Art, Article, Blog, Culture, Fashion, Video, Video Production

Find Your Bliss, ‘Queen of Lincoln Road’ Style


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The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU celebrates Irene Williams’ life

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Picture it: South Beach, year 2000.  Photographer of the stars, royalty and other notable and notorious figures alike. Annie Leibovitz, pointed her lens at a different sort of individual–a four-foot-tall, 83-year-old Jewish woman wearing only a beach towel, in the middle of Lincoln Road.

This might not have been so unusual, perhaps – it is the Beach after all, and vibrant figures abound.  Had the exclusive Pierre Cardin beach towels not been meticulously cut, stitched and hemmed by hand and intuitively transformed into a head-to-toe Chanel-esque outfit, purse included, the shoot may not have happened at all.

The tiny spitfire, Irene Williams, stood staunchly in front of an Art Deco-style building – the color of the building matching the blue in Williams’ outfit – and waited for Leibovitz to take her picture. The result is that of a quintessential Williams, as one would come to know her through close friend, designer and filmmaker, Eric Smith: stout, succinct and fiercely expressive.

“Irene called me up, and she said Eric, have you ever heard of an Annie Leibovitz,” Smith said. “I said, Yeah, why?  She said, well, she stopped me on Lincoln Road and she’s doing something for a magazine and she wants to photograph me.  I said, Irene, call her back and do it.”

According to Smith, who documented their blooming friendship in the ‘90s via handheld camcorder, the self-made fashionista was proud of herself: she negotiated a fee in exchange for the session – a day’s earnings as a professional stenographer and public notary, or as she once referred to herself, “a call girl with a typewriter.”

The photo, however, would never make it to mainstream publication that year.

South Beach, year 2017. Smith has a story to tell. His 12-time award-winning documentary on Irene – The Queen of Lincoln Road – and her custom creations are now on display at the Jewish Museum of Florida FIU. Tailored from the most unconventional materials, like bath mats, toilet seat covers, scarves and as mentioned above, towels, a small fraction of her hat collection (32 hats) have become part of the museum’s permanent collection.  Also included are some of her personal letters and historic photographs.

“You know it’s like a fungus in my apartment,” Williams said in 1995, during a tea outing with Smith. “Pretty soon I’ll have to move out, take a hotel room, go back and visit my hats.”

The crowd on opening day responds with laughter, watching the fragile but “tough as an ox” – as Smith would describe her in that same conversation – on screen.

“There are hats all over the place,” she said.  “Eric, you know how much time I put in making a hat?  Sometimes 10, 12, 15 hours.  There’s a lot of detailed work.  This is so professional that I could sell it right off of my head if I wanted.”

Some of her hats were saved after a family member purged her belongings after Williams’ death in 2004.  This year, she would have turned 100.

Smith, who considers Williams “a kindred spirit,” is here to ensure her legacy continues.

“There are other Irene’s all around us,” Smith said, speaking directly to students.  “As young people, take out your cameras, and your phone, and find them, record them, preserve them, put them out there.”

Those in the crowd who overheard Smith, in an act reminiscent of the Grecian choruses of yesteryear, agree emphatically.

“When I first made this [documentary], there really wasn’t the Internet to even put this material out there, so you have great technology,” Smith said.  “Use it to meet people.  If it sparks one person to kind of say, hey, this makes a difference.  This does something to me,” Smith said.

Susan Gladstone, who was recently inducted as director of the museum, agrees.

“I think one of the things that’s so extraordinary about this story is that Eric Smith stopped to speak to a woman on the street. Many people watched her walk by, but they didn’t stop to speak to her,” Gladstone said. “I think that may be true of many people who are perhaps a little different than those around them and he took the time to find out who is the person behind the look, and there he found a delightful woman with whom he developed an unbelievable friendship.”

Every weekday, Williams would come out of her apartment —sometimes dressed in pink if her mood was poor— and by the time she walked from one end of Lincoln Road to Madison Avenue where her office was located, her spirits were lifted. This stretch of road was her personal catwalk, and her fashion became a tourist attraction all its own

“They know I’m wonderful,” Williams said to Smith in a tongue-in-cheek manner in the documentary.  That day, she wore a green and purple ensemble that as per usual, drew the attention of many.

Williams’ personal taste and fashion have echoed through the years.  Isabel Bernfeld Anderson and George Neary, local hat designers whose work are also featured at the exhibition, sparkle on opening night.

Anderson, who dressed in American flag printed windbreaker, jacket and hat, knew and admired Williams from afar.  Her hat designs share similar aesthetics to Williams’, and Neary’s as well.

Jacqueline Goldstein, curator of the exhibit, is fond of the vivacity of the designs, and of Williams herself.  Goldstein decided on a pearly-white and black tuxedo suit over a ruffled white shirt – and a black top hat as a finishing touch.

“It’s so fun,” Goldstein said of the exhibit.  “It’s high time we do something fun and colorful and light.”

Of Irene’s personal letters on display, Goldstein explained that she wrote letters to any company she felt she had suffered an injustice — from Betsey Johnson, the fashion designer, to RCA, to Atlantic cruise lines, to Woolworth, to Burdines.

Among its various goals, the Jewish Museum of Florida FIU’s desire is to highlight the Jewish immigrant experience, however, Gladstone encourages students to visit the Museum to learn more about how the “immigrant experience is common among many, many cultures.”

Apart from “The Queen of Lincoln Road” exhibit, the Museum is also showcasing the “Evil: A Matter of Intent” exhibit, in utterly (dark) contrast to the flair and verve of the former.

Vanessa Marie, actress and filmmaker who was invited by a friend to the exhibition and who had never heard of Williams, is stirred by this juxtaposition.

