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Arts & Power
Christina Lawrence | Photo: Nick Garcia | November 21, 2012
Power is a tricky term when it comes to the arts. It’s not just money and moxie. It’s forging ahead while others doubt. It’s stepping in when you’re most needed. It’s working together to make things happen. Meet the Miami players who are doing just that and putting our city’s culture conscience first.
Having built a reputation over the past two decades as not only a fearless, intuitive real estate developer but also as a patron of the arts and major collector, Jorge Pérez continues to break ground with One Ocean. The mixed-use project, which Pérez considers his “masterpiece development,” is located in the SoFi neighborhood of Miami Beach and bespeaks his penchant for incorporating art with real estate. Why is that marriage important? “Because,” he explains, “the choice of art, design and architecture is an integrated process where we get input from all our design professionals. We want to achieve harmony between the building’s exterior, its interior public spaces, its landscaping and its art. This can only be achieved upfront by the talented professionals who are involved in the totality of the process from its inception.” Pérez is unwavering in his belief that art has become integral to Miami as a city, in part because of leading citizens (and he’s one of them) who have walked the walk when it comes to their passion for art. That, and location, location, location. “Our geography has enabled us to become the capital of the Americas,” says Pérez, whose $35 million gift to the Miami Art Museum’s new building late last year shows he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is (the institution will bear his name when it opens this fall). “This city has become the preferred location for many artists, particularly from Latin America, to want to work in. This has led to a proliferation of art galleries that cater to both a local, national and international market. Art Basel saw this and decided that Miami was the correct spot for its first fair outside Switzerland. Because of this location and the merging of different cultures, art continues to thrive here.”
For 30 years, The National YoungArts Foundation has been advocating young artists with millions of scholarship dollars and opportunities to work with some of the most renowned artists in the world. But when Paul Lehr took over the position of executive director two years ago, he says, “It became clear to me that there are far more artists out there whose lives could be changed. So I started thinking of ways to actually do it.” In addition to expanding the program across the country, raising the organization’s profile in Miami was one of Lehr’s first orders of business. “It seemed odd to me that we were in the financial district,” he says. “Our name wasn’t outside; it didn’t look and feel like an arts organization. We were like nomads, going from space to space depending on who would have us. Miami is our home base and we needed a bigger footprint here.” He would often drive by the iconic Bacardi Building on Biscayne Boulevard, which had stood empty for two years, and say to himself, “There’s no way I can make this happen.” But that didn’t stop him from calling owner Facundo Bacardi and suggesting, “Let’s talk about it.” They did, the deal got done and the structure will soon become YoungArts’ new home. But not before Frank Gehry gets his hands on it. The starchitect is designing the campus, which will feature a performance center, a park with ample green space, and recording studios and rehearsal rooms for visual, literary and performing artists. “We’ve solicited the input of the great masters with whom we work—including Edward Albee and Mikhail Baryshnikov—to help us dream” says Lehr. And thanks to him, it’s a dream that is slowly coming true.
Growing up as the daughter of one of Miami’s most heralded futurists, Jessica Goldman Srebnick learned the commercial real estate business from the best. Today, it’s up to the new CEO of Goldman Properties to manage an ever-expanding portfolio in New York, Philadelphia, and Wynwood and Miami Beach in South Florida, as well as oversee the company’s well-known art initiatives. “There will never be another Tony Goldman, and he certainly left an extraordinary legacy,” Srebnick says of her father, who passed away in September. “I have never been more dedicated to continuing his work and taking it even further.” And that’s important because, as she points out, there is never a shortage of exciting projects in the works for Goldman Properties, particularly in the Wynwood Arts District. “The preparation for Art Basel is always a thrill,” she says. “We’ll have an exhibit dedicated to the interpretation of vision utilizing paintings, photography and video, the development of a very creative retail shop in the Wynwood Walls, the introduction of an innovative application called Augmented Reality, a new Shepard Fairey mural that integrates the image of my father, additional murals within Wynwood, and a memorial garden imagined by Kenny Scharf.” Beyond that, two significant projects to be delivered by Goldman Properties in 2013 include the Wynwood House, GP’s first residential project in Wynwood, and The Greene Space, a 10,000-square-foot warehouse conversion utilizing natural elements and green features that contrast the urban and hard façades found throughout the district. “The Wynwood Arts District is the epicenter for creativity in this city,” she adds. “Miami is truly becoming a creative hub for the world.”
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