Artist Zammy Migdal chisels his own success story as a second act in life

Artist Zammy Migdal at home in Coconut Grove. Photograph by Andrew Innerarity.
Artist Zammy Migdal at home in Coconut Grove. Photograph by Andrew Innerarity.

Sculptor Zammy Migdal typically dreams up his abstract inspirations. Literally. But earlier this year, after a hit-and-run driver rolled over his foot as he crossed the street, his art came to imitate his life.

The end result of his reconstructive surgery and months of rehab (his Wheaton Terrier, Papo, faithfully by his side): ZMM @HSS, a series created with gusto once Midgal got back on his feet. It’s born from the X-rays of Migdal’s mangled foot that he transferred onto canvas, stretched over wooden boxes and topped with metal — and he’s showing it for the first time during Miami Art Week.

“I’m not going to let the injury define me,” he said. “I’m blessed, and I’m having fun.”

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Zammy Migdal works from his home studio. Photograph by Andrew Innerarity.

A New Chapter to His Life

In addition to showing his work and making the rounds at Art Basel events, Migdal always looks forward to his annual late-night paella and Key lime pie dinner that he hosts at his Coconut Grove home for about 50 collectors, artists and dealers. It feels like he’s been ensconced in the art world forever, but this is actually his second act.

I’m blessed, and I’m having fun.’

Born in Tel Aviv, Migdal served for four years in the Israeli Army before moving to Miami in 1980 to study hospitality management at Florida International University. While he was the general manager and a partner at Indian Creek Hotel in Miami Beach, he won awards for restoring the hotel to its original 1930s splendor.

“Art was always within me,” said Migdal, a longtime collector.

After selling the hotel and finding himself at age 48 amid a midlife crisis, Migdal enrolled in a welding course. “I fell in love with the medium, and I started doing some things for myself,” he said.

As his metal creations multiplied, he brought them to dinner parties in lieu of a bottle of wine. “A friend suggested I show professionally, and the rest is history!”

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Zammy Migdal. Photograph by Andrew Innerarity.

Art from Zammy Migdal is Here and Everywhere

Today, Migdal’s sculptures are displayed in homes, businesses and public spaces around the world, from Hong Kong to Las Vegas. Closer to home, his familiar work enhances spaces like Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest, Bloomingdale’s in Aventura and Miami Dade College in Hialeah.

“I like the idea of how shadows become part of the sculpture and space,” he said. “This became my signature look. I love to take a boring wall and create texture on it with sculpture that changes with the day, time and light.”

Now 61, Migdal lives with his partner of 35 years, psychologist Jose Szapocznik. Their house, built in 1969 by Jorge Arango (co-founder of the Arango contemporary design store), is all curves and no corners, a minimalistic backdrop for both the art Migdal creates and the art the couple collects, including a carved canoe from Papa New Guinea and a sculpture by Cuban artist Manuel Mendive titled My Energy and I.

The house also accommodates Migdal’s two studios. “This house is ideal for creation,” he said, “it’s a one-stop shop.”

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