“It’s incredible to see not only the cherished lineage between all the generations that have been coming from different countries to Miami, and which have been documented here,” she said.  “But also exposing the crimes of hatred around the world in the other exhibition in the other room.  I was very touched by that.”

Williams had a passion and it was displayed through her work. She believed that everyone had the ability to apply themselves to whatever they wanted to accomplish in life.

Article, Blog, Business, Social Media

Food Apps: A New Way of Consumption for Millennials


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Food Apps creating a new way of consumption for millennials

Although there are hundreds of restaurants located within a few square miles from any given residential area in Miami, millennials (those born between the early 1980s and 1996) are increasingly resorting to takeout via delivery apps, like UberEats and Postmates, among others.  One out of five millennials orders takeout five times a week according to a recent article by USAToday, spending 44 percent of their food budget on eating out. This according to the Food Institute’s analysis of the United States Department of Agriculture’s food expenditure data from 2014. That’s about four percent lower than the Baby Boomer generation.

People are no longer just limiting their delivery experience on pizza. With the help of technology, millennials have access to a larger array of restaurants.  Near the Modesto Maidique Campus, new restaurant choices have cropped up, such as Charley’s, Sushi 2 Mee, Killer Melts and PDQ, all popular choices for students. Although these delivery apps take a huge cut from the restaurant bills, which is about 30 percent, the variety of restaurants on these apps continue to grow as they expand to new markets worldwide.

The app Postmates provides more services with the option of delivering clothing, beauty products, office supplies and even flowers, revolutionizing lives by creating a faster and more efficient way of consuming products. Apart from the apps’ appeal to millennials of convenience over food savings, it is also an attractive option for college-aged job seekers, according to one such student, Gisela Rosende, a freshman majoring in communications and a delivery person for Postmates.

“I’d have to say that the best part of this job is definitely the flexibility,”  said Rosende.

Rosende explains that when working for Postmates, one creates their own schedule. Technology makes accepting and declining jobs easier.  In the app, the driver swipes on when they can make the delivery, and they swipe off when they are unavailable.  

“I would recommend this job for college students because you can work around your own schedule and one time I got a two dollar tip. Another time I got a fifteen dollar tip. It all depends, but it makes pretty good money,” said Rosende. “I had an order that wanted me to go on a Target run and I got baseball bats and ping pong balls for a kid’s birthday party.”

Postmates allows users to make special requests, and sometimes the request can be a little odd, explains Rosende. One time, someone asked her to bring the food into the house and go upstairs and into his kitchen to drop off the food. The customer was nowhere to be found. She walked herself out.

“The downfalls of working for this company are the lines are long sometimes when ordering the food and many times the navigation on the app is bad, but I do enjoy driving around listening to music. Also it’s easy, to say the least,” said Alex Seely, a junior majoring in information technology who works as a driver for UberEATS.

Postmates most recently executed 500,000 deliveries in 10 weeks. That is 50,000 per week or an average of 7,143 per day. College students make up a large percentage of these orders. Aubrey Haggard is a freshman at FIU, majoring in chemistry who orders Postmates on a weekly basis.

“I like food a lot, and it’s convenient for me to order since I don’t have a car while living here on campus. My favorite thing to order is the chicken caesar wrap from Pollo Tropical,” Haggard said. “The only bad experience I’ve had with Postmates is that the driver couldn’t find me, so I had to walk all around campus late at night in hopes of trying to find my delivery guy.”

It’s a growing trend especially with the onset of mobile technology. A recent DMI Research consumer study of 2,500 diners found that at least 63 percent millennials have at least one quick-service app on their phones and 35 percent use their mobile app every time they visit a restaurant.  When it comes to food, the evidence proves that delivery service apps are creating a new way of consumption.

Article, Blog, Creative writing, Culture, Social Media

Haunted Halls and Door Knobs


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PantherFRIGHT: Door knobs and haunted halls

True story as told to the writer by Stephanie Cruz, former Miami resident.

This is a story that took place in one of my childhood homes.  During the first 15 years of my life, my family and I moved around to various places around Miami before eventually leaving town and settling where I’m writing this story from: Louisville, KY.  But Miami left a deep impression in my psyche, partly because of that one place that I will never forget.

Just a few miles west of Dolphin Mall and south of the train tracks, behind a deeply wooded area, was a beige little house with bean-colored Spanish roof tiles.

“Cozy” is the word that comes to mind judging it strictly by aesthetics.  It was surrounded by a white, pretty-ish metal gate and a concrete garden. To its immediate north was a back road, just north of that were the train tracks.  

There were rumors that the houses in the new subdivision of Shoma Homes were built over sacred Native American burial grounds. Looking at it from the outside, there seemed to be nothing sacred about the area.

It was just your same-old, run-of-the-mill Miami neighborhood, cookie cutter homes lined up in perfect symmetry to one another with the occasional Cuban island shaped mailbox to spice things up if only a little.  

The wooded area just beyond the tracks seemed pretty mystical to my teenage self. When we first moved in, I made a mental note to explore it one day.  As frustrated as I wanted to feel about yet another move, my parents’ and siblings’ enthusiasm was palpable and dare I say, contagious. We were the home’s first inhabitants.

Or so we thought.  

I’ve watched enough “Paranormal Activity” and “Paranormal Witness” to know that hauntings never start off in a noticeable way.  On the contrary, hauntings start off small, imperceptible little happenings that just don’t seem to add up.  

“Tricks of the imagination,” you tell yourself. “Quit the overthinking, end the tomfoolery once and for all.”

With the house being brand new, it didn’t settle too loudly at night, and it seemed only natural that the footsteps in the attic or the claws scratching at the patio door had something to do with the walls stretching and contracting against a relentless summer heat and a cool night breeze.  

We attributed the time a glass cup exploded on the kitchen counter to the momentous pressure from the train whizzing by just a few yards away.  

