VOX

Maria Cruz: MIM Ineffable Miami Project (Fall 2019)

This post is dedicated to Maria Cruz’s Ineffable Miami Project she had to complete for her Honors course in the Fall of 2019. Acting as a tour guide for the illustrious are of Miracle Mile these are her findings.

Student Biography

Photo by Alex Gutierrez (CC by 4.0)

Maria Karla Cruz is currently a senior at the Honors College at Florida International University majoring in International Relations and minoring in Marketing. Fresh from her study abroad trip she completed this past summer in France with Professor Bailly she is in the midst of completing her final year at FIU, greatly looking forward to graduating in the Spring of 2020. Her travels abroad have reignited her interests in the arts, inspiring her to pursue a career focused on the intercultural aspects of international relations through non-traditional forms. Through her academic and future professional endeavors she aims to bring a holistic awareness between arts, politics, and cultural dynamics of the global arena. While her studies are a major focus of her life, outside of school she loves traveling, new places to eat, and hanging out with her friends — all things that can be found in FIU’s Honors College new course Miami in Miami and are bound to make for an exciting semester.

Overview

Photo by Google Maps (CC by 4.0)

Located in the very center of Coral Gables, or what some people refer to as the “downtown” area of the city, Miracle Mile is one of Miami’s most distinguished sites. Stretching just 0.5 miles of the entirety of Coral Way, this section of the road perfectly embodies the affluent environment of the surrounding neighborhood. While it was initially founded in 1922, it was not until 1949 that Miracle Mile developed to be one of Miami’s leading centers for business and commerce, and garnering the interest (and investments) of the richest in the city. This statement is still relevant to this day as the area is known for its expensive boutiques, parking garages overrun by foreign luxury cars, pricy restaurants, and the leisure lifestyle of those with the highest socioeconomic status.

Historical Insight

Photos and edit by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

Recognized as one of the main streets for both the city of Coral Gables and the county of Miami-Dade, Miracle Mile has played an important role in the development of south Miami as it has transitioned to be one of America’s leading metropolitan areas. While Miracle Mile is merely a smaller portion of Coral Way it has its own distinguished history and has gained notoriety amongst locals and tourists alike.

Real estate developer George E. Merrick, who’s most well-known project was the establishment of the City of Coral Gables, had the original vision for Miracle Mile, laying out the design for it when he originally found Coral Gables. However, it was after the conclusion of World War II, in 1949, that the concept of Miracle Mile that has been preserved throughout the decades was “conceived, developed, and implemented,” by City Commissioner Rebyl Zain and her husband George K. Zain. The couples were able to transform Merrick’s earlier aspirations of introducing a successful commercial district to the area to what it currently is today. Acting as one of Miami’s main hubs of shopping and dining, attracting individuals of all ages as it provides a relaxed and leisure environment during the day and later changing to a more exciting atmosphere for its bustling nightlife. Therefore, whether its families looking to take their kids out on for a fun day or college students hoping for a fun night out there are plenty of activities to do in this small boulevard and its surrounding areas. 

While I had visited Miracle Mile before starting this project, I had never been as observant of my surroundings nor spent so much time there. All of my experiences, like many of my friends, have been limited to merely driving by as we are heading to another destination in Coral Gables or stopping by to dine at the latest trending restaurant. Yet, after my prolonged time there I came to the realization that it is one of the few areas in Miami that I have found throughout my months of re-exploration of the city with the class that makes it a goal to share their historical significance and preserve its original mission. Still despite all the plaques of its grand successes and innovation Miracle Mile, and Coral Gables in general, largely ignores its impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods. Being one of Miami’s richest neighborhoods, visiting the city feels like being in a completely different state. There is wider access to public transportation, more open areas for walking, cleaner streets, less intense traffic (aside from U.S. 1), and more local businesses — all things not associated with the average Miami experience. It is quite evident that the resources allocated here are not equal to other places throughout the county. The realities of their residents and those that frequent the shopping boulevard is so distinct from a majority of Miami’s residents that one can not help to be equally amazed and disillusioned.

Geography

Photo and edit by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

Much like the rest of Miami, Miracle Mile is a completely flat stretch of road that is at the mercy of the surrounding mercurial, tropical environment. Many (like myself before the start of this project) assume that Miracle Mile encompasses the entirety of the main road, but it is in fact just the portion of the Coral Way between Douglas Road and Le Jeune Road. This designated section was officially named “Miracle Mile” in 1955, its name referring to the hope its developers had for this new venture to bring economic revenue to the area following the Great Depression.

My initial interest in Miracle Mile and desire to further explore it for this project is mainly due to the fact that it is one of the few places I know of in Miami where you can explore its entirety by foot and in a reasonable time. Even more importantly, it is one of the few developed areas in Miami where you can freely walk without fear of running into a crazy driver. Despite us being so advanced, Miami was never supposed to become the grand city it is; therefore, the original city plans that were built upon throughout the decades of development are often criticized for the spacing and public transportation it has caused. As someone who has lived a majority of their life in the suburbs, Miracle Mile is especially interesting because it offers the complete opposite to what I am accustomed to.

Additional notes on greenery

Unsurprisingly, aside from the palm trees lining the road there is not much greenery to be seen in Miracle Mile. This is just one of the many areas of Miami that have been overrun with buildings and paved roads, where the expansive landscape of mangroves and other natural habitats have been sacrificed for the sake of modernity. The most noticeable patch of green is by the City Hall where there is a small park for children; however, this is by no means a significant amount of land, especially when compared to how many concrete and limestone structures dominate the remaining streetscape. 

Additional notes on transportation

As previously mentioned, Miami does not have the best track record with public transportation — a commonly said phrase amongst its locals is that “if you do not have a car, you are not getting anywhere.” However, this is one of the few areas that can actually be accessed through public transportation, both through the Metro Rail and city trolley, if you choose to not drive over. Moreover, there is plenty of space for those who wish to ride bicycles, scooters, or any other form of pedestrian-vehicle along the sidewalks and open streets.

Interview and Demographics

Photos and edit by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

During my time exploring Miracle Mile, I had two guests with me, Victoria Suarez and Gustavo Tovar — two students of the University of Miami and are frequent visitors of Miracle Mile. Their short distance from the area means that they often frequent it and have vastly more knowledge than me on the latest activities and trending spots. Below are some of the highlights of my interview with them.

As college students what stands out the most to you about Miracle Mile and Coral Gables in general?

 V: I would say the sense of community that defines the neighborhood because even though these places that are off-campus everyone always frequents them, so it’s become this “campus off-campus” site. Like how we just saw Ameer (a friend of theirs from the same university we ran into earlier in the day), and he was stepping off-campus to unwind for a bit before going back. So it’s a very welcoming environment for a lot of people.                                                                                                                                           
G: I think for me I like the rich history the most. Like I find it beautiful that the buildings are still very much old and historic, I love the limestone and mixture of architectural styles for the buildings... It’s also not often that you see so many preserved locations, such as the old movie theater and city hall, in Miami.

Now that you have pointed out the differences, does this area remind you more of Miami or places outside of the city (or states)?

V: I still think it’s very much Miami.
G: I think for me this place is definitely an anomaly in the sense of what Miami is made up of, because if you go to [the suburbs where we live] it’s not historical or well kept like this.
V: Right, so that’s why [Miracle Mile] is seen as the center of the city, because it’s where you see the best of what we have to offer manifest itself.
G: I understand that perspective but I think it’s equally important to note the dichotomy between the old and new, and how that influences our community’s (as a whole) perspectives on these locations. So, Coral Gables and similar areas are seen as “the real Miami” and everywhere is else is kind of like a background.

In comparison to the suburbs where you live and grew up in, do you prefer this area or your home?

G: I like this place better because I feel like there’s a lot of walking distance you can cover on your own and a variety of associated activities... as opposed to where we live where you need a car to get anywhere.
V: It’s like a good middle ground between the city and the suburbs, you get a good mix of both so it’s easier to both navigate and live in.
G: My only issue is how horrendous the parking situation is.
V: And the city planning as well, like we were just talking about how this city wasn’t built to be as big as it is now. So while these are some major downsides it’s justified.

Off the top of your head, what is the top place you recommend visiting in Miracle Mile?

V: Coral Gables Art Cinema, the local theater, and Books & Books are at the top of my list. I think these are places a lot of people will enjoy visiting. I also know they host a few festivals near the main street throughout the year, like this art one that’s put up in the Spring, so that’s something I would recommend as well because of it’s accessibility.
G: Those are my top recommendations as well, but every time I come to try a new restaurant here I always have a good time, so I would tell others to explore the restaurant options based on their preferences. Even if you’re a local and frequent the area, Miracle Mile is an area where there’s constantly something new to try out.                                                                                                      

Aside from the candidness of their responses, what was most interesting to me was how their individual answers resonated with my own observations and thoughts. Living in Miami, there is always so much going on that it is impossible to pay attention to it all simultaneously. As a result, many (including myself) stick to their daily routines and forget that there are more people than just yourself and your small bubble of friends, family members, and acquaintances. This disconnection from your local community makes you think that you are alone in your experiences, which I have felt many times before, but it is important to remember that this is not the reality. This is definitely an idea I have reconciled throughout our different class expeditions this semester and my individual explorations for this project.

I also chose two college-aged individuals to interview because when I have visited Miracle Mile in the past it was very evident that it is an area frequented more by those in younger generations, and the statement still stands. While there were some families out together, when I was there researching for the project I saw a lot more people around my age range. This may be surprising to some as Coral Gables as a whole is seen as a very family-friendly residential area and higher price points of the luxury boutiques and popular restaurants tend to repel younger people; however, there is no doubt the proximity of UM has skewed the demographics of the city’s most known locations. This is especially discernible at night where you will find the crowds from open businesses spilling out into the sidewalks as hundreds of people are trying to get into the trendiest spots. Therefore, while they may not visit Miracle Mile to shop or drop obscene amounts of money, they still show up because of their attraction to its bustling environment and desire to partake in the many ongoing activities. 

Observations

Photos and edit by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

When you first arrive at Miracle Mile the most notable thing is its extensive space for pedestrians and recreational activities alike. This open planning allows for a casual and relaxed ambiance for the day before enhancing the dynamic energy of the boulevard at night. There are barely any areas left in Miami that have preserved this type of versatile environment, choosing instead to adapt to the rules of uniformity of modern urban planning — much to the dismay of our community and local businesses. Overall, this section is very reminiscent of Europe to me as streets just like it are found all throughout and getting the chance to explore them was one of my favorite activities during my travels there. From seeing friends riding bikes together to artists painting en plein air in the sidewalks my time at Miracle Mile was a very refreshing break from the chaos that my Miami life is. This is one of the key reasons why this road is one of the remaining developments of its type that has “maintained its original purpose and significance” in the continental United States.

Additional notes on landmarks

Due to the short length of this road there are not many notorious landmarks around; however, the ones that are present are important in adding to the cultural richness of the street and by default the city. Of political importance is not just Coral Gables’ historic City Hall but the various embassies that are found near the main street as well. These locations have played significant roles in Miami’s development in both the domestic and international arena, and as a result, have made the local area even more illustrious than it originally was. Moreover, there are several markers located along the street that informs visitors of past figure and events that were major contributors to forging Mr. Merrick’s dreams into a reality. There are also places like the Coral Gables Art Cinema and Books & Books (as previously discussed in the interview) that are well known in our local community. These are hallmark places that through the widespread appreciation of Miami residents have been embedded into the image of Miracle Mile.

