Our Coral Gables Museum Visit

From the moment we walked into the Coral Gables Museum, we enjoyed ourselves. Although they feature a Gallery Night on the First Friday of each month when entrance is free, we went during the day. We like going out during the day.

The front desk clerk said that he had a secret love for the U.S. Navy and gave us free passes when he found out that we had both been in the military. They have a policy.

He told us how to get the most out of our visit and chatted with us for a little while about Coral Gables history. It was fascinating to find out about the bus terminal and the trolleys.

We entered the first room and were delighted with the exhibit about the city’s founders. There were pictures of George Merrick and Denman Fink. It was stupendous. We saw their family pictures showing when George Merrick was a small child. What really held me completely was the enigmatic portrait of Eunice Peacock Merrick.

I was captivated by the dress! There was this beautiful flapper’s dancing dress in the next room. It was adorned with perfectly preserved lace and small beads. I felt strange about taking pictures. We were not told anything about not taking, but I felt strange so I didn’t.

Creating the Dream

Next, we traveled into the next hall. It was quite large with a high ceiling. There were works there from a traveling exhibit here from Ukraine. There were some amazing pieces.

We saw a collage composed on aluminum that was interesting. There were breathtaking larger works which communicated a sense of horror and pain mixed with honor. It was as if the artists had been hurt but did not crumble. The exhibit was put together to raise awareness and get help for Ukraine by the association Razom.

Painting in Excess

Then we went back to see these wonderful pictures taken for the Coral Gables Photo Contest. We pointed and smiled at the beautiful baby pictures, interesting shots of scenery in the City Beautiful and all of the residents enjoying themselves on the streets of Restaurant Row at night. Architecture pictures had their spots, too.

We had a great time and promise to go back for that Larraz book.


In search of…

I am always seeking. There is so much art to discover and appreciate.

Yesterday, Gary and I were talking about art as a method of uplifting humanity and the self. In the struggles of the daily grind, the competition to “make it” and the need to belong, there can be a sense of sorrow and frustration.

Faith needs beauty to survive. In the darkness of the senses, faith and strength go mad and selfish. There are stories of men and women who retreated from the world into nature in order to find solace and comfort even though they had all that material goods seem to provide.

These people found God, peace and love in the songs of the birds, the scents of the flowers and the colors of the sky. I always say that God is a painter when I am looking at a sunset.

In some paintings, like Tracy Ellyn’s, Marcelle Zanetti’s, Puchi Noriega’s and others, beauty comes out and soothes the soul with tender scenes of flowers, striking blends of color and vivid scenes of conviviality. These paintings uplift the heart and soul.

I am older now, and my tastes have changed. For a long time, I enjoyed paintings that were shocking and would depict people in grotesque ways. It was shocking and disturbing and I got to be surprised by it. But, there was an emptiness to it. I would leave the painting feeling sadder for it.

I would like art to bring joy and peace. Maybe sometimes, there will be sorrow, but that sorrow can be overcome in the work. In Noriega’s work, she shows pieces of her struggle but also displays a strong survival spirit.

I will keep searching for these pieces. Just for me, because I am worth it. It’s not proud to say that you acknowledge that you have worth, but humility. Pride is only to believe that you are worth more than someone else.

Pinecrest Gardens Art Exhibit

The musicians from Compositum Musicae Novae Season IX sat down to play. One of the songs they played was “Blackbird” by the Beatles and the crowd of people stood and sat around happily listening to the talented musicians. They also played “Send in the Clowns” which always makes me tender. The gathering was composed of Miami artists and art enthusiasts gathered to chat and have a pleasant time while viewing and buying beautiful art. The reception happened on the 11th of June. It had originally been scheduled to take place on the 4th of June but there had been some bad weather, so opening night was rescheduled.

We walked into the part of Pinecrest Gardens that used to house the Cypress Cafe before the pandemic, and Gary and I walked directly to some clever photographs of a female figure wrapped in plastic and dangling from foliage. The photographs were inspired. It was interesting to see the composition and the different poses of the model chosen by the photographer. It seemed as though the figure was in a cocoon of plastic. I felt as though the photographer was making a statement about how our current ecological problems impact our community and our trees. Because the model was suspended from the trees in the plastic cocoons, it seemed as though the photographer was saying that our relationship with the trees is closer than we tend to think.

I spoke with Tony Mendoza about art after the show and he had something interesting to say. He said that sometimes he will draw something or paint something and have a specific thing in mind for it but the viewer will see something completely different.

