Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Teen artist’s ‘Abused Organs’ sends message about healthy living

Artist Daniel J. Montenegro, 19, wants to send a strong message about protecting our organs in his award-winning work.

The Abused Organs, he said, is a satirical approach to fighting unhealthy lifestyles including drugs, alcohol, and unbalanced diets.

In the art, “each one of the organs is doing something they shouldn’t, with a smile, oblivious to their slow degradation until it’s too late. Example: lungs smoking, liver drinking,” Montenegro said.

The Kendall resident is a recent graduate of Design and Architecture Senior High and he is now getting ready to start his freshman year at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

In Montenegro’s artist statement, he says, “The purpose of my work is simply to entertain others. I’m constantly sharing my work with my peers, mostly uploading images online, hoping that people smile and laugh in response as it is the intention of the majority of the pieces I create. The characters I create are my children and like any parent, I wish for my children to bring smiles to everyone they meet.”

Montenegro said he is now selling all 12 of the organ art pieces with the hope he can use the money to help pay for college.

Marilyn Traeger at The Fund 4 Design & Art Education has put out the word about The Abused Organs to pulmonologists and cardiologists in an effort to help Montenegro. He was a recent winner of one of the F4D&AE Isaiah Scholarships.

“Together they send a strong message about healthy practices,” Traeger said of the organ artwork. “The entire suite is available for sale. Daniel would love for them to find a home together.”

Montenegro has had a busy summer illustrating a children’s book by Haley Marguerite Mariano, a 24-year-old first-time author who lives in Boca Raton. The book, Charlie Takes An Adventure, is about a penguin named Charlie who is bored in Antarctica because he is lonely.

Charlie decides to visit Miami.

“The trip doesn’t turn out as well as he expected, but he does learn a valuable lesson,” Montenegro said. “We’re both very excited about this book, and it’s expected to come out this November.”

To get a good look at The Abused Organs, visit the fine art section on Montenegro’s website at You also can enjoy some of his fun and colorful illustrations. Write to him at           

Light saving

The Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables and the city of Coral Gables have taken a major step to start restoration of the city’s “forgotten” landmark lampposts.

City founder George Merrick commissioned the lamps 90 years ago when his young city and its new roads were being built. American artist Denman Fink, who designed many of the city’s landmarks including Venetian Pool and Coral Gables City Hall, created the historically designated lights.

Unfortunately, only about 70 lamps of the original 500 still exist and they are in need of maintenance, restoration and preservation. The lamps can be seen in the Riviera section of Coral Gables with many along Riviera Drive.

The first phase of preservation began in June with a buying back acquisition of the lights from Florida Power and Light. Historic Preservation Association members identified three phases to follow in the campaign including placing historic markers; restoring and preserving the original lamps; and creating authentic reproductions cast from the original mold designed by Fink.

The nonprofit association was founded in 1991. To learn more about the group’s projects including lamppost preservation, or to get involved in saving local landmarks, visit

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at