Category

Culture

ONE on ONE

by Mayi de la Vega

Basel Bliss

By | Art, Culture, Events

Miami shines for the whole world when Art Basel comes to town.

One of the most fantastic things about living in South Florida is our annual Miami art week. What began with Art Basel Miami Beach in 2002 has grown with additional fairs and exciting exhibits and events. I look forward to it every year and am so happy that we’re returning to in-person events. Besides walking the fairs and finding new artworks, I also appreciate meeting people from around the world and learning from them. I plan to soak up the inspiration all around me.


Of course, everything centers on the main fair at the Miami Beach Convention Center. If you haven’t been to the venue recently, it’s been completely renovated for a vastly improved experience. Definitely start here during Art Basel’s invitation-only preview days and vernissage from November 30-December 1. (It opens to the public December 2-4.) Galleries is its main sector, among many, but I’m also interested to see what Museo Tamayo director and Art Basel guest curator Magalí Arriola has in store for the Meridians sector that focuses on large-scale installations. She’s getting a lot of buzz.


There are too many satellite fairs to mention all of them, but don’t miss these two if you’re staying on the beach. Located in Pride Park across from Art Basel, Design Miami introduced an app to locate booths and other news more easily. Untitled returns to its oceanside tent with guest curators who bring a different perspective like Natasha Becker, curator of African Art at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, and Peruvian writer and TEOR/éTica’s former codirector Miguel A. López. To hear more from these fresh voices, they’re featured in the fair’s new IGTV video series #UntitledUnplugged.


Untitled represents the art world’s shift to promote diversity such as artists of color. David Castillo Gallery in the Miami Design District exhibits news works by Pepe Mar, a Mexican artist who’s known for incorporating designer clothing by Versace and D&G into multimedia collages and assemblage boxes. (I also suggest visiting “Tesoro,” the group show that he guest curated for FIU’s Frost Art Museum.) Jeffrey Deitch gallery pops up with an expanded version of its hit show “Shattered Glass” that focuses on works by artists of color and premiered in Los Angeles earlier this year. To explore Latin American art, visit the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) and the Pinta fair, which relocates to Midtown Miami for its 15th edition with VIP previews November 30-December 1, followed by public viewing through December 5. Divided into four sections, this year’s Pinta emphasizes solo projects including a photographic installation by Colombian artist Ruby Rumié.


The rise of NFTs is another major theme for Miami art week. Art Basel fair presents “Human + Machine: NFTs and the Ever-Evolving World of Art,” an interactive experience for viewers with leading artists in the movement. The series takes place December 2-4. The week is filled with tons of collection launches and book signings, too. Louis Vuitton premieres its latest Objets Nomades at its women’s boutique in the Miami Design District on December 1. Patricia Urquiola and Humberto Campana are among the series’ collaborators who will speak. Daniel Arsham, an artist who got his start in Miami before going on to collaborate with Dior to Tiffany & Co., signs his new “Sketchbook” at the Miami Beach Edition on December 1.
With all this running around, it’s important to recharge. Swiss beauty brand sets up its La Prairie Beach Club on December 2 for relaxing treatments and a collaboration with new media artist, choreographer and dancer Wen-Chi Su. Other great wellness retreats are Faena Hotel’s Tierra Santa Healing House and Gee Beauty for the most heavenly facials. For healthy bites, Malibu’s favorite juice bar Sunlife Organics opened a Miami Beach branch near Lincoln Road.

Forty & Fabulous

By | Art, Culture, Events, Music

Congratulations to Miami’s very special YoungArts on its big birthday!

YoungArts, one of the world’s biggest champions of the next generations of artists, is celebrating its 40th anniversary. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Miami-based organization, it was founded by Lin and Ted Arison to foster U.S. artists aged 15-18 in various disciplines including classical music, jazz, voice, dance, theater, visual arts and film. Each year, hundreds of winners across the nation receive financial awards and a week in Miami to study and mingle with star experts, many of whom are YoungArts alumni themselves. Just to give you an idea of the talent, Viola Davis, Andrew Rannells and Tarell Alvin McCraney have participated in this program, first as teens, and then as instructors. YoungArts also has enough cachet to get famous non-alums like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Debbie Allen and Wynton Marsalis to share their insight and experiences with the kids in master classes. The nurturing doesn’t end there. Winners are eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, among many professional networking and career development opportunities and services.

