LGBTQ South Florida

North Miami chooses multi-color metal sculpture to celebrate LGBTQ accomplishments

The winning selection from artist Alan Gutierrez for Miami-Dade County’s first public LGBTQ sculpture, to be located at Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park, 1725 NE 135 St., in North Miami.
The winning selection from artist Alan Gutierrez for Miami-Dade County’s first public LGBTQ sculpture, to be located at Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park, 1725 NE 135 St., in North Miami. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

A sculpture of metal columns painted in colors of the rainbow — and beyond — has been chosen by North Miami as Miami-Dade County’s first public arts installation dedicated to LGBTQ accomplishments.

“The power of queerness lies not only in the potential to learn, but the ability to teach, how to access the tools, modalities, and states of mind needed to assimilate new progressive and fluid identities within an uncharted spectrum, while expanding the current rigid definitions of what it means to love — both ourselves and others,” according to artist Alan Gutierrez’s description of his untitled work.

“While this narrative may appear personal, it’s actually quite universal,” the Miami native said. “These colors are literally used in theatrical and cinematic representations of characters to convey or accentuate a hyperbolized reality of who we can be, or what can be done onto us. These representations exist within a virtual space which can, too, become our reality.”

In an email Friday to the Miami Herald, Gutierrez said the sculpture — “Untitled (forms from MEDIAPRO HD ULTIMATE F/X 18 COLOR MAKEUP PALETTE)” — is not actually a rainbow of colors.

“It's actually from an industry standard set of 18 colors in a makeup palette used for special effects in stage and film,” Gutierrez said.

He also said that “‘colors of the rainbow’ in this context is not appropriate — the context being the LGBTQ community. The core of the piece lies in its actual origin of colors, which is the specific makeup palette. It’s a very big difference.”

The sculpture, to be four or five feet tall, will be placed inside the 22-acre Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park, 1725 NE 135th St., North Miami, according to city Councilman Scott Galvin, who announced the project in September. The project is budgeted at about $30,000 and the sculpture likely will be installed and dedicated in December.

State Rep. Elaine Gordon, a North Miami Democrat, was Florida’s best-known feminist lawmaker of the 1970s and ’80s. Gordon, who died of cancer at 68 in 2000, served in the Legislature from 1972 to 1994 and championed gay causes and the doomed Equal Rights Amendment. Her daughter-in-law is Liebe Gadinsky of Miami Beach, an ally considered one of the nation’s top LGBT activists.

Along with the sculpture, North Miami will erect a plaque dedicated to “acknowledging LGBT accomplishments through the years,” said Galvin, one of South Florida’s first openly gay politicians.

Galvin said the plaque will “recognize the contributions” of people such as Gordon; Ruth Shack, the former Miami-Dade commissioner who sponsored the county’s original gay-rights ordinance in 1976; Kevin Burns, North Miami’s gay former mayor; LGBTQ-rights group SAVE; and Martin Gill, the gay adoptive father whose legal fight a decade ago led to overturning Florida’s 30-year gay adoption ban.

Dozens of artists submitted concepts, said Dennis Leyva, a member of the North Miami Art in Public Places selection committee.

Other committee members: Amanda Sanfilippo, a curator and artist manager for Art in Public Places at Miami-Dade County’s Cultural Affairs department; Alpesh Kantilal Patel, an assistant professor and graduate director at Florida International University’s Department of Art and Art History; and Tom Bendt, an interior designer and longtime North Miami resident.

The Gutierrez sculpture is a perfect choice for finalist, said Leyva, Miami Beach’s administrator of Art in Public Places.

“It stood out because it showed an array of colors that symbolizes our community and goes beyond the traditional colors of the LGBTQ flag. More diversity, more color, more flavors,” Leyva said. “Without a doubt, it was the one that answered the request for proposals. It’s very playful. You don’t want to put something serious next to a children’s park. It fits in well.”