Additional notes on food and businesses

As the heart of the Central Business District there are constantly new locales to visit, even more so since the boulevard’s redesigning to attract more tourists and keep up with the modern demands of locals. Still, the original beauty and elegance of this street are standards that have been upheld by local merchants, adding a layer of authenticity to the surroundings that many developed cities are currently lacking. The businesses on Miracle Mile are more than just luxury boutiques and pricey eateries; despite, the superficial beliefs of consumer culture their presence reinforces they have played an equal role in creating a distinct neighborhood that has allowed them to preserve this sense of community so many desperately seek.

Reflection

Photos and edit by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

The term “ineffable” refers to a concept that is “too great or extreme” to be merely described in words, something I definitely think is applicable to my findings of Miracle Mile. For example, for me, my personal exploration of this sector was a great reinforcer of past societal and cultural judgments I have made of my home city, Miami. As a thriving downtown boulevard, this reality of the people that live in this area is vastly different from my own, from the resources allocated to there to peoples’ perception of its cultural value. Solely by traveling to and from there, you can see the substantial economic disparity between residents from that area and the rest of the city. Miracle Mile is merely a microcosm for a much larger issue that plagues our home, and these are topics that have barely been acknowledged by those in power that are capable of introducing the necessary means for change. While spending a day there is fun for all that go, I could not discuss the beauty of it without recognizing the many problems that are widely ignored because of the illusions of refinement and excellence centers like this cover up. It is important to remind visitors, like I have been thanks to the themes tackled in this class, that there is much more to our original appreciation of a location.

Works Cited

https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=83130

https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/thing-to-do/shopping/miracle-mile-downtown-coral-gables-shopping-district/2904

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_Mile_(Coral_Gables)

https://www.miaminewtimes.com/arts/walk-through-miracle-miles-history-at-the-coral-gables-museums-latest-exhibition-8315270

MIM Ineffable Miami: Fauzan Sheikh

Ineffable Sunset:

Bio

I am Fauzan Sheikh currently a Junior in the Honors College and FIU School of Engineering. My major is Construction Management and I am currently an Assistant Estimator at Zahlene Enterprises which is a construction company located in Medley, FL. I was born in Karachi Pakistan, raised in South Miami, FL, and I currently reside in Pembroke Pines, FL My goal is to finish my degree as soon as I can to lead my life into a successful career within the construction industry. I have always been very involved with every institution I was enrolled in. During my time in Southwest Miami Highschool (2013-2017) I played Varsity football and my team won the district championship. I was also in Student Government during my senior year in high school. Broward College brought me closer to my religion through the MSA (Muslim Student Association) chapter of Broward College. I became the Vice President and did a great amount of community work alongside my Muslim brothers and sisters. Our MSA did everything from feeding the homeless in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale to the riddance of misconceptions about Muslims through peaceful talks and debates. At Broward College I was also a member of HSC (Honors Student Committee) which not only aided me through opening doors to scholarships and academic success, but I also spread the knowledge I gained to help the students who I studied amongst. I am blessed to have FIU in my own hometown. The diversity here at FIU is outstanding and the opportunities for minorities like me are in surplus. Being an FIU Panther for only three weeks has made me realize how if I choose the correct path, success is just the reach of a hand away.

Geography

Map of Sunset: Bestplaces.net

Sunset, FL is a city in South Miami and the cities that it is bordered by are Kendale Lakes, Glenvar Heights, Westwood Lakes, Kendall, and Olympia Heights. The Don Shula Turnpike as well as the Snapper Creek Expressway are two highways that run directly through the city of Sunset, FL.

History

Hurricane Andrew in Sunset, FL

A historical event that truly had a huge impact on the City of Sunset, FL was the arrival of Hurricane Andrew. August 24th, 1992 was a day that not only the city of Sunset, FL, but the entire region of South Florida will never forget. At the time when Hurricane Andrew struck Florida, it was the strongest hurricane to ever strike Florida. Roofs were ripped off the foundation of homes and thousands of Sunset, FL residents were displaced, hundreds were injured.

Demographics

The 2010 census reveals everything to know about the demographics of the city of Sunset, FL. There are approximately 16,389 residents, 7751 of which are male, and 8638 which are female. 14.8% of the residents are White, 43.2% Black, 9.2% Latino (which is very low compared to the rest of Miami), and 3.9% are from other races. The median age range for residents of Sunset, FL is 44.4 years which is 2.4 less than the rest of Florida. The average household income in Sunset, FL is $81772 which is much greater than the rest of the state of Florida since that is at $52,594 the estimated income per capita is $33358 in 2017 which grew a great amount since 2010, when it was $23,735. The average home values in Sunset, FL are $412,044 which is almost double that of the rest of the state, which is $214000.

Food

Deep Dish Pizza: Yelp

Manhattan Chicago Pizza is a non-chain restaurant. New York style Italian food is served here. When I went into the restaurant, I was welcomed by a staff of four people which were all immediate family. I ordered a Fettuccine Alfredo as well as their famous Deep-Dish Pizza. I was provided with excellent service and the food was hot and fresh when it came out.

Business

Daytime view of The Shops at Sunset Place entrance: Greater Miami and the Beaches

The Shops at Sunset Place is the most grossing place to be in the city of Sunset, FL. The Shops at Sunset Place is an open mall with great entertainment, dining, and shopping options. The AMC 24 is an excellent place to watch movies, and GameTime is also another option for entertainment. There are delicious spots to eat such as Buffalo Wild Wings. The Shops at Sunset Place is an excellent shopping mall that has all your favorite brands such as: Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble Superstore, Forever 21, Gap/Gap Kids, Hollister Co., It’s Sugar, Love Culture, The Disney Store, Victoria’s Secret and Z-Gallerie.

Summary

Sunset, FL is among the most overlooked cities in the entire Miami-Dade County. Even when you try googling the history, aside from Wikipedia there are very few sources that have any information. Sunset, FL is a city with beautiful homes and landscape. The quality of living is great, and it is in need of more respect as well as attention.

ASC Service Project 2019: Matthew Haimes

Deering Estate Historic Holiday Stroll

For my Art Service project, I worked with the Deering Estate helping out with their Historic Holiday Stroll and making brochures for them to use regarding composting and the gopher tortoise. I arrived at 5pm for the stroll and met with Vanessa Trujillo their conservation and research specialist. For the event I would be guiding the traffic of the populous so that they would be able to find where the Stone House is. The event went from 7pm until 9pm and I was unable to sit down which resulted in a decent amount of effort from my part towards the ending of the event. Seeing all the lights that they set up and the amazing lengths they had gone put the absolute maximum Christmas spirit into each person that walked in was astonishing. After the event was over, we had to stay to clean up, which only lasted for so long because the people that attended the event were actually very tidy. It was an awesome experience and I was given the opportunity to go onto the top of the Stone House and see the rest of the Deering Estate which I will never forget.

Making the brochures was very tiresome, specifically because I had never made a brochure before. The research I had to go through on how to create a brochure and what type of info to put where felt like it took eons. After a few hours of work, I was done and I had just gotten multiple new skills in how to design and create a brochure such as organization, formatting, and composition. I was happy to help the Deering Estate with this project and I am glad I was able to learn new shortcuts to assembling different sets of media to help teach people of all age groups.

Overall, I found this experience very beneficial to my growth as a student as I have found new ways of working in environments than I am used to. I was also given the opportunity to work outside of my comfort zone in helping many people at the Historic Holiday Stroll as I am a very introverted person. When I was told to make the brochure I did not know how to go about creating it, but I spent some time learning the process and it was very rewarding and now I can create digital media much more efficiently than I could before.

ASC See Miami Fall 2019: Patricia Menendez

Coral Gables Museum

STUDENT BIO

My name is Patricia M. Menendez, and I am a junior at Florida International University pursuing a B.S. in Digital Communication and Media and a B.A. in Sustainability and the Environment. In the near future I hope to be working with an environmental-based company that educates and enlightens the public through a multimedia platform. Through this course, I hope to enhance my creative side and gain more knowledge not only about the world of art but its role in shaping and documenting societal progression. I believe that this course will help me decipher the environment (or society) my work will take me to, as well as help me capture its essence.

GEOGRAPHY

The Coral Gables Museum is located at 285 Aragon Avenue. Across from it, on Aragon Avenue, is the Coral Gables Art Cinema, a theater that plays American and international films, along with modern movies and classic ones. For parking, there is a Museum Garage located right next to the cinema as well as street parking along Aragon Avenue. A block away, the Downtown Coral Gables Shopping District and famous Miracle Mile can be found with its vast array of shops and restaurants for visitors to enjoy. Next to the museum there is also a Books & Books, a popular site for residents and tourists. Therefore, the museum lies in a central location of the City Beautiful.

HISTORY

1939 Municipal Building. Taken from the Coral Gables Museum site.

Before being a civic art museum, the Coral Gables Museum housed the city’s police and fire department from 1939 to 1975.

During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA)  was responding to many requests from local governments for assistance in job creation and city development. In 1937, the WPA responded to Coral Gables request for the construction of a new police and fire station due to the fact theirs was in need of serious replacement. In June 1938, Coral Gables city officials received notice from the WPA of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s final approval on the building.

The new police and fire station was to be built on the northwest corner of Salzedo and Aragon, where it currently stands. The west side (Salzedo) housed the fire department, while the east side (Aragon) was dedicated to the police department. Construction for the building began on March 30, 1938 and architectural design was led by Phineas Paist, one of the first registered architects in Miami. Paist had worked on previous projects like the Coral Gables City Hall and Venetian Pool, making him an ideal candidate for the design of the building. His early sketches of the building were the same as the final result – a Depression-Moderne and Mediterranean Revival style building made of primarily coral limestone from Wembley Key.

The fire department had two stories. On the first floor one could find the fire truck bay, the fire chief’s office, storage room for equipment, a fire alarm room, mess hall and kitchen. Rather than being erected for aesthetic purposes, the 50 foot tower served as the place where fire hoses were hung out to dry after use. Meanwhile, the second floor served as the living quarters of the firemen and also had some offices.

On the contrary, the police department was all on one floor. It consisted of a small courtroom, the judge’s chambers, the police chief’s office, administrative offices and jail cells. It is important to note that the cells did not detain felons, rather they served as short term detention cells for those who had a little too much to drink.

The municipal building was completed in 1939. However, due to the growing population of Coral Gables, the city decided to expand the building and in 1954 added a larger courtroom on the east side of the building. In 1975, the police and fire department moved to a new building further south on Salzedo Street where (ironically) the first station was built. After the move, the 1939 building was used for city offices and leased out to other organizations. It was not until 2003, when an initiative led by former City Commissioner Wayne “Chip” Withers set out to repurpose the 1939 building to a civic art museum. Evidently, on October 10, 2010 the initiative was made into a reality with the official opening of the Coral Gables Museum.

“Keystone Firemen” outside of Coral Gables Museum.

Today the museum still maintains and preserves the historic design of the municipal building from 80 years ago. The only new addition to the museum is the Carole A Fewell Gallery, which is now the museum’s largest gallery. When you enter the museum’s main entrance, the main lobby served as the connector between the city’s fire and police department, with the fire department being on your left and the police’s on the right. The museum’s permanent collection, “Creating the Dream: George E. Merrick and his Vision for Coral Gables,” is located where the police offices and jail cells used to be. The Abraham Gallery was the 1939 municipal building’s firetruck bay. In the gallery, you can still see the oil stains on the original terrazzo flooring of the building and grooves on the floor where blocks used to be to serve as stopping points for the firetrucks. What once used to be the office of the fire chief is now the museum’s education division, and instead of living quarters, the second floor now serves as the office of the city’s Historic Resources Department. The 1954 courtroom is now the Community Meeting Room and the smaller courtroom is now the museum’s gift shop. Lastly, directly outside of the building, you can still see the iconic sculptures of the “Keystone Firemen” by Joan Keller.

