfect place to capture the true essence of Miami, before the skyscrapers and nightclubs ever existed.

History Miami as Text

HistoryMiami Museum, Photo by John Bailly (CC BY 4.0)

“History that will Never be Forgotten” by Molly Schantz of FIU at HistoryMiami Museum

The HistoryMiami Museum was founded in 1940 and has since then prided itself in sharing the true and raw history of South Florida. As the largest history museum in Florida, HistoryMiami has artifacts and exhibits that highlight people, groups, and events in history that may often be pushed aside or simply forgotten and shed light upon the real history of Miami and beyond.

HistoryMiami starts at the very beginning. Visitors are able to see artist renditions of what native settlers looked like when they first discovered South Florida. These settlers were Pre-Columbian and important to highlight the fact that European settlers were not the first people to come across land in America. They also have tools that were excavated from the Cutler Fossil Site at the Deering Estate. Fast forward through the museum and through artifacts from different stages of immigration, settlement, and development in Miami and you get to artifacts relating to Cuban settlement. For many of us, this is the type of immigration in South Florida that we think of and what shapes Miami today. The photo above is a model of the makeshift boats that Cubans and Haitians would take on their voyage to America. These boats became very common in the 80’s when Fidel Castro opened the Port of Mariel for anyone who wanted to leave the island and go to Florida. HistoryMiami shows hundreds of year of history of the people who made Miami what it is today.

When we think of Miami today, we tend to forget the rich history that came before the art in Wynwood, the skyscrapers in Midtown and Downtown, or the nightclubs and party culture. We are lucky to have a place like the HistoryMiami Museum which allows us to discover our roots as a city and truly know where our surroundings came from. Learning the important history of Miami helps us appreciate where we live and maybe hold different stereotypes about Miami as a whole.

See Miami 2019 Lowe Art Museum: Molly Schantz

Student Biography

My name is Molly Schantz. I was born in Miami, but grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. I am majoring in Political Science on the Pre-Law track. After I graduate from FIU, I would like to go to law school and eventually practice environmental law. I’ve always believed that travel and cultural experience is the best way to get an education and being in a class such as Art Society Conflict where I can learn about topics outside of my major while also being outside a classroom is my ideal honors class. 


Map of Coral Gables

The Lowe Art Museum is located on the campus of the University of Miami in Coral Gables. The address of the museum is 1301 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables FL. In order to get to the museum you have to enter the University of Miami campus located right off of Ponce De Leon Boulevard and South Dixie Highway. While it is technically a private campus, the museum is open to the public. There is limited parking, but the university offers shuttles directly the museum and the campus is accessible by Metrorail. 


Lowe Art Museum in 1952

The Lowe Art Museum was originally founded inside three classrooms at the University of Miami in 1950 as a teaching resource. It was originally established as a gift from Joe and Emily Lowe. It was the first art museum in South Florida. The museum opened to the public in 1952. The majority of collections over the museums history have been donations. The first large donation was a collection of Native American art from Alfred I. Barton. Soon after the museum became part of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation which brought 41 works of Baroque and Renaissance art which became the main focus of the museum’s permanent collection until the 80’s. In 1984, Robert M. Bischoff donated 531 works of ancient American art which shifted the concentration of pieces astronomically. Over the years, the Lowe has expanded with a vast collection of works from Asia, South America, and glass and ceramic collections. It was originally meant to be an on-campus field trip for students, but quickly grew into a staple art destination in South Florida for residents and visitors alike. It is now a hub for contemporary art and politically charged exhibitions. Artists and collectors such as Martin Margulies of the Margulies Collection, collaborate with the Lowe and gift works that will further benefit the everlasting history of the museum. 


Mission Statement: An integral part of the University of Miami, the Lowe Art Museum offers its diverse audiences opportunities and resources for engaging with contemporary culture through 5,000 years of human creativity. 

Because the museum is located on a college campus, it fulfills its purpose of being an educational resource. The mission statement is broad because the museum is constantly receiving works of art from all different countries and eras in art history, making the museum uncategorizable by genre. The museum strives to radiate culture from around the world and is currently successful in completing that mission.


The Lowe is a public art institution located on a private campus. Parking is metered around the campus, but there is a free lot in front of the museum with limited spaces. The museum is also accessible by metro and campus bus. Tickets are $12 for adults and children 12 or older, $8 for students and seniors with ID, and free for students/faculty/staff of UM with ID as well as children and members of the museum. Memberships range from $40 to $5000 depending how much you are willing to give. Memberships include free admission to the museum for one year as well as invitations to special events and exhibit previews. 