My brothers and I – I was the youngest of six and the sole girl – blamed the other for the occasional spooks.  We were a bunch of pranksters; the one who felt actual fear would be the loser. We lived for it.  

One day, I was hanging out in the hallway, sitting Indian-style on the floor just outside my bedroom.  The garage door, that lead to my brother’s recently converted room, was just within reach.  Two of my brothers, Alberto and Mario, were home. The house was nearly prankster-less.

The phone rang from inside the garage.  I heard someone picking it up, which was strange, because no one was in the garage at the time.  As I reluctantly pulled myself off the floor and put my ear against the door, the door knob started to shake. It simply did not stop shaking. I tried opening the door, but it was locked.

It was enough to startle me, especially with the uncontrollable door knob shaking. The only other way of getting into the garage was through my parents’ closet, through the attic and down into the garage.  I tried to enlist Alberto’s help, but he was preoccupied with watching “Fresh Prince” on my parents’ bed.

By the time I got back to the hallway, everything was normal.  I thought perhaps my own hand had caused the shaking, because I was the loser who felt fear.

Opting for a nap, I retreated back into my room, closing the door behind me for privacy from my bratty brothers.

But something felt off. The room was dark and I felt uneasy.  

My primal self wanted my mother to come home, so I decided to walk back out to phone her.  As I rotated the knob in my hand, something on the other side grabbed it, effectively keeping the door shut.

My brother Mario had a tendency to lock me in my room and hold the door shut, for giggles, he said. As I struggled with the knob, I decided to give Mario an earful.

“Mario, let go of the door, or else!” I screamed, my colors and indignation rising.

Thirty seconds of full on struggling later, the knob finally gave way.  Angrily, I stormed into the hall and could see my brothers standing at end of the hallway, their olive complexions a lighter shade of green.

“Is this funny to you?” I charged at them, shaking against my better judgment.

“I promise, Steph,” Mario said. “I didn’t touch your door.”

Alberto looked at me with a soulless look in his eyes and told me what happened.  They had seen the struggle, but couldn’t get near the door.  Something invisible blocked them.

When faced with the dual options of fight or flight, we chose flight.  We three scrambled over each other, shoving and elbowing the other until we were in the relative safety of the white pretty-ish metal gate. We waited until my mom and the rest of the family arrived, and told the story in a feverish pitch.  My brothers, I noticed, had not quite recovered from their sick complexion.

After a few more hauntings – heightened sleep paralysis and a general sense of an inexplicable unwelcoming presence – my parents decided to call a “babalao” (a priest, meaning “father of the mysteries” in the Yoruba language) to spiritually cleanse the house and its terrestrial inhabitants.

Although the weird occurrences ended the day the babalaos left, we still couldn’t shake off the feeling that we were utterly, utterly not welcomed. I still dream about that room, that hallway, that house and that wooded area, the latter of which, in my dreams, have thousands of eyes that watch, and never sleep.

Art, Article, Blog, Creative writing, Culture

A Nicaraguan ghost tale


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PantherFRIGHT: A Nicaraguan ghost tale

Based on Maritza Viquez’s childhood experience.  Viquez is an FIU alumni.  She graduated with her Bachelor’s in elementary education and her Master’s in reading.

From birth, Nicaraguan children hear stories from parents, grandparents, aunts and anyone staying the night, right before bedtime, that tell tales from far beyond the crypt.  It’s a tradition seeped deeply into the culture, as a way to fright, scare, numb the wet-behind-the-ears into submission, to be good little boys and girls…or else.  Impressionable as they are, with malleable, over-imaginative minds and a great respect for the monsters that go bump in the night, they listen, unmoving, and they are sent off to bed with enough nightmarish fodder for weeks, nay, years to come.  Beds draped with mosquito nets, keeping the critters at bay, the elder usher them into their beds at night, but they do not tuck them in.  The young walk on their own down hallways shaped by rock, clay and sand centuries ago, when the Spanish laid down their treasures here, and started these stories mixed with those from the indigenous.

One such night, an eight-year-old, sandy-brown haired, green-eyed girl, Maritza Del Carmen, heard one such story.  She was not alone; she was with cousins and her elder sister by a year, Ana Maria.  Maritza cannot quite remember the story, but she remembers how it haunted her back to her grandmother’s bed, where the cousins where staying the night.  

There were two great rooms, connecting by a Jack-and-Jill bathroom.  In this her grandmother’s room were two great beds, and along with her sister, they fell asleep soundly, with the rest of the family.

In the middle of the night, as it were, Maritza got the urge to use the restroom.  The sound of the faucet running awoke her, and pushing the mosquito net aside, saw that her cousin, Johana, had beat her to the bathroom.

Johana wore green pajamas, her long, black, silken hair falling straight down her back.  

“Johana,” Maritza called to her cousin.

Johana did not respond.

“Johana?” Maritza called again.

Johana did not respond.

A chill cold as the arctic crawled down her back and Maritza knew, somehow, that this was not her cousin.  She retreated back behind the net and covered her little head with the covers, willing herself forcefully to fall back into sleep, along with her bladder.

With morning came safety.  Maritza walked out to the breakfast table where some of the family had already congregated.

Johana was already at the breakfast table, digging into her plate of food.

“Johana?” Maritza said.

“Mm?” Johana responded.

“Why didn’t you turn around when I called out to you last night in the bathroom?” Maritza asked.

“Huh?” Johana responded, perplexed.  “I didn’t use the bathroom last night.”

To this day, Johana promises it was not her; she didn’t get up to use that bathroom that particular night.

Who did Maritza see that night, or is the more appropriate question: what did she see?

Article, Blog, Business, Digital Content Marketing, Social Media, Video, Video Production

Livestreaming Killed the TV Star


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Livestreaming Killed the TV Star: FIU alums’ company rides streaming wave

It is a hacker’s Mission Space Center.

