South Beach Finally Gets It After Raucous Behavior

Splash and Color: Art Deco Coloring Book for Kids of All Ages. A coloring book to engage families with Art Deco. I thought it was a good idea a few years ago.

When I pitched my idea about reaching the family market in South Beach a few years ago, I was met with disdain. My plea fell on deaf ears when I approached the Miami Design Preservation League, Delano and the hotels on Ocean Drive about my coloring book and a Coloring Contest to reach the family market in South Beach. I wasn’t surprised by the lack of enthusiasm or vision. Artists have a tendency to be ahead of the curve.

After years of bad publicity and overly aggressive police behavior to control “raucous” behavior Mayor Levine and the City of Miami Beach are endeavoring to change the Art Deco District’s image. They want to make Ocean Drive better for residents and families. The recent Air and Sea Show is a good start. I hope the business community supports the initiatives to make Ocean Drive a safer and better place for residents and families.


TGIF: No means yes in South Beach

A picture of the museum

The Jewish Museum Florida FIU was designed by Henry Hohauser who attended Pratt Institute.

South Beach is a place of defiance. I once heard someone say, people come to South Beach to do every “God forsaken” thing they wouldn’t do anywhere else! No means yes in South Beach.

It should come as no surprise that the Jewish community in South Beach has often defied the status quo.

Art Deco weekend.

Thousands of people come to Art Deco Weekend each year.

Barbara Capitman was a Jewish woman who defied the establishment. Capitman fought city officials “tooth and nail” to preserve the historical buildings that light up Miami Beach and make it the second most popular place in Florida. If not for her vision and perseverance, there would not be an Art Deco District. The over 800 Art Deco buildings that remain are testaments to Capitman’s defiance. The Art Deco District was the first 20th century neighborhood placed on the National Register of Historic Places much to her efforts. The Miami Design Preservation League continues Capitman’s legacy.


Miami Design Preservation League poster rallying the community.

What’s more, Henry Hohauser, an architect who was Jewish, built over 300 Art Deco buildings. Hohauser lived in an era when signs “Gentiles Only” and “No Jews Allowed” were commonplace in South Beach. Jews were not even allowed to live beyond 5th Street.

An Art Deco chandelier and displays inside the Jews

An Art Deco chandler and displays inside the Jewish Museum.

Visit one of Hohauser’s buildings and experience first hand the story of Jewish culture in Florida. Hohauser’s building, once a synagogue, is now the home of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. Eighty stained glass windows, a copper dome, and chandeliers are reminders of the days when Hohauser and others worshipped in the synagogue. Taste and see the Jewish experience during the Jewish Food Tour that leaves from the Museum. Learn how the Jewish community thrived despite many obstacles.

Falafel and Israeli salad.

Enjoy Falafel and Israeli salad on the Jewish Food Tour.

Facing off with those who thought South Beach should be known only as a place for “fun in the sun,” Holocaust survivors garnered public support for the building of the Holocaust Memorial. A memorial garden and a sobering sculpture recall those who died and remind all who visit: “we shall NEVER forget.”

Sculpture at the Holocaust memorial

A bronze sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly at the Holocaust Memorial.

The impact of Jewish culture permeates every aspect of the city. Mount Sinai Hospital was built because Jewish doctors weren’t given staff privileges at area hospitals. The Bass Museum scheduled to reopen in the fall, is named in honor of John and Johanna Bass, Jewish immigrants who bequeathed over 500 works of art to the City of Miami Beach.

The Bass Museum in Miami Beach.

The Bass Museum in Miami Beach during Art Basel.

It is said that obstacles are opportunities. Fighting bias and opposition, the Jewish community realized that no means yes in South Beach.

TGIF: Miami Beach Art Deco Weekend


Studio Apartments in Miami Beach.

My painting of the Studio Apartments in Miami Beach.

Join the Miami Design Preservation League in welcoming the Jazz Age Lawn Party to Art Deco Weekend, January 13-15. Enjoy prohibition era entertainment with music, dance performance, dance lessons, food and drink all for one price. After 11 years in New York this popular event comes to Miami Beach.

Art Deco weekend also features a parade, dog show, car show, walking tours, vendors and activities for kids. There’s fun for all.

For more information, visit

The not so friendly skies

Art Deco Coloring book

I had to digitize my Art Deco Coloring book to get it printed.

