Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Florida

I recently took a nine-day trip to Florida. While I was there, I had the opportunity to visit numerous galleries, tour a house museum, and dine with some fascinating people. The first stop on my itinerary was the Keys. In Islamorada, I meet up with David Denick, a family friend and artist. David is an avid fisherman, who utilizes the Japanese Gyotaku process to immortalize his catches. Dating from the mid- 19th century, Gyotaku prints are made by inking or painting the fish, placing a piece of paper over the fish, and then rubbing the paper to transfer the fish’s image to the paper. Traditionally, Gyotaku was done with sumi ink; however, David uses water colors to bring his prints to life. David kindly took me on a bike tour of the galleries (and beaches) on the island. Galleries visited included the Matecumbe Studio Gallery, the Bluewater Potters, and the Redbone Gallery. Just south of Miami, I visted Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. American businessman James Deering built the European-inspired main house from 1914-1916 and ultimately created a 180-acre estate that included gardens and farm. Upon walking onto the estate, I felt transported back to Venice, as the house opens up to views of waterways. Also, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between Vizcaya and Winterthur – both are large estates with farms that were created by eccentric collectors and ultimately turned into museums. From a conservation standpoint, Vizcaya must be a nightmare to maintain, as it is so close to the ocean (with its salty breezes) and in a hurricane zone. Fortunately, the originally open central courtyard now has a glass roof. I was happy to see conservators working on the outdoor statuary as I roamed the gardens. My Florida adventure ended with a stay at the home of my friends in Palm Beach. While I was working with Wilson Conservation (before graduate school), I had washed and waxed a number of sculptures in Palm Beach. It was such a different experience being an invited guest, as opposed to an employee. As we took a boat ride around the island, I pointed out many of the sculptures that I had worked on and explained why one should have his or her bronze sculptures waxed on a regular schedule and not keep them directly next to the waterfront. (The salt from the sea is very corrosive.)

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