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  • Writer's pictureBianca M Gonzalez

Home is where the art is

Powerhouse couple, Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz are one of Miami’s most prominent and successful art collectors. For the last twenty-five years, the couple has opened their Key Biscayne residence for public viewing. With an extensive art collection expanding over 15,000 square feet, the couple decided it was time to open a separate art facility to accommodate the remainder of their work. Rosa, refuses to count the number of works the couple owns, speaks on the new space, “For many years, we have opened our home to art lovers interested in viewing the collection. Our space in the Design District has that same feeling; the only difference is that the new space is open five days a week and seeing the collection at our home is limited by appointment only.”[1] Opening on the eve of Art Basel Miami Beach 2009, the enormous three-story, 30,000 square feet public structure would inevitably become one of Miami’s most important art institutions.

The de la Cruz Contemporary Art Space contains only a third of the couples’ art collection and incudes works by emerging American and Latin American artists. The de la Cruzes arrange their art space in accordance with the artist’s oeuvre. The first floor is dedicated to American artists working in different mediums. Mark Bradford, a Los Angeles based painter incorporates elements of urban landscape and assemblage art to create his large-scale city grids. Another Los Angeles based artist, Thomas Houseago created two life-size sculptures that resemble the work of cubist master Pablo Picasso and neo-pop icon Keith Haring. Many of the artists featured on the first floor have adopted a pop art aesthetic to their work.

As we know, the art of today was built on advertisement and consumerism. These artists have incorporated a new spin by using technology to create works of art. For example, Wade Guyton used a forty-four-inch Epson printer to create his six panel vertical painting, his purposeful misuse of tools to make paintings and drawings result in beautiful chances. A project room was also implemented to the collection, which is normally reserved for Miami-based artists. Currently, the project room is hosting work by Alfredo Jarr, which documents Christopher Columbus’ second journey to the West Indies in 1493. The second floor of the collection includes an indoor sculpture garden with works by leading American artists Isa Genzken, Rachel Harrison and Aaron Curry. These artists emulate the work of Marcel Duchamp and Alexander Calder by creating their approach to ready-made sculptures. This floor also includes a video installation by Seth Price, entitled “Spills”, which features artists Richard Serra and Robert Smithson discussing current issues referring to the art market. The third floor contains the permanent collection and is perhaps the most emotional room of them all. The artists featured on this floor were close and personal friends of the de la Cruzes. The works of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jim Hodges, Wifredo Lam, Ana Mendieta and Gabriel Orozco are an integral part of the history of the collection. Using materials such as candy, wood, paper, lights, silk flowers, dirt and marble, these artists introduce the natural world into the space. The cohesive elements in the collection are influenced by leading issues presented in past art historical movements. A movement where addressing social, political, and metaphysical elements into a work of art is what unites these artists.

The overall collection space includes approximately 130 works of art by some of the most important Latin American artists, as well as new and emerging artists. The couple began collecting art in the early 1980s by acquiring works from Latin American and German artists. Today, the collections primary focus is on American and Latin American contemporary art. When the couple decided to open their contemporary art space in 2009, they worked as a team to organize and exhibit the corresponding works. They purchased the works directly from the galleries and regularly visited the artists’ studio in order to form long-lasting relationships. The couple’s approach to buying art is similar to that of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, “They passionately collect some artists, and they collect them from the beginning, before the gallery or critical interest.”[2] In the large schematics of the art world, the de la Cruz collection is a leading example on how to collect works of art. The de la Cruzes do not use art consultants or advisors, “we always consult each other. We look at the collection, and we buy works that we think will enhance it. We don’t buy on impulse. We are not buying just to accumulate. Our collection has a strong spiritual side."[3] The couple is involved deeply in the intellectual aspects of the art scene. They are fully informed on their tastes and what they feel is worth supporting. Mutually, establishing a relationship with artists and sharing a connection to the work was and still is the most important element to collecting for both the Vogels and de la Cruzes.

Rosa is actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the collection space. She visits the collection daily to greet visitors and collectors interested in the process and methods of collecting art. Works that do not fit in the vision of the collection have been de-accessioned to auction houses, when appropriate, or remain in a private storage facility. The collection rotates twice a year, once in April and again in October before Art Basel Miami Beach.

The integration of the new contemporary art space from their private home sets them apart from other collectors. The couple has implemented a series of projects to the new art space, including a residency program which invites artists to work and display their art to the public. The couple started several scholarship and travel programs for art students of Miami’s Design and Architecture Senior High and New World School of the Arts, which provide students the opportunity to travel to important art hubs, such as New York and Berlin. “In Berlin we organized visits to museums, monuments, and artists’ studios -- Jonathan Meese welcomed them to his studio,”[4] says Rosa de la Cruz about the trip, which was made possible through a matching grant from the Knight Foundation.

The collection space is open to the public and does not charge admission. Rosa states, “I don’t believe in charging for art. I don’t charge people to come to my house… I feel that art is part of the patrimony of a nation and private collections should be accessible to the public in general.”[5] The development of the art space was a great way to convert their private home collection to a more publicly engaged location. It provided the de la Cruzes with the opportunity to expand their vision of educating the public on the importance of arts and culture. They also help develop Miami’s art scene by funding museum purchases and exhibitions.

In 2012, Rosa was acknowledged for her trailblazing efforts to fulfill the city’s gap of art with a special award—the first ever—from Design Miami/. The “Veuve Clicquot Tribute to Inspiring Women” honor couldn’t have been bestowed upon a more deserving individual.[6]

The de la Cruz Contemporary Art Space is one of Miami’s premier privately owned art collections. Each year the couple rotates the collection after recent purchases, which in turn keeps the collection fresh and exciting for new and returning visitors. With the collection, the de la Cruz couple has created their own unique form of community service. The future of the collection seems prosperous to the community of Miami, the city needs cultural institutions to educate and enlighten the public and the de la Cruzes have done exactly that. Rosa and Carlos are trendsetters in the art world, collectors take notice to what they are buying and begin purchasing similar works, which inevitably helps stabilize the art market. Overall, the collection is cohesive and includes some of the most important art of the 20th century. When viewed as a whole, the collection represents an important and purposeful educational source to those not familiar with contemporary art.

Carlos Alfonso, Dancer, 1991

Works by Wade Guyton and Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Various photographs of performance artist, Ana Mendieta

[1] Delgado, Alexandra. “Painting the Town – Rosa De La Cruz.” Haute Living 07 Aug. 2012 [2] Martin, Douglas. “Herbert Vogel, Fabled Art Collector, Dies at 89.” The New York Times 23 July 2012 [3] Douglas, Sarah. “Conversations with Rosa de la Cruz.” ArtInfo 12 Dec. 2008 [4]Taschida, Anne. “Going Public.” Biscayne Times Dec 2011 [5] Martin, 2012 [6] Delgado, 2012

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