Mimi and Bud Floback bought a second home next to their house in the Keys — partly for guests, but also to help display art they’ve collected from around the world.
Enter either house and it’s like stepping into a contemporary art museum. Original works by 80 artists are professionally mounted on the walls, hang from the high ceilings and cascade from the top story to the ground floor. In the yard, even items that look like tents are major pieces.
During a recent tour, resident art critic Max, an African Grey parrot, blurted his opinion of David Batchelor’s series of colorful moving dollies: “It’s a pretty picture sculpture.”
“Yes, it’s a pretty picture sculpture,” Mimi Floback responded.
While the parrot has destroyed most of the baseboards, a couple of chairs and part of the staircase of their main house, “Max never touches the art,” Floback said.
That’s a good thing, because over the past 15 years, the Flobacks have donated about 20 major works to the Miami Art Museum to become part of its permanent collection. This month, the Flobacks gifted 10 more major works — most to be delivered in time for the December grand opening of the renamed Perez Art Museum Miami — in its new digs on Biscayne Bay.
Retired executive Bud Floback, an avid sportsman who used to fly his own planes, said he has become accustomed to watching the art come and go. “Bud always says, ‘What are we giving away now?’ ” Mimi said.
This time, the works that will disappear from their walls and living space include Josephine Meckseper’s commercial display Thank a Vet (2008), Elliott Hundley’s collage Monument (2004), Susan Rothenberg’s painting Dominos-Hot (2001-2002), a Rineke Dijkstra photograph from a 1994 series of Portuguese bullfighters, Sarah Morris’ Le Meridien [Rio] (2012), and a 1990 sculpture using fluorescent lights by Dan Flavin.
“It all ends up in the same place in Miami,” Bud said.
For the past few years, Mimi has focused much of her art purchases on meeting the wish list of the museum she has supported since 1997, not long after it changed its name from the Center for the Fine Arts and became a collecting institution.
“Mimi has been fighting for Miami to have a first-class institution,” said Tobias Ostrander, chief curator for the museum. “She understands it is important to have a strong collection as part of a new museum.”
On that wish list was Meckseper’s Thank a Vet, described by a Miami Art Museum press release as a “striking, politically charged work that includes found, mass-produced objects that reference the body — situated atop of a rectangular mirrored base taken from commercial displays.”
The piece incorporates a walker, mannequin legs, socks, a toilet mat, steel wool, a box of underwear, toilet brush, mannequin chest, motor oil container and a T-shirt that says: “If you love your freedom, Thank a Vet.”
“It was something we needed and wanted for the opening exhibition,” Ostrander said. “It fits in with some other things, like a piece by Marcel Duchamp, an important early modernist, who talks about ready made and commodity culture — the things we buy and exhibit as art work.”