The Arisons passed the baton to their granddaughter, Sarah Arison, Arison Arts Foundation’s board chair who has put her own spin on things. A major rebranding initiative shortened the original name simply to YoungArts and revamped the website and overall look, while recent hires and promotions bring vital new energy to Sarah and executive director Jewel Malone’s vision for the next chapter.

© 2018 Jason Koerner Photography

Many people are already familiar with the annual National YoungArts Week in January, when teens and teachers arrive for workshops and performances that culminate in the YoungArts Backyard Ball at its Miami campus (housed in iconic, historic buildings formerly owned by Bacardi). The 2022 week is slated for January 9-15, but they’re skipping the traditional gala in lieu of a special, earlier celebration in honor of the 40th season. Co-chairs Sarah and her husband, Thomas Wilhelm, are hosting the “40 Years for Artists” birthday bash with cocktails, a seated dinner under the stars and a performance by Queen Esther [and her orchestra], the night’s master of ceremonies who won the YoungArts Theater award in 1983. ONE Sotheby’s International Realty is a proud sponsor of this milestone event on November 20.

More festivities follow with the opening of “The Choreographers’ Scores: 2020” in December. The exhibition features works on paper by U.S.-based choreographers, including Camille A. Brown, who were commissioned to imagine a score as a love letter to the future of dance. The Lapis Press printed editions of their scores handmade in quarantine during the pandemic’s shutdown. You can be among the first to see these rare works at the YoungArts Art Basel Miami Beach VIP breakfast and curator tour on December 1.

I’d also like to recommend attending Nu Deco Ensemble’s performance at the Arsht Center on December 10. YoungArts partnered with the local modern orchestra for this concert featuring original compositions by 2007 YoungArts Classical Music award winner Chris Rogerson.

Looking ahead, the YoungArts New York Gala returns on April 11, 2022. Its inaugural event in 2016 commemorated the 35th anniversary. Here’s to many more great years ahead!

Falling for Art in NY

By | Art, Culture, Events

A look at the city’s art-filled season, which starts this week with tony fairs.

The Armory Show kicks off New York’s splendid art season. The premier fair has lots to talk about this year, beginning with new dates—September 10-12, with a private preview for VIPs on September 9—and a new venue—the Javits Convention Center, which recently underwent a $1.5 billion expansion, enabling modern and contemporary works to be displayed cohesively. There are new sections and programs, too, including Solo, which focuses on single-artist presentations from the 20th or 21st century, and Armory Off-Site, a large-scale, interactive series of public artworks exhibited at multiple sites around town. Among the latter are Swedish artist Katja Larsson’s new sculptures (titled Empire and Materially Superior) that will be on view at Hudson River Park through December 3; and American artist Josh Callaghan’s installation (titled Social Blocks) in the Flatiron Plaza through November 1. Keep in mind that some of the nearly 200 participating international galleries are only exhibiting virtually due to covid. Others will be showing in person and virtually. Armory Live, a two-day art conversations series, will also take place in person and virtually.

There are several concurrent satellite art fairs. The Future Fair will make its physical debut at the Starrett-Lehigh Building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. (The first in-person edition was scheduled for last year but pivoted to a digital-only format.) The concept encourages diversity and transparency, as well as supports artists and galleries through year-round storytelling and authentic engagement with art audiences. Half of its participating galleries are women-owned, while a quarter are owned by people of color. Its dedication to inclusiveness marks a big step for the art fair scene.

Storytelling is also at the heart of Independent New York, a fair designed around the artist experience through inspirational settings and an intimate, rare mix of established, emerging and outsider galleries. Forty have signed on for its 11th edition from September 9-12, at the beautiful Battery Maritime Building (home of Cipriani South Street) with three halls overlooking the water and a spacious outdoor terrace for an exclusive café and restaurant serviced by Cipriani. Independent is also introducing an Online Viewing Room option from September 9-September 26. Beyond booths, the inaugural digital platform features exclusive editorial content like artist takeovers, podcasts and videos.