The Lowe Art Museum is open from 10am-4pm Tuesday through Saturday and from 12pm-4pm on Sundays. They are closed on Mondays. 

Specific Denominations of Memberships

  • Student – $40
  • Educator – $50
  • Individual- $60
  • Dual – $80
  • Family – $120
  • Sustaining – $225
  • Contributor – $500
  • Curator’s Circle – $1,200
  • Director’s Circle – $2,500
  • Benefactor – $5,000

Potential Membership Benefits 

  • Admission to the museum for one year
  • Admission to most lectures and special events
  • Invitations to exclusive exhibitions previews, receptions, and other museum programs
  • Special members-only events
  • Travel opportunities
  • Eligibility to join the Volunteer Docent Program
  • Admission to the Lowe After Hours
  • Admission to participating cultural institutions during Miami Museum Month in May


Le Neveu de Rameau by Frank Stella

The permanent collection has works that span from 500 BC with the Art of the Ancient Americas collection all the way to the mid 1900’s and 2000’s with contemporary work from Frank Stella, Carlos Alfonzo, and many more. Not only do the works stand the test of time, but works from all over the world are represented. The Art of Asia collection features sculptures from the Ming Dynasty. The Art of the Native Americas collection features musical instruments that trace back 2000 years. Each collection represents a different part of the world and the diversity of pieces is of the same quality as world renowned museums. 

List of Permanent Collections

  • Art of Africa 
  • Art of Asia
  • Art of Central and South America 
  • Art of Egypt and the Near East 
  • Art of Europe
  • Art of North America 
  • Art of the Ancient Americas 
  • Art of the Ancient Mediterranean 
  • Art of the Caribbean 
  • Art of the Native Americas 
  • Art of the Pacific Islands 


Ciudad en Ascenso by Juan Roberto Diago

The current special exhibition featured at the Lowe Art Museum is by Afro-Cuban artist, Juan Roberto Diago. Diago makes contemporary pieces that represent his view of the history of Cuba and dark past of slavery and colonialism that still haunts the nation today. His works serve as commentary race, poverty, and general discrimination in the present day that closely mirrors Cuba’s history. Diago uses mixed media such as wood sculptures, canvas, and spray paint. This exhibit exemplifies the museums mission to serve as an educational tool. Discrimination and conflict between Cuba and America are very relevant topics today and are important for students to be knowledgable about as it does affect them whether they realize it or not. Diago’s exhibit allows people to learn through his art.

List of Recent Exhibitions

  • DIAGO: The Pasts of this Afro-Cuban Present 
  • ArtLab @ The Lowe: Russia Unframed 
  • Carlos Estevez: Cities of the Mind
  • Binomial: Claudia DeMonte & Ed McGowin 

Special Programs 

The Lowe Art Museum offers painting classes called Sip & Sketch as well as weekly mindfulness seminars.  Along with these special events, the museum offers family/group tours and monthly socials called Lowe After Hours. 

In furthering their mission to provide cultural experience, the Lowe offers travel programs. The most recent travel opportunity was to Iceland. Participants experienced the culture of Iceland while getting to see galleries, studios, and museums alongside tourist exhibitions. 


Untitled by Vladimir Lebedev

During my visit to the Lowe, I spoke to museum visitor and student, Alex Anacki. 

Have you visited the Lowe Art Museum before today? 

  • I have been here before, but this is a place that you could come back to multiple times and find something new and interesting that you didn’t see before. 

What do you find most impressive about this museum?

  • The Lowe has a collection diversity much like the Hirshhorn in the National Mall in DC or even the Met in New York, but on a much more intimate scale in the middle of Coral Gables. 

What is your favorite collection or exhibit?

  • The Diago exhibit is dark and thoughtful and has so many layers to it and so many things to learn about inside it, but I am always drawn to the contemporary collection and its purposeful incohesiveness. It is just purely great art pieces. 


Americanoom by CHRYSSA

I spoke to the receptionist, Maria Cardenas. She has been working at the Lowe Art Museum for over 8 years now. She does reception and assists in special events for the museum as well as training desk assistants. 

What is your favorite part of the museum right now?

