Oil paintings by Miami Beach based Cuban American artist Gramatges Jordan featuring works of abstract expressionism with art deco and geometric design elements. For availability e-mail email@example.com.
Oil paintings by Miami Beach based Cuban American artist Gramatges Jordan featuring works of abstract expressionism with art deco and geometric design elements. For availability e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the spring of 2015, I entered a scarf design contest hosted by printedvillage.com. The theme was ‘Wild Kingdom’ and the first place winner would take home $500. By that time I had developed graphic design skills working for print and web, but had never ventured into textile design.
The cash prize provided enough motivation for me to spend a few extra hours at work that week coming up with a scarf design for the competition. When I heard ‘Wild kingdom’ I immediately thought of a crown and a cobra. I spent a lot of time sketching and trying different color schemes, ultimately deciding upon the Serpentine Queen print shown above.
My vision was always to juxtapose the fluid, coiled body of a snake with monarchal iconography and floral elements. At first, my design featured pastel colors – the competition was held in the spring, but I would later find out that the scarf design was for their fall scarf line.
Once I knew that I had to redo the textile to incorporate fall colors, I decided to spend more time on the flowers. Other than that, the pattern remained relatively unchanged. I didn’t go on to win the competition, but I printed the pattern onto leatherette cover stock and used it as a cover for notebooks and sketchbooks that I sold through my Etsy Shop and at Miami Flea later that year.
In the future, I would love to use this textile design for apparel – perhaps on the pocket or sleeve of a t-shirt or as a scarf as it was originally meant to be used. I can also see it lining the inside of a blazer or as a pocket square.
After working together on photo shoots for Genre Latino Magazine in the spring of 2011, Dale Stine and I decided that we wanted to collaborate on a project that would allow us to apply our skill set to fine art pieces. Pridelines provided the perfect opportunity that winter when they asked Dale to shoot some photos for their website.
I began volunteering for Pridelines a few years earlier and when Dale told me about the photo shoot, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for us to work on something special together. We came up with the concept of ‘Pridelines for Peace’ shortly thereafter.
We asked six of the youths that were involved in the organization to pose for portraits that we would turn into digital photo collage pieces based on each of their ‘Proclamations for Peace’ to benefit the organization.
One of the most poignant was from Jamesly, who chose to honor the work of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in his portrait based on his experience as an immigrant living in the United States.
After we completed the six original portraits, we decided to add three more of our own design. Peace of Butter, shown in the center of the composite above, is a graphic representation of a butterfly created with a photo art deco styled stained glass we shot outside of Dale’s apartment in South Beach. For us, the butterfly represents the metamorphosis that is necessary for queer-identified youth to find peace and happiness in their own skin.
We debuted this portrait series at O Cinema in Wynwood in December of 2011 and the portraits have since been shown at Miami Beach Gay Pride and Pridelines’ Annual Gala. We donated a canvas print of Peace of Butter to the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Miami Recognition Dinner Silent Auction in the year that followed.
One year after the end of the 13th Bak’tun of the Mayan calendar, we surveyed the landscape of Miami, Florida, an American city by the sea, searching for signs of civilization.
We found that their artists had taken to the streets, using decaying edifices as their canvases.
Monuments that once held hundreds of spectators were closed off to the public, their seats in tatters and covered with words and images emblazoned in spray paint.
There were still some signs of life in the flora that grew between the cracks of cement and latched onto the barbed wire fences that surrounded what was once considered private property.
The humans that remained were enjoying the last glimmers of morning sun over the waves crashing into the white sand of what was used to be South Beach.
Water levels were on the rise, leaving little promise for a future visit to this part of the planet. Buildings filled with ghosts and roadways littered with plastic replaced the historic sites of a city that flourished in the middle of the twentieth century.
Civilization had already ended there as far as anyone could tell.
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A novel about five twenty-seven year old Miamians set in 2015, West of Collins Avenue brings you into their daily lives as they navigate the murky waters of finding love, establishing careers, maintaining friendships while honoring their culture in the Magic City.
The land in Miami has been bought and sold so many times over the past century that the city has very few historical landmarks to speak of. Its most enduring legacy is as a city that tourists value for its beaches, bodies, drugs and clubs.
There’s little else about Miami that outsiders seem to care about. But the most interesting part of this city lies just beyond the fluorescent lights of the art deco district.
Miami is a cultural melting pot with a high concentration of first generation hispanic Americans. They learn to differentiate between ethnicity, nationality and culture early on in their lives as a way to make sense of who they are.