Coral Gables Museum today. Fewell Gallery on the left and original 1939 complex on the right.

The Coral Gables Museum also serves as the city’s visitor center and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

MISSION

From the Coral Gables Museum website:

“The Museum’s mission is to celebrate, investigate and explore the civic arts of architecture and urban and environmental design, including fostering an appreciation for the history, vision, and cultural landscape of Coral Gables; promoting beauty and planning as well as historic and environmental preservation for a broad audience, including children, families, and community members, as well as local, regional, national and international visitors.”

What this mission means is that the Coral Gables Museum is dedicated to fostering and highlighting the civic arts of Coral Gables and other communities alike. By civic arts it not only refers to the city’s architecture, public spaces, monuments, urban design, and landscape, but also art that embodies civic values of any community and that which defines certain cultures. This mission can be seen through the museum’s temporary exhibitions which tend to encompass civic art by international artists and its permanent collection that focuses on the city’s founder, George Merrick, his team, and how the City Beautiful came about.

ACCESS

The museum is open Sunday – Saturday. On Monday – Friday it is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The following list demonstrates museum admission fees:

  • Adults, Seniors, and Students – $15
  • Children (6-12) – $8
  • Children under 6 – FREE
  • Military families – FREE
  • Members – FREE

Aside from free admission for one year, museum members can enjoy a number of benefits depending on their level. The following list illustrates the different benefits different membership levels are eligible for:

Standard Membership Levels:

Individual (Adult- $50, Student- $30, Educator- $30, Senior- $30)

  • Invitations to members-only exhibit preview receptions, events and tours
  • Discounts on select museum tours and lectures
  • 10% discount on facility rentals
  • 10% discount at the museum’s gift shop,
  • Coral Gables Museum e-news subscription
  • Two free single-admission tickets for guests

Dual ($70)

  • Individual membership benefits for two adults

Family ($80)

  • Individual membership benefits for two adults and their children
  • Advance registration and discounts on all museum winter, spring, summer and one-day camps
  • 10 % discounts on museum birthday parties

Senior Family ($60)

  • Family membership benefits for two senior adults (age 65 and over) and their grandchildren (up to age 18)

Merrick Circle Membership Levels:

Granada ($150)

  • Family membership benefits
  • 15% discount at the museum’s gift shop
  • Advance registration for museum tours and lectures
  • Complimentary Coral Gable Museum gift
  • Six complimentary single-use admission tickets

Ponce de Leon ($250)

  • Granada benefits
  • Recognition in the museum’s annual report
  • Two complimentary tickets to one Lunch and Learn event
  • One complimentary tour of the museum with the director for up to four guests, upon request

Venetian ($500)

  • Ponce de Leon benefits
  • One complimentary tour of the museum with the director for up to eight guest and one private tour of a museum exhibition, upon request
  • One time use of the museum’s Perrin International Hall for an event

Alhambra ($1000)

  • Venetian benefits
  • A $150 Granada membership to give as a gift
  • Invitation for to the museum’s annual Patron event

COLLECTION

Creating the Dream: George E. Merrick and his Vision for Coral Gables

As the only permanent exhibit at the Coral Gables Museum, “Creating the Dream” offers history and insight through its exploration of the beginnings of what is now the City Beautiful. From Reverend Solomon Merrick’s purchase of his family’s plantation, which is now the Granada Golf Course, in 1899 to the visionaries of George Merrick (his son) for one of the few planned cities in the world, the exhibit encompasses the timeline of Coral Gables perfectly.

Figure of George Merrick.

“Creating the Dream” begins with the city founder’s early life, from a snapshot of his home by brother Richard Merrick to portraits of his wedding. The exhibit then goes on to the origins of the city, why the design, who designed it and how it all came to be. George Merrick believed that South Florida was identical “with Spain, North Africa, and all that lies between them and the South Sea Islands.” He chose Spain as the inspiration to Coral Gables (as seen with the city’s street names, architecture and entrances) because of what he would imagine when he would pass the undeveloped land.

“[I] dreamed of some day seeing here a thousand homes which would make my ‘castles in Spain’ a reality,” he once said, as seen on one of the walls of the exhibit.

The exhibit then goes on to what happened after the city was planned in 1925, including the University of Miami, Merrick Villages and much more.

EXHIBITIONS

For Now: Contemporary Venezuelan Art of the Miami Diaspora

The “For Now” exhibition is divided into two galleries: the Carole A. Fewell Gallery and the Abraham Family Gallery. The exhibition features 41 Venezuelan artists that are based in Miami. In the Fewell Gallery, artists that use traditional mediums can be found, whereas in the Abraham Gallery artists use digital mediums, such as video and audio.

The exhibit’s name stems from the expression of similar phrases like “for the time being” or “given the circumstances.” This phrase has a historic significance to Venezuelans due to its use in the country’s past, such as Hugo Chavez’s speech on national TV in Caracas after the failed governmental attempts of his movement in the 1990s.

Besides its political meaning, the artworks in “For Now” encourage viewers to reflect on the present and what it means to them. From diaspora to the memory of the nation they left behind, “For Now’s’ featured artists use traditional media, new media, and geometric abstraction to portray their stories as immigrants.  

El Viaje…

This exhibition is dedicated to the showcase of a book-portfolio that contains artworks from 18 Latin American artists. Each piece is also accompanied by a poem from a Latin American writer. The artwork and poem coincide with one another in content and theme. Each poem reflects upon the journey that Sephardi Jews embarked on after being expelled from Spain. The book serves as recount of the struggles, hardships and strength of Sephardi Jews and a reminder to future generations of their ancestors and true origin.

The exhibit is located in Gallery 109.

Venezuela: Serious Humor
Cambio by Roberto Weil (left) and Migrantes by Roberto Weil (right).

The exhibition focuses on the artwork of two Venezuelan cartoonists, Roberto Weil and EDO. The exhibit features over 15 caricatures that refer to Venezuela’s past and present politics in a humorous yet saddening way due to its reality.

The exhibit is located in the Frank Lynn Galleries.

Ontological Curiosity

The exhibition, which features the work of Venezuelan American artist Rafael Barrios, invites visitors to share moments of the artist’s own curiosity for the nature of being or ontological. The exhibit promotes curiosity, creativity, and questioning within the viewer. It showcases the artist’s exploration of being through his artwork and offers the viewer the chance to be the moving element in the piece by transforming the artwork by moving around it.

The exhibit is located in the Community Meeting Room.

SPECIAL PROGRAMS

Public Tours

Audio Tours

The museum offers audio tours online on both the “Creating the Dream” exhibition and the historic past of the building. On location, the museum offers visitors a self-guided audio tour via your cellphone. All audio tours are available in English and Spanish.

Waterway Canoe Tours

On the last Sunday of every month at 9:30 a.m. the museum offers a two hour excursion led by museum staff and EcoAdventure on the man-made Coral Gables Waterway. The excursion costs $40 per person.

Gables Bike Tours

On the third Sunday of every month at 10 a.m. the Coral Gables Museum offers a two hour educational bike tour that explores a different aspect of the city on each tour date. The tour is in partnership with Bike Walk Coral Gables and is $10 for adults and $5 for members and children under the age of 12.

Creating the Dream Tour

Guided tour by a museum staff member every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. of the museum’s permanent exhibition, “Creating the Dream.”

Downtown Walking Tour

Offered every Saturday at 11 a.m., a museum staff member takes visitors through the city’s historic past, landmarks and how those sites are used and preserved today. The tour is supported by the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables and costs $5 for members and $10 for the general public

Education

City Trekker Camp

The Coral Gables Museum offers kids from ages 5 to 12 an opportunity to explore the city, engage in artistic and educational activities, and have fun in its variety of City Trekker Camp programs. The program offers One Day Camps, a Winter Camp, Spring Camp and Summer Camp. One Day Camps are available on holidays and teacher planning days throughout the school year.

Coral Gables Museum School Tours

These tours are available for public, private and charter schools and include tours of the museum’s exhibitions and the city. The program also offers on-site activities for students.

Family Day on Aragon

On every second Saturday of the month the museum hosts Family Day, a day filled with family activities like arts and crafts, museum scavenger hunts, games and live performances. Family Day is open to the public for free and takes place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the museum.

Professional Workshops

This museum program is only available to teachers and features subject area experts and leaders in the STEAM field. The program aims to help teachers develop new teaching skills that deviate from traditional memorization lessons to critical thinking and personal development based courses.

Gallery Night Live!

This event takes places on the first day of every month and starts at 6 p.m. Free admission to the museum is offered to those who come. Live music by the University of Miami Frost School of Music is offered and drinks are provided for an extra cost.

PORTRAIT

Dayana Ibarra, Graphic Designer and Visitor Services Manager of the Coral Gables Museum

How long have you been working here?

I’ve been working here for almost two years now

How long have you been going to the museum?

So I volunteered here for like a month or so before I got hired and I was just here at the front doing the things I do now so talking to people about what’s in the city and helping them with what’s in the museum itself. At the time there was only the history of coral gables exhibit so it was not that difficult to learn what was going on, but afterwards they came with the African American cemetery exhibit and around that time was when I got hired just for the visitor services manager part and later on they figured I can do posters, brochures and stuff like that as well.

So why work here?

Well I really like history and at the time I thought well it’s going to be a really good learning experience in terms of learning about the history. I thought it was going to be more about the history of the United States rather than the city of Coral Gables and it ended up being more microhistory than I thought but that opened me up to that part of the history of Miami.

What are some changes you’ve seen while working here?

Well they change the exhibits every three months or so. In the future regarding more exhibits opening, they’re going to have more things related to performing arts pieces.

What is the museum’s significance to the community?

The history of Coral Gables is so important to the city itself. The thing is Coral Gables for as big and metropolitan as it seems to be, it’s a very small town. A lot of people who come here are natives of the city or have lived here for a while, or even if they’re new they just want to integrate themselves into the fabric of the city and that’s sort of our job. We’re the visitor center and we help with anything to do with the city itself.

Have you seen it grow in popularity overtime?

We have grown in popularity in comparison to last year we have probably 1.5 times more visitors than we used to have.

How many people visit on average?

On a weekly basis, on a typical week, like 300 people.

Do you get people from all over the world?

Absolutely, because we’re so close to the airport a lot of people come in here and they say “hey we have five hours to kill before our flight can we come in and see the museum?” I’ve talked to people from japan from Australia from England from India, and just from all sorts of parts of the world not just Latin America itself.

What has been your favorite exhibit?

Kinder spirits was fantastic! I think it’s my favorite one and I only say that because there is this one artist Ariel Acosta and his work is gorgeous, we’re talking the most gorgeous paintings and they’re all so impressionist. There is this one piece of this girl that is coming out of the painting and everybody around looks like they’re sleeping, it has a lot of people from movies and stuff like that, so it is it a lot like dreaming very imagination based.

What sets the museum apart from others?

In terms of that I would say it’s the Coral Gables connection that makes us different from other museums because we’re not as big as the other museums and we’re not as well known as PAMM but we’ve got pretty good exhibits going and we have great programming and a lot about the community itself so I think that that’s what sets us apart.

VISITOR

Holly Morganelli, Coral Gables Resident and FIU Professor

How many times have you been visited the museum?

I live less than a block away from the museum, so I’ve been here several times and I’ve brought family members visiting me to the museum and I’m at Book & Books all the time so it’s very convenient.

Why and what do you like about the museum exactly?