There are too many great exhibits to mention all of them, but one of immense scope should definitely be on your list. The Whitney in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are collaborating on a monumental, unprecedented retrospective of Jasper Johns, who’s still working at 91 years old. The complementary exhibitions, which are concurrently on view from September 29, 2021 to February 13, 2022, required two institutions to cover his prolific, seven-decade career. Nearly 500 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints range from his iconic flags to recent works to selections from his personal collection that are being shown to the public for the first time. A double-entendre, its title “Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror” references his longtime study of mirroring and doubles, as well as how the two self-contained shows mirror one another.

Aspen Summer

By | Art, Culture, Dining, Travel

It’s that time of year when my Aspen reveries turn reality. After Florida’s busy season (that seems to get longer every year!), I like to escape to the mountains with my family and fiancé Rich for some well-deserved R & R. The majestic views alone instantly relax me, though I also look forward to getting out in nature and experiencing all the shops, restaurants, culture and events. Here’s a list of new places and fun activities to explore when you’re in town.

Stay

Ideal for personal and corporate events of all kinds, the family-owned Aspen Street Lodge is available for full buyouts only. Accommodations offer a lot of variety, from a two-bedroom penthouse with a full kitchen to nine traditional hotel rooms with a mix of bunk beds, double queens and single kings. Guestrooms feature smart-tech systems and connect to at least one other guestroom for families traveling with small children and other needs. The extensive array of amenities—rooftop, heated pool and hot tub, fire pit, terraces with Aspen Mountain views, game room and outdoor grill and pizza oven—leaves nothing to desire. Sounds like heaven.

Attend

Aspen Art Museum’s annual summer gala ArtCrush takes place August 3-6. Along with AAM’s new director Nicola Lees, co-chairs Amy Phelan and Jamie Tisch, and 2021 Aspen Award for Art honoree Mary Weatherford, the benefit includes silent and live auctions by Sotheby’s. Bid on more than 45 artworks by artists such as Oscar Murillo, Rita Ackermann and Weatherford; Sotheby’s senior international contemporary art specialist Michael Macaulay conducts the live auction of eight lots during the gala at Aspen Skiing Company’s Buttermilk ski area on August 6. Panel discussions, a classical music art performance, tastings and a Pine Creek Cookhouse hike are also part of this year’s extended festivities.

Eat

New restaurants focus on several types of cuisine from the Basque Country (Joonas) to surf and turf (Catch Steak). Italian imports are also making their mark. Based in the West Village, Dante NYC returns for a second collaboration with the Surf Lodge. The partners had such a great time with their winter pop up at the Snow Lodge, that they relocated to the Chefs Club at the St. Regis Aspen Resort through next spring. While Surf Lodge books live music acts, Dante helms the menu’s seasonal fare. Items like whole grilled branzino and a peach, heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad lean to the lighter side. Complete your al fresco repast with a summery spritz within Dante’s famous cocktail collection.

I’m also delighted that a familiar name from South Florida is opening soon—hopefully by August! After running their super successful Casa D’Angelo locations in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Aventura, restaurateurs Angelo and Denise Elia are expanding to Aspen.  The couple brightened up the space formerly occupied by Piñons with white oak interiors and Western décor. In addition to signature Italian dishes, the menu increases specialty items (caviar, bison, crudos) that appeal to the Aspen palate. Known for sourcing the finest ingredients, they also plan to celebrate Colorado’s excellent meats, dairy and produce.

Shop

Aspen is as famous for its galleries and designer boutiques as its ski slopes. Balenciaga’s year-long pop up debuted in July, while Prada’s traveling, experiential activation “Prada Outdoor” comes through town from July 29 to September 7. The interactive shop encompasses mountain-friendly gear (tents, frisbees, stainless steel water bottles) and men’s and women’s activewear and accessories (shorts, backpacks, sporty sandals).

While Peri.A devotees wait for its new Los Angeles store to premiere later this summer, they’re hitting the Aspen outpost in droves. Owner Peri Arenas stocks her pint-sized space with coveted labels for women’s fashions and fine jewelry. Her roster features Casablanca, Ikkim’o, Marni, Peter Cohen, Colville and Marie Lichtenberg, among dozens of gems. Don’t hesitate if you fancy something, since it will be gone in a flash!

After popping up in South Florida and the Hamptons during covid, international art galleries next followed their clientele to Aspen. Paris’s Almine Rech operates here through September 12. Catch its back-to-back shows “Genesis Tramaine: Worship Works” and “Wes Lang: Endless Horizons.” Los Angeles-based Honor Fraser displays a meta solo show of Richard Pettibone’s replications of Andy Warhol’s iconic soup can series. London’s White Cube pops up in a 19th-century building through September 5. Works by Tracey Emin, Magnus Plessen, Anselm Kiefer, Antony Gormley, Theaster Gates and Isamu Noguchi, among several established artists, are exhibited throughout its summer program titled “Correspondence.”