A vast space of keyboards, monitors and consoles – displaying cosmic measures of data within graphs, charts and an infinite number of web browser tabs –  sits next to a collection of tinkered down cameras, tripods, backdrops and other audio-visual paraphernalia.  

From the 22-ft high ceiling, a white photo-backdrop rolls down the wall.  Apart from color, it is visually no different from a celebrity red carpet.  Two Wall-E like light contraptions face each other at the bottom, flanking the backdrop.  Missing is the thing-to-be-photographed.  Blue LED lights pulse softly beneath keyboards.  

In the corner is a rendering of a rocket ship shooting upward, soaring through the stars: the logo of StreamingBundles, a Miami-based tech startup company that wants to connect people and companies to the future via online streaming, using the power of social media.  

Daniel Zambrano and his older brother, Felipe, are the young entrepreneurs behind StreamingBundles. Both are FIU graduates; Daniel double-majored in finance and international business and Felipe in international business and management. Felipe was Daniel’s first evangelist and partner once the younger Zambrano sold him on the potential of a company that helps businesses and individuals use social media platforms as a way to communicate effectively with target audiences.  

“I was not aware of how important this could be, to drive social media and how social media can drive sales and how to generate more awareness and strengthen the product branding,” said Felipe Zambrano. “How do you compete with a larger scale company that’s been in business for 20, 30 years?  Well, now the advantage is that technology is able to level that playing field and we’re able to promote ourselves effectively.”

The brothers found that by 2018, over 80 percent of content consumed by mobile devices will be some sort of streaming video, with the fragmentation of the traditional media markets.  With the acquisition of Twitch by Amazon, in a huge bidding war with Google where the former won the platform with a purchase price just shy of a billion dollars, the global behemoth will provide the video gaming platform with a colossal financial backing, a massive indicator that companies are acting upon the next wave of entertainment media.

The Zambranos decided to ride the wave and facilitate users, whether these are businesses or individuals, to create online media through various media such as video and podcasting.  

Daniel, who heads up Business Development, successfully recruited a Finnish gamer, whose gamertag is “PeteMoo,” as brand ambassador.  PeteMoo is best known among a certain group of gamers as “the most f—— insane ‘For Honor’ player” anyone has ever seen.  “For Honor” is an online game that pits Vikings, Samurais and Knights against each other on a medieval cyber battlefield.  Petemoo, whose real name is Pietari Jukarainen, livestreamed his gaming via Twitch after coming on board with StreamingBundles, because his followers can enjoy Jukarainen’s gaming even when he’s not online. The livestreams are recorded and available for viewing at any time his audience desires.  

With over 16 million viewers tuning into Twitch every day in just the U.S., it holds more viewership than major television networks. Jukarainen’s gaming will receive exposure from larger audiences given the flexibility of viewing-at-leisure that Twitch provides.

“It used to be that American households would come home and they would tune in to the same TV shows,” Daniel said. “They would talk about it the next day at the water cooler, or with their friends.  We were all watching the same TV shows, and then with the advent of streaming, now that you can have everything on demand, well, you really don’t have to do that anymore.”

StreamingBundles’ product offerings center around three main categories: online videos, live streaming (live broadcasts) and podcasts (on demand radio shows that you can download), targeting three levels of budget sensitivity, from entry level to higher-end if the budget is bounteous. “Good, Better, Best” is the way the younger Zambrano describes it.

“We’re not Amazon,” Daniel said.  “We’re not going to offer every product under the sun.  We found out what the top streamers and YouTubers are actually using and we went ahead and evaluated these products to bring in what we think is the best value for the buck.  Period.”

Alejandro Arrieta, phD, an FIU assistant professor who specializes in health policy and management at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, met the Zambranos at eMerge Americas earlier this year, where the latter had a booth.  They had just made the semi-finals at University of Miami’s startup competition, earning accolades for their business idea.  Learning that Arrieta needed assistance in communicating with medical professionals throughout remote locations in Latin America, they set up a discovery meeting.  http://panthernow.fiu.edu/wp-admin/profile.php

At the discovery meetings, that Felipe explains is set up to explore how the company can tailor production services to the client’s specific needs, Daniel showed Arrieta a lightweight cell phone tripod that helps with stability.  The professor tinkered with it, noting that it would be useful for the upcoming training sessions.

“We can basically show you and take you from plugging in every single cable, configuring everything, to uploading your first video, your first livestream,” said Daniel.  “You can feel confident that these packages are going to basically get you doing what you need and over time you’re going to improve, but the learning curve, the struggle to push yourself to start doing something creative, we’re going to make that as painless as possible.”  

Arrieta also asked for assistance in using his new, high-ticketed DSLR camera, to which the brothers explained how it can best be used.

“We have our experience of doing Facebook Live,” said Arrieta.  “But the quality wasn’t the best.  Now I found out this is probably the best way to improve the quality of our program, and that’s what we need now, to find the right equipment.”

Other companies that have jumped on the social media bandwagon are traditional large-scale business-to-business companies likes Caterpillar and Deloitte, who surprisingly have many followers on their social media platforms.

“Deloitte [has] over 1,200 videos,” said Felipe. “I think audiences now are more educated.  They expect to get more information.  They expect to have a closer relationship to you and you can do that through social media.”

To the brothers, the time is now more than ever with competition from large media companies mounting.  For example, rumors abound that Universal Studios wants to push ‘The Rock’ to create YouTube content. StreamingBundles hopes to encourage future streamers to not be swayed by the huge media company competition.  Having endless financial resources does not equal online success, they point out.

They have seen channels that are remarkably clever and simple that are successful online, with millions of view and followers.

“It’s David versus Goliath,” Daniel said.  “The Davids are winning online.”

