Monthly Archives: September 2016

An Emphasis on Birthdays (photo: NASA)

An Emphasis on Birthdays

they hold firm to their
belief in a creator
of the beings that are
visible and measurable
to them in time and space.

they rationalize that they
couldn’t have come from nothing,
but they couldn’t have come
from something, either.

their creator cannot be a thing
because by their definition,
a thing must exist in time and space.

and their creator must exist
outside of the measurable universe
because to them, to be measured
is to be something.

these beings will never really know
anything about their creation
with any certainty.

only that they were created
at a certain point in time and space.

perhaps this is why they place
such an emphasis on birthdays.

The New Miamian

a collection of poetry,
art and design
that advancements
in technology
and communication
have made possible
for an artist
whose work
is currently being
cultivated and curated
outside the realm of
editors and galleries.

the product of
years of observations
amidst the grit
of construction
and crowds
in mass-consumption
during what some call
the development
of the magic city,
the new miamian
is an exploration
of what it means
to be from miami.

thoughts, ideas,
images and patterns
born from a desire
to connect
and express truth
without fear
will find a home here.

love, beauty, family,
culture and ritual,
anger, money, death,
society and greed,
we don’t need
a new miami,
we need
a new miamian.

Is It Because I’m Blue?

why all this hate in you?
is it because i’m blue?

’cause i can guarantee,
blue i will always be.

my color reflects love,
no need to rise above.

my hue will never fade,
take on another shade.

i’m proud of my color,
don’t dream of another.

never will i deny,
nor will it make me cry.

created by the lord,
use his strength as my sword,

to kill your ignorance,
and prove my importance.

During This Aquamarine Twilight Poem (photo: Todd Desantis)

During This Aquamarine Twilight

that i went to sleep smiling
the night that we met.

that my feelings
and my fears
made me push you away.

that i hate to see you
with somebody else.

that i love my freedom
more than myself
though i’m not sure to what end.

what if that very freedom
is what led me to you?

what if the winds of the angry atlantic
helped my sails find your tranquil harbor
on the night that we met
not because i was lost
but because i had finally been found?

what if you’re what i’ve been looking for
but have been too stubborn to see?

is there any possibility
of a you and me
if i drop my anchor in your bay
during this aquamarine twilight?

could there be a we
to acquire, desire or aspire to be?

Inside the Prison of Your Perception

abusing and bullying
the figure i see
in the reflection
before me
has caused my true spirit
to retreat from
the image i share
with society.

by changing who i am
to please people
i’ve lost any sense
of what life could be
quietly carrying out
my sentence
inside the prison
of your perception.

guarded from
the honest misconceptions
and ugly projections
of others
with misplaced emotions,
i had accepted my confinement
into one dimension.

dealing with this
prison mentality
has taken its toll on me,
but by defeating
chronic negativity
in my search
for joy
and good company,
i will persevere
through new challenges
and paint you
a more accurate picture.

because i’m ready
to open my heart
and reveal to the world
the true version
of me
refusing to be
anything but me,
a person
you have yet to meet.

Mendiola Delivers Another Platinum Bomb

Part 1

“How do you think the release of this video will affect the sales of your upcoming album?”

“I haven’t given it much thought, really. I leave sales up to management and the label,” Derek responds with ease.

It’s a sunny spring afternoon in Miami Beach when Derek Mendiola, the gay Marine whose career exploded in 2005 after he won a nationally televised singing contest, sits down for press interviews on the terrace of the Tides Hotel overlooking Ocean Drive. With his third studio album to be released within a week, he has done nothing but press during his short visit back to his hometown.

“I see. And when was the footage taken?” Mr. Guilfoyle probes.

“How is that relevant to this interview?”

Craig Guilfoyle, staff writer for X Weekly, ignores Derek’s objection to his line of questioning. It has been less than a month since a sex tape featuring Derek and a former boyfriend leaked and the singer has yet to comment publicly about it.

“Were you aware that you were being filmed?”

“Look, my job is to sell my record, not your magazine, so feel free to write whatever you want about anything else.”

