by Eddie Arroyo

I drive into the Wynwood Arts District and park across from Panther Coffee. This neighborhood has transformed substantially over the years to the credit of the arts community. All one has to do is drive up and down the neighborhood’s streets and it literally becomes an outdoor museum. It was an excellent choice to have Brandi Reddick recommend this location and to talk her about the prospects for Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places for the upcoming year. We sat down as I turned on the recorder and she sipped from her cup of coffee.

Eddie Arroyo
How long have you been with Art in Public Places?

Brandi Reddick
I have been with the program for eight years now. I came to Miami from Savannah, but I am originally from Fort Valley, Georgia. Located in the heart of the South, my hometown is known for its peaches, high school football team and is the headquarters of Blue Bird school buses. Needless to say, my exposure to art was minimal growing up. I did my undergraduate study at the College of Charleston, where I majored in Art History and my graduate study at the Savannah College of Art and Design, with a focus on Art History and Painting. When I graduated, I moved to Miami and worked with Virginia Miller Galleries and taught at University of Miami giving lectures in Art History. It was really exciting because this was when Coral Gables was the epicenter of Miami’s art community and most of our galleries, including Snitzer Gallery, were located there.

I was influenced to come to Miami by one of my favorite professors, Ralph Muldrow, who taught Historic Preservation at the College of Charleston. He talked about the wonderful preservation movement emerging in Miami Beach with the restoration of many of the Art Deco buildings. He had attended several preservation conferences in Miami Beach and after many discussions he said to me that it would be the perfect place to live because there was so much starting to happen with historic preservation, arts and architecture. And honestly, being from Georgia, I am an outdoor girl at heart, and I loved the idea of living in a city that faces the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Everglades to the west and the Keys just south…. I actually moved to Miami in July of 2001.

Arroyo
That was the first year of Basel.

Reddick
I actually didn’t know much about Art Basel at that time. I mean, I knew it was an important art fair in Europe, but I had no idea the type of impact it would eventually have on Miami. People always think that Art Basel brought the visual arts here, but internationally recognized artists such as Carlos Alfonso, Fernando Garcia, Robert Chambers, Carlos Betancourt, José Bedia and Edouard Duval Carrié, among others, had been working in Miami for decades.

Arroyo
Yes but were sitting here at Panther Coffee in Wynwood surrounded by Public Art. I mean this, building alone was created by an artist (Barry Mcgee) and it has all been done outside the scope of Public Art with a do it yourself kind of mentality. It’s in the realm of art in public places with the help of Tony Goldman and the way he has structured its presentation, Wynwood Walls is a good example. Have you had any dialog with him as far as organization?

Reddick
I have not, but only because the program is very different than ours. Wynwood Walls is doing an absolutely amazing job transforming our arts district, and I strongly believe artists should be an integral part of urban development and community planning. Tony Goldman is famed for reinventing neighborhoods such as the Soho District in New York, and he knows the value of making artists part of the process—It is a proven fact that a thriving arts community offers a competitive edge for attracting tourism, creating more jobs and economic prosperity.

On the other hand, Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places is funded by 1.5% of new government construction in Miami-Dade County – so we are working with public dollars, as opposed to private development. Our projects begin with an open Call to Artists and depending on the project budget and size, the Call to Artists will be issued locally, nationally or internationally. When I first started with the program eight years ago, I noticed that a majority of the Calls to Artists were being issued nationally, even for our smaller projects. I am a huge advocate for Miami-based talent, and I thought it was absurd that many of our artists who have exhibited internationally did not have work in the Miami-Dade public art collection. So now, we are very focused on commissioning Miami-based artists. It’s a change that I am very happy with because you see the work of our artists in major collections, their names are on the rosters of leading galleries and their work is escalating in value—so it’s important to have “Miami” work in our public collection.

Arroyo
Tell me about what plans Art in Public Places have for the 2012 year?

Reddick
We have over twenty projects in the works, and I am perhaps most excited about the site for the new Marlins Ballpark, which will represent our largest public art commissions to date. What I love most is that the artists selected for this project are so diverse—we have an internationally acclaimed artist from Venezuela, Carlos Cruz-Diez, American pop artist Red Grooms and our youngest artist of the group, Daniel Arsham, who was raised in Miami.

Daniel Arsham | Snarkitecture
Beacon, Work in Progress
Estimated Completion: March 2012
Miami Marlins Ballpark
Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection

Arsham, along with his architecture firm Snarkitecture, is implementing the illumination of the four super columns on the west plaza. Each of the columns stand nearly 200 feet in height. The lighting is designed in a way so that at night the stadium columns will seem to gradually appear and disappear. In Daniel’s words, “the work will become the breath or heartbeat of Miami—and will light up the skyline great distances through the city”- it will literally be a beacon—which is the title of the work, by the way.

