|Letters January 2017|
|Written by BT Readers|
The Terrible Truth About Art in Miami
When I finished reading Anne Tschida’s stry “Art Rotation” (December 2016), I had to scratch my head and wonder: Have I read this story before? Isn’t this what boosters of Miami’s “art scene” have been saying over and over again for several years?
To sum up: “Miami’s art scene is maturing. Institutions are growing stronger. The art world is now taking us seriously. Everyone is making money and everything is just fabulous.”
Why is it that people who write about art in Miami always do so in a way that showcases only the so-called success stories? It’s all about institutional collections and the wealthy individuals who donate artworks to them. It’s about Art Basel continuing to validate us. It’s about the privileged minority who have made lots of money on art.
That is not a true reflection of Miami’s “art scene.”
If you scratch that surface even a little, you’ll see the real world of impoverished artists and gallery owners barely able to hold on. Regardless of your talent and passion, living and working in Miami is ridiculously expensive, and it’s getting worse every year.
All the rich buyers at Art Basel and the other December fairs do little to nourish the grass roots that any cultural movement needs to survive and thrive.
I can’t afford to live in Miami as an artist. Soon I’ll be forced to leave, along with many other “starving artists” I know. When we go, we take with us the future of creativity in Miami, a place that is just wonderful if you’re a multi-millionaire. For the rest of us, this place is just a fantasy, a playground for the super rich.
You can’t sustain a substantial “art scene” in a world like that.
If you publish my name with this, it means my career here is over. No gallery will touch me. No collector will spend a dime on my work. I’ll be leaving soon, yes. But not quite that soon.
Name Withheld by Request
Kathy Glasgow’s story “Crime and Redemption: Part 1” (December 2016) was well-written and speaks to the economic and racial divide in this country. It also speaks to the power of faith in our fellow human beings -- the victim of a home burglary has doubts about the “easy” path the justice system prefers. So she pushes for the truth.
Let’s hope we read in your next installment that Tray Battle is exonerated and starts rebuilding his life. A good start for the new year!
That young man, Tray Battle, whose life is spiraling out of control may be one of the luckiest 24-year-olds around. It isn’t often that someone like him merits a two-part story in the media.
I hope local agencies and individuals reach out to him and other young people at risk of losing their moral compass. As the writer suggests, it’s one thing to believe in redemption. It’s quite another, without tools or support, to figure out how to get there. Great story. Thanks.
Simon T. Feldman
Thank you for Erik Bojnansky’s interesting and timely article about Edgewater (“Boom, Bust, Boom,” November 2016).
My mother lived in a small “boutique” condominium building, the Ivette Terrace, on the corner of NE 4th Avenue and 18th Street, back in the mid-1970s and early 1980s.
At the time, the neighborhood was a charming, pedestrian-friendly area. Many of the handsome older homes and bungalows were converted into charming cafés and shops; the “warlock” [Lewis] Vandercar had a home, sculpture garden, and artist’s studio along that street, as well.
The 1800 Club was a great place for drinks, onion soup, and a filet, and the old Miramar Hotel still had its charm.
Unfortunately, the Omni International Mall came along in 1977 and pretty much ruined the area. The “big box” concept turned its back on the neighborhood. The developer, Tibor Hollo, also built the Plaza Venetia condo, effectively walling in the neighboring historic Trinity Cathedral by surrounding it with parking garages for the condo and the mall, and later the Marriott Hotel.
A feeble attempt to mitigate the awful impact of the parking decks was a “waterfall” on the east side of the cathedral along the Venetia condo’s parking deck. It hasn’t functioned in decades.
The activity the mall brought was not always welcome, and the neighborhood attracted many vagrants. After being mugged on her doorstep walking home from the cathedral, my mother moved to Coral Gables. But she stayed active with Trinity and the cathedral community, and indeed she was laid to rest in the cathedral’s Columbarium in 2012.
Any article about Edgewater should also include the cathedral and its impact on the neighborhood. The cathedral and its hall are often used for concerts and community events. Its magnificently restored 1920s Aeolian-Skinner Organ is truly a treasure; there’s a free “concert” every Sunday morning!
George A. Sauvigne
I’ve read many items in your paper, most recently Erik Bojnansky’s “Out of Scale and Out of Favor” (November 2016), quoting people who object to the plans of the American Legion Harvey W. Seeds Post 29 on NE 64th Street to partner with a developer to:
• Build a brand-new building for the American Legion Post to replace the existing run-down structure.
• Allow the developer to build some nice rental apartments for veterans and other working people on land owned by the Legion, as well as land their developer partner acquired nearby.
• Build commercial space closer to Biscayne Boulevard to serve the shopping and office needs of neighborhood residents.
• Pay for improvements to Legion Park that no one else has stepped forward to fund, including the neighbors who claim to love the park so much.
I cannot imagine any way this should concern the people who are objecting. It’s not their property. And the only impact on the public park will be improvements to be paid for by the developer.
The heroes who risked their lives to protect our nation have earned the right to use their property in ways that benefit their members and have no impact on anyone else.
If neighbors don’t like the plan, they are welcome to offer the veterans something better. If they don’t, they should stay out of the matter.
What does being Cuban or not have to do with American baseball (“Game Night,” November 2016)? That entire article is racist. Implicating they won because they are Cuban, insinuating the Cubs didn’t win for 100 years without Cubans?
Then people wonder why racism still exists. I can’t even believe it was published. Shame on all of you.
The “My View” editorial by Elvis Cruz (“Why Do I Distrust Thee?” October 2016) got me thinking about how Miami is really run, especially when it comes to development.
I would rather see Miami grow upward than keep spreading into the Everglades. There is plenty of available vacant land in Miami’s urban core waiting to be developed.
From my perspective, I would personally prefer to see a 50-story mixed-use high-rise built in any of those vacant lots than to watch them going totally wasted, making downtown Miami look like a war zone.
Increasing the population density in the urban areas, building live-work or mixed-use developments around our poor and underutilized public transportation will reduce traffic.
Honestly, I would personally take an overpopulated but pedestrian-friendly downtown over any gated mass-produced townhouse subdivision like “The Grove Lakes” or “Kendall Sunrise,” surrounded by a beige and terracotta six-foot walls built next to U.S. 1.
I know this is late, but a friend just sent me a link to Blanca Mesa’s “Going Green” column “Call of the Urban Wild” (June 2016). What an advocate she is!
“We don’t have that many visitors,” he said.
“What about tourists or school kids?” I asked.
“Not really. Kids don’t know what to do,” he said. “Mostly there’s bugs, and sometimes a fox.”
Very fine article written with the same care as if Blanca Mesa were taking the reader on an imaginary trip to the likes of Yellowstone or Yosemite.
Nature is the one essential for every one of us for developing an attitude of appreciation and tenderness for living things, which include you and me and the other guy.
Volume 15, Issue 1, March 2017
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