Well it’s a small space, first of all, so it’s not the kind of museum that you need to spend like two hours in, and I really like the space and the buildings here. They are really beautiful and it kind of creates a nice atmosphere to compliment the gallery.

What have been your favorite exhibits?

I think it was one with, I know it was historic photos, but it was a couple of years ago and I can’t remember which one it was.

Have you seen any of the current exhibits now?

No! I made a reminder that I want to go to the new Venezuelan-based ones that just opened up. They look really interesting to me.

What do you think about the permanent collection the creating the dream tour?

It is really nice because I think Coral Gables is a unique place in Miami Dade.

What have you learned from the museum?

I’ve learned a lot about the development of Coral Gables and I attend a lot of art and community events here.

What brought you here today to the museum?

I need to buy one more small gift for my mother. She absolutely loves the museum’s gift shop.

SUMMARY

I have always enjoyed the distinct atmosphere and architecture of the City Beautiful. You can always find me in Coral Gables at least once every one or two weeks, hence why I was surprised that I had never known about the Coral Gables Museum prior to this project. The Coral Gables Museum is consistent with the city’s identity through its Mediterranean style building and ode to the city’s development and founder, George Merrick.

The museum differs from other art museums I have been to before due to its historic standing and connection to the community. It is almost as if the museum is proud to be that of Coral Gables.

What I enjoyed most about the museum was the preservation of its previous structure and consistent theme throughout its exhibits. The museum also remains true to its mission by offering exhibits that clearly define cultures and outline civic values of other communities besides Miami. Aside from this, the current exhibitions also seem to relate to particular rising communities in Miami, specifically the Venezuelan community.

Although small, the museum seems to take advantage of its space effectively. However, I did not like that for some of the exhibitions, their backgrounds were not clearly visible. For instance, I did not know the background of “For Now” until I went to the Fewell Gallery and there was no explanation to the “El Viaje…,” only what the content of the book was on. The museum also lacked certain direction as to where to begin, but the museum staff was very willing to help with that.

In my visits to the Coral Gables Museum, I not only learned about the development and origins of a city that I love dearly but I also learned of a new event hotspot, attraction, and destination for civic art. I look forward to visiting the museum again and seeing what other exhibitions it has in store.

SOURCES:

History of Coral Gables Museum:

Museum Membership Benefits:

Museum pamphlet with membership information

Exhibitions:

Conversation with Museum Chief Curator, Yuni Villalonga

Special Programs:

ASC See Miami Project: Matthew Haimes

Photo Credit : FIU

Student Bio

My name is Matthew Haimes and I am currently in my second year of college at Florida International University. I am currently majoring in mathematics as I want to go to graduate school and one day become a mathematician. I have always enjoyed spending time to appreciate art throughout my life and this fascination has taken me across the world to look at what I believe to be the most influential pieces of art. My hobbies include solving Rubik’s cubes, boxing, volleyball, and studying. I enrolled in this class to learn more about the art world and delve deep into different forms of art and how they have been used to change society. So far, I have enjoyed every minute of this class and it has been an honor being one of Professor Bailly’s students.

Geography

The Patricia and Philip Frost Art Museum can be found on the campus of FIU in Miami, Florida. The address of the institution is 10975 SW 17th St, Miami, FL 33199 in the Modesto A. Maidique campus. The destination of this museum has influenced many of its different exhibits such as the current Art after Stonewall exhibit which provides a detailed overview of LGBTQ art which you would not find in an area such as in the central United States. Because of the location this museum has had some of the most diverse forms of art because of its south Floridian audience.

History

Philip Frost was an American entrepreneur who was a chairman, investor, and CEO of multiple different companies throughout his lifetime and it was through this he established a plethora of wealth. Patricia Frost was the chairman of multiple boards between FIU and the Smithsonian and was the Educator of the Year for her work at FIU. Both of them were stellar individuals who surpassed anything that got in their way and managed to amass a fantastic collection of a variety of art, which they donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1986. In 2006 they became the lead donors to the aptly named Patricia and Philip Frost Art Museum at FIU.

Mission

The mission of the Frost Art Museum is to serve as many different and diverse groups of people as possible while still being able to give all of their programs and services for free. This goal has earned them multiple awards even going as far as to earn the award of “Miami’s best Museum” multiple times.

Access

This institution is easily one of the most accessible museums in the world as not only is it an obvious building which by itself looks like a fantastic piece of architecture, it is free to everyone to visit. Their hours of operation are from 10am-5pm from Tuesday-Friday, 12-5pm on Sundays and they are closed on Saturdays and Mondays. They have many different types of membership ranging from FIU Student which is $20 which lets you get discounts on any event that they hold. All the way until Benefactor which costs $1000 and you are given premier passes to Miami Art Fair Week, access to national and international art fairs, and more.

Collection

Deep Blue by Javier Velasco

The second floor houses an exhibit named Art after Stonewall, which is a deep insight into the impact that different individuals in the LGBTQ community had to face during time of 1969-1989. The exhibit itself encompasses about 20 years of art which followed the Stonewall riots in 1969. There is a detailed summary of the exhibition on the second floor on the right side of where you would have walked up the stairs. Both the left and right sides on the second floor represent this exhibition and you can observe in extreme detail what these people have had to deal with over the many years of being underrepresented and being made fun of.

Things Are Queer by Duane Michals

My absolute favorite piece inside the entire museum very early which was “Things Are Queer” by Duane Michals. This piece shows a pure example of just how weird things can be and upon initial observation it may seem as a trivial piece, but after looking through the piece and finding the meaning I feel as though it was one of the best pieces, I have seen all year. The exhibit is covered with massive pieces of very emotionally powerful art and it feels difficult walking through it because of the pain that the artists must have felt when they were creating these magnificent pieces of art.

Pearl Homes by Arch Connelly

Another piece which I found very powerful was “Pearl Homes” by Arch Connelly which represents a home made out of jewelry. The purpose of the piece is to give an idea about what drag culture can be like from the inside and gives off a glitzy drag queen aesthetic to the same extent that sculptures would represent historical importance. These two pieces alone can describe what the emotional aura was throughout this exhibit and partially what it must have been like to have gone through the same difficulties which they faced.

Male Ibeji (Left)
Female Ibeji (Right)
By Unknown Artist

The third floors exhibit “Connectivity” shows how everyone is connected whether it be throughout beliefs, languages, geographic area, and as struggling citizens. There is an excess of art to view to understand this emotional resonance, but this exhibition does so in a fantastic way that puts you in a state where you want to connect with other cultures and understand what they have gone through. A fine example of this is in the two piece of art “Female Ibeji” and “Male Ibeji” which are both two twins of the Yaruba people in Nigeria. The Yoruba believe that twins are a very sacred and important occurrence, and this has influenced their thinking and apparently their biology as they have the highest occurrence of twins in the world. This fascination with twins has led them to create a statue to serve as a memorial for when a twin would pass away, because they believed that twins had only one soul and not there would only be half of a soul leftover in a surviving twin.

The Yoruba believed that caring for these statues would help their families, and this is a clear connection to many other cultures and many of us have the sole goal of helping our families. This is an example of our connection to each other through our belief systems, because where we as Americans don’t hold twins to as high of as a regard as the Yoruba, we do both believe that family is one of the most important things and we will go through great lengths to make sure our families are happy.

The Mediator by Humberto Calzada

Another piece of art which I find very influential to the topic of connectivity is “The Mediator” by Humberto Calzada. The inspiration for this piece came from his home town Havana, Cuba, and through his work he changes the commonly historical and beautiful place of Havana and changes it into nothing but a mere collection of different geometrical shapes. This shows how we can be connected to places that may be in a completely different part of the world, but because of a history that has taken place there we can feel as though this history stays with us and changes us no matter where we may travel.

Exhibitions

There are currently two exhibitions at the museum, the first being “Art after Stonewall” which focused on what has occurred inside of the LGBTQ community since the events of Stonewall riots that occurred because of a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Manhatten which occurred because the community refused to give gays the rights they deserved. During the 1980’s the artist-activists brought the struggle for equality back to life and have because of this they have managed to continue fighting on for their rights till today. This is what the second floor of this museum represents, and it is important for us to all remember the difficulties that people still endure to fight for their basic human rights. This is a fantastic exhibit and it feels necessary to walk around and feel what others have gone through to progress to where we are today. This exhibit will be on view until January 5th, 2020 and was curated by Jonathan Weinberg, Daniel Marcus and Drew Sawy, and was organized by the Columbus Museum of Art.

The second exhibition which is on the third floor is “Connectivity, Selections from the Collection of the Frost Art Museum” and this exhibit shows how everyone is connected whether it be throughout beliefs, languages, geographic area, or as struggling citizens. There is an excess of art to view to understand this emotional resonance, but this exhibition does so in a fantastic way that puts you in a state where you want to connect with other cultures and understand what they have gone through. This exhibit has been on view since June 30th, 2018 and will continue being on view for the time being, this exhibit was curated by Amy Galpin Ph.D.

Special Programs

The Frost Art Museum has multiple programs that are open to people of all ages. Programs such as “Family Days” where people come by to draw, paint, and take part in other artistic activities even those who have ailments which hinder them from doing such on an average day. Another community program they offer is their “Drawing Salons” which gives people ages 16+ the opportunity to develop their skills in the arts. They also offer “MakerSPACE Workshops which helps people explore brand new ideas with the help of professional artists. Their last program they offer is called “Artful Playdates” which is where educators help motivate children to explore their inner creativity in many ways which help them become better learners for the rest of their lives.

Visitor

Q: Do you live around Miami?

A: Fort Lauderdale

Q: What are your thoughts on the “Art after Stonewall” exhibit?

A: It seemed a little too explicit honestly, I understand that they have faced a lot of trouble but it’s hard for me to take it seriously when there is a massive picture of two gay people grabbing each other’s privates in the middle of the room.

Q: What are your thoughts on the “Connectivity” exhibit?

A: I like the historic feel to it but it feels a little to abstract to me

Q: Have you ever been here before?

A: Nope, first time.

Q: What is your interpretation of the museum?

A: Seems like a cool place, wouldn’t mind coming back if any new exhibitions roll around.

Portrait

Q: How long have you worked here?

A: Just over a month now.

Q: What are your thoughts on your “Art after Stonewall” exhibit?

A: Easily my favorite part about working here. I try my best to stay on the second floor just so that when people aren’t around, I get to look at the art myself.

Q: How often do new exhibits open up?

A: Every once in a while, a new one is going to open up on the first floor in a week or two.

Q: Do you enjoy working here?

A: I wouldn’t give it up for the world, it is so much fun seeing people explore what we have here.

Summary

Overall, each of their different exhibits painted a perfect portrait what a museum should feel like in my mind. The fact that they are not afraid to show explicit art in the “Art after Stonewall” exhibit and express it as such is a great step forward for out society as we continue to make strides in equal rights. The museum itself has some amazing architecture which was done by Yann Weymouth and this makes the building much more approachable. The “Connectivity” exhibit is very effective in visually the picture of how we all may not look, act, or speak the same. We all still hold the same cardinal connections to each other around what we find important and impactful throughout our lives. I would highly recommend a visit as it is free for everyone so there is no reason to not take the opportunity to learn about their art and really get the chance to feel the impact art has had on people in our society.

References

Florida International University – Digital Communications. “Home.” Florida International University, frost.fiu.edu/index.html.

Franke-Ruta, Garance. “An Amazing 1969 Account of the Stonewall Uprising.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 18 June 2019, www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/an-amazing-1969-account-of-the-stonewall-uprising/272467/.

“The Frosts.” Frost Science, www.frostscience.org/the-frosts/.

