Recently, several colleagues and I decided to form Patrons of Art in the City Trust (PACT) with the purpose of enhancing the culture of art patronage in the City. In this Sunday’s El Nuevo Herald, Ana Remos wrote a column regarding our initiative as one that could alter the city scape of Brickell.
Miami is home to a panoply of talented artists, many of which are sculptors. I have had the pleasure of developing friendships with a few of the city’s best. Over time, I’ve realized that, despite their renown talents, the life of an artist is tough. Theirs is a burning passion that can find expression commensurate to the resources disposable to them. Unfortunately, resources are often scarce and their best works remain confined to the mind. In some cases, there is a sadder reality, completed monumental stunning works of sculpture that are stored in obscure locations throughout the city–out of public sight and off the radar of public appreciation. The prevailing sentiment is “wait and see”. In what exhibition can they showcase? How can I get this piece the recognition that it deserves? Where am I going to store it next? As such, these real constraints stifle their work and with it, the legacy of our city.
Meanwhile, Miami’s urban core, dissected with buildings that are framed with ample setbacks, plazas, forecourts, and stoops offer prominent locations with open spaces (I like to think of them as “stages”) for art. In the interior of the buildings, the lobbies can be cavernous yet stark (prime space for exhibiting art). The thousands of folks that frequent the buildings every day find little stimulation in the bleakness of their atmospheres. That can change with art.
Miami, with its eclectic array of people, sits astride two hemispheres. A nexus point for business and trade, it is hemmed in by natural boundaries on three sides and has little place to sprawl but up. This vertical growth has resulted in an impressive skyline that reflects the fervor of its people, yet the city is commonly viewed as a cultural backwater. Its emerging art scene is mainly confined to private galleries, sporadic art walks, and fleeting art festivals. Its artists feel excluded by the renown art fairs and often emigrate to more art friendly cities. The palm lined streets of its most prominent urban neighborhood, Brickell, are largely devoid of their work. Why?
Local artists need patrons
Posterity would never have known Leonardo Da Vinci, were it not for his patron, Lorenzo de Medici. Bernini might have been lost to us, were it not for the patronage of Cardinal Borghese. Consequently, Florence and Rome would not have been as lustrous without them. Patronage is at the heart of art. Art is at the heart of the City. Without patronage, art cannot come to light. Art is a pillar of the great city. It is the most poignant expression of its humanity–a part of its soul. Like architecture, it is a snap shot of the times and vision for the future. It is an indelible hallmark of the City’s character–its identity.
Communal Art Patronage
The culture of art patronage has to evolve through a broad and meaningful interaction between the business and art community. PACT is giving Brickell building owners access to a large network of local artists interested in installing their art on Brickell properties within public view. Artists loan these selected works to patron-buildings for $1.00 a year so that the they can be installed for public enjoyment. This creative partnership will transform the Brickell area and the way the City perceives local art. Acting in consort, the artists and building owners can show that a community can be a patron of the arts. PACT seeks to enable this new culture of patronage, beginning with Brickell.