  • I think the new temporary exhibition, Diago. I think all the concepts are very powerful, being a Latin American and being Cuban also, the meaning is very powerful and at the same time very political. I also love the contemporary pieces, they are always my favorite to look at. I love the Lichtenstien. I also love the Renaissance collection from the Kress Foundation. It is always quiet in there so I sit in there during breaks sometimes. 

Do you think it is beneficial having an art museum on a college campus?

  • Oh yes! Definitely. I think students are a really good point of view to have around art. Art is educational and the history of art has to be part of our education. Even if you are not interested in art or pursuing a career in art, it is still a good way to gain knowledge and be able to have conversations about art. For students who are studying art or are interested in art, the museum is a great way to get connected and meet people that are part of the art world. 


Overall, the Lowe Art Museum exceeded my expectations. Because of its size and location, I did not think there would be enough resources for it to be so interesting, but I was very wrong. The layout of the museum is well done, each collection has its own room and the special exhibition has ample space to truly feel special. Not only is the layout successful, but so is the content. The history of art is represented throughout the space and the diverse variety of pieces is endlessly intriguing. The staff is kind and engaged from what I experienced. Unfortunately, the location within a university makes foot traffic in the museum a little slow from outside visitors, but that is a blessing for those who want to spend time inside and really appreciate the art without feeling rushed or crowded. 

ACS Art Service Project Fall 2019: Molly Schantz

Photo by Ruth Shmueli 2019

For my art service project this semester, I had the opportunity to work with the Rubell Family Collection at their brand new museum, the Rubell Museum. Their opening day was the first day of Miami Art Week and they offered free admission to celebrate art week and the grand opening of the museum. I reached out to one of the employees, Laura Randall, who was coordinating volunteers for opening week. I could tell they were eager for help and I figured it would be fun because I love contemporary art and it was a museum I hadn’t experienced before. Little did I know, this experience would open up doors for me that I never would have considered if I hadn’t picked the Rubell Museum as my service destination. 

My first day volunteering, Laura let my classmate Ruth and I experience one of the Kusama installations they have at the museum before visitors arrived. Kusama is one of my favorite artists and I always find her work intriguing. I can’t believe I was so lucky that I got to experience two Kusamas’ this semester. My job for the day was to be security for the “gold room”. This room featured an installation of John Miller sculptures. The sculptures were made of fiberglass items that resembled trash, but were all painted in gold. My instructions were to make sure no one touched the art which I thought was self explanatory in the art world, but i was proved very wrong. About 20 minutes into my shift, a group of high schoolers who were visiting on a school trip knocked into one of the sculptures and broke it. I had a small panic, but realized there was no time for panic as more and more people were coming in as the day went on. We decided to be resourceful and create a line for the exhibit and only let 6-8 people inside at a time to avoid congestion around the artwork. Thankfully nothing else drastic occurred that day. 

My second day volunteering was much longer and much calmer. I was doing security for a Maurizio Cattelan sculpture. Cattelan is the artist behind the infamous Art Basel Banana that went viral this past week. There was roping around the sculpture I was watching which essentially eliminated the need for me to do anything. I spent most of the day eavesdropping on the hundreds of people from all over the world that came into the museum that day. The art world is so vast and I learned that everyone, and I mean everyone, seems to have an opinion about every piece of work they see and they are not afraid to say it. 

I came into this experience expecting it to be finite. I was going to spend 10 hours at this place, get my requirements for class completed, maybe see some cool art, and move on. After volunteering over the weekend, the Rubell Museum offered me a part time job doing security on the weekends. They are flexible and enthusiastic about getting people who are willing and dedicated to help out. Since they are a brand new institution, they are still working out the kinks within the space and everyday something new comes up that they may not have planned for in the beginning. They realized that some extra pieces and spaces need security and offered me the opportunity to make some money while helping them out. Without taking this class and without volunteering at the Rubell Museum, I would have never thought to look for a job in the art world, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with such a well revered organization. 

Molly Schantz (2019)

Laura Randall
Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation
(305) 573-6090

* A total of 10 service hours were completed at the Rubell Museum and were logged on the FIU Honors website

Art Society Conflict: Molly Schantz

My name is Molly Schantz. I was born in Miami, but grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. I am majoring in Political Science on the Pre-Law track. After I graduate FIU, I would like to go to law school and eventually practice environmental law. My main interest in this class came from the difficulties I have when it comes to sitting in a classroom. I’ve always believed that travel and cultural experience is the best way to get an education and being in a class where I can learn about topics outside of my major while also being outside a classroom is my ideal honors class. I took art history in high school and have always enjoyed going to art museums and I am really excited to explore that interest more within this class.