Daniel Arsham | Snarkitecture
A Memorial Bowing, Work in Progress
Estimated Completion: March 2012
Miami Marlins Ballpark
Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection

Arsham/Snarkitecture is also doing a project that is celebrating the Orange Bowl site where it appears as if the original letters fell off the side of the stadium and landed on the concrete. It’s a very dynamic piece.

On the west plaza is the work of Carlos Cruz-Diez who is originally from Venezuela and is now living in Paris. He is implementing a paving design that functions as an optical illusion. As the viewer navigates the walkways, different shapes and colors will begin to emerge. This monumental work is the size of four professional football fields. Cruz-Diez is an international recognized artist, has strong ties to Miami, and this is going to be his first major commission in the United States.

Red Grooms
Untitled, Home Run Feature- Work in Progress
Multi-Media Installation
Estimated Completion: March 2012
Miami Marlins Ballpark
Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection

Red Grooms, who is originally from Tennessee, is represented Marlborough Gallery in New York and has work in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. Grooms is implementing a seventy-two foot sculpture for the home run feature that interacts with the entire ballpark– it’s very kitsch and reminds me of what Miami Beach must have been like in the 1950’s or 1960’s. Complete with hot pink flamingos and palm trees, it moves, lights up, makes music and splashes water when the Marlins score a home run. What I’m really excited about is that it’s going to be seen on national television. So it’s huge exposure for our program and the artist. Overall, what I love most about the Ballpark projects is this incredible mix of artists—from Carlos Cruz-Diaz who is a well established artist in his eighties to Daniel Arsham who is an up and coming artist in his early thirties— it’s the perfect blend artists at various point on their careers.

Arroyo
Are there any other projects right now which you’re excited about?

Reddick
Well there is another one that is just beginning – we are starting the artist selection process next week for the Opa Locka Community Redevelopment Corporation. We are going to commission an artist to redesign the triangle area of Opa-Locka, which is notoriously one of the most blighted neighborhoods in all of Miami. This project did not qualify for the traditional 1. 5% County Ordinance, but the OLCDC team has witnessed how artist designed spaces can transform a neighborhood, Wynwood being an obvious example, and contracted with our program to implement the public art components. They applied for an NEA Our Town Grant and received $600,000 for the integration of public art. We envision that artists will redesign the roadways, the lighting, and interiors with the intent to drastically change the area. I am excited because we are leaving the project scope open to an artists’ interpretation and will be looking to the artists for ideas on the best way to utilize the art dollars.

This is something I have always been proud of with Miami-Dade Art in Public places. You see all these other programs throughout the country dictate that the art will have to go in a certain location and it has to deal with this certain theme. We never do that. We do suggest sites or where artwork can be integrated, but in the end, I and am a firm believer that artists have better ideas than I do, and we are always open to innovative ideas.

Ivan Toth Depeña
Reflect, 2011
Interactive LED Panels
Stephen P. Clark Government Center Lobby
Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection

Ivan Toth Depeña
Reflect, 2011
Interactive LED Panels
Stephen P. Clark Government Center Lobby
Miami-Dade County Public Art Collection

The last project I want to mention is by Ivan Toth Depeña for the lobby of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center. Ivan is originally from Miami, attended New World School of the Arts, and eventually taught at New World. Right now, he’s working between Brooklyn and Miami. He is very interested in translating his work into web based technology so he’s always on the cutting edge of web based art. The project for our lobby consists of huge light panels that are activated when people walk in front of them. As one passes a panel, their image becomes pixelated and their movement is reflected like a shadow. The type of pixilation also changes throughout the day. So, in the morning hours, you may see white dots that you interact with, another time of the day the panels are various colors—the work is constantly changing! Right now I’m working with Ivan on another project that is in its very early stages of development. It is a virtual Public Art APP program for the IPhone. What we are envisioning is an APP that allows you to create your own public artwork in downtown Miami, and we will upload it to our website so everyone can see the virtual public artwork- that’s just the initial idea—I can’t wait to see where Ivan goes with this concept.

Within the next few weeks we are going to launch a new web site to replace the dated one. A portion of the funds to develop the software came from a Knights Arts Challenge grant. With over 600 works in the collection, the task has been daunting, and it has literally taken over two years to develop the customized software. Eventually, the website will show the entire public arts collection and all of our collection records–this will be done in phases so the first hundred “highlights of the collection” will go up with the release of the new site, but the goal is to upload the entire collection. It will include complete project descriptions, commissions, documents, literally the entire history of the program. And one of the cool things about this site is that you can design your own tour. So you can pull up all the sculptures in Miami and it will connect with Google Maps and it will tell you how to get there. It will be very interactive. It’s a very sleek site website—the face is being designed by Lemon Yellow. I am impressed with how far the site has come in function.

Arroyo
Twenty twelve looks to be a notable year for Arts and Public Places.

Reddick
Yes, it will be.

www.miamidade.gov/publicart/