My Art Agenda

By | Art, Culture, Events

I’d like to share my list of exhibits to visit here and during your summer travels.

A clear sign that South Florida is no longer seasonal is the quality of art exhibits that continue long after Memorial Day weekend. I especially enjoy having this time to visit our many incredible museums, galleries and alternative art spaces to see a good show. Here are some of my picks in Miami and other parts of the U.S., in case your summer travels take you there.

I’m so impressed with the level of shows that the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami is curating. They’re groundbreaking and cool, including when the ICA recently exhibited Drake’s custom Rolls-Royce Cullinan x Chrome Hearts in its sculpture garden. It also organized the comprehensive survey “Chakaia Booker” The Observance,” which is on view through October 31. Though most recognized for her sculptures and large-scale installations made with deconstructed rubber tires and rubber conduit, this American artist uses many other tactile materials from bronze to plastic. The show also features two series of abstract paintings in acrylic on various surfaces like wood.

I’m always curious to see what Nina Johnson has going on at her Miami gallery. Her current show “Bhakti Baxter: Heat Transfer” presents new paintings and drawings by the native Miamian who now lives and works in Topanga State Park near Los Angeles. He continues his exploration of innovative techniques, a process that requires drawing grids in blue chalk on raw canvas, soaking the works in water and painting them en plein air. The natural elements affect their outcome, too, thus the “heat” reference in the show’s title.

Every summer, Guild Hall in East Hampton celebrates a major artist. It’s even more special this time, being the 90th anniversary of the treasured cultural institution for art, theater, music and other events. Concurrent with its summer gala, “Robert Longo: A History of the Present” will be exhibited from August 7-October 17. Taking over the entire museum, his massive charcoal drawings offer a critical investigation of history that spans the Abstract Expressionism movement to today. Held the night before the show opens to the public, the glamorous fundraiser features an exclusive preview followed by cocktails, dinner and music at a nearby private venue.

Everyone’s talking about the Alice Neel retrospective at the Met, but I’m also looking forward to “The New Woman Behind the Camera” from July 2-October 3. It’s about the rise of personal cameras in the early 20th century, which became an important outlet for women to express their artistic talents. The show features works shot by 120 photographers during the 1920s to the 1950s. It really gives a global viewpoint, too, since the selected photographers represent more than 20 countries. Subjects range from fashion advertising to portraits to street photography, while some artists are Dorothea Lange, Gerda Taro and Berenice Abbott.

Aspen Art Museum always makes sure to line up premier shows for summer art lovers, and this summer is no exception. “Cerith Wyn Evans: Aspen Drift,” which opens June 11, is the Welsh conceptual artist and film maker’s first presentation at a U.S. museum in nearly 20 years. The witty title references both the state of feeling adrift, as well as the local context, the mountain setting’s snowdrifts. See his sculptures, paintings and works on papers through October 10.

Don’t miss another show by a poet and artist located outside on the rooftop. On view June 11, 2021-September 18, 2022, “Precious Okoyomon: Every Earthly Morning the Sky’s Light touches Ur Life is Unprecedented in its Beauty” is a mixed-media installation combining sculpture and organic matter including plants, soil and water. Since it’s a garden, which the artist will maintain during her residency here, the work will evolve and grow. She’ll also collaborate with other artists and musicians for live performances and seasonal soundtracks.

A Woman’s Work Is Never Done

By | Culture, Holiday

Why I’m celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month

As far as women have come, from the right to vote to the #MeToo movement, there’s still much work to be done. Hence, there’s always good reason to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, which falls during Women’s History Month. Founded more than a century ago, the global day recognizes women’s achievements in all aspects of life; raises funds for female-focused charities, and accelerates women’s equality in human rights and economics through its mission involving a call to action, collaboration, philanthropy and uplifting women. The 2021 campaign’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. It’s a rally for true change.