“Campus Highlight: Frost Museum.” Florida International University, 17 Oct. 2017, http://www.globalfiu.com/campus-highlight-frost-museum/.

Maria Cruz: MIM Service Project (Fall 2019)

This post is dedicated to Maria Cruz’s Service Project she had to complete for her Honors course in the Fall of 2019. For her project, she worked directly with Art Miami at their Aqua Art Miami fair during Miami Art Week.

Photos and edits by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

If I could describe my time at Aqua Art in one word it would be unforgettable. As a first time worker at an event of this magnitude, there were a lot of factors I had not originally expected to encounter and definitely a lot of new obstacles to overcome. Still, I put forth my maximum energy and effort and managed to survive the week, making my time there one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. While my official title was “Exhibitor Services Lead” I, alongside the rest of the fair’s small team, were involved with all the aspects of production. From December 1st to the 9th we all dedicated the entirety of our days to put up, run, and clean up an entire art festival. There is also the fact that this being hosted during Miami Art Week — a globally renowned event that draws in thousands of tourists and art appreciators alike from all over the world to the city. While I had an understanding of the pressures that this position came with when I first signed on to the work the fair reality is always much different than your original expectations. Nonetheless, it is something I am immensely proud of taking a part in.

Photos and edits by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

I originally got in contact with Art Miami after an opportunity Professor Bailly presented us with; yet, my original expectations were not to work the Aqua Art Fair. Still, once I was presented with this new position I was extremely excited by the prospects. While there were very difficult and tiring times – my team and I were working over 10-hour long days in attempts to meet the very high expectations of us – it was immensely fulfilling to see how successful we were. Aside from it being the first time I would get an extensive look at the background scenes of a Miami Art Week event, the premise of the fair actually correlates with my studies of international relations. Thus, by taking on this endeavor I not only got to directly help in enriching my community, but I also spent the week engaging with topics and issues that will benefit my future academic and professional initiatives. As stated in their mission on their website, Aqua Art “has consistently earned critical recognition for presenting vibrant and noteworthy international art programs.”

Photos and edits by Maria Cruz (CC by 4.0)

As someone who has had her interest in the arts reignited and is pursuing a career focused on the intercultural aspects of global affairs through non-traditional forms, my work at the event has gave me a newfound appreciation for the influence of the contemporary art world. Both in Miami and internationally, individuals’ modes of expression through art is largely ignored and I hope to bring a holistic awareness between arts, politics, and cultural dynamics of the global arena with my future career. However, before I can accomplish this feat I am aware I have to start on a smaller scale. Getting involved with Art Miami and actively participating in Miami Art Week made me realize just how much we, as a community, are lacking in providing adequate support systems for artists and their works. Whether their pieces focus on immigration, environmental degradation, or any other current event topics these individuals’ efforts in spreading awareness for these issues go beyond the political implications. Historically, artists have helped societies have a broader understanding of sociocultural issues; however, what many fail to realize is that their roles have not changed, they have merely adapted their mediums of expression. This is why, if given the chance, I urge every student, no matter what their academic background, is to get involved with cultural programs because I can guarantee with art you will always find something that inspires or enlightens you.

“NoMi- Simply Ineffable”- MIM Ineffable Miami Project Dina Denord

STUDENT BIO

Dina Kencie Denord is a junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. Dina is double majoring in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies and loves to express herself through spoken word. Dina is a true linguaphile, speaking 5 (and a half!) languages. She hopes to one day use her ability to speak and understand these languages to assist immigrants and residents of low-income neighborhood anyway she can. 

GEOGRAPHY

North Miami is geographically situated ten miles north of the city of Miami and is directly to the left of Biscayne Bay. North Miami runs from NW 117thAve down to Biscayne Bay and is often confounded with North Miami Beach. North Miami beach is directly above North Miami and the two are separated by a single street, NE 151stSt. In terms of landscape, North Miami is naturally lush, due to the location by the bay. Unfortunately, development has run amuck in North Miami and that beauty is slowly fading away. As far as the urban landscape, North Miami is close to Aventura, which is full of large buildings, but the two neighborhoods are vastly different. North Miami is a primarily residential area, 

U.S. Census Bureau map showing city limits

  
Map by US Census Bureau

Additionally, North Miami is surrounded by the following neighborhoods:

-Golden Glades and North Miami Beach (to the north)
– Opa-Locka to the northwest
-Sunny Isles Beach to the northeast
-Westview to the direct west
-Sunny Isles Beach, Biscayne Bay and Bay Harbor Islands to the direct east
-Westview to the southwest
-Biscayne Bay to the southeast
-Pinewood, Biscayne Park and other unincorporated parts of Miami Dade county to the direct south

HISTORY

Most know that Miami itself was founded by Julia Tuttle in 1896, with the help of Henry Flagler. The origins of North Miami are a bit different. Fort Dallas, originally a military post that dates back to the Seminole Wars, sat on the banks of the Miami River (it has since been moved to Lumus Park in Downtown Miami). The soldiers needed a path to go from Fort Lauderdale all the way back down to Fort Dallas, so they cut down a military trail. This trail attracted some pioneers, who saw it fit to set roots and name the area “Arch Creek”. 

In 1891, the first pioneer, a man known as Mr. Ilhe began to grow crops like bananas, shallots, apples and tomatoes. As more people came to settle in the area, a general store, roughly 15-20 homes and even two tomato packing businesses all came as well. What helped spawn this growth was the development of Mr. Flagler’s railroad that ran through the area. By 1924, when the Biscayne Bay Canal was dug, the residents of the community were unable to farm due to the soil changes (the canal removed the moisture that was so beneficial), so then came the big business boom. North Miami was incorporated in 1926 as the town of Miami Shores, but when the Miami Shores Village area incorporated as well, the name was forced to be changed (by the State of Florida) to North Miami. To clarify this: the Shoreland Company, an extremely wealthy land developer lobbied with the Florida State Legislature in 1931 to take the name of “Miami Shores”. 

North Miami truly developed and grew after World War II, with many veterans began to move into the area with their young families. This was incredible growth, with the town of North Miami being named the fastest growing city in America in 1951, and the name once again changed in 1953 to the City of North Miami. 

DEMOGRAPHICS

 North Miami is known for have an extremely large Haitian-American population. According to the last decennial census, more than 50% of the population of North Miami identifies as Black American or African-American. 33% identifies as White or Caucasian Hispanic, and the remaining percentage identifies as white non-Hispanic, Asian or other. North Miami is not a particularly wealthy community. The median income is very close to the national poverty line and roughly a quarter of the residents live below the poverty line. 

Generally speaking, the city is well balanced in terms of age and gender, with about 30% of the population being under 18, 12% between 18-24, 32 % from 25-44, 20% from 45-64 and 6% being 65 or older. It is quite evident that North Miami is more family focused just from seeing the demographics. 

The above photo is of Carmelita Germain, a resident of North Miami since 1975. Ms. Germain left Haiti in the early 1970s to come to the United States for a better life for herself and her children. She left her children in Haiti and came to the States to look for a job that would help sustain her family, as her husband was preparing to leave Haiti with the murmurs of the fall of the Duvalier regime. She moved around South Florida, coming to Miami first, then moving to Belle Glade (where there were more Haitians, as not many Haitians lived in North Miami back then) and up north to Maryland for a bit and back down to North Miami in 1975. Ms. Germain has lived here since, and has seen changes through the neighborhood- demographic and land development. She encouraged me to go to several local eateries to get a feel for not only the Haitian demographic of the area, but a feel for the area in general. 

LANDMARKS

In North Miami are the following landmarks:

  • MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) which is located very close to the city hall, on NE 125thST. MOCA was designed by an internationally celebrated architect and hosts several awe-inspiring pieces. 
  • St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church, which is a Spanish monastery that originated in Segovia, Spain in 1141 AD, and was shipped to New York in 1925 and then to North Miami in 1964.  Today, the church is no longer a Catholic institution, but Episcopalian, and is also an event venue and tourist attraction. 
  • Arch Creek Park, which contains the natural stone bridge that the aforementioned soldiers used as a landmark for the trail they built, but more importantly, was a trail that the Native Americans used. The park now contains a small museum that houses many artifacts, live animals and an original coontie mill (coontie is a naturally occurring cycad in Florida, and was grown and traded by the farmers of the area). It is also a very important archeological site for Miami Dade County. 
  • Oleta River State Park, Florida’s largest urban park, is located directly on Biscayne Bay and is situated very close to the Biscayne Bay Campus of FIU. The river is very popular for canoeing and nature gazing.

GREEN
North Miami is full of parks and greenspaces. There are roughly 10-12 parks, and many preserved natural areas. Aforementioned are the Oleta State River Park and Arch Creek Park. Both are beautiful designated areas that honestly display the natural beauty of South Florida. The rest of the parks are partially man made or completely man made, but contribute to greenspace nonetheless and serve to be a communal space for families in the area. 

TRANSPORTATION

For the most part, transportation in North Miami is fairly balanced, with a portion of residents walking or cycling, a portion riding public transportation, and a portion who own and operate their own vehicles. On the several days that I visited North Miami, I had to maneuver how I would be able to make it to there. I drove on a few of the visits, I took the FIU Panther Express to the Biscayne Bay Campus of FIU and from there, I would walk or take an Uber to get to the heart of the city. I’ve taken the bus in North Miami, and the wait is not great, it can range between 20-30 mins. North Miami has its own transport bus, and it runs extremely well. There are also jitneys available throughout the city. Jitneys are small vans or buses that serve as transport vehicles where you can pay $1.50 (which is cheaper than the city bus) to get to different parts of the city, and it does not have specified stops, so you can get closer to where you need to be. Apart from those methods of public transport, it is very easy to get around on one’s two feet. Unlike other parts of Miami Dade County, North Miami has the right balance of suburban and city living, with everything being within walking distance from home. 

FOOD

As for authentic and great places to eat, North Miami is such a wonderful place to explore! The following restaurants are highly rated (by many and cosigned by myself):

  • Cayard’s Bakery: A Haitian bakery that has been a staple of NoMi for well over 40 years, and it is a must go-to in my opinion. All of the meals are extremely affordable, but if you do go, expect to spend a while in line, because regardless of the day of the week, this spot is busy! Not only does the bakery have sweets galore, but they also serve bright, flavorful dishes that bring anyone’s heart home. 
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  • Finga Lickin’: Recently converted into a chain, this restaurant has become a favorite for many, as it was the first restaurant that DJ Khaled opened in 2015, and due to its incredible success with both locals and tourists, he has opened several more all over the US. 
  • Chef Creole: This is a Haitian American staple in NoMi!! Serving authentic Haitian food, this spot is sure to please. From oxtail to all sorts of seafood, Chef Creole serves aptly seasoned food- that is a joy for the taste buds. 

BUSINESSES
As mentioned before, there are some wonderful businesses in North Miami. From colorful artwork to a quick screen repair, there are a plethora of small businesses to support the local economy. There are many Haitian restaurants (too many to list), small delis, and even quick stop cafeterias. My favorite part of North Miami is the fact that it is simple to find a local business for everything. From dollar stores to small shops that serve as a glance back home, being in North Miami is reminiscent of living in a small town. 

Some of my favorites are the Haitian barbershops, where you’ll find a heated discussion on the politics of the US or Haiti, or a vivid retelling of old country life in the outskirts of Port au Prince. 