I thought computers were suppose to make our lives easier. A computer glitch at Customs caused problems at several US airports a few days ago. Not to mention the vulnerabilities that were exposed by the hacking of the DNC, White House, Sony, Yahoo just to name a few. I guess it’s the price we pay for turning our lives over to computers and the so-called “cloud.”

I am all for the digital age but I think it elevates rather than diminishes the important role artists play. The artist’s message is not subject to blackouts. There are no language barriers in visual images. No technology bugs to work out. It’s kind of hard to hack an actual painting.

A few years while heralding the new Dunkin Donuts in downtown Miami, I took a sad pause and realized the historic building that I once delighted in sketching was transformed into a Dunkin Donuts shop. It made me realize the important role we artists play. Sometimes an artist’s drawing is the only documentation of past events or landmarks. My role as an artist is to document social history.

During a postcard talk at the Miami Main Library, post cards were described as mementos of a former time. The decline of postcards sales due to social media and digital cameras was lamented. While social media is a great platform for instant communication, it has not replaced the important role artists play.

How to retain social media records for future generations remains a daunting challenge. According to the article “Saving Government Tweets Is Tougher Than You Think” by Joseph Marks ”federal agencies should establish working groups to determine when agency social posts constitute federal records and how to retain them for posterity.” Obviously, there are some technology bugs to work out.

©Elaine Marie

Preservation 50 Friday: The Closure of Washington Monument


Miami Design Preservation League poster rallying the community.

The iconic Washington Monument is closed indefinitely to the public due to faulty elevators. The National Park Service stated on Facebook: “Despite the continuing work on the Washington Monument elevator, we have not been able to determine the causes of the ongoing reliability issues. As a result, we have made the difficult decision not to reopen the Washington Monument until we can modernize the elevator control system.”

Despite the 555 foot obelisk towering over the city of Washington, I’m sure it was taken for granted like most landmarks. We see them but don’t see them. We want landmarks available for public use but are unwilling to spend the money and expertise needed to upkeep and preserve them. Hopefully the closing of the monument will draw attention to this other public landmarks.

The Coral Rock House before Restoration

The Coral Rock House before restoration.

Sometimes it takes extreme measures to get public attention. I’ve seen my share of boarded up historic buildings in Miami Beach. But thanks to the public and Miami Design Preservation League I have seen many return to their former glory.

Restored Coral Rock House.

Restored Coral Rock House.

I’m hoping the Washington Monument will reopen sooner than later if the public lets officials know how important this landmark is as a symbol of our nation.

South Beach Faux


A birds eye view of South Beach.

A birds eye view of South Beach.

Red and white beach umbrellas dot the beach.
Peppermint lollipops.
The sweetness refreshes my heart.

The Shelborne Hotel peeps nearby.
Emerging like a page from my coloring book.

The Shelbourne Hotel.

The Shelborne Hotel.

Forecasters called for rain.

Clouds give way to a burst of sunlight.
A pleasant breeze cools the heat.

Fond and sad memories of beach days gone-by.
Tears and laughter.

Like now, a mixture of clouds and sunshine.

… “The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and the storm. The clouds are the dust of His feet.”
Nahum 1:3


Arts and Hospitality Breakfast on March 31

Art by Barkley Hendricks.

Artwork by Barkley Hendricks and other artists at “Art Basel” draw over 50,000 people to Miami.

With a theme, the “Arts Means Business,” this event celebrates the impact of the billion dollar Arts industry in Miami.

Art Deco weekend.

Thousands of people come to “Art Deco Weekend” each year.

Last year I attended the Arts and Hospitality Breakfast in Miami. There were lots of movers and shakers in the Hospitality and Arts industry at the breakfast in the Intercontinental Hotel. I met with the Director of Public Relations and Marketing from the Intercontinental Hotel who discussed opportunities for artists. Since the Intercontinental’s niche was digital media not visual art, I forwarded this information to someone I had met at the Art Institute.

The Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami.

The Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami.

Artists attending this event should be prepared to pitch specific projects that benefit the business they are approaching. However, this is challenging because participants are not listed in advance. At the event there is a formal networking meet and greet. However, it would be more advantageous for artists if  they could have a table to promote their business.

Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Arts District is a popular destination for tourists.

Last year the focus was more on past projects and projects in the works than on detailed opportunities for artists. While I was able to meet many Arts leaders and Hospitality Execs and gain insight into the industry, it did not generate any relevant opportunities for me as a visual artist. After the event I emailed the organizer and arranged a meeting for the museum I was working for. As an arts advocate, I was happy to advance the cause of others.