Art, Article, Blog, Business, Culture, Music

Monad Studio Presents 3-D Printed Instrument Exhibition


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3-D printed instrument exhibition displays digital innovation in design

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By design alone, these are the instruments of the future.  One resembles a violin, the other a cello and yet another, an electric guitar, except they have been redesigned, or rather reimagined, to look like a cosmic orchestra’s instrument from “The Fifth Element” or perhaps even from a galaxy farther away than “Star Wars.”

Three musicians sit in a semicircle with their instruments, connected to amps if the instrument requires it, and with an overhead chandelier that pulsates to the exact rhythm of the musicians’ strums.  Everyone at the main exhibition hall at the Jewish Museum of FL-FIU huddle together in a half crescent moon around the players, some straining their necks to get a firsthand view of the orchestra tuning their starry devices.

Musician plays one of Monad Studio’s violins printed using a 3 dimensional digital printer.

The ensuing notes are the musical embodiment of having one’s thoughts, emotions, pain, traumas and happiness delicately removed from the temple by an Elder Wand at the hand of a powerful wizard, or falling into a Pensieve – referring to a magical object from Harry Potter that allows the witch or wizard to review memories by simply dunking their heads in the stone basin.

It’s emotion on a string.  As they play, the chandelier plays too; sound emanates from the light structure.  It looks like a breath above the musicians’ heads.  The chandelier sculpture, called “La Cole,” is a sonic installation with a 3-Dimensional printed panels, meticulously fine-tuned and carefully installed by composer Jacob Sudol.

“It’s almost like painting with sound,” said Eric Goldemberg, principal designer and architect at Monad Studio.

Monad Studio, an architectural firm in Miami that specializes in 3-D printing and digital design as it relates to rhythm and spatial perception, came together with the Jewish Museum of FL-FIU to bring patrons the museum’s first installation of their latest concept, “Subject to Interpretation.”

It’s a departure from the museum’s previous exhibits, including their permanent exhibit “Mosaic: Jewish Life in Florida,” which celebrates the Jewish immigrant experience in Florida dating back to 1763 and until the present-day. A collaboration with the Miami Beach Urban Studios located a few blocks from the museum, on Lincoln Road and Washington, the museum’s director, Susan Gladstone, and Jackie Goldstein, the museum’s curator, wanted to set a new tone with exhibits that are according to Gladstone, “modern, fresh and new” and in doing so, carve out a place for the Jewish Museum in the 21st century.

To further suggest these instruments are magical by nature, they were created using 3-D printers, a technology that up until five years ago, cost about $50,000 to produce just one instrument of that size and dimension.  It has become more cost effective now, according to Goldemberg, who has worked with 3-D printers for at least five or six years along with wife and other principal designer and architect of Monad Studio, Veronica Zalcberg.

Goldemberg and Zalcberg co-authored a book, “Pulsation in Architecture,” that came about after the artists’ obsessions with digital printing and rhythm started to grow, said Goldemberg.  They also worked with musicians, and one in particular, Sudol, who composed the exhibit opening’s piece, takes this synergy between music and art to a new level.  He set up each and every panel on the sculpture “La Cole” and synthesized the music with the pulsation on the sculpture.  The music moves in waves across the panels.

The sculpture, La Cole, now at display at the Jewish Museum of FL-FIU, one of the focal paints of the latest exhibition. Photo courtesy of MONAD Studio.

The instruments are feathery light, although they appear to be heavy upon first glance with their metallic glean. Goldemberg picks up the violin and places it snugly beneath his chin, saying that these instruments actually take the musicians out of their comfort zones.

“Not only the form of it is provocative,” said Goldemberg. “But immediately, you see them [the musicians] smiling.  We’ve played in many places and completely different musicians with different backgrounds – classical musicians, rock musicians – and they all are puzzled by it at the beginning, but the more they play around with it, they end up loving the fact that it’s a new kind of toy.”

The creative minds behind Monad Studio have a direct connection with the Jewish Museum’s true mission.  They are Argentinean Jews who moved from Argentina to New York, and then to Miami, to pursue their studies and interests in architecture.   This migration and representation of community is embodied in “La Cole.”

“It represents all the many dimensions of the Argentinean Jewish community,” said Gladstone. “All communities are made up of many different sections, many different compartments, many different aspects and that’s part of the mission of this museum.  Although we represent the Jewish community, the experience of immigration [and] the experience that many Jewish people have had in the world is universal to many, many, many groups and therefore, this museum is relevant to many, many, many different groups.”

Gladstone and the Jewish Museum is inviting more artists like Zalcberg and Goldemberg to visit the museum’s space, to view the existing exhibits and come up with their own artistic interpretations through their own medium, whatever that may be.  For the museum’s next exhibit, Master’s of Fine Arts students will take center stage, their work to be on display next spring.

Article, Blog, Politics, Student Council

SGC-BBC’s Latest on Potential SGA Merge


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SGC-BBC provides ‘counteractive’ proposal for potential SGA merge

A new proposal counteracting the SGA Constitution Review Committee’s initial plan to merge the Student Government Councils at the Modesto Maidique and Biscayne Bay campuses was presented during the committee’s fourth meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5.  

The proposal, drafted by committee member and BBC Vice President Meredith Marseille, along with other senate members, deals directly with Article III: Legislative Branch of the Constitution and is meant to provide more BBC representation than the initial merger proposal.

“I think…from the BBC standpoint, what we’re hearing from our senators and our constituents is that they feel merging the two senates would lose BBC representation,” said Marseille.  “The proposal that I sent out was…something that would reflect a more equal representation for both of the senates.  If you look at Section VII in the proposal, it does mention…university-wide senate meetings and those would be composed of both SGA-MMC senate and SGA-BBC senate, and all senators shall be vested voting powers.”

