Letters to the Editor

Public art should be a year-long commitment

All eyes are on Miami as Art Week consumes our city.

Miami is already in the international spotlight for being home to one of the world’s most active real-estate markets with foreign buyers fueling the current building boom. Many luxury condominium developers seeking a competitive edge among these buyers are turning to the visual arts as a way to brand their buildings and sell units.

Miami’s skyline will soon become an artistic canvas, with buildings showcasing works by world-renowned artists such as Julian Schnabel, British photographer Terry O’Neill, Philippe Starck and Agustina Woodgate.

While examples like these support Miami’s global brand as a cultural capital, most of these artworks will be on display inside private residential buildings — off limits to the outside world. Fortunately, the convergence of art and real estate isn’t restricted to the luxury condo market.

To the contrary, our firm has incorporated more than 40 high-profile public artworks into affordable-housing communities across the country dating back to 1997. These artworks have become a part of our city and are permanent fixtures with a shelf life that lasts well beyond Art Week.

Our public-arts initiative has involved both professional and emerging artists from around the world and around the corner.

From Romero Britto’s iconic sculpture of a woman leaping off the side of Los Suenos in Wynwood, to an intricate mosaic depicting blues legend Muddy Waters off of I-95 in Liberty City, these privately funded works are out in the open for all the community to enjoy.

Our firm has invested millions of dollars in artist commissions and art installations because we believe visual art is an important vehicle for enhancing communities while also instilling a sense of pride in residents who call our developments home.

When Hurricane Wilma struck in 2005, butterfly sculptures at our Rayos del Sol community in Little Havana were destroyed. It was not long before area residents — including many people residing outside the building — contacted us to request that new butterflies be installed.

In some cases, our art projects are interactive. We recently launched Painting the Town, Changing Lives in partnership with the nonprofit Moving Lives of Kids organization.

Last year, we engaged local children who spent their winter break painting murals at Miami’s Little Haiti Soccer Park in tandem with local artists. Programs like these foster a greater sense of ownership and appreciation for art among the youngest members of the community.

With dozens of new residential projects under development in South Florida and new cranes going up, developers have an opportunity to incorporate public works of art into their projects. Doing so creates enhanced value for their developments and improves the surrounding neighborhood.

Louis Wolfson, III, founding partner, Pinnacle Housing Group, Miami