I’m elated to see how many famous faces, household brands and media outlets are getting behind International Women’s Day. No institution is too big or too small to participate. Like most of you, my inbox has been flooded with virtual events and initiatives to support women-owned companies and women-supporting nonprofits. Amazon Live hosted one of the biggest celebrations, a panel discussion with Priyanka Chopra, Mindy Kaling and Diane von Furstenberg, whose new book “Own It:  The Secret to Life” should be on everyone’s reading list.   

The U.S. government also stepped up to the plate today by signing two executive orders to promote gender equality here and abroad. The first establishes an inclusive Gender Policy Council within the White House. Its staff includes a special assistant dedicated to advancing the equity of women and girls of color. As a Latin American woman who lives in the Gateway to Latin America, I’m especially proud that a Dominican-American woman who’s the former ambassador to Uruguay serves as co-chair.

Women’s History Month has only been around since the late Eighties. To honor it, Google’s charitable arm established a new female-focused program. “Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls” donates $25 million to support economic prosperity by inviting nonprofits worldwide to submit proposals through April 9 to receive grants and mentorship. Now’s your chance to apply! There are too many other initiatives to list, but a couple that caught my eye are Pinterest’s retail showcase of women-owned small businesses during March, and Netflix’s $5 million pledge to foster emerging female talent worldwide including training programs for Latinx women.

Some virtual events are the WOW Foundation’s Women of the World festival through March 21. Led by famous experts and authors, WOW’s webinars touch on a range of topics from managing finances to being a grandmother (something I can certainly relate to). I also encourage you to visit womenshistorymonth.gov for lectures, films and other insight throughout the month and year. Think how you can make a difference locally, too. Learn about women’s charities in your community, direct your dollars to women-owned companies, and call your mom, sister, daughter and bestie to tell them how much they mean to you. We women need to stick together.             

Moving to Miami

By | Art, Beauty, Culture, Dining, Events, Fashion, Florida Finds, Interior Design

Here are some of my local tips for new residents.

Being in real estate, I’m often the first person someone meets when moving to Miami. It’s only natural that they want to know everything about their exciting new town and ask for local tips. Since so many people are in the process of relocating here, I thought I’d put together a quick guide to some of my favorite places, services and events. I hope you enjoy discovering them, as well as cultivating your own gems over time.

Shopping

Miami is a shopper’s paradise. I can’t get over how many incredible stores keep opening here. For a local lifestyle boutique, I recommend the Showroom. The owner has been in retail for decades and knows the market. The South Miami location is geared more toward homewares including Tina Frey’s handmade resin pieces, while Coconut Grove carries more denim. For home, I also shop the extensive collections at Luminaire and Artefacto. Both have huge showrooms in Coral Gables, among many locations, if you’re pressed for time.

For fashion, you can’t go wrong with Neiman Marcus’s two stores here. They cater to the stylish side of Miami with more runway looks and interesting designers. I can always count on their personal shoppers, too. The Miami Design District has really taken off in the last few years. It’s become a major worldwide destination for designer brands like Dior and Hermès, as well as contemporary labels. Recent openings include Alexander McQueen and Stone Island, and there are rumors that Chanel’s coming.

Beauty

I can’t say enough good things about Gee Beauty. I wrote about this family-owned spa and boutique’s 15th anniversary in my blog last year. The Gee women constantly amaze me with their knowledge and service. Their facials are the ultimate luxury, and I love loading up on skin care, cosmetics and supplements on my way out.

If you’re from New York or Los Angeles, chances are you’re already familiar with IGK Hair. The partners behind the salon’s initials actually opened their first location here. They’re also known for their inhouse line of healthy hair products like Good Behavior Blowout Balm, the perfect protection for Miami elements.

Fitness

Miami has a serious wellness scene. There are many state-of-the-art gyms like Anatomy, but I trained one-on-one with Faheem Mujahid. Beyond being a master personal trainer, whose practices extend to yoga, meditation and breathwork, he’s a licensed life coach, mental conditioning expert and mindfulness speaker who’s helped moguls to corporate teams from major brands get on the right track. Check out his podcast and website for upcoming workshops. https://www.faheemmujahid.com/about

Dining

I like to eat light without missing out on flavorful ingredients and beautiful settings. Located on the bay in Brickell, Cipriani has one of the most gorgeous dining rooms in the city. It works on so many levels from power lunches to special occasions. Old World details and authentic cuisine instantly transport me to Italy. Milos in Miami Beach offers a similar vacation vibe. I feel like I’m in the Greek Isles with its airy décor and fresh Mediterranean seafood like whole, salt-encrusted fish and charred octopus. Its homey, private dining room is often booked, and the three-course, prix-fixe lunch is super popular.