SUMMARY
In taking a look at the neighborhood and comparing it to where I live, a lot more works here than where I live. Public transportation is much more accessible, and most stores are in walking distance. Additionally, there are more local small businesses to support, so personally, I feel like I am investing in my local economy much more. Most of the residential areas are nice, but due to so many people being pushed out of gentrified neighborhoods, not only are neighborhoods like North Miami packed, but some areas are attracting people who don’t have the best in mind for everyone. What doesn’t work is the lack of parking in some areas, and the overall cleanliness in some parts of the city. In going to one of my favorite bakeries, Cayard’s Bakery, I was not pleased to see grease and dumped water sitting on the side of the business like there wasn’t anywhere else to dispose of it. In conclusion, being able to reexperience North Miami and look at it from the scope of a visitor and not someone who is fairly used to the area was fantastic. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to speak to residents of North Miami and park my car and walk around. I truly enjoyed dipping into small businesses and investing my dollars into their economy. For Haitians, North Miami is a sliver of home. It is a glance at what Haiti could be like if the country was more organized, and most importantly, it is a vivid picture of the American Dream. The ability to come to the United States in pursuit of a better life, to rebuild and to live the way you only could imagine. 

Citations

“City of North Miami.” City of North Miami Files, http://www.northmiamifl.gov/docs/BidFiles/DataInventoryandAnalysis_12-21-07_RFQ371516.pdf.

“History.” Spanish Monastery, https://www.spanishmonastery.com/history.

Legends of America, https://www.legendsofamerica.com/fort-dallas-florida/.

US Census Bureau. “Households and Families: 2010.” The United States Census Bureau, 22 May 2018, https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2012/dec/c2010br-14.html.

“ Natives For Your Neighborhood Conservation of Rare Plants, Animals, and Ecosystems.” IRC – Natives for Your Neighborhood, https://www.regionalconservation.org/beta/nfyn/plantdetail.asp?tx=Zamiinte.

Vanessa Lopez: See Miami Project Fall 2019

Biography

Vanessa Lopez is a sophomore majoring in English Education at Florida International University. Having a passion for literature and academia, she hopes to be an English professor one day. She is currently a Desk Assistant for FIU Housing. As a part of Art Society Conflict, she is looking forward to being exposed to unfamiliar areas of history and art.


Geography

Photos of the front of PAMM, a sculpture in the Museum Park, and the Frost Science Museum.

Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is located on Biscayne Boulevard. In front of PAMM is Maurice A. Ferréz Park, a 30-acre public park. Right across from the art museum is the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum, a museum dedicated to science and innovation. About ten minutes away on foot, there are a multitude of notable locations within Downtown Miami: American Airlines Arena, The Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College, and the Bayside Marketplace. In general, PAMM is one of the main art institutions in this area.

History

The Pérez Art Museum Miami was originally the Center for the Fine Arts (CFA), which opened in 1984 on Flagler Street. The CFA eventually became known as the Miami Art Museum in 1996. However, in 2013, it was relocated to Downtown Miami, and was renamed to Pérez Art Museum Miami. Construction began in 2010, and architects Herxog and de Meuron were hired to design the new building. 

Mission

According to their website, PAMM describes itself as a “modern and contemporary art museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting international art of the 20th and 21st centuries.” Here, they also describe their mission: “to be a leader in the presentation, study, interpretation, and care of international modern and contemporary art, while representing Miami-Dade and cherishing the unique viewpoints of its people.” 

Essentially, PAMM aims to display mostly modern and contemporary art. In doing this, they also aim to represent artists and cultures from all over the globe. They hope to bring more conversation and interaction between these seemingly different cultures. This can be especially seen in their temporary exhibitions, “Zhao Gang: History Painting,” and “The Other Side of Now: Foresight in Contemporary Caribbean Art.” 

Access

Transportation and Parking

The museum can be accessed in a variety of ways. In terms of public transit, it is located by the Museum Park station with the Metromover. Furthermore, it can be accessed through the Metrorail via the Metromover transfer at the Government Center station. PAMM can also be accessed through either the Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach Brightline stations as well. Within Miami, it can be accessed through the MiamiCentral Brightline station.

There is a museum garage adjacent to the museum that is available to visitors. The rates are $8 for the first hour and $4 for each additional hour. Visitors would have to pay at the stations before leaving the garage. However, there is side-street parking and parking lots available within the area.

Hours

Monday-Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Wednesday: Closed

Thursday: 10:00 AM- 9:00 PM

Friday-Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Admission

According to their website, there are no discounts available to Miami residents. However, I was able to pay for my ticket for only $5 by paying for my ticket through the Culture Shock Miami website. The conditions include showing ID at the ticket booth, and being a Miami resident between the ages of 13 and 22. The admission costs are as follows:

Members: Free

Children (6 and under): Free

Active U.S. Military (with ID): Free

Adults: $16

Seniors (62+ with ID): $12

Students (with ID): $12

Youth (ages 7-18): $12

In addition, there are certain days and exceptions where admission is free. The PAMM Student Pass gives free admission to the museum for all students (pre-K to 12th grade) attending Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Admission is free every second Saturday of the month, as well as every first Thursday, from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. 

General Membership

PAMM also offers a paid membership that provides free admission to the museum and various other benefits. There are multiple tiers within the membership. For example, an individual membership is $65 for one year for one adult, and includes: free museum admission, invitations to members-only events, weekly e-newsletter, 10% discount at the gift shop and cafe, discounted parking, personalized membership card, and eligibility to join volunteer docents.

Collection

Notes for a Poem on the Third World (chapter one), 2018. – Glenn Ligon

This piece is the first of a series in which Ligon creates five figurative neons. He creates the outline of the artist’s hands, serving as a self-portrait and a representation of an identity. Another work in the series is on display at the de La Cruz Collection in the Design District.

Penetrable BBL Blue 2/8. – Jesús Rafael Soto

A photo of one of Soto’s “Penetrables” outside of PAMM. Photo taken and edited by Vanessa Lopez.

One of PAMM’s iconic pieces. It is a part of Soto’s series of “Penetrables,” which explores movement, space, and matter. Visitors are free to walk through and be surrounded by these vibrant, blue PVC tubes.

Untitled (parade), 2016. – Kevin Beasley

Photo of Beasley’s sculpture. Photo taken and edited by Vanessa Lopez.

Beasley combines a variety of scrap materials, such as clothing and synthetic mixtures to create this sculpture. The result is a group of floating, ghost-like figures.

Exhibitions

Zhao Gang: History Painting

Photos of Zhou Gang’s pieces. Photos taken and edited by Vanessa Lopez.

This exhibition runs from May 24, 2019 to January 5, 2020. “Zhao Gang: History Painting” consists of 14 paintings by Zhao Gang, a key figure in Chinese contemporary art. These paintings represent different aspects of Gang’s art and identity.

The Other Side of Now: Foresight in Contemporary Caribbean Art

Various photos of “The Other Side of Now” exhibition. Photos taken and edited by Vanessa Lopez.

This exhibition runs from July 18, 2019 to June 7, 2020. According to PAMM’s website, the exhibition is a “thematic group exhibition,” and it revolves around the question: “what might a Caribbean future look like?” This exhibition features 14 artists, and the type of pieces include videos, paintings, sculptures, and installations.

Teresita Fernández: Elemental

Photos of the “Elemental” exhibition. Photos taken and edited by Vanessa Lopez.

This exhibition runs from October 18, 2019 to February 9, 2020. Currently, this is the biggest exhibition at PAMM. Essentially, this exhibition displays Cuban-American artist Teresita Fernández’s career, with pieces ranging from mid-90’s to the present. The materials used ranged from charcoal to glass, and the pieces challenged the viewer to be aware of their role within this space.

Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca: Estás vendo coisas

This exhibition runs from April 26, 2019 to March 29, 2020. Brazilian artists Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca created this 2016 video Estás vendo coisas (You Are Seeing Things). The film explores self-image within the “subculture of Brega music,” which is a combination of American Hip Hop and reggaeton. 

George Segal: Abraham’s  Farewell to Ishmael

Photo of museum visitor John Haberkorn observing Segal’s sculpture. Photos taken and edited by Vanessa Lopez.

This exhibition runs from November 22, 2019 to July 6, 2020. Artist George Segal is known for making plaster casts from live models. This sculpture explores Old Testament’s Abraham. 

What Carries Us Over: Gifts from Gordon W. Bailey

Photos taken in “What Carried Us Over” exhibition. Photos taken and edited by Vanessa Lopez.

This exhibition runs from September 12, 2019 to April 19, 2020. It includes a variety of gifts made by Gordon W. Bailey, a collector from Los Angeles. Most of these pieces were made by uneducated artists, and most lived during the Jim Crow era. 

Special Programs

Daily Tours

PAMM provides daily tours led by museum guides, and are free with museum admission. The tours are also available in Spanish. These tours are first-come, first-serve, and typically last 45 minutes. 

Curate Your Own Exhibition

PAMM currently has an event in which visitors can create their own art exhibitions. In front of the amphitheater is a table with a variety of crafts and tools that any visitor can use. 

PAMM Studio Programs

There are studio programs available to people of all ages. Participants of the program explore the museum and art-making. These programs range from artist-led workshops, story readings, and arts and crafts.

Visitor

During my visit at PAMM, I interviewed John Haberkorn, a second-year student majoring in Computer Science at Florida International University.

Photo of museum visitor John Haberkorn. Photo taken and edited by Vanessa Lopez.

Q: What was the reason for your visit to Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)?

A: “A friend invited me to meet one of their friends and I felt like hanging out. I also happened to like museums in general. I have been to [PAMM] twice this year and I got to see new exhibits.”

Q: Which exhibitions or pieces did you like the most?

A: “A concept video about the oversexualized and tacky Caribbean music. It was very nostalgic and somber. I also liked this sculpture framed like a canvas. It was a bunch of wooden pieces that felt like an entire log cabin was about to crash on top of me.”

Q: How was your visit to PAMM as a whole?

A: “[PAMM] usually makes me think about my own experience as an artist. Somehow I always feel empowered and trapped by its modern art.”

Q: Why does PAMM make you feel that way?

A: “I’m frustrated because I don’t completely understand it, and I feel like I should because it’s art. And I don’t like the way the industry is streamlining towards recreating the idea of art. It’s just so esoteric and uninviting even compared to other pretentious stuff I like.”

Summary

Photo taken in PAMM’s gift shop. Photo taken and edited by Vanessa Lopez.

In general, I believe the Perez Art Museum Miami is a special place in Miami. It was one of the first art institutions that I have visited, and it was my first exposure to the Downtown Miami community. 

For one, I think PAMM shines best in their temporary exhibitions. Seeing all these pieces in one room scream a cohesive message. I can tell that they have placed thought into where each piece is placed. These temporary exhibitions typically address a variety of issues within our society too. When I am standing in these rooms, I am constantly digesting information and feeling its impact on me.

In addition, PAMM is more innovative compared to other museums I have visited this semester. You can find QR codes here and there throughout the museum, and with the camera app on your phone, you are given links and other information quickly. Outside the museum, there are QR codes that utilize AR technology as well. PAMM also does not shy away from non-traditional art pieces. There are rooms that resemble mini movie theaters, where you can privately view films or looping videos. 

PAMM also has an emphasis on interaction and community. There was a table where you could create your own “art exhibitions” with cardboard, construction paper, and magazine cut-outs. I was pleasantly surprised to see this, as I never thought a museum would have such a thing. In addition, PAMM hosts various events throughout the week, such as workshops, book readings, arts and crafts, and more. 

One of PAMM’s downsides is their cost. I personally found that the parking ticket was expensive. Most of the things in their gift shop were also priced on the higher end. And if it weren’t for Culture Shock Miami, I would have paid $12 for one ticket. In addition, I was not impressed by their permanent collections, and I gravitate more towards their temporary exhibitions.

