Why should only certain sections of a city be relegated to “art”? Well, they shouldn’t. As many European cities long ago realized, art and aesthetic beauty are part of what makes a metropolis whole and pleasing to live in. So kudos to Bal Harbour for making an effort to move in this direction. The latest and most comprehensive move to date: a public art commissioned program called “Unscripted,” headed up by well-respected curator Claire Breukel. And the first winner is …. George Sánchez-Calderón. Couldn’t be a better choice.
Sánchez-Calderón is known for work that entwines cultural signifiers, social awareness, architecture and a real grasp of Miami-Dade’s art history. Starting in October, this latest project, called “Pax Americana,” will be two installations drawing “inspiration from Bal Harbour Village’s history, by reflecting upon the iconography that has collectively defined the archetype of “the American Dream.” The first will be six-foot tall, stainless-steel lettering spelling out “Americana,” placed in front of the glitzy new St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, where the Americana Hotel once stood – it’s a significant location here in the upper north beaches, as it was a Morris Lapidus-designed hotel where presidents from Kennedy to Clinton once stayed. As the announcement describes, it is an “apt reference leading up to this year’s presidential election.” Very Sánchez-Calderón.
The second installation will be “Levittown House,” which will sit in Bal Harbour’s Founder circle. Levittown is considered America’s first planned community, developed after World War II to meet the burgeoning middle-class housing demands. In a sense, the aesthetic of “suburbia” sprouted from it. Bal Harbour was incorporated in 1946, a year before Levittown was built – a historically and architecturally cohesive bond. To complement these installations, this “Unscripted” commission will include art chats and presentations. Installation and video artist (who shows with Gallery Diet) Christy Gast will be the second commissioned artist, whose work will go up in the spring of 2013. Although various art programs have taken place indoors – inside the shops in particular – this opens it all up, bringing more contemporary art to the street.