Mayaimi Exhibition 10/2016

Mayaimi exhibition curated by Colette Alhabahbeh-Mello at Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS)

The Mayaimi tribe lived around lake Okeechobee, that used to be called lake Mayaimi. It is said

that it inspired the name for the Miami River and consequently the city of Miami. They were

extinguished in the 18th Century, when they were attacked by raiders, who captured and sold

them for slaves.

The first settlements of this community is around Lake Mayaimi, that means “big water” in the

languages of the Tequesta and the Calusa tribes as well. It was later renamed Lake

Okeechobee by the Hitchiti tribe.


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Miami River Show 02/2018

The Miami River Show

A description by Barbara Bollini Roca

The Miami River Show at the Pinecrest Gardens, is small but condensed in history, the environment and its present. It is also the first local show that is focused on the Miami River.

The Pinecrest Gardens in 1932 used to be the first Parrot jungle, before it moved in 2003 to its current location. The place is full of lush trees that take you into another realm. You start to relax while walking towards the gallery space called: “Hibiscus Gallery.” It is overseen by Josh Liberman and Xavier Cortada, who is also the artist in residence at the Pinecrest Gardens.

Inside the gallery, on the left side, the first introduction into the show is Mr. Trash Wheel, a documentary that loops on a TV monitor. It looks like a boat, powered by solar panels and hydraulics that move the wheels that operate the conveyor belts which in turn collect the garbage floating on the surface with rotation forks. This is an effective cleaning system that is actually up and running in Baltimore’s Jones Falls River. The idea is to have one of these on the Miami River, cleaning up its waters and hopefully reducing its already high percentage of pollution. After speaking with Ombretta Agro, the curator of the show, she mentioned that there will be talks with the city representatives to incorporate Mr. Trash Wheel into the Miami River.

The following piece is Gustavo Oviedo’s selection of around 50 beautiful illustrated postcards from the 1900’s, mixed with current photos the artist took from different areas around of the river. They conform a platform for comparisons between the past and present. A documentation of its bridges, fishermen and diverse locations. Gustavo’s second piece is related to the Tequesta sediments found around the banks at the mouth of the river on Biscayne Bay.

Xavier Cortada’s three digital prints gives us a microscopic look, as if DNA marks of origin. The marks used are from his investigation of diatoms, microalgae that is single-celled. These algae are used to look at the fluctuations of the quality of water throughout time. They also suggest the starting point, Miami’s history and its creation. The titles for the prints set the timeframe: “Just Below the Surface 1566 (Pedro Menendez de Aviles lands on the north bank of the Miami River)" “Just below the surface 1896 (The Incorporation of the City of Miami)” and "Just below the surface 1915 (The Founding of Miami Beach).”

Next to Xavier’s artworks, we are transported back to the present with two videos by Barbara Bollini Roca. The first large screen video encapsulates a day at work with three fishermen on a commercial boat. The lobsters that are obtained get shipped to China or sold at local fish markets. The artist’s idea was to document life around the river, while portraying its natural beauty. A second video portrayed on a smaller monitor, shows parts of the non-stop bustling activity on and around the river -- fisheries, parks, outdoor public pool, sports complex, restaurants, gyms, cargo ships, boats, bridges that open or close. All from an aerial view of the Miami River.

By the end of the room, a bright blue background display, calls our attention. Once you get closer you can find snippets of different images and writings that are connected by needles and threads telling a story. In order to find out what each image relates to, there is a sheet of paper on a clip board on the wall to guide us through the installation of Laurencia Strauss. We start to understand the meaning and relation of the images to the underground water system around the river.

This exhibit, shows the river in many layers and how it progressively evolves, ever changing. By knowing its history and showing our care and respect for the Miami River, we can better take care of its environment, pollution, while being more aware of the surroundings where we live in.

About Meditative Walks in Nature - April 2018

Meditation Walk - Weird Miami BFI tours - with Nicole Salcedo and Monica Uscerowski


It is a perfect cool Spring morning in magical Easter/Pesaj weekend. We are all sitting, picnic style with blankets, under a big majestic Ceoaba tree. It is the end of the tour and Nicole suggests that we visually choose a leaf from the tree and start trailing it, slowly, from the leaf to the stem to the branch to the next larger branch. We are following the forms of the tree, its structure, all the way to the core, then its roots imagined deep underneath the ground. We also got to pick a special object on our trail to make an offering to the water at the pond. I found a white dried snail’s shell, others found fruits, flowers, branches and even a barley twig. 