Under the new proposal, senators from both campuses would meet during the last Monday of every month during fall, spring and summer semesters, alternating between both campuses, to discuss university-wide issues, according to Marseille.  Then, each senate would meet back at their own campus-specific senate meetings to discuss campus-specific issues.

This new proposal comes after BBC students voiced their concerns in previous meetings on how beneficial the merger would truly be for the BBC campus. Some BBC students even created an online petition to show their disagreement with the merge and, as the petition reads, to “send a message to the Vice President of Student Affairs at FIU.” The petition, titled “FIU VP of student affairs: Save FIU BBC campus from wrongful SGA Merger,” has collected over 350 signatures, as of the time of this article’s publication.  

The new proposal would also reduce the number of total MMC senators, something committee member and SGC-MMC President Krista Schmidt disagreed with. Decreasing the number of MMC senators despite MMC’s larger population would create unequal representation, according to Schmidt.

However, while Marseille said the MMC numbers are “flexible,” she believes decreasing the number of senate seats is reasonable, as each school, she said, should have no more than two or three senators – even for the larger schools such as Arts, Science and Education, and CARTA – “to do the duties of meeting with the dean and promoting that information from the dean to the college.”

Committee member and BBC President Leonardo Cosio partially agreed with Marseille’s proposal.

“I would prefer that we leave the numbers exactly as they are right now,” Cosio said. “Ultimately at that university-wide senate meeting, what our side and specifically some of our constituents are saying is that they don’t want a ⅔ majority automatically in the case that some of the university-wide senate seats would be elected for MMC students…we feel that if the numbers are currently the same, that 38 that [MMC] currently [has] would not achieve that ⅔ majority and we’re comfortable with that…I don’t think that’s unreasonable.  I think it’s doable.”

Nimeha Milien, a senior hospitality management major, who spoke to the committee during the allotted 30-minute question and answer period, prefers Marseille’s proposal over the original one.

“Having the unified executive branch and keeping the senate separate would help out, personally, to [ease] the transition,” said Milien.  “Maybe one year we could make it unified, but it’s always test and runs.  We can’t go from being completely two different groups to combining into one just like that when for 25 years, we have seen that the demographics and the numbers have shown that it has never been the same and never been a unified front, and I would like for us to have a unified front but, it takes time.  Baby steps.”

Schmidt, along with SGC-MMC Vice President Jose Sirven and SGC-MMC Chief Justice Cooper Eisinger, however, presented a united front, contending that BBC issues are MMC’s issues and vice versa.  

“I’m unequivocally opposed to two senates, off the bat,” said Eisinger, mentioning how long it would take to appoint positions not just in the cabinet but also the judicial branch.  “To me, it makes no sense having one executive, one judicial branch and then two senates.  That makes no sense.”

Sirven sided with Eisinger.  

“I think that everybody here knows the decision that they think it’s best for the university, and I think that prolonging that is a detriment to our students and a detriment to the process,” Sirven said.

The trio insisted on one student government body for all students, promising that it would be the most equitable distribution of power to represent FIU students, regardless of their default campus.

The meeting came at the heels of Larry Lunsford, vice president of Student Affairs, consenting to an extension of the approval process.  As Student Media previously reported, the committee’s original deadline was Friday, Dec. 8, but Cosio had plans to request an extension. The committee’s deadline has now been extended to Wednesday, Jan. 10, the first week of the spring 2018 semester.  However, this extension was met with dissent among the committee during the meeting, with some members noting that doing so would further exacerbate an existing issue: the ability for the student government to enact law.  

The entire committee, including the phone presence of Joshua Mandall, senator for the School of International and Public Affairs and the chairman of the Rules, Legislation and Judiciary Committee, were present at the meeting and about 20 BBC students were in attendance. During the meeting, the student government representatives also muscled their way through Articles III and IV of the FIU Student Government Association Constitution, updating it to provide a checks and balance system to the new position of one university-wide president and a proposed unified government.

The meetings are expected to continue but there are no final decisions yet as to what the new Student Government Association will be like.

Art, Article, Blog, Culture, Video

Summer Wanderlust at the Wolfsonian-FIU


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Summer Wanderlust at the Wolfsonian-FIU

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Fifteen Instagram photos inspired by road trips across America now hang at the lobby of the Wolfsonian-FIU, helping to legitimize Instagram as a platform for new and seasoned photographers.  With the collaboration of #JJ community, the largest online photography community on Instagram, these 15 photos stood out from over 7,000 submissions after the call went out to photographers on the social media site to hashtag their best pictures inspired by three categories: Road Trip, Signage and Classic.  Stirred by photojournalist Berenice Abbott’s June 1954 road trip along the East Coast United States, photographers from every walk of life tapped into their sense of wanderlust to submit their most poignant work.

The exhibit, called “The Long Road to Now: Digital Photos Inspired by Berenice Abbott’s Road Trip,” uncovered 15 talented photographers, from a grandmother trying out her hand at picture-taking to someone who was sightseeing in New York City and who hopped on a taxi past Radio City and shot something out of the cab window.  The Wolfsonian-FIU is also showcasing “North and South: Berenice Abbott’s U.S. Route 1,” a traveling exhibition from the Syracuse University Art Collection.

Documentarian Berenice Abbott set out in her car from Fort Kent, Maine, all the way to Key West, Florida, photographing 1950s America just as construction of the interstate highway system, Route 1, started.  She wanted to document the changing landscape of the eastern seaboard.  Now, 50 of the 2,400 of her black and white photographs are featured at the museum.