Norton As Text

Night Mist by Jackson Pollack, photo by Molly Schantz

My experience at the Norton Museum was ultimately better than I had expected. I was less than excited to drive to West Palm Beach on a Sunday, but I am really glad I did. Going through the artwork chronologically painted a timeline for me of how art changed and adapted overtime and gave me more confidence in my knowledge of art history. I’ve always been fascinated by the transitions from religion to science, especially as shown in works of art, and I felt that the class got to experience that transition at the Norton.

The theme that I took away from Professor Bailly’s lesson at the Norton was that art changed overtime based on people challenging traditions and thus being a threat to society. I really began to understand this as we moved into modern art and the idea of abstraction having value. Jackson Pollock has been my favorite modern artist since my sophomore year of high school when I was first introduced to his work in my art history class. No one else in the class but myself seemed to think his work was very interesting and I didn’t understand how someone could not appreciate his pieces. I had never seen one of his paintings in real life and was surprised when we walked into a room and directly in front of me was a Pollock. I was having a total fan-girl moment. Pollock was not the first artist to popularize abstract art, but his genius sometimes goes unnoticed. He made large scale painting with absolutely no visual reference which are now sold for millions of dollars worldwide. His paintings always reminded me of artists experimenting with different types of drugs and expressing the experience through art. I find it so interesting that he only painted when he was sober. Pollock was detailed and technical in his work. He was expressive without illustration and he challenged traditional art by causing the viewer to enjoy the piece for exactly what it was; art.

The image above is Pollock’s Night Mist. I could stare at it forever because there are so many things to look at and appreciate and create meaning out of. There is no specific image to focus on, no focal point that you are intended to see, and no declared meaning or societal commentary. Abstract art is meant for the eye of the beholder, which is a beautiful thing.

Molly Schantz (2019)

Deering As Text

Photo by Brain Call, courtesy of

Unfortunately it is flu season and I caught whatever was going around and couldn’t make it to the class field trip to Deering Estate. Luckily I have gotten the chance to visit the estate before when I was younger. I wish I could have experienced it now with the lecture and as an adult who has more appreciation for art and nature in general and understand how the two concepts go hand in hand. 

Charles Deering purchased the land over 100 years ago, but the land he had purchased was rich with human occupation for about 10,000 years prior. We can’t truly understand our ancestors or the history of where we live unless we have places like the Deering Estate that preserve history and allow people to experience the past, even if we don’t have lots of technical information. 

Deering Estate is home to the Paleo-Indian fossil site. We, as modern citizens, can walk where Tequestas walked and experience the history of civilization as close to firsthand as possible. Archaeologists use this space to gather research of the people that came before us. At the site, you can see and learn about the Paleo-Indians, the tools they used, and animal remains that give a lot of context of the time. It shines a new light on the importance of archaeology in my opinion. We base so much of our knowledge on pictures and spoken accounts of history passed down many generations, but when we don’t have access to that, we don’t always know where else to look. Archaeological findings can give us the pieces we need to bring ourselves back to the past and understand the way people lived. 

I hope to go back to Deering Estate soon and get the full experience that I missed out on and may have not appreciated when I was younger. 

Molly Schantz (2019)

Wynwood As Text

Simpson Verdict by Kota Ezawa at The Margulies Collection in Miami, FL, Photo by Molly Schantz

I have visited Wynwood many times in my life but this past Wednesday I got to see the art culture of Wynwood through brand new eyes. I had the honor of visiting the Margulies collection with a tour by Mr. Margulies himself. The most relevant theme for me during the tour was the use of different materials to create contemporary art. Art history really revolves around the changes that occur when tradition is broken and contemporary art completely shatters previous norms of art all over the world. Contemporary art is always my favorite because of the complexity that it can bring and the amount of work my brain has to do to find the meaning behind it and to put myself in the mind of the artist and really see the beauty of these pieces that may seem like total junk to others. I was fascinated by everything in the Margulies collection just because of how different each piece was from the next but what I found most enjoyable was the use of video to create art.  My favorite piece was the Simpson Verdict by Kota Ezawa. Ezawa is a Japanese-German cartoonist. He animated the OJ Simpson murder trial verdict in a stylystically simple 3 minute video featuring the originl audio from the actual trial. The OJ Simpson trial is a common allusion to pop culture, but a dark pop culture that people argue about to this day. It remains eerily relevant. Ezawa’s interpretation adds childlike features to an R-Rated topic. At one point in the video, the cartoon version of OJ smiles and relaxes his shoulders when he is pronounced not guilty. This small motion takes away the reality of the soundtrack in the background and emulates a children’s television show. It is almost humorous. After visiting the Margulies Collection, I couldn’t stop thinking about this piece and rewatching the video when I got home. As technology advances overtime, canvas paintings become less and less remarkable. We have endless resources available, and while they are not viewed as traditional art, they are still art when rendered by the right hands and minds. The beauty of contemporary art truly comes from the eye of the beholder.