We are at a trail right across from the Fairchild Gardens, in South Miami. The tour which is part of Weird Miami BFI tours (Bas Fisher International), is led by artists Nicole Salcedo and Monica Uscerowski. 

We got to be silent, open our ears and eyes, learn some geography -- the coral stone and limestone that has lied for some thousands of years underneath our living grounds; breath in and out, all while experiencing a meditative walking session. Nicole and Monica explain that this type of experience is called Forest Therapy in Japan. “Forest Therapy, is a research-based practice supporting the healing of individuals through the immersion in forests. The name taken from the Japanese art of Shin-rin-yoku which translates to Forest Bathing.” 1 


Nicole Salcedo’s work stems and is an integral part of her love and knowledge about plants. Most impressive is the way she can draw from and connect with nature. These elements are seen when she creates her own forestry like human creatures in the middle of her jungle drawings. Giving us the sense that we are part of the environment and that we are only animals in disguise, trying to hide from our natural essence as common beings. 

Let’s ask Nicole what she is working on these days? 

The nature walk and book with Weird Miami that you attended! I’m also working on pieces for some upcoming shows this year. 

Tell us more about your practice? 

I meditate in silence as much as I can, I read a lot, spend a lot of time in solitude and go out in nature as much as I can. 

I have recently wanted to incorporate meditation with others into my practice, through guided meditations (preferably out in nature). I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about God/Love (the all-encompassing energy that is a part of everything and everyone). I think about how I can evolve myself and my work to become a channel for this energy. I feel like I have been doing this all of my life (whether I was aware of it or not). 

Do you perform a ritual before you work? 

I like to organize my studio and get my materials ready before I work. 

What is your main medium, your techniques and what is your process to make an artwork? 

I like to work mainly in graphite or oil stick (on paper). I do have an interest in using natural materials that I have foraged (like plants, natural dyes, burn wood), but I still have more experiments to do with that stuff. 

When I create a drawing, I spend a lot of time waiting for an image to form in my mind. Sometimes it comes in very quick flashes and grows into something more solid as I continue to read and search for things and images that feel connected to what I was shown. 

I like to use patterns and meditative mark making in my work. 

Do you have in mind the spectator, if so, is there something you want to make them feel or think? Or what do you hope to achieve through your work? 

My hope is that people feel a sense of connection to divine energy when they view my work, or at the very least taste of peace. 

How often are your walks in nature? 

You attended the first official one! 

How much is your artwork related to your life, your interests, values and concerns? 

It is completely related to my life, the way I feel, how I am interpreting my reality. My work evolves as my spirit and mind keep growing. 

Do you feel a line of connection between your pieces, for example between your first ones and the ones you are working on now? 

I have always had an interest in the spiritual/ethereal parts of life ever since I was a child. That subject has seemed to always be a constant in my work, whether it is obvious or not. 

Name some of your favorite artists. 

Ana Mendieta, Hieronymous Bosch, Manuel Mendive 

Interview by Barbara Bollini Roca


ARC - Art and research center - Part 1

July, 2017.

The general topic of discussion at the ARC seminar on July 2017, was the urgent Miami sea level rise, the Anthropocene, where we stand and how can we act as an artist, curator, institution to take steps towards helping humans survive this possible extinction crisis we are facing. How can the human race improve and stop and try and reverse the damages done, before the point of no return?  

The Miccosukee activist Reverend Houston Cypress gave us a detailed comprehension of the Everglades waterways and some of the ongoing problems: high levels of mercury in the water and an uneven wave of over flooding and dryness in their land in the Everglades. They also took us on an airboat tour ride into their reservation area. We saw what an apple tree in the Everglades looks like,  giant crickets by the hundreds, plenty mosquitoes bites and some domesticated alligators. And left us with the quest for stillnes, harmony and a better, less destructive form of living. 

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Poem by Brooke McNamara

Stop with me


Stop.  Stop working.  Stop trying to stop working.  

Stop trying.  Stop being lazy.  Stop searching for meaning.  

Stop landing anywhere.  Stop acting confused.  Stop.


Stop locking up your mysteries.  Let me in.  Stop rearranging the surface features of your life.  Stop thinking deep is deep.  Stop thinking blood is red.  Stop hoarding the blood-red wisdom unborn in you.


There’s got to be a better way.  Do you love me?  Stop

loving me.  Stop unloving me.  Stop tearing me apart.  

Stop with me.  Let’s stop together.  Six seconds.  Ready.  Set.  Stop.


Now let’s stop together forever, 


and let the stopping go.