To tie in both exhibits for the public, Megan Floryan, head of marketing at the Wolfsonian, brainstormed on how to reach photographers to display work that speaks to the concept of road trips.  Her team found a similar project called “Mobile Photo Now” at the Columbus Museum of Art.  The museum partnered with #JJ community to pitch a photography challenge through social media and the response was overwhelming.  Likewise, the Wolfsonian decided to pitch the “Long Road to Now” challenge and brought together a pool of professionals and hobbyists whose work tell a story of adventure reminiscent to Abbott’s work from half a century ago.

Kevin Kuster, CEO and partner for the #JJ community on Instagram, and a community of over 600,000 followers, vetted the photographs with fellow #JJ partner, Josh Johnson, the namesake of the tag.  Together, they looked for the “universal truths,” as Kuster explains, of good photography: composition, color, point of interest, perspective and exposure.

“But what makes someone stand out of the crowd?” the veteran photographer asked. “A unique voice.  The iPhone and a camera [are] only a tool; it doesn’t take good pictures, it doesn’t take bad pictures.  It’s like any musical instrument.  I could pick up a guitar and I know a couple of notes, but you give this guitar to Ed Vedder or Eddie Van Halen, and they can make that guitar sing.”

According to Floryan, some of the winners were traveling on road trips when they snapped their winning photograph.  Lisboa, the Portuguese photographer behind “This is London,” was visiting London when she took the photo.  Other photographers – some who don’t identify as photographers – hail from Russia, from Japan, from Cuba, from Italy, among other places.

Floryan reflected on the usage of the word “now” in “The Long Road to Now.”

“The word ‘now’ has a dual meaning,” Floryan said.  “These are photographs that people are taking of everyday life “now” just like Berenice Abbott took photographs of what her “now” was in 1954, but like Berenice’s work “now” sometimes contains layers of history – a building built in the 1700s next to a building built in the 1800s, next to certain signage that popped up in the mid 19th century.  With the Instagram show, ‘now’ has that social media angle to it, and what does “now” mean?  Digestable images that represent what’s happening right in front of you.”

To Kuster, even an amateur photographer has the potential to snap a well-crafted photograph.

“Finding your voice is made up of hundreds of thousands of millions of small little steps,” Koster said. “What I’ve learned about finding your voice is you already have your voice.  You might just not know what your voice is saying.”

These contemporary photographers also did not have to toil as arduously as Abbott did, because of the advancement of mobile camera technology.  Equipped with “really good tools” as Koster said, one is not held back by technology and should “try to be thoughtful about what [one] put out in the world.”

With this exhibit and others like it, Instagram has become an authentic platform for photographers to share their work.  For the platform, it also has been a long road.

“It’s legitimizing not just the method through which they capture the photographs,” Floryan said.  “But also legitimizing taking photographs of every day, really mundane life.  In Berenice’s work, you’re not seeing too many dramatic moments.  This is just what you’re seeing on the roadside, the people you’re meeting, the sights you’re taking photos of and wanting to immortalize [those moments].  What we do here at the Wolfsonian is to try to make people see the everyday world around them with kind of new eyes, and this project perfectly encapsulates that.  It takes scenes you might take for granted and turns them into art.”

“The Long Road to Now: Digital Photos Inspired by Berenice Abbott’s Road Trip” is on display at the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum in South Beach and will remain on view through October 8, 2017.  Every Friday from 6:00 p.m.- 9 p.m., a free guided tour of the museum is provided along with free admission.  In conjunction with the Wolfsonian’s ‘Road-Trip-Themed’ Summer, the Miami-Beach Cinematheque is playing road-trip-themed movies like “The Straight Story” and “On the Road.”

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Frost Art Museum looks at Mexican photojournalism


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http://Mexican Photojournalism at the Frost Art Museum

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“The pig is dead,” a guide explains to a couple viewing the towering digital prints at FIU’s Frost Art Museum. Her voice echoes across the cavernous ceiling of the modern, mint new museum.

The prints belong to Mexican photographer Kenia Narez’s Whims 8, 10 and 11. They feature an Alice in Wonderland girl whose head is not in view. A piglet suckles an exposed breast.  The girl coddles it as a mother would a newborn. A close up of the animal from the girl’s point-of-view reveals details of the piglet’s not-sleeping face.

On the other side of the museum is a different sort of exhibition, also about Mexico.

Like the headless Winged Victory of Samothrace, wings immovable on a marble platform of a staircase at the Louvre,  Manuel Carrillo’s photograph of a Guanajuato Indígena (indigenous) from Santa Rosa, Mexico speaks of a bygone time resurfaced to the low lights of an equally vibrant museum.

These distinct exhibitions – Becoming Mexico and Possible Worlds – come to the light of day this Saturday, July 8, to a reception of journalists, writers, filmmakers, art lovers and students.  Black and white photographs were taken in the ’50’s and ‘60s by the 49-year-old amateur Mexican photographer line the walls. They tell a story about a nationalistic movement, Mexicanidad (Mexicanity), in post-revolutionary Mexico.

“One of the things that I do like particularly about this exhibit is the scope of time,” James Couper, FIU’s first museum director, said.  “It really does go back pretty far to the revolutionary guys, then and up to modern times now…so this was the perfect thing for me to see various attitudes and solutions that took place with the making of all these photographs.”

The exhibits embrace two polar approaches to Mexican photojournalism. One captures the daily lives of the marginalized, the peasantry, of a pre-globalized Mexico through the lens of a 1950’s camera.

The other exhibit uses a more modern medium in photojournalism– one with a touch of magical realism popularized by an artist with a different instrument, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and his mighty pen.  Instead of words, these nine contemporary Mexican artists use photographs.  Instead of a pen, they use a tool that can be equally as magical– Photoshop, among other digital tools.

Dr. Jordan Pomeroy, current director at the Frost Museum, reveals a bit of serendipity in the coming together of these displays.

