Fred Caravetta: Artist, Teacher and Friend

Back in 1967 to 68, I was privileged to have Fred Caravetta as a professor of Commercial Art at the University of Miami. It’s called Graphic Design now, but back then computers were only used for crunching numbers and storing basic data, and not for computer aided design or graphic illustration. It was a night class in the old wooden Arts building at the UM, since Fred was a working commercial artist during the day, crafting advertising layouts, brochures, and other projects. He was well-known in Miami as an advertising executive.

Fred studied at the Franklin School of Professional Art, graduating in 1948. He began his career working at ad agencies in New York City, and Miami, where he became creative director of the Caravetta Allen Kimbrough agency. He was there from 1954 to 1970, then went off on his own to become a graphic designer and sculptor at Caravetta Design.

His talent went beyond mere advertising work, as we all later discovered. For the Village of Palmetto Bay’s annual event, Sunday in the Park with Art, Fred was commissioned to create the posters used to promote the events, and they were works of art themselves, alive with vibrant colors and intricate designs. They became a part of the event and not just advertising.

As if that weren’t enough, Fred also began creating sculptures. At the time, he had this to say about it on social media.

For the past few years I’ve been quite a loner and more so now that I have moved to Homestead. I have a small apartment in a barn that I share with my dog, Angel. My neighbors are four horses. I’m creating a new style of sculptures that has totally taken me over. I could go on and on about how I feel about my new stuff, but I’ll quit right here.

Fred Caravetta

His passion for his new expression of artistry showed in his work. Using a laser-like cutter, a helitorch and a hammer to shape pieces of steel, then applying paint to the surfaces, he created animals, birds of prey and giant insects that were amazingly real in appearance. One was a praying mantis, another a Monarch butterfly that was on display in the lobby of the Coral Gables Public Library for years, both were many times life size and startlingly realistic..

Caravetta with Sculpture, Gary Alan Ruse © 2008

Sadly, Fred passed away on September 12th, 2015 at age 89. His impact on the community was significant, and his impact on my own life and career went beyond what I learned in the classroom. While I was still a student, Fred was contacted by Dr. Herbert S. Zim, the author or co-author of more than 100 books and many articles, and the editor of Simon & Schuster’s Golden Nature Guides. Dr. Zim was looking for an artist to illustrate books in a new children’s series he and James Skelly were working on to explain how things work. Fred came to me with the contact information, and I sent samples of my work to Dr. Zim. He and the editor at Morrow Junior Books liked my work and I was able to do the first two fully illustrated books in the series (Machine Tools and Hoists, Cranes and Derricks (1969)) before I went into military service. Getting published in that way inspired me to do more.

Fred Caravetta is missed by family, friends and fans, but his legacy continues in the minds and hearts of those whom he inspired with his soft-spoken humor and his artistic versatility.

Tracy Ellyn: Elegance & Heart

Tracy Ellyn brings soul into the art she creates. Her works are intensely spiritual and are based upon her firm conviction that art has the power to heal. The body’s afflictions are eased by connecting art works to the spiritual side of the human being. Ellyn’s works are displayed in medical centers all around the world to support this healing.

Just some of the medical centers where Ellyn’s work is part of the permanent collections.

For example, at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, the arts are integrated into almost every area of the hospital. There are ballerinas, musicians and other artists sharing their work with the people receiving care creating an atmosphere of healing that is spiritual as well as physical.

At the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, there is a similar approach to art as conducive to healing.

Locally, in the Lennar Foundation at the University of Miami, the entire healing center is filled with works of art. There are paintings, sculpture and soothing sounds to help one recover quickly.

“[Art] gives patients, visitors, doctors, nurses a soul experience, lowers their blood pressure, lessens pain, and during this time of COVID, that is so important.”
Tracy Ellyn

Ellyn’s work life has spanned three decades. She has a wonderful family life that has not been without loss, but she has balanced her profession with her familial life. She has children and a brother whom she used to call “teddy bear.”

She taught at magnet schools which was a rewarding experience for her and her students. Her heart was open and ready to give to the youth that approached the schools with dreams and talent.

“I was classically trained as a fine arts and design major, and then worked as such in New York City and Paris for two decades. When I moved to Miami during the era when designers like Versace and Calvin Klein were moving down here, I taught in the magnet schools, teaching the next generation of young artists and designers and building their portfolios. It brought great joy to watch them go on to New York, London, Paris after graduation.”
Tracy Ellyn

She studied formally at Syracuse where she would lug her portfolio through snow covered walks to get to her classes. She finished her Masters Degree in Art Education at FIU. She is a master of fine arts and design.

As it says on her website, she uses techniques from the different times to create beautiful abstract works. She uses glass, paint, pictures and other objects to create soulful images that captivate the heart and the imagination.

“The world needs more soul. And the world gets that via the arts.”

Tracy Ellyn

Soul Series, © Tracy Ellyn 2021

But it is for her heart that Ellyn really shines. She established the Zen Tov Project to provide and promote art to people who need its spiritual help. The Foundation sends cathartic art kits to youth in substance abuse rehabilitation centers, art classes and therapeutic arts consultations for adults and children with special needs, and healing arts kits to children in Israel and France suffering with PTSD. The mission of the foundation is “providing arts-related healing initiatives to help individuals, groups and communities.”

“The Zen Tov Project has always been important to me, for helping people heal through various situations. The arts have demonstrated empirically to heal on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.”

Tracy Ellyn

Tracy Ellyn creates art for the soul with her bright soul. Her heart shines in many colors and never seals itself up but reaches for the realm of the spirit.

All images from Tracy Ellyn.