The Cuban influence on Miami has been the most profound in this city’s relatively short history. Even before the mass immigrations that resulted from Fidel Castro’s revolution, that prominent Caribbean nation impacted its South Florida neighbor economically and culturally. But in the last half century, Cubans transformed Miami. It is now a Latin city, with its cultural reference points a unique mix of North America and the huge island 90 miles south.
You can literally take part in some of this journey with the latest installment of the Bas Fisher Invitational Weird Miami Bus Tour (a Knight Arts grantee), an artist-led excursion into our strange cultural existence. This time the bus is being “driven” by Cuban-born artist and long-time active participant in Miami’s scene, César Trasobares. His work has been shown all over town for several decades, in recent years for instance at the Bass Museum and currently at the de la Cruz Collection. Unlike many of his fellow immigrant travelers, he has incorporated and embraced the culture he found here – coming up with hybrid imagery and symbolism of the two still technically divorced worlds. No better person to take us on the tour.
Little Havana will of course be featured, but also lesser known nooks and crannies of Cuban Miami.
Trasobares also was in the enviable and historical position to have been friends with some of the most important contemporary Cuban artists who passed through Miami and left significant imprints here, but also across the globe. They include Ana Mendieta, Carlos Alfonzo and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, all of whom died far too young. Trasobares is writing a book and giving lectures on these three, so we are bound to discover more about them through a personal accounting, at particular bus stops.
Trasobares was head of Art in Public Places for Miami-Dade County – these works spread across the county are by no means all created by people of Cuban heritage, so these bus stops broaden the perspective from the intimate to the general. Miami’s aesthetic has been forged through many migrations, but the hand, the eye, the vision of a Cuban-American often helped pave the unique trail.
The tour takes off tomorrow at 10 a.m. (no late Miami-time, please!) and stops for a lunch; since it runs till 4:30 p.m., you are advised to also bring a snack. And to lubricate the wheels, there will also be sangria.
Weird Miami Bus Tour Hosted by César Trasobares: Meets Saturday, May 4 at 9:30 a.m. at the Bas Fisher Invitational, 100 NE 11th St., Miami (the bus returns here as well). Tickets are $25; www.basfisherinvitational.com.