Guilfoyle smirks. “It’s funny you mention record sales because there are some who say that you leaked the video yourself to make up for the poor performance of your first single. Would you like to address that instead?”

Derek’s mouth is shut, his jaw popping with agitation. He looks away from the table where they are sitting toward the tourists walking down Ocean Drive. The sun could not be any brighter, the air thicker. Derek wishes he could enjoy being back home. He turns back to Guilfoyle, who is waiting for an answer.

“Wow, so someone leaks a five minute video of me taking it up the ass and suddenly civility goes out the window?”

“Are you saying you had nothing to do with the release?” Guilfoyle asks.

This is the final interview Derek has scheduled for the day. He considers stonewalling until their time is up, but decides to ignore the advice of his publicist and engage.

“When’s the last time you had sex, Mr. Guilfoyle?” Derek asks.

Guilfoyle rolls his eyes. “Mr. Mendiola, if you don’t want to address the sex tape that’s fine, but you have to understand that it’s my job to ask these questions. I’m giving you the opportunity to set the record straight here.”

Derek looks at Guilfoyle in disbelief. “Sorry, but it’s not my job to tell you what you wanna hear.”

Guilfoyle laughs. “Do you really think I flew here from LA to jot down some talking points from your publicist about your record?”

Derek looks away for a few seconds then turns back to Guilfoyle, who is sitting quietly across the table waiting for a response. “I’ll tell you what. If you wanna capitalize off my exploits, you have to give me what I want first.”

“I don’t have to give you anything.”

“No, you don’t, but I have something you want. So, we can either sit here in silence until our time is up or you can play along.”

Guilfoyle looks at Derek with consternation. He is tempted to get up and leave, but he can’t go back to LA without an exclusive. “What do you want?”

Derek laughs in satisfaction. “I want you to suck my dick.”

Guilfoyle blanches.

Derek erupts into laughter. “Relax, Bro. I’m only kidding.”

“Well what the fuck do you want, then?”

“I want you to answer all of the questions I ask you. I will match every one of your answers with an answer of my own.”

Guilfoyle looks at him for a few seconds. A smirk slithers onto his face. “Okay, but I ask the first question.”

Derek reaches over the table and shakes Guilfoyle’s hand. “Shoot.”

“Did you leak your own sex tape for publicity?”

“No, I did not,” Derek says, matter-of-factly. “My turn.”

Guilfoyle begins to think he may have gotten the shorter end of the stick. “Go ahead.”

“Well, I’m assuming that you’ve seen the video in its entirety – you know, for research – and I’m curious about what you thought of my performance.”

Guilfoyle shakes his head the way a parent would when their teenager acts up. “I think you looked desperate.”

Derek laughs. “That’s not a review of my performance, Mr. Critic.”

“I agreed to give you an answer and I did. Now it’s my turn,” Guilfoyle responds.


“Were you aware that you were being filmed?”

“Yup,” Derek offers. “Have you ever had sex with another man?”

“Oh come on.”

“That’s not an answer, my friend.”

Guilfoyle is ready to wrap up. Derek’s admission is good enough to make his editor happy, but now he feels personally violated. “No, I haven’t. Now, how does it feel to be more famous for a tape of you being sodomized than for all of the mediocre songs you’ve recorded over the past few years?”

Derek is taken aback by the aggressive turn Guilfoyle has taken, but he doesn’t let on. He giggles, rubs the inside of his thigh, and looks up at his adversary. His initial inclination is to dodge the question with a sarcastic response, but he decides to play along instead. “Honestly, I mourn for the people that value voyeurism over art. More so, though, I loathe the people who perpetuate this false paradigm by sensationalizing things like celebrity sex tapes while ignoring matters of social importance.” Derek pauses. As much as it pains him, he decides that he will give Guilfoyle the true story just to get it off his chest. “I made that video with my boyfriend of five years the weekend before I left for my first tour in Iraq. I wanted him to have it while I was gone since we would have to spend the next year hiding our relationship from the military.” Derek wants to leave it at that, but he realizes that he has not addressed the leak. “We broke up a few months ago and I didn’t even remember that tape existed until I got a call from my manager about it a few weeks ago.”