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to the museum, and I am looking forward to seeing their upcoming exhibitions. I think PAMM remains as one of the art institutions in Miami that deserves a visit.

Citations

MIM Ineffable Miami – Miami Beach: Beyond the Beaches by Blanca Alcaraz

Student Bio

Blanca J Alcaraz is a 20 year-old senior at Florida International University. She is double majoring in international business & finance with a certificate in Spanish translation and interpretation and will attend law school next fall, which goes to say she’s pretty busy all the time. Nonetheless, Blanca loves to try new things, she loves to immerse herself in new experiences and she loves to learn therefore this class has been a perfect fit for her. Banca is a Disney loving, chocolate cake eating, curly-haired girl ready to eat up the world and this class is getting her one step closer to that. John Bailly is the professor of the class titled Miami In Miami which takes on the challenge of exploring a city many call “home” yet are complete strangers to it. The class focuses on the hidden gems of the city of Miami, the art that was inspired by its rich culture and the places of historical meaning that now serve as a reminder of what started it all. Blanca doesn’t fear change or getting out of her comfort zone an is excitingly awaiting what life has in store for her.  

Geography

The city of Miami beach in southern Florida is a coastal city that was incorporated on March 26, 1925 and it lies on man-made barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. The city boardwalk begins at Indian Beach Park on 46thstreet and Collins Ave and according to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.7 squared miles of which 11.7 squared miles are water and the other 7 square miles are land. The city is dominated by its beaches and the businesses located right on its coast making it one of the most coveted coastal cities in the world. Miami Beach is ground zero and thus faces tidal flooding annually which presents a problem for many of the residents in the area. The good news is that the city, moving forward, is being engineered for sea level rise and other potential threats climate change can bring them. The streets of Miami Beach are narrow allowing for only two lanes the majority of the time and this creates traffic jams that can last up to 2 hours, which is why many people resort to other means of transportation to avoid this. 

The city’s architecture is extremely unique and ties into its historical background. The different styles speak of different decades and many of the famous buildings remain functioning today as a reminder of what once was. Miami Beach is not like most Miami cities in which “walking distance” means 30 minutes to get there and 30 to come back, instead this city is one of the few that still witnesses pedestrians very frequently. People walk everywhere, from the restaurant to their hotel to the beach and to the store mainly because everything is close in distance. 

Certain districts in Miami Beach are famous worldwide and are known for either its architecture, historical value or high end brand shopping stores. Districts like the Art Deco Historic district, constructed from 1923 to 1949, is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world! Collins Ave which runs north of 41st street is 13.1 miles in length and it is also known as “The Shopping District” and neighborhood runs along the beachfront and is comprised of a mix of hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, and retailers.

History

Miami Beach, the resort city, was originally a town incorporated on March 26,1915, that later became a city in 1917. The Tequesta Indians were the first settlers of the region that would later become Miami Beach and they were able to fend off invaders up until the 1800’s.  The city originally began as an 165-acre plot of land that was supposed to be used for planting and harvesting coconuts but the land was sold in 1970 to Henry and Charles Lum for $0.25 an acre. They then sold the land to John S. Collins and Thomas Pancoast which later became partners with Carl Fisher and together they saw Miami Beach as a potential residential and hotel boomtown. Fisher and Collins together built the first bridge from Miami to Miami Beach in 1913 and that the time that became the longest “wooden wagon bridge” of the world. 

The city saw two world wars right after the elegance and extravaganza or the 1920’s which would allow the city to see great growth. During the depression many hotels along lower Collins avenue and ocean drive were built, these would eventually help bring the city out of the depression. During world war II however, many cadets passed through Miami Beach, as it was a training center, and businesses like the “Cadet Hotel” housed many of them in 1941 and still remain standing today, giving the city a unique historic value. 

In 1979 Miami Beach received nationwide recognition for its Art Deco District, a movement led by Barbara Capitan, and to this day it remains one of the greatest sites to see. A statute of recognition of Barbara Capitan has been placed along the beach in an act of thanksgiving for all that she did for the city when it was developing. In 1996 Miami Beach celebrated its 100thanniversary and it has definitely come a long way since it was first established. 

Demographics

Miami Beach is a growing city that is as diverse in culture as it is in architecture and it is home to people from all over the world, whether it be for a couple of days or for the rest of retirement. The city has a population of 92,187 people and it is growing at a rate of 0.5% annually. The culture of Miami Beach is deeply embedded in its afro-Latino roots and you hear the salsa music playing in almost every store alongside reggaeton and Caribbean music and its everything you can except from a coastal city. The median age is 42 years old but a pattern exists in regards to the type of people that live in this city, the majority of them being single young adults or retired couples however, the few families that are seen on the beach or walking the streets of this city tend to be tourist who are exploring what we can call “the eighth wonder of the world”. 

Alejandro Lindo is a resident of Miami Beach who has lived in the city for 11 years and owns a business that tables on the shore of Miami’s beaches and he has lived both the good and the bad of what this city has to offer. He says that one thing that cannot go unnoticed in this city is the selling and consumption of drugs, and unfortunately it is something seen daily. He supposes that because it is something many tourist come seeking, this city has established itself as key point for its consumption. Alejandro says that you will not see the  traditional family living in Miami Beach, and that is because this city does not offer the “white picket fence” stability and peace of mind that these families search for, he has noticed that many families that live in Miami Beach do not stay long, instead the first chance they get, they move out of the city and into a more family-oriented environment. 

When asked whether he thought living in this city was expensive, Alejandro said that it depends on what you do, if you live within Miami Beach and work in another city life is not as expensive considering your annual can sustain the lifestyle of a city whose median property value is $416,700. Now, if you simply work within the city and live outside of it, it is a living nightmare, traffic is horrendous and the parking situation is “a bestiality” in Alejandro’s words. The parking is completely underregulated so a good parking garage can go for $8 dollars the hour which is extremely expensive, the cheap parking garages never has availability and the parallel parking on the streets is a scam. According to Alejandro, parking on a metered spot can be economic but tow trucks are in the business of towing your car regardless of if you pay the parking fee or not and they’ll take it away if they feel like it or if it’s just a slow day. Now when you go and try to get your car back  they might not charge you with a citation they will charge you for the towing services which comes out to about $140 and having had to pay it a couple times, Alejandro now prefers to walk. 

Alejandro acknowledges that although Miami Beach is a very rich city, the amount of indigent people who roam the streets has become a problem. Sadly this is witnessed in every area of Miami Beach, you will find indigent people in most shopping centers, along the beaches and in the parks and with a poverty rate of 16.6% Miami Beach has not allocated its fund in the best way possible. The city does have programs like the “Homeless Outreach” located on 17thstreet and convention center drive but too many of them are roaming the streets and making the place less attractive for tourist. Sometimes as you walk down the streets you find yourself walking by places that reek of urine, streets Alejandro has learned to avoid through the years of being a resident of this city. 

Another trait that Miami Beach has acquired recently is their high rates of theft that happen on the beaches in broad daylight. Alejandro says that the difference with the thieves in this city particularly do not look like thieves but like well-dressed residents who are just going about their day with a towel over their shoulder in case they feel like going for a dip in the sea. What many people do not know is that this is the strategy that the thieves use, they walk around the beach looking for unaccompanied items, purses, wallets, designer glasses, and they’ll approach the items and drop their towel over them meanwhile the owner is in the ocean and all he sees is a regular guy who “accidentally” dropped his towel by their stuff. This however is far from true because as the thieves pick up their towel, they also pick up the purses and wallets and it all happens in the blink of an eye. Working on the beach, this is a strategy Alejandro has been able to identify and warn others about as they enter the beach but this is something that is ever televised or advertised so unfortunately the city is not all they make it out to be. 

To the surprise of many, Miami Beach is also home to a thriving Jewish community with 16,000 residents belonging to this community. The city has 3 Jewish Temples, including the Emanu-El pictured above, and tasting tours dedicated to Jewish owned restaurants, this community has heavily impacted the city for over 100 years. 

Landmarks

If there’s a city with unique landmarks, it has to Miami Beach, they are found everywhere and what they represent is definitely valuable to the city and all those who visit it. The city has an ongoing program called “Art in Public Places” and it is known for curating and commissioning public art. The entire city has a theme and in every block you will find pieces of art big and small, flat on street wall and rising from the ground in magnificent forms and each art piece is a landmark, some are just more famous than others. The program was created in 1984 it has stretched throughout the entire city and above two of the main ones are pictured. The Blue Bent Poolcreated in 2019 by Elmgreen & Dragset is located right in front of the Miami Beach Convention center and it will definitely take you by the surprised. With no plaque or sign next to it, many will have to guess what this creation is but the title of the work is clear “Bent Pool” and the two things that give it away are the turquoise blue interior and the its climbing ladder. Another prominent art piece of this unique city-wide collection is the Mermaidcreated by Roy Lichtenstein and it is located on the south lawn of the Fillmore Theater and its creation pays tribute to the Pop Art styles that became popular in the early 1960’s. 

In terms of buildings, some of Miami Beaches landmarks include the New World Center, Miami Beach Convention Center, The Fillmore Theater, the Holocaust memorial and Art Deco District, just to name a few. The new World Center is the campus of the New World Symphony – America’s Orchestral Academy and it is under the direction of 11-time Grammy award-winning conductor and cofounder Michael Tilson Thomas. The building itself is an architectural gem located right next to Soundscape park. The buildings customizability is what enhancing the experience of the guest, the spaces can be accommodated to fit a range of 20 (for a private dinner) to a 900 people audience. The Miami Beach convention center was originally called the Miami Beach Exhibition Hall and its located in the heart of Miami Beach. Opening in 1958 the venue was proposed as a project to help increase the commence along with the budding tourism of the city, it now serves as an auditorium, a convention hall, ad a sports arena and it has seen some celebrity faces through the years. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at this center during a youth Lutheran convention, the venue was the site of the Miss Universe pageant from 1960-1971 and then again in 1977 and it hosted a Billy Graham crusade in 1961. 

The Fillmore Theater is a like  looking at a blast from the past in the middle of such a modern city. The concert venue was originally known as the Beach Municipal Auditorium and it opened up in 1957 gaining instant popularity during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s because it became the home to many television variety shows such as “The Jackie Gleason Show” and the “Dick Clark Show”. The building’s façade ties into the Art Deco design that is so popular in the city and now it only opens when a concert or a show is playing, but they are more than welcoming to interested students and anyone who wants a tour. 

If there’s one landmark you have to visit when at Miami Beach it has to be the Holocaust Memorial, built to remember the lives of the six million victims of this dark time and to serve as a reminder that as a human race we must never allow for such a tragedy to occur again. Founded in 1984 by a group of Holocaust Survivors who joined together to develop a permanent memorial for the victims who perished and Miami Beach was chosen as the perfect destination due to its high population of Holocaust survivors.  The sculpture of an outstretched arm extends 30 feet into the air and comprises vignette of family members trying to help each other in a final act of love. The memorial walls are covered with the names of many of the victims from top to bottom and each name you read carries behind it a story, a feeling of having loved and lost, of unjust death and fear. 

Green Spaces

Miami Beach is currently working on expanding its green space in the city for the benefit of its residents and the current Mayor, Dan Gelber, plans to build over 30 acres of new parks and green space but some currently exist and can be visited throughout the day. Lummus Park is a 74 – acre public park and beach space on the eastern side of Ocean drive. The park has grassy areas and volleyball courts as well as a wavy pedestrian walk that goes by the name of “The promenade” and it’s the only thing that separates the beach from the green space. 