Annual Events

Miami is as famous for its nonstop events as its moonrises. Many tourists time their holidays here around them, and locals never get any rest during season. Attending the Miami International Boat Show is a must. But of all of the events, December’s Art Basel fair is tops. Not only did it permanently transform Miami in remarkable ways, but the exchange of ideas and the people you meet during art week can’t be compared to anything else here. It feeds my soul, and I learn so much. I always come away with new inspirations and friends.

 

Miami, Mi Amor

By | Art, Culture, Events, Fashion, Florida Finds, Interior Design, Real Estate, Travel

An ode to our vibrant city’s many charms and its new chapter.

Miami is my home. It’s where I grew up, received my education, discovered my career, built my business, raised my family and invested my time and energy into the community. I’m not alone. People have been seduced by its charms going back to early settlers at the turn of the 20th century. They love to vacation here, too, and attend tony events like Art Basel, but many are just discovering our best-kept secret—that it’s also a great place to live and work. Florida has been one of the fastest-growing states for years, and the pandemic has compounded the trend, especially in South Florida.

Every day I hear about a new company, celebrity or mogul relocating to Miami, or at least strongly considering it. Mayor Francis Suarez has been very vocal about collaborating with big tech and startups to establish headquarters or open satellite offices here. He even exchanged words with Elon Musk, who’s already put down roots in the Sunshine State with his SpaceX program.

Goldman Sachs is also scouting South Florida to potentially relocate its asset management arm. The firm’s openness to leaving Manhattan makes sense with the shift to WFH, which should continue post-pandemic for reasons beyond saving significant costs in leasing office space. Other factors for saying, “Yes,” to Florida are our residents’ tremendous wealth; tax incentives including no state taxes, and gorgeous weather to cater to clients on the golf course. It’s really kind of a dream situation for Goldman Sachs.

As an entrepreneur, I can also vouch that Florida offers a favorable climate for businesses of all kinds. Miami attracts a lot of people who are company founders and work for themselves. I always enjoy hearing my clients’ stories about how they worked hard and would like to enjoy the good life now but still stay in the game. The city was built on this independent spirit from visionary developers to the large population of Cubans who came here to be free and flourish.

Besides Miami’s professional opportunities, people are pleasantly surprised about how family-friendly it has become. There are numerous private schools to nurture every child’s personal needs and interests, and several of our neighborhoods offer coveted, A-rated public schools that parents strive to enroll their children.

Local institutions foster our young minds, too. In addition to the new Frost Museum of Science, our plentiful art museums, botanical gardens and even shopping districts provide regular kids’ programming. Sports and an all-around active lifestyle are very accessible to all ages. Indoor and outdoor soccer fields, skating rinks, private and public clubs for sailing, swimming, rowing, tennis and golf, and abundant parks and nature preserves are available to our kids.

Healing nature is just one key element in our growing wellness scene. New residents soon learn that Miami shed its party stereotype a while ago. They partake in yoga and meditation classes and dine on plant-based cuisine at stunningly beautiful wellness centers like The Sacred Space in Wynwood; run and bike Miami Beach’s lengthy beach path, and grab paddle boards and kayaks for a day on the water. Being outdoors is rejuvenating, especially now, and Miami excels in this advantage.

These are only some of my brief initial thoughts on why we’re a hot spot now. And I didn’t even touch on all of our incredible culture. There’s so much to love.

 

Here Comes CasaCuba

By | Culture, Education

An inside look at Florida International University’s new Cuban cultural center and think tank.

I recently sent out an announcement about my joining the board of advisors at CasaCuba, a Cuban cultural institution, community center and think tank at my alma mater Florida International University. There’s so much more to its story that I thought I’d share all the good news.

The concept and space are the first of its kind in the U.S., and I’m so proud that our city is going forward to make this dream happen. When CasaCuba’s new home is completed in 2024, it will be a global destination for Cuban heritage through multiple galleries for exhibitions and a state-of-the-art venue for diverse programming from performances to dances. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in interactive, digital experiences with the latest technology like listening to Cubans’ oral histories. Scholars, business leaders and policymakers will have access to its Cuban Research Institute, a think tank that promotes valuable discussions on where we’ve been and where we’re going, how do we preserve our heritage while addressing our current status and needs. But you don’t have to be Cuban or Cuban-American to benefit from this incredible resource for the whole community. Everyone is invited to learn about Cuban culture and to join in the fun like sipping a cafecito on the front porch.