Guilfoyle sits across the table without reacting. He knows celebrities to feign sincerity in interviews for their own purposes and can’t help but remain skeptical.

Derek is ripping a white cocktail napkin and staring at the pieces of paper piling up next to his sweaty glass of lemon water. “I’m sure the truth will put your readers to sleep, so feel free to print whatever you want. Call me a nympho, call me shameless or out of control, whatever sells… I really don’t care.”

The lack of eye contact lets Guilfoyle know that he has gotten all that he will get out of Derek. “I think I have all I need here. Don’t forget to check out next week’s issue of X.”

“I don’t read X,” Derek says. He walks down the front steps of the art deco hotel without acknowledging Guilfoyle again.

Crossing the street toward Lummus Park, he takes off his shirt, revealing his tan torso. He has a USMC tattoo on his vascular arm, a six pack and a platinum crucifix hanging around his neck. Within seconds, he is lost in the flashes of cameras and crowds of tourists.

Part 2

A few days later, Derek is back in Los Angeles rehearsing for the countless performances he would give on most of the major networks when his publicist, Geraldine Micheals, calls.

“I’m gonna take five,” he says, and steps outside to take the call.

“Great news, D. You look fabulous on the cover of X this week. I just picked it up on my way to the office. Those abs… Hot!”

Derek wonders what angle Guilfoyle decided to take with the cover story. “What about the review?” he asks.

“Right, right. Before we talk about that let me ask you a question: what exactly did you say to Guilfoyle during the interview?”

Derek freezes like a kid who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “Why?”

“Well, he doesn’t seem to like you very much, so I’m gonna assume you didn’t stick to the talking points I sent you earlier that day.”

“The guy wouldn’t shut the fuck up about the tape.”

“Oh God, please don’t tell me you hit him, Derek. I’m running out of excuses for you here. I mean, we love publicity, but you can’t be portrayed as violent anymore. The public will turn on you and move onto a less aggressive bad boy. We discussed this last time, remember?”

“I didn’t hit him.”

“Well you must have done something to set this guy off. He did everything but post a picture of himself taking a shit on your CD. I mean, it’s not like anyone is gonna actually read the review, thanks to the photo spread, but Jeez. He went for the jugular.”

“Well, I don’t care what that low life thinks about me,” Derek says. He hears another phone ring on Geraldine’s end.

“That’s good, Honey. I’ll let you get back to rehearsals, then. I have New York on the other line. Ciao, Caio!”

“Bye.” Derek walks over to the black SUV he came in and pulls his laptop out of a gym bag to check out X online. He knows that he could have handled the interview better, but he had hoped that his sincerity would show the guy that he was a normal person just like everyone else.

Part 3

Mendiola Delivers Another Platinum Bomb
Review by Craig Guilfoyle

It comes as no surprise to most that the release of Derek Mendiola’s latest musical endeavor, Shut the F**k up and Listen, coincides with the leak of another, less artistic, Mendiola release. I was asked to sit down with the star to discuss the new album in Miami.

Unfortunately, it seems that Mendiola was not as interested in discussing the record as he was his sexual exploits. And after hearing the record, which Z Entertainment made sure did not leak prior to its release date, I understood why.

This album follows the same formula for pop mediocrity as Mendiola’s previous lackluster attempts: a single with beats from the latest ‘it’ producer, a mediocre cover of a song made famous by a female vocalist and nine or ten album fillers. The material that Derek presents would not have been acceptable as a B-side by any other male vocalist. However, every other make vocalist out there does not have the media coverage and Internet notoriety that Mendiola does.

It is clear that the success of his music can only be attributed to people’s fascination with his public indiscretions and the media coverage that follows. Hardly a news cycle goes by without mention of his antics. His music, however, generally slips under the radar.

I feel it is beneath the integrity of this publication to actually dignify the record with more than one star. I would not give it a single star if it meant that someone would opt out of buying another album to give this one a chance. There are dozens of truly gifted musicians who cannot break because every entertainment news outlet is too busy vying for more news about Derek Mendiola, the celebrity.