While race relations have become a hot button issue in other parts of the country, a popular Miami radio station features a game called ‘Black, White, Hispanic or Other’ on their morning show, where callers guess the ethnicity of a criminal based on his or her charges in order to win concert tickets.
Gender wars wage on in national politics and marriage equality triumphs in the Supreme Court, but you couldn’t really tell if you were eavesdropping on a couple’s conversation over dinner in Miami – gay or straight.
There is a complacency in heteronormativity here that has driven out most of the queer culture, yet South Beach is still sold as a gay destination to people from around the world.
Wynwood has received global attention as a center for art, but not the type of art that you hang on the wall. Street art has flourished on the exterior walls of the industrial area and, ironically, real estate prices there have skyrocketed, driving artists north to Little Haiti to find affordable studio space.
There are few places as misunderstood as Miami is in the twenty-first century… and even less as absurd – just ask the natives.
Dr. María de la Covadonga García
Coco sat in the driver’s seat of her gray hybrid sedan sipping a steaming hot cortadito as the sun rose over Miami on an uncharacteristically cool Friday morning. While most twenty-nine year old professionals were hitting snooze on the alarm clock to avoid starting the workday for another ten minutes, Dr. María de la Covadonga García was trying to stay awake after a twenty-four hour shift at Jackson Memorial Hospital. She scanned her phone for missed text messages, phone calls or emails that would require immediate responses before pulling out of the parking garage.
A nickname she adopted officially after her first day of kindergarten, Coco was the name her father gave her when she was a baby and the first word she spoke. Having recently become engaged to her boyfriend, she was confronted with the question of whether to legally change her first name to Coco when she went downtown to change her last name. The idea of changing either one of her names made her feel uncomfortable in a way that none of her girlfriends in Miami could understand.
The only message that required an immediate response was one from her mother asking if Coco would be going by to drop off a guava cake later that morning. Unable to attend her great aunt’s birthday brunch because of her work schedule, she had offered to make a homemade rum cake with guava filling for the event and send it in her absence.
Coco baked the cake that Wednesday night and left it in the refrigerator of the Miami Beach condominium she shared with her fiancé, Sebastián, for him to deliver to her mother on Friday morning on his way to work.
Sí Mami, Seba te la va a llevar
a la casa antes de las ocho
de la mañana como te dije ayer.
Tengo que manejar y acostarme
que ya no puedo ni abrir los ojos.
Mandale un beso a tía. I love you.
Before putting the car into gear to head home, she activated the bluetooth system to call Sebastián and remind him about the cake.
Sebastián Salinas drove down the MacArthur Causeway leaving Miami Beach in his brand new hunter green pickup truck with the sun rising behind him as he made his way to West Kendall to drop off the guava cake that his fiancé, Coco, made for her great aunt’s birthday brunch. Wrapped in a thin layer of tin foil, he had placed the cake on the the tan leather passenger’s seat of his truck along with the commercial real estate listings he was going to show his client after making the delivery.
With thick black hair, fair skin and deep-set crystal blue eyes that slanted slightly downward toward his ears, Sebastián earned the nickname Gallego in high school because he resembled a Spaniard more than most of his peers. As children he and his twin sister, Stella, would spend their summers in Spain learning to speak Spanish with a Castilian accent, which always sounded funny compared to the Spanish spoken by most Miamians.
There was very little traffic leaving the beach in the early morning, as most commuters drove east from the suburbs to work downtown. There was a small red coupe in front of him as he reached the exits for 836 West and I-95 South. The coupe was on the right lane furthest from the 95-South exit, Sebastián in the middle lane headed west when the coupe abruptly made a hard left turn in a dangerous last minute attempt to get off on the 95 exit. Sebastián had to swerve into the right shoulder of the highway to avoid a head on collision with the other driver.
“¡Me cago en la puta madre que te parió, joder!” he screamed as the cake and all of his files flew toward the windshield and made a mess of the frosting and MLS printouts he needed for that morning.
His car stopped just a few feet from the railing of the overpass overlooking the medical buildings of the Jackson Health System. Infuriated with the reckless driver who proceeded cut him off without a second thought, he punched his steering wheel with just enough might not to set off the airbags.
Knowing that Coco was just finishing up her shift at the hospital and likely in no mood for bad news, Sebastián placed his left hand over his eyes and tried to figure out what to do about the cake.
After the shock and anger wore off, he put his truck in gear. He would have to go buy a substitute cake and deliver it with enough time to go to his office and reprint all of his comps and listings before his client meeting.