Molly Schantz (2019)

Vizcaya as Text

Vizcaya Gardens, Photo by Molly Schantz

I have lived in Miami for over a year and have consistently heard about Vizcaya and how beautiful it is and how everyone has been there at least once. Finally this past week I got to experience Vizcaya in all its glory. It is a landmark of the history of Miami and I really got to experience that. Vizcaya was built around 1920 by the direction of James Deering and other European settlers. The area around Vizcaya had become a hub for Bahamian people in Miami, mainly because they were pushed into this area by Europeans. The European influence of Vizcaya is visible from almost every corner which makes it so interesting as it almost seems out of place. 

The rich history of Vizcaya is a reminder of the brutality that occurred in creating beautiful places. James Deering was essentially a slave owner at this time. He was recruiting the Bahamian people from across the street to execute his fantasy world of entitlement. Every aspect of the home and gardens exudes a rich lifestyle. There are even remnants of a Renaissance inspired moat on the outside of the home. A moat is a symbol of segregation and keeping people out who don’t “belong”. 

The image I chose is the ceiling in the outdoor amphitheater in the gardens. It is obviously inspired by religious paintings found in Western Europe. The ceiling is just another subtle example of this European influence and need for luxury in every part of Vizcaya.

Molly Schantz (2019)

ICA as Text

All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins by Yayoi Kusama, Photo by Molly Schantz

This past week we had the opportunity to visit the Institute of Contemporary Art in the Miami Design District. We got a tour of the current specialized exhibit by Sterling Ruby and we got to see the Yayoi Kusama installation. Prior to this class, I had heard of Kusama because of the documentary on Netflix about her life called Infinity. I hadn’t watched it but had heard about it from friends. Her life story and her artwork are so fascinating and to witness it in person brings a whole new light to the psychology behind art and the interpretations of contemporary art. 

The ICA is home to her piece All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins. This installation is a room of mirrors with glowing orange pumpkins covering the floor. You get exactly 1 minute inside the box to experience the piece. The minute goes by so fast because there is so much to take in even though it seems so simple. All of Kusama’s work is representative of what brings her joy while also giving viewers an experience of self reflection. Kusama is currently living in a mental institution in Japan which she admitted herself into. She still makes art from inside the institution and is the highest grossing female artist worldwide. 

My experience inside the installation was joyful, but quick. We talked a lot about the social pressures that come with contemporary art these days. Everything is made for an aesthetic and it is more likely to be successful if the piece has a social media appeal. People crave an interactive aspect in art, even if that just means the ability to take pictures and share it. I felt this internal dilemma of wanting to enjoy the art but also wanting the get the perfect photo inside so I could share it on social media. It made me think about how many memories are lost because we are more focused on what to do with that moment after it has happened and forget to experience it in the present. I’m not sure if Kusama wanted her audience to have this dilemma or if the deeper meaning was unintentional and came with the fact that this era is dominated by social media.

Molly Schantz (2019)

Miami Art Week as Text

Mira Maylor at Art Miami 2019, Photo by Molly Schantz

Miami Art Week and Art Basel is such a glorified time in Miami and something I had never imagined myself being immersed into. I learned a lot about the art world and the unregulated market of art that is so fascinating and unique. The status tiers that exist within art markets are so underground yet so relevant. Whether you are a collector, a curator, or an artist yourself, you have a place in the art world and recognized in that status by the sellers and other members of the community and their attitude towards you is based on your status inside the market. 