“We knew we were going to exhibit Carrillo,” she said.  “This comes from our collection – they have never been exhibited, at least not at the Frost Art Museum.  They’ve been hidden in our storage.  We decided, well, that would be interesting.  Let’s expose him to the world, let’s bring Carrillo out.”

The Museum got involved with the Mexican Consulate and as it turned out, the Consulate was traveling to exhibitions of contemporary Mexican photography.

“We have the mid-century, we have contemporary black and white, color, Photoshopped, heavily fictionalized, so I call it like two parentheses, you have the open and the close parenthesis.  It worked out very well,” Pomeroy said.

The words “Becoming Mexico” greet you warmly at the end of a short foyer on the second floor of the Frost, a quick, but discernable eye adjustment from the natural light abundant throughout the museum.  Young Mexican filmmaker Cristian Proa, wearing suspenders and a white buttoned-down shirt, tells the story – in his native tongue – of how Carrillo wished to bring dignity to the ordinary, poor folk of Mexico.

“Today we will go on a journey to teach you those customs, those things that go beyond what is shown on the photographs and what Mexicans lived in those moments,” Proa said.  “Today, we will go on a tour of that Mexico.”

Freedom from European influence and the legacy of colonialism was Carrillo’s aim with his photographs.  He wanted to strip away all remnants of Europe and he took to secret locations around Mexico to capture the ‘campesinos’ (country folk) in their daily lives.  Carrillo became friendly with them and often waited hours in one location for the right amount of light to snap the photos.

“Carrillo during this time elevates the peasant to a level of dignity and he wants to present them not as an oppressed or marginalized people, but also important,” Proa said.  “Important and dignified.”

With Possible Worlds the artists – Mauricio Alejo, Ricardo Alzati, Katya Braylovsky, Alex Dorfsman, Daniela Edburg, Rubén Gutiérrez, Kenia Nárez, Fernando Montiel and Damián Siqueiros – reveal a surreal take on photojournalism.  One of Edburg’s prints, taken in 1975 and titled Atomic Picnic, is an idyllic photo of a family having a lakefront picnic.  A familiar mushroom cloud and the cataclysmic result of an atomic nucleus being ripped apart graces the background.  The family looks on as one would a harmless spectacle.

Pomeroy discusses the artists and how long they’ve come to represent ‘Mexicanidad.’

“What I’d like to point out is, of course, it’s about contemporary Mexican photographers, but listen– art is global now, you know, they’re not, like, in Mexico all the time,” Pomeroy said. “These are artists who live. They travel elsewhere, so they’re being identified as Mexican, but they’re identifying as everybody else in the art world.  They’re global.  They have global interests and you see these connections with other photography from other countries, so it’s really not localized, it’s not regional anymore.”

Couper reveals the museum was barely the size of two living rooms when it first opened, located in a different part of a now unrecognizable campus. The 1947 film shown at the end of the Becoming Mexico tour, called La Perla directed by Emilio Fernandez, features a typical Mexican dance.

“It made me want to get up and dance!  And I’m not a dancer,” Couper said.

Becoming Mexico is now open to the public and will be until September 17.  Possible Worlds is also now open to the public until October 8.  Admission to FIU’s Frost Art Museum is free and is accessible to all students.  One is strongly encouraged to bring guests, friends, family, and dates.  If hankering for a snack, there is a Vicky’s Bakery on the ground level of the Museum for a delicious coffee, pastry or snack and an art area designated for children or adults to draw, play and have a fun learning time.

 

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Elisabeth Werp’s Haunting Paintings


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Elisabeth Werp’s Works of the Heart

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“I have painted into each piece,” says Elisabeth Werp, the Norwegian painter showcasing her latest exhibition at Rostad Edwards Fine Art. “A puzzle… a little something that will not, or might not, be noticeable at first sight.”

The hushed crowd, slowly aerating wine in slim, crystalline glasses, hang on to every word at the exhibit’s opening. It is a humid Thursday evening in Wynwood. If there is a textbook definition of an artist, it will not be too far fetched to imagine Werp herself, her statuesque Scandinavian frame a lithe figure drawn from one of her own paintings.

Her hand movements are as deliberate as strokes on canvas.

“These pieces,” she waves her hands towards her paintings before surrendering them to her heart again. “Are meant to be gently discovered. They are meant to live in a family, in a home, for a long time, and with each glance, with each bit of attention that you give it, you are meant to discover something new, something that wasn’t quite there before, and now it is. Why? Because you are a different person from the last time you saw it.”

“Faraway Nearby” is an apt description of her pieces and of the artist herself.

At first sight, the paintings remind you of a place you have once been to, whether in dreams or in a deeply embedded memory. Perhaps from a past life.

There is the grand piano, untouched except during a family reunion. It stands masterfully in the great hall of a grandparent’s colonial. There is the grandiose chandelier looming over the theatre, sparkling in dim yellows that soften the theatregoers’ pensive face.

Like white sails on the horizon, there is the ship leaving the dock, its sails blowing against a northeastern wind. You can almost hear a tune from long ago playing on a gramophone as spirits of the past move their dancing bodies in a now-defunct town hall.

The paintings feel like home. Werp explains that destruction is an integral part of her process. She paints in the same manner that Renaissance artists painted, except in reverse.

Each layer of paint has a little less oil than the previous layer, resulting in a cracked effect. Months into each painting, she destroys her work with the tool closest to her. Sometimes it is sandpaper and other times, it is a sharp tool. Even if it is something beautiful that she loves, she runs the risk of never being able to re-create it, losing it forever.

“It’s the same in life,” she says.

Werp discusses her childhood, moments of solitude that have never left her. Anyone who has experienced a significant loss understands. A universal thematic, loving and losing family and loved ones, their ghosts continuously haunting. Werp’s paintings are haunting, to say the least. They are conversation pieces in any home. They are the kind of art that draws you in, begging you to understand it.