Soundscape park is a 2.5 – acre urban park that captures the spirit of the city, it is a flexible multi-use space that serves both as a gathering place and an urban oasis. The park has running vines and shady stands of palm trees that give the park a relaxing air while allowing for support of running vines. The park can be reserved for private events but it is open to the public and the city hosts free weekly screenings of family friendly films from October to May and it fits from 300-400 guest. 

Transportation

The city of Miami Beach is different from many other cities in Miami due to the fact that its small streets cannot keep up with the rapid growth of the city therefore many people walk from place to place. Those that do not enjoy walking resort to other means of transportation like riding a bike or the trolley around the city. This has become very popular, you will find bicycles parked along restaurants, parks and beaches ready to be rented by the residents and tourist walking along the streets. The citywide free trolley is another great source of transportation as it is reliable, reduces traffic and it is environmentally friendly. The frequency of the trolley depending on your destination can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 40 minutes and it runs from 6 a.m. to midnight from Mondays to Fridays and from 8 a.m. to midnight on Sundays. The regular public transportation busses are also available throughout the city but their stops are not as frequent or as close in proximity to your final destination

Food & Business

If there is one thing Miami Beach is known for, it has to be for the restaurants and high end stores that line up its main avenues and roads like Collins avenue and Lincoln road. Because Miami can be described as “tourist central” there are way too many stores that sell Miami souvenirs , whether that be “I love Miami” shirts or the purses that have the city’s name written all over them. There are very few cities in Miami that count with this kind of business and believe it or not it’s a great source of income for the city. The stores range from high-end brand names stores found in Lincoln Road Mall to very cheap and practical souvenirs found in stores like Alvin’s Island. Miami Beach is known for its nightlife, the clubs, the parties, the drinking… and because there is so much drinking involved you are guaranteed to find one liquor store every three blocks. Alcohol sells and it sells high with a single bear retailing for $8.00 and a cocktail glass retailing for $20.00 but people don’t mind therefore there’s a huge market for its consumption. 

The flashy restaurants that line the cost of Miami beach do not fall short and neither do their gross earnings which range from $37 million to $13 million annually. Miami Beach has restaurant or all kinds and their service is impeccable. They have gorgeous waitresses and serve glasses of alcohol bigger than the size of your head. Some restaurants are historically important and others have luxury vintage cars parked by the entrance, some offer live music and others have hookah pipes as center pieces for customers to smoke as they enjoy their meals. Now flashy meals is not all they have, you will find some cheap chain restaurants and some more economic cultural restaurants like “Taco Taco” a restaurant at the entrance of Catalina hotel that is open to the public and to its guest. They serve traditional Mexican food with an American twist and have a bar inside the restaurant with a DJ for those who enjoy a rowdy atmosphere and a bar inside for those who enjoy having a nice conversation. 

When it comes to the stores in Miami Beach , they are unique and very stereotypical at times. You have a lot of self-owned business that sell the typical tiny gold and silver bikinis among other swimwear as well as beachwear for tourist and you also have a lot of tour agencies that offer tours around the landmarks of Miami beach and the famous places that were used to record sold out movies or music videos. In addition you also have stores owned by people who one day had an idea and found their target market in Miami Beach and have slowly established themselves as businessmen. Antonio Dumas is a retired veteran who lives in Miami Beach and has a business called “Take one Smoke one” that focusses on selling different strains of medical cannabis. His sister is a living testimony of a terminally ill breast cancer patient who began to smoke a synthetic strain of cannabis that did not get her high but rather activated certain receptors in her body that healed her from cancer and because of this decided to open a shop that could potentially help others like her. Antonio says that business for him isn’t about making money off of anyone that comes in looking for drugs or simply to get high, his business is about bettering the health of individual through natural means and he says that his business is doing very well. 

Alejandro Lindo is another businessman who’s craftmanship has helped him make a living, he owns a small business of hand threaded jewelry he makes and sells on the beach for tourist that and locals. Because he doesn’t have a storefront but a tabling business they have designated spots given to them by the city and these spots are changed every three months through a lottery system, therefore sometimes he’ll be on the beach sometimes further down the boardwalk or sometimes on Collins avenue and although some businessmen mind, he says that he makes a profit regardless of his location. Because Alejandro has been doing this for 11 years, he has developed a relationship with various customers, both locals and tourist, who will only come to him for merchandise and if they are tourist that visit often, every time they come they call him up to purchase some of his creations. 

The opportunity that Miami Beach offers businessmen is incredible because it is a city that has a market for almost anything and everything therefore your chances of success are very high. You’re almost guaranteed a profit and a solid cliental simply because of your location, but this does come at a price and the leasing rates for any ocean front business in Miami Beach are double the rates in any other city in Miami with a regular sized space costing you approximately $12,300 a month in Miami Beach and only $6,100 a month is any other city. 

Summary

Overall this neighborhood is extremely rich in culture, in its people and in it what it has to offer. It’s a city that never sleeps, you’re out on the beach all day and enjoying the nightlife all night. The amount of restaurants that exists could take you a life time to get through and the hotels lined up along the coast give you the experience that will surpass your expectations. The city does have its downfalls and its poverty rate is one of the most alarming ones. As you walk down the most extravagant neighborhoods and pass by some of the most expensive restaurants, across the street you’ll see indigent people who haven’t had a plate of food in days and the disparity that is witnessed in this moment should not be brushed off. This unfortunately is what happens most of the time and people ignore those in need and go about their day as if they weren’t there, as if they weren’t people. The increase in taxes to its residents and the increase in prices this city has experienced has made it the experience of Miami beach unattainable to most residents of South Florida and that to me is preposterous.  The city does have a lot to offer as well, its Art Deco District will amaze you for hours, the beaches and crystal clear waters will make you fall in love and the diversity in culture will enrich you. The city of Miami is deeply rooted in its culture and that is expressed very clearly, but the city also thrives in luxury and extravagance meaning  that there is something for everyone. 

Sources

“Citywide Free Trolley.” City of Miami Beach, https://www.miamibeachfl.gov/city-hall/transportation/trolley/.

“History of Miami Beach.” Miami Beach | Latin Chamber of Commerce, http://miamibeach.org/directory/living/history-of-miami-beach.

“Miami Beach, FL.” Data USA, https://datausa.io/profile/geo/miami-beach-fl/.         

“Miami Households Earn Less than the National Average.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-5/eating-and-drinking-in-miami-consumer-expenditures-2010-14.htm.

MIM: Ashley Diaz Miami Service Project

At the start of my freshman year in high school, I had joined the JROTC program, which stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. It was a military-style class held in my school that had the intention of creating better citizens through the use of US Army values and leadership training. I had been excited for this since the beginning of eighth grade. I talked about the program to other people, and a friend of mine named Mario told me about one called the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps. The Navy League of the United States funds this program, and it utilizes the values of the US Navy to discipline its cadets.  Being a swimmer, this had interested me, and I decided that I would join the program. Through it, I have met many people from different places in the United States and other parts of the world. As well as take part in various trainings that were provided by the Sea Cadet program. And here I am five years later still a part of the program after graduation as a volunteer on the weekends.

It was through this program that the opportunity arose to volunteer at a facility for an organization called Rise Against Hunger. This group had the goal of packing meals and delivering them to different parts of the world to people who need them. Rise Against Hunter wants to end world hunger by 2030. I was intrigued by this as I was sure it had interested many of the other cadets in the Sea Cadet program. Once the cadets in the Sea Cadet program heard the announcer in the room, say that they had to measure and place food within bags and seal them, they grew a bit fearful. Not sure whether they could complete the task asked of them.

Luckily everyone had gotten the hang of the tasks they were doing. People managed to switch jobs and had been able to complete each specific job at least once. After completing the tasks that day, I felt a sense of accomplishment and relief that I was a part of this. We had to measure rice grains and other dried foods to put into packets, then added spice packs to those food bags. After that, we would put them into bins and send them to other tables where they would be sealed and packaged in boxes. Throughout the event, the organizers had music playing, most of which were positive and upbeat music. The music set the tone for the volunteer event. It allowed people to be more receptive and willing to carry on conversations about their purpose for being there.

I ran from table to table, and once stationed at a table, I spoke to the ladies around me, I asked for their reason for coming to this event. Most of them had told me that they had been coming for years and that they come every year. On the other hand of the spectrum, children were volunteering as well, and I watched as they sealed packs of food or dropped dried foods inside of the packets. They were extremely eager to help and seeing the kind of work they were doing benefited people in need. Even though they did not see the people directly, they still managed to stay motivated in completing the objective and also had some fun. Because of the work that the cadets and I had done along with many other people in that room, we managed to pack 23,976 Rise Against Hunger meals. Those meals would be sent out to children and families around the world, and I am proud to have been apart of that.

Students putting up a tree at Camillus House

Less than a month later, a classmate named Blanca Alcaraz had arranged a volunteering opportunity at Camillus House. Volunteering here required us to help prepare for one of the largest fundraisers of the year. Honestly, whenever I thought of Camillus House, my mind would go straight to merely making and handing out food. I did not know the extent of the organization did. I had never looked into their programs, nor have I ever volunteered for them before. It was that day that I had learned everything about Camillus House and precisely what they do.

It was more than just a hot meal that they were providing these people who are homeless. They provided people with housing, clothes, educational opportunities, as well as a way to therapeutically decompress through art. These programs were unbeknownst to me and many others, I suppose. When we got to Camillus House, Alessandra Laricchia instructed us to put up a Christmas tree in the dining facility. Laricchia then got a tour of the campus, where we learned a lot more about the organization and how we could help even more with additional acts of donations or volunteering.

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Group of students at Camillus House

Within the tour, we saw firsthand the housing that Camillus House provides to the homeless people. We also saw the clothes that were being donated by people. These clothes are not sold, but they were given directly to people who need them. Another thing that Laricchia told us was that essentials such as soaps, feminine hygiene products, and men’s and women’s clothes are often required.

The Career Help Program is just one of the programs that Camillus House has for people who need help obtaining employment. The organization paired up with companies who were willing to certify, train, and provide experience to those who have specific skills. They have areas that include culinary, warehouse, and housekeeping/general maintenance. We saw a participant who was going to graduate on that same day for her experience and work in culinary. On that graduation day, people come together, and the graduates prepare food for the celebration.

After the tour, Lariccia escorted us to a room where they had objects, artwork, and numerous wine bottles set to be sold at an auction at the Hilton hotel. This auction was to be their most significant fundraiser of the year. In previous years Camillus House raised at least 1 million dollars. The wines were donated by people who the organization had connections to, and the artworks were made by the people living at Camillus house through the art program that they had. Half of the profit would go directly to the artist and the other half to the art program at Camillus House. Selling these paintings is such a massive opportunity for people as they get a chance not only to express themselves but make a profit from it as well.

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Flora Sweet pictured at Hilton Hotel

After setting up a colossal amount of wine bottles on tables, as well as arranging artworks on canvas holders, the bigger picture came to me. Camillus House is not just a place where people can go for a hot meal. It is more than that, and they can always use all of the help that they can get. They provide showers, food, career development, housing, and so much more than tangible deeds. It’s more about the services that they provide, the support, and the way that they make people feel as if they were at home. Many people who leave Camillus House and get back on their feet often come back and volunteer and want to give back. I feel that many people should want to do the same, even if they are comfortably living their lives. We should always find ways to give back.

Contact Information For Service Confirmation:

LCDR Reynolds Sanchez, USNSCC

US Coast Guard Miami Air Station

14300 NW 41st Avenue

Opa Locka, Florida 33054-2328

ALESSANDRA LARICCHIA |Community Relations Manager

1601 NW 7th Avenue, Miami, FL 33136 | camillus.org

alessandral@camillus.org