The dream started five years ago. If you haven’t already participated in one of its interesting programs, I urge you to check out the calendar listing in the link below. Previous happenings include the Orígenes dinner series partnership with FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and the Contemporary Cuban Literature Circle collaboration with Books & Books, for which Richard Blanco inaugurated by reading an excerpt from his book “The Prince of Los Cocuyos.”

Upcoming virtual events are conversations with Bacardi USA former president and ceo Eduardo Sardiña for the Chaplin lecture series on November 12; and with Juana Valdes for the Contemporary Cuban art series on November 17. Dr. Rafael Rojas, a professor at the College of Mexico who has written extensively about the intellectual and political history of Latin America, speaks for the Briefings on Cuba lecture series on November 19. Tune in for pianist Enrique Chía’s “An Hour Remembering Our Music from My Living Room,” a virtual concert of classic Cuban dance habaneras, criollas and guajiras, on December 6.

I’d also like to congratulate local architect René González whose firm was awarded the commission to design CasaCuba’s brand-new, multimillion-dollar, 57,000-square-foot building. Having taught architecture at FIU decades ago, he called the honor “the most meaningful commission of my architectural career.” The commission is even more impressive considering the level of talent from his competition including the late Zaha Hadid’s London firm and Arquitectonica International based here. González’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest and The New York Times. Among many attributes, he was selected for previous projects that address cultural and environmental factors.

CasaCuba is fortunate to benefit from the involvement of many local organizations and businesses. It received major grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A portion of Bacardi USA’s recent gift of $5 million to FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management expands CasaCuba’s programming. I’m doing my part, too, in offering a $5,000 challenge grant in honor of Give Miami Day on November 19. Please consider lending your support as well to create a home away from home for all Cubans and the community at large.

https://casacuba.fiu.edu/

 

Latin Love

By | Culture

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates a growing part of America.

With everything going on this year, I’d like to take a moment to recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month. As a Cuban immigrant who’s spent most of my life in a city full of other Latin-American immigrants, this relatively new celebration of my people means a lot to me. I say relatively new because despite Hispanics having lived in America for centuries, it wasn’t until 1968 that Hispanic Heritage Week was initiated, and another 20 years until its current, month-long iteration was signed into law. The celebration’s unusual mid-month dates of September 15 to October 15 were chosen to honor the time frame when many Latin American countries earned their independence in the 1800s.

As of last year, more than 60 million Hispanics live in the U.S. according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s nearly 20 percent of the total population, and we’re the fastest-growing demographic too. Like many of them, my family came here with nothing. One of my most vivid memories is accompanying my mother as she cleaned offices when we started out fresh. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work hard and achieve the American dream. I think of all the Hispanics who paved the way, incredible people like the civil rights activist Cesar Chavez who fought for Latino farmworkers’ rights, so we’d one day have Sonia Sotomayor, a daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, serve as the first Hispanic and Latina on the Supreme Court. The Mexican writer, advocate and former Goldman Sachs vp Julissa Arce really captures this journey in her bestselling autobiography, “My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive.” I’m also proud of my hometown’s Hispanics done good from husband-and-wife music makers Gloria and Emilio Estefan to Danielle Corona, who just made fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily’s “7 Latinx designers to watch this season” for her Hunting Season designer accessories collection. This month is about celebrating their achievements along with the history of everyone before them.

To hear about more fascinating figures, the National Park Service created a portal (link below) for “Telling All Americans’ Stories,” including those of Hispanics and Latinos. As part of the celebration, Smithsonian American Art Museum premieres “¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now.” Comprised of 120 works, it’s the first exhibit that pairs contemporary printmakers and historic civil rights-era prints. Another key event is the 2020 Américas Award Ceremony for Hispanic and Latinx creators of children’s and YA literature on October 12. I just couldn’t be more pleased with all these positive happenings.

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/tellingallamericansstories/index.htm

Emilio and Gloria Estefan
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court of the United States
Cesar Chavez