AUGUST 18 – SEPTEMBER 30, 2011
a portrait of another Miami
These photos comprise a collection of images I captured during daily commutes between my home in Liberty City and my studio in Little Haiti/Little River in Miami’s summer of 2011. The majority of them were taken in the midst of oncoming storms in order to take advantage of the softened light that is filtered through exploding clouds, which is very much welcomed during this time of year.
The goal of taking these photos was to focus attention on the DIY lure these small establishments produce in the mostly poverty stricken areas of these communities. A common thread among the images is the hand-painted feel of the personal in contrast to the sterilized aesthetic of ubiquitous corporate branding that has spread over most commercial strips of Miami and around the world. Overall, I see them as a documentation of restaurants, car shops, private clubs, mini markets, second hand shops, botanicas (religious retail store), speakeasy’s, alternative art spaces and other curious venues that have been given special attention in a landscape that is in constant developmental flux. Old-fashioned mom-and-pop shops seem to be fading fast but some are frequented steadily enough by members of the community that they resist going out of business. Perhaps part of the reason is that the “beautification projects” of major developers in conjunction with city officials have not reached this far west and another reason might be the dominant reputation of these areas as being irreparably dangerous. In its current state, this part of Miami gives a more accurate picture of the people who live here than South Beach in all its “Reality TV” glory.
The individual treatments to these facades or interfaces are unlike any other areas of Miami. Partially responsible is the prolific muralist Serge Toussaint who helps to define business identities among other personal motives (whose work is featured several times in this collection, e.g. chicken plus, and Haitian flag) in addition to many other, lesser-known artists and sign painters. Rara Kuyu, an artist and musician who co-runs Universal Soul Arts Gallery with his friend and muse Luisa Otero, is also featured in this collection. His work can be seen on the image of the painted van parked in front of his gallery.
In closing, I wonder how this virtual space (light and wire) can serve to share the unique qualities of these facades to viewers that have never seen them before, whether they be natives of Miami or others that usually fall back on the stereotypical clichés of what Miami represents.
Miami, summer of 2011
For more information on Rara Kuyu go to: http://universalsoularts.com/ARTS.php
For more information on Serge Toussaint go to: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/26/2130625/miami-muralist-paints-art-of-city.html