Before he pulled back onto the expressway, he noticed the words Seven Urban Poets spray-painted onto the side of the overpass in front of him. Sebastián was not a fan of the street art movement that had taken over the Miami art scene in the years before, but he was intrigued by the bold display which would likely be painted over in the coming weeks.
María Estela Salinas
It’s twilight on a Friday and the setting Miami sun paints the walls of Stella’s fifth floor office bright pink. Overlooking the green canopy of treetops that umbrella Coral Way, the couture committee of her nonprofit startup, Maison Vizcaina, is gathered around her Ikea desk settling in with Starbucks beverages in hand.
María Estela Salinas, as she is referred to only by her mother and her driver’s license, dangles two Oprah Chai tea bags over her steaming venti cup, careful not to ruin the fresh coat of red polish on her stiletto-shaped nails.
The building that her office is situated in is a few decades old. Even though there’s a fresh coat of paint on the walls, the creaky wood floors and aluminum blinds give the space an old Miami feel – and smell. The elevator in the building is silver and volatile, with numbers above the doors that don’t light up.
After allowing the last drops of chai to drain into her cup, Stella tosses her tea bags into the waste bin and asks the three college students sitting in the ghost chairs across from her what they have prepared for the meeting.
Mariana, a Miami native like Stella, crosses her smooth, tan legs and pulls the shorts of her blue and white romper down to cover her exposed thighs. As chair of Maison Vizcaina’s annual gala, she was reviewing the minutes of their last meeting and following up on action items.
“I want to start with the initial sketches for the gown that we still need to source fabric for,” Stella began as soon as Mariana finished. “I don’t want to be running around at the last minute again this year dealing with dress fittings. I don’t care how fast you can sew, I want all of the gowns that are part of the presentation fitted a week in advance so that we can actually enjoy hair and make up on event day.”
Mariana smiled and pulled a piece of paper out of her olive green quilted Marc Jacobs handbag and handed it to Stella. The committee sat in silence, sipping their beverages, waiting to for a reaction.
After a long workout and a steaming hot shower, Jordan Rovirosa stands at the threshold of his balcony air drying while the sunset ushers in another Friday night in Miami. He stares out at Biscayne Bay from his downtown condo, his white towel thrown on the large black sectional in his otherwise empty living room. Vocal jazz music plays on a bluetooth speaker placed in the corner of the room as he sips on his favorite single malt whisky.
Standing over six feet tall with an NFL build, his hands almost reach the ceiling as he stretches his bare torso. The ocean breeze is warmer than the temperature inside his apartment and walking out onto the balcony feels like walking back into the bathroom after his shower. The warm air is thick and it coats his tan body with a fine layer of moisture.
Jordy places his lowball glass on a plastic white table next to the balcony door and picks up the bootleg bong he made out of a coconut water bottle when he got home from work. While most people would think twice before venturing out onto their balconies to smoke weed in the nude, Jordan feels comfortable considering that he hadn’t seen a neighbor on his floor since he moved into the building.
Dark clouds have settled over the bay, giving it an ominous look in the absence of the sun. After months of living in his dream apartment in the sky, Jordy wants to look out at the water and feel like he’s actually living the dream, but there’s something about facing east while the sun sets in the west that makes him feel like there’s a storm coming.
He hears his Samsung chime inside as he takes another sip of his whiskey. It’s a text message from his boyfriend, Julian, asking for his estimated time of arrival. Jordan is supposed to be on his way to South Beach to meet him for dinner, but he had decided earlier that he would use the traffic on the causeway as an excuse to buy him a few minutes for a drink at home before starting his night.
In the uber. Traffic. See u now.
Jordan leaves his phone charging on the gray granite countertop in his kitchen and goes back to the balcony for his drink. He looks at the red tail lights of the cars driving toward South Beach on the causeway in the distance. He used to look forward to getting onto that causeway when he would drive in from West Miami to party in his early twenties. Now in his early thirties, he wants nothing more than to get high, order food and binge watch TV shows on Netflix.
As a tax attorney for one of Miami’s largest firms, he feels lucky to have even gotten home before 8pm on a Friday night. Even though he would kill to stay in, Jordy takes a final hit from his bong, grabs his drink, and walks back into his bedroom to get dressed.
“Are you seriously starting another argument about my sexuality right before the sushi comes out?” Julian asks his boyfriend Jordan. The couple sits under the orange umbrellas of Sushi Samba, an asian fusion restaurant located on a busy corner of Lincoln Road, on a muggy Friday night.