At the end of the far wall, adjacent to the piano was a beautiful painting by Mendoza called Manigua. It was inspired by the Wilfredo Lam painting La Jungla. Lam was a Cuban painter but his work La Jungla is dark, full of grays and brown. Manigua, in contrast, is bright and open. Manigua is a sweet cup of hot chocolate on a cold night. It has brilliant greens and blues in a pattern that replicates that of the palm trees standing vigil alongside the sands of our vibrant city. Manigua is not only another Spanish word for jungle, it is a place in Colombia known for its natural beauty.

Next to it was a painting that Jorge Ballard (Ballará) did of some trees that he noticed one day while strolling near a lake or canal. The painting was called Tropical Reflections. The image brought him so much peace that he made the painting. Unlike the striking, dazzling green and blues in Manigua. In contrast, Ballard’s colors were serene and a little soothing. Looking at the painting made me want to take a seat and let a soft breeze soothe away the irritation of the traffic and stress.

On the way out, we met a vivacious female artist, Olidia Mezquia. She was friendly and so sweet. She had this open vibe that made you want to have a spa day with her or hit a dance club. So, I couldn’t wait to see her work. I had a treat. Her work was hypnotic and had this tropical quality. The painting was of two figures intertwined and it was called El Sueño del Harlequin. She had to translate Harlequin for me because I just did not know. Olidia Mezquia said that she had been painting since she was a tiny child and was born “with a paintbrush in her hand.” I know that most parents say that about their kids when their kids are absurdly talented, but in this case I have no doubt that it was true.

“I really enjoyed seeing the special ‘Beyond the Woods’ art exhibit at Pinecrest Gardens. Even though there was a unifying theme for the show there was still a wide range of artistic styles and approaches that was great to see, and the setting was nice. When I spoke to one artist, Jorge Ballará, I found him to be very modest and soft spoken, despite his accomplishments. The other artists that I had a chance to speak with were also very nice.”

Gary Alan Ruse

The opening reception was excellent; we can’t wait to see the closing reception which will take place before the end of the month. Pinecrest Gardens is located at 11000 Red Road. It features theatre, live music, art exhibits and always has a wonderful botanical garden to stroll through. The artist in residence is Javier Cortada.

Art of the Ancients: Sacrifice and Power

Primary Function

The art of Ancient Egypt, China and Central America was utilized by the people to legitimize and preserve power in the earthly and heavenly authority.

The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were held as divine and their bodies were mummified to preserve them. Their religious beliefs had complex ideas about how a person’s soul would travel after the earthly body had died.

This sarcophagus held the Pharaoh’s corporeal remains.

Considerable time, expense and skill was used to create the tombs of Pharaohs and their households. This was all to ensure that the Pharaoh was kept secure for his travel to the Afterlife. Hieroglyphs along the sarcophagus were not decorative, but served to communicate the status and name of the dead as well as hex anyone disturbing the remains.

Common people were simply enshrouded and buried in the desert. Ancient Egyptian Art thus served to communicate to others the power of the noble class.

Art that has been preserved in China also supports the powerful rulers of each dynasty.

This painting of a powerful ruler shows Chinese Artistic focus on the powerful.

The people of Ancient China believed that their ancestors remained with them and influenced their lives. The life of each individual was largely dictated by his social class. Ironically, the founder of the Ming Dynasty had once been a farmer.

So the art reflected the society’s preoccupation with powerful people. The picture above is of Honawu who ruled as Emperor during the Ming Dynasty. The artists were forced to make works that portrayed the emperors favorably.

To be fair, the time brought great stability and peace to the country and there was also development in landscape painting, pottery and calligraphy.

In a sense it mirrored the development of art in Europe where the arts were sponsored by wealthy patrons, people in power or rich merchants.

Gary Alan Ruse

In Central America and South America, power was held by religious leaders and the art showed that.

Aztec priests performed human sacrifice to honor the Gods.

It is difficult to grasp how advanced societies like those of the Aztecs could be so brutal. Their art is not all about sacrifice which shows the powerful reliance of the people on religion. They have many stone sculptures of humanoid beings with birdlike appendages and features.

Like the art of the people of Ancient China and that of Ancient Egypt, the art of the West remains to share with us what was important then.

Next week, we will continue learning about the Art of the Ancients. This time it will thread on art used to keep track of time and space.