If Mendiola really wanted to make a decent record, he would take from all of these sensational experiences we are forced to hear about ad nauseum and express himself through music, not his sexual dalliances. Being a celebrity and having decent sales opening week with a minimal investment in marketing should not green light an album like this.

I refuse to review another Derek Mendiola album until he decides to take music seriously and put out material worthy of its distribution, not only because it liberates me from throwing away another forty five minutes of my life, but because he represents everything that makes pop music reprehensible to anyone with an ear.

Hey Derek, why don’t you shut the f**k up until you have a decent album to release?

Part 4

After reading the review, Derek sits on the black asphalt of the parking lot and takes in everything that Guilfoyle wrote. His first inclination is to get him on the phone and challenge him to say all of that to his face, but then he remembers what Geri told him about fighting.

Derek closes his laptop and grabs his mobile phone. He wants to call Geraldine back and figure out how to go after Guilfoyle, but he realizes that going after his critics and creating yet another public spectacle would only play into his game.

He opens the computer instead and re-reads the review. Derek has spent most of his career fighting for the opportunity to release his own songs, but his label insists on having him stick to formulaic pop written by up-and-coming producers to please his young fanbase. He has never felt more alone and frustrated both personally and artistically.

He closes his computer again, and instead of reaching for a phone to call the media, he grabs his guitar. He begins to strum the chords that speak to his soul – none of which appear on any of his records.

His five minute break from rehearsal is almost gone and the idea of going on every network to perform songs that mean nothing to him makes him want to run away from the whole thing and get a job at a VA hospital, writing music on his guitar in his spare time. Then he remembers the contracts he has signed with labels, concert promoters, radio stations, agents and management. His sadness quickly turns to anger.

Before going back into the rehearsal space, he places his laptop in the middle of the parking lot, picks up his acoustic guitar and begins to smash his computer with it. Still somewhat intact, he grabs the laptop and hurls it against the white exterior wall of the building, chipping some of the plaster and shattering the computer screen. His guitar strings are broken, so he rips them off and uses the neck of the guitar to smash the body until he is standing above yet another mess.

“Yo, we need you back onstage, Bro,” his tour manager says, completely ignoring the shards of wood and silicone chips that surround the star.

“Alright,” Derek says calmly. Before going back in, he kneels down and sorts through the pieces of his laptop until he finds the hard drive. He walks back to the SUV and places it in his gym bag, then walks back into rehearsal. “Can you have somebody clean that up before I’m done with rehearsal, please?”

“No problem.”

back to Short Fiction

Dr. Rosenthal’s Office

“Is Karen in her office?” I ask Elba, one of Dr. Rosenthal’s Registered Nurses.

“Yes she is, but she asked me to put you in a patient room.”

“Oh, ok.”

“Are you having blood work done? If not, I can grab you a cup of coffee. Dr. Rosenthal is on a phone call so she might be a few minutes.”

“Don’t worry about it, Hon. This is fine. Wow, great view from up here.”

The late morning sun is sparkling off of Biscayne Bay. I can faintly hear the roar of jet skis soaring past sailboats filled with snowbirds bathing in light. I almost forget that I’m sitting on one of these paper-draped recliners. I feel like I’ve only been to the gyno and the pediatrician since my kids were born.

“Would you mind stepping on the scale for me?” she asks after taking my blood pressure. Elba isn’t as cheerful as the other nurses. I guess she hasn’t gotten used to Karen’s sarcasm yet.

“One twenty-eight. I weighed myself this morning.” It’s actually one thirty-two, but nobody has to know about the two slices of pizza I had after the kid’s baseball game last night. Plus, I want the file to reflect the sudden decrease in my weight since last year. It’s the main reason I asked Karen to run tests in the first place.

“Alrighty. Dr. Rosenthal will be in to see you soon.”

“Great. Thanks.”

It’s eighty degrees outside but colder than the arctic in this small white room. Doctors say it’s because of germs, but I’m convinced it’s because they have to walk around in those thick lab coats all day. I scoot closer to the window, hoping that the same light that’s keeping the room bright will warm me up a little.

I’ve always told Karen that she could take home twice as much money by moving her practice to West Miami, but this view makes it very clear why she’s paid so much in rent for all these years. It must be so much easier to tell people what’s wrong with them with the bay glistening in the background.