I saw so many pieces by some of my favorite artists such as Keith Haring and Picasso, as well as discovered some amazing new artists such as Mira Maylor (pictured above). Mira Maylor was one of the featured artists at the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery booth at Art Miami. She is based in Tel Aviv and took the time to talk to our class about her piece shown in the booth. On her website it says untitled, but in person she referred to the piece as “Freedom”. It is a mixed media sculpture featuring synthetic flowers against a board painted with black and gold. A bird cage hangs from each board in front of the flowers. She explained the cage as representing society and freedom because while it is so fragile and can break so easily, it is so beautiful that we don’t want to break it and that is often how we handle conforming to society and pretending as if we are free, but in reality we put ourselves in this cage. 

Maylor was so interesting to talk to as well as all the other artists who took the time to speak to us and give us an inside look into their work or their lives selling art even though they knew we weren’t there to shop. I really appreciated that some of the gallery owners and artists stripped away those status tiers and recognized us for being there to learn and gave value to the fact that we were students inside this elitist art world.

Molly Schantz (2019)

Bakehouse Art/Fountainhead As Text

Works by Alex Nunez, Photo by Molly Schantz

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit the Fountainhead Artist Residency. We got to speak to Alex Nunez, a local artist who specializes in free form multimedia pieces inspired by pop art. We experienced so many amazing artists throughout the day, but Alex stood out to me. I’m a huge fan of abstract and contemporary art as well as kitschy nostalgic things and her art somehow encompasses all of that. My mom is also an artist and her demeanor and inspiration from the 80’s and music were so similar to Nunez. She spoke a lot about her art being a “stream of consciousness” which is very unique and hard for many artists to accomplish or even attempt. She also explained her process which includes lots of music, mixed media, and not a lot of planning. I think it’s rare to come across an artist who is so genuine and accepting of her own mistakes within her art and who just lets their creative process shine. 

Another aspect of Nunez is that she is an artist in residence. I truly didn’t understand what that meant until I experienced both the Bakehouse Art Complex and the Fountainhead Artist Residency. Places like these allow local artists to thrive and work in a city that is very difficult to succeed in without copious financial success. Having a space like Nunez does, allows her to have a home base for creating without limiting her options. Her studio at the Fountainhead was filled with her pieces, both old and new, ones she loves and ones she hates, as well as art in process. The piece on the left (pictured above) was created outdoors at the Deering Estate, but her indoor space allows her to look at it in a different light and also add to it and broadcast it to herself before consumers or galleries. Artist Residencies are tackling major problems like gentrification and housing costs in creative ways and supporting a specific community of artists that otherwise may not receive that support here in Miami.

Molly Schantz (2020)

Rubell As Text

Karon Davis

The Rubell Museum is a brand new establishment owned by the Rubell Family. They have had a private collection for years and are well known art collectors in Miami, but the museum was a dream that finally came to fruition. The mission of the museum is to feature all different contemporary artists with different appeals and visions that force viewers to think and experience the meaning behind the art and the social concepts the pieces are criticizing. We had the chance to speak to the owner, Mira Rubell, and she told us about how long they wanted to have a public institution aside from their private collection and have the opportunity to share art with others and also allow others to build their collection. 

Visiting the Rubell Museum was nothing less than familiar to me as it is my place of employment, but experiencing it through a tour opened my eyes to works and information I had never known prior. When I work, I do have the chance to walk around the galleries, but I am usually stationed in the Kusama Infinity Rooms so I don’t always get the chance to experience all the pieces. One of the galleries that I had not spent much time in featured two sculptures from Karon Davis. This specific piece (pictured above) hit me really hard once I understood the concept. Davis creates cast sculptures that highlight the black experience in modern America. This sculpture features a mother and father hugging their child. The child has on a backpack which indicates he is going to school. The antlers represent the fact that black people are ‘hunted’ in America. She reveals the fear that people feel in every day actions just for belonging to a specific racial group. I think Davis’ work is a great example to highlight what The Rubell has to offer. Contemporary art often exists as a reflection of the society in the time and place that it was created and The Rubell Museum highlights works that do just that.

Molly Schantz (2020)

MDC Printmaking as Text

Photo by Molly Schantz

Jennifer Basile is a well respected local artist and professor in Miami. She teaches Printmaking at Miami Dade College. I had never done printmaking before, but Basile gave us the opportunity to come into her classroom/studio and create original prints. We did monotype printmaking which means there is only one of each print you create which made the experience even more special. 

