A week has passed and art still abounds in our community. Yesterday, Constant Companion, Daughter, and I ventured out to try to take in some of the remainders. Not remainders in the least bit, but some exceptional art experiences.
We started in the park in front of the Bass Art Museum, now promoted as Miami Beach’s Contemporary Art Museum – as if we need another contemporary art museum (3 public in the city, several private [vanity] museums, and a new one on the way in Doral – site of Trump’s golf resort). Most of the Art Week sculptures had already been removed.
Featured in the park is one of several versions of Ugo Rondinone’s Miami Mountain (2016). I remembered reading that last week an activity aimed at engaging families provided materials for younger members of the community to assemble their own “mountain” was held. We encountered two works along the way (one was deconstructed).
A brisk walk along the boardwalk brought us to our first real destination, The Raleigh Hotel garden. This historic Art Deco hotel is known as one of the locations in town where Esther Williams’ films were shot. Their iconic swimming pool is known as the Esther Williams pool.
The Raleigh was damaged a few years ago during Hurricane Irma. The new owners are in the process of restoring and reimagining the property. Until the end of February in a luscious, beach-side space the most amazing sculpture garden has been installed (in situ til the end of February to be followed by more artwork in the garden). I insisted to Constant Companion that we had to see this installation – beyond our expectations!
What a garden of delights! The sculptures of Les LaLannes (Claude and Francois-Xavier LaLanne) fill the beautifully landscaped garden. Visitors are greeted by a playful flock of sheep and two terrapins topiaries sporting succulents.
Wandering the paths of the lush garden brought us to face to face with Tres Grand Singe Avise, Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s last sculpture. Alongside the pond you can relax at the graceful ginko table and chairs and overlooking the frog, small Olympe, and the carp in a pond. Other creatures scattered around the garden are rabbit, owl, and more, including a quite hidden and secluded monkey encrusted bad (thank you security guard).
The chicken footed cabbage brought to mind the house with chicken feet which haunts the Russian fairy tale, Baba Yaga.
The landscape designer, aptly named Raymond Jungles, made excellent use of native habitat, especially those that attract butterflies, like the milkweed. Pond apples are from the endangered Everglades. Lest we forget, “There is only one Everglades,” Marjorie Stoneman Douglas wrote.
You can imagine it was difficult to tear away from this peaceful, hidden imaginary world and wonderland. But move on we had to! Onto the beach for Order of Importance, a sand sculpture created by Leandro Erlich, sixty-six life-sized cars, an imaginary giant traffic jam. Is this a relic or does it represent the reality of daily life in South Florida and the ever present fragile environment climate crisis and rising sea levels? This easily Instagramable (is that a verb?) installation was teeming with visitors. Unlike the Les LaLannes installation, Order of Importance is soon to be disassembled.
Another long-term display of monumental art in our community is the Botero sculptures on our pedestrian mall, Lincoln Road. Thanks to the local Nader Art Museum, a number of huge sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero are now on view for the next three months.
And let’s not forget our ever present Space Invaders – popping up everywhere – another artistic statement.
Wonderful, particularly the Raleigh Hotel garden! (I hope that means the hotel owners are doing their work on the building, too! )
Mary, Director of the Garden project, told me that the developers are moving ahead and I’ve read that there will be hotel and condos in the property. We do miss the elegant Raleigh.