“I’m not starting anything,” Jordan says. After spending an hour sitting in causeway traffic on his way to meet Julian for dinner in South Beach, he is suffering from a severe case of post-sitting-in-Miami-traffic irritability. “You’re the one trying to start shit by flaunting your bisexuality in front of the waitress like you wanna get laid tonight.”
Julian lets out a laugh.”I wasn’t flaunting my bisexuality – something you clearly have serious issues with, I’m learning.” He pulls back his chin-length, dirty blond hair with one hand and his sun-kissed cheeks, large green eyes and white teeth radiate light. Working for a design startup from his apartment in South Beach gives him plenty of time to spend kite surfing in the Friday afternoon sun. “I was flirting… and you know what? I do wanna get fucking laid tonight, bruh.”
“Yea? Good luck with that.” Jordan says without resuming eye contact with Julian. He takes a sip of his scotch and gazes off at the diverse groups of tourists walking past them toward different hotels and retail stores with colorful plastic bags, suitcases and frozen yogurt in their hands.
Realizing that his boyfriend’s mood seems to be trending downward for the night, Julian decides to shut down the conversation to avoid an escalation in conflict. “You know what? You don’t have to pick a fight with me if all you wanna do is go home. Just be a man, say you wanna go home and call an Uber. I’ll eat your fucking sushi.”
it was a sunday morning when we met.
the beach was tranquil, with sunlight sparkling
over the waves that washed the night away.
our hangovers cured by warm embraces
and passionate kisses that turned into
texts and dinners with decadent deserts.
communicating more with our bodies
than our words, exploring each other’s touch
and falling asleep in each other’s arms.
i miss snuggling up to your warm body
and telling you about my day while we
sat in the candlelight after your shift.
i still crave the way i felt with your legs
wrapped around me, your fingers running through
my hair, your lips gently grazing my neck.
i was close to falling in love with you.
i was happy when we were together
and a part of me will always want you.
but i couldn’t let you into my heart,
into the place that you deserved to be
cause my feelings for you terrified me.
and even though my life is lovely and
i’m ready to let someone in, i know
that i don’t deserve your heart anymore.
i just hope that you find these words one day
and realize that they are meant for you.
you will always have a piece of my heart
and i’ll always regret that sunday night.
a thousand years
of sun and rain
but the life we breathe
through our leaves
will not be enough
to sustain us
we can cry
turn a blind eye
or resign to the
that one day soon
we are going to die.
but on another planet
in a different time
i hope we meet as seeds
so that our flowers can bloom
under a new sun together
for a thousand years to come.
at arm’s length
i want to bring you close
to see where your purple ends
and indigo begins
but i know
that any move
will send you flying.
at your mercy
wondering if it can get any better
craving a closer look
terrified of scaring you away.
wishing for wings
to fly away with you
out to sea
to rise above
and be free.
i wanna figure out
what makes you smile
and make it my art.
of my daydreams,
you’re the only one
i would give up everything for
because i wouldn’t mind it
if you were all that i had.
i wanna make memories with you
and reminisce about them
when we’re old.
but i don’t want you
to be with me
if you feel that
i can’t make you happy.
now, if you think
there’s a chance for me,
then please make my dreams come true
and let me love you
leaning against the wall
in a dark corner of the bar
your black cowboy hat
conceals all but your full lips
stealing sips of your beer
when you think nobody’s looking.
i can’t turn away from you long enough
to see anyone else
through the cigarette smoke
i wonder what your lips would feel like
pressed against mine
while we tear each other’s clothes off
in the bed of your pickup truck outside
letting our bodies bathe freely
in the cool moonlight.
you approach the bartender
signal him for another beer
and your distance
gives me the feeling
that you don’t even know I’m here.
my eyes wander south
to your tight denim jeans
your big muscular thighs
down to your worn leather boots
planted firmly on the dirty floor
of this dark local dive.
i want to rub my face
all over your hairy body
and find out what your armpits smell like
before you squeeze me so tightly
with your massive outstretched arms
that i can’t feel where my body ends
and yours begins.
i want to lay you down
with your hat on my head
while you look up at the sky
with your hands on my hips
moving to the rhythm of the night.
but before long
you’re back in your corner of the bar
and i’ve convinced myself
that this will never be.
you’re nothing more than a fantasy
i’ll take with me
out of this bar and into my bed
where we can be together
in my dreams of riding a cowboy
in the wild wild west.