We learned the process of making prints and got to take our own prints home with us. Monotype prints are usually made on a fiberglass plate using ink in a paste form. We learned how to soften the ink and spread it on the fiberglass. We used different objects and tools to remove ink from the glass in order to create designs and patterns. I love how free-flowing printmaking can be. You can essentially use any object to create images and you never truly know how it will turn out until it is finished. I used a broken paint brush to create a pattern that ended up looking like records spinning on a record player. Once you create your design on the glass, it is transferred onto damp print paper and set aside to dry. The end product is unique to you at that moment and there is nothing exactly like it anywhere in the world. My end design had a very retro look and reminded me of the 70’s with disco ball shapes and records/discs. I gifted it to my dad since I grew up around his records and music from his childhood. 

Overall, the experience with Jennifer Basile was amazing and I recommend anyone to try printmaking. I definitely do not identify as an artist, but thoroughly enjoyed being creative and trying out a new skill.

Molly Schantz (2020)

Deering Estate as Text

View of the Stone House in the 1980s
Stone House at the Deering Estate, photo from

“Art Appreciation” by Molly Schantz of FIU at the Deering Estate

The Deering Estate has been occupied land for over 10,000 years, but was purchased by Charles Deering in the early 1900’s. The Deering Estate is a preservation center for its history as well as a natural wonder in Miami. The estate has nature trails, docks, and direct access to Biscayne Bay and Chicken Key. While it is a magical place for visitors and locals alike, the Deering Estate is also a landmark for art appreciation, both in a historical context and a contemporary context. The two houses on the land, the Richmond Cottage and the Stone House, are reminiscent of the 1920’s and are available for tours. They are architectural masterpieces and feature some of the art collections of the owners of the houses. The Deering Estate also has an artist-in-residence program which really highlights the institution’s passion for artistic relevance and appreciation.

The Deering Estate artist-in-residence program was established in 2006 and has supported and welcomed over 70 artists with studio space and career opportunities ever since. Charles Deering was passionate about art and collected art throughout his life. The program was consistent with his vision and appreciation for art. Artists may apply for the residency and receive an on-site studio space at the Deering Estate for no cost. Throughout the residency, artists have the opportunity to connect with other artists, exhibit their work at the Deering Estate, and have increased opportunities for grants and partnerships- not to mention the daily access to the Deering Estate and constant muse and inspiration from the grounds themselves.

Through the artist-in-residence program, the Deering Estate is supporting the artist community in Miami and giving back to up and coming artists. It is so important for programs like this to be available to artists and to help emphasize the value of art, especially local artists, throughout history and for years to come.

Miami Beach as Text

South Beach Miami art nouveau architecture | Miami art deco ...
South Beach, photo from Pinterest

“An Architect’s Paradise” by Molly Schantz of FIU at South Beach

The eccentric city that is Miami Beach might be best known for its art deco design patterns found all throughout the city; restaurants, hotels, churches, synagogues, schools, and even grocery stores. The architecture reflects the early 1900’s and the fascination with machines, which is why many of the buildings look like spaceships and have shiny and sleek design elements. There are ten consistent design elements of art-deco that can be found throughout South Beach, but I want to highlight some of my favorites.

First is color. Neon colors may seem tacky or in some cases offensive when paired with the wrong environment and architectural design, but on South Beach, neon colors are essential to the architecture and give the city a vibe that no other area of Miami really. Think about the Miami Vice logo which can now be found integrated into any brand that signifies Miami. It is the iconic combination of neon pink and neon blue that we automatically associate with Miami. This color combo can be found in the architecture within Miami Beach. It brightens up the city and the neon colors give homage to the nightlife even during the day. Another element of art-deco that I want to highlight are porthole windows. While they are a small detail that many people might not notice just passing by, I think they are so special and create a geometric aspect to architecture that would be missing without them. The circular windows give the look of yachts or cruise ships which not only is an element of art-deco design, but a major element of Miami’s environment. You could look one way and see the cruise ships docking at the Port Miami and then turn the other way and see the Ocean Surf building (see above) and they parallel each other with the nautical elements such as porthole windows. The circular windows are eclectic and truly make you feel like you are in a coastal city.

While many of us may not know what elements of architecture are important to look at or pay attention to, we know that those elements create the vibe of a city and make us feel certain ways. I believe that the design elements on South Beach create a sense of nostalgia and positivity. Miami Beach will always be a place of preservation for art-deco architecture and the early 20th century.