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.