The mental picture of Karen breaking bad news to someone makes me wonder why I’m sitting here.

There’s definitely something wrong.

I’ve never been this tired. I would do three spinning classes a week when the boys were still in diapers. Now I’m lucky if I can stay awake past their bedtime. And to top it off, I lost ten pounds over the holidays. And Lord knows that’s impossible when you’re a Cuban woman. Unless…

Shit. What if it’s bad news?

The idea that I might actually be sick never even crossed my mind. An electric current crawls up my spine and makes the hair on my neck stand. I run through my symptoms in a cold sweat as images of ailing mothers on daytime TV start flooding into my head.

Could that be my destiny?

My heart beats faster than it did the night I took my baby to the ER. That was the worst day of my life.

Wait, what if today’s the worst day of my life but I don’t know it yet?


No, Karen wouldn’t tell me like this.

Then again, she did move my appointment up from this afternoon. Is there a reason she didn’t want me to come in with the boys?

I refuse to follow that train of thought.

Nothing’s gonna happen to me.

Then again, nobody thinks it’s gonna happen to them – until it does.

Damn it. I should have taken better care of myself. I should have eaten better, exercised more, gone to the doctor more often…

How could I have been so careless?

I try to read a pamphlet on osteoporosis to keep from going insane, but all I can do is stare at the elderly couple in the picture. I’d never thought of growing old as such a privilege – until today.

Jesus Christ, where is she? I feel like it’s been hours. I just wanna know what’s wrong with me. Whatever it is, I need to know that I can fix it. An operation, medication, radiation. I don’t care what I have to do. I can’t leave my boys.

Not yet.

Their freckly little faces pop into my head: Danny with his missing tooth and unruly brown hair, Alex and his big brown eyes, Jorgie following his big brothers everywhere.

I’m already on the verge of tears when Karen walks through the door and says the two words I’ve been dreading.

“Bad news.”

I feel the all the blood leave my face as my heart begins to pound. I’ve never been more conscious of my mortality in my life. I try to keep the tears at bay while she reads me my sentence.

“No more triple espressos on ice for you.”

“Huh?” I don’t know what coffee has to do with anything, but I’m glad it’s not the other C-word.

“Everything looks okay, but I’m gonna have to send you to an endocrinologist to run tests on your thyroid. For now, though, I can tell you that have to start taking better care of yourself, Annie. No more crazy dieting, skipping meals, dosing up on caffeine all day…”

A torrent rushes out of my eyes before she can finish her sentence.

I’m not going to die.

Karen looks up from her prescription pad and rolls her eyes. “What’s the matter with you? It’s just coffee.”

I take a deep breath and reach into my purse for a tissue. “Oh thank God.”

“Did you think you were dying or something?”

“Umm, yeah! First you move my appointment to the morning, then you leave me in this frigid little room all by myself. What was I supposed to think?”

“Oh my God. I was just finishing up a conference call and I moved your appointment to lunchtime so that I could take you to the new vegan place downstairs for a plant-based meal. But since you’re acting like a crazy person maybe I should walk you over to Julie’s office upstairs for a psych eval instead.”

As I regain my composure, I pull a compact out of my purse and do what I can to resemble a normal human being again. “I’m not psychotic, Karen. I’m a mom. And you should work on your bedside manner.”

Karen rolls her eyes as I reapply my lip gloss.

“So am I dressed okay for this place? Had I known we were going to a vegan place I wouldn’t have brought a huge leather satchel or worn these snakeskin booties.”

“You’re fine, Beyoncé. Now let’s go before I rescind my invitation.”

Walks of Life

My lips have become bark, my saliva a thick paste. My joints feel like those of an arthritic man in his early seventies. I’ve grown accustomed to the cramps that have lodged themselves into my ribcage. I feel the blisters on my feet with each step I take, like someone is rubbing sandpaper on an open wound every time my foot hits the ground.

I’m about to give up on my quest when I see the tree-lined street that leads to the houses with the white picket fences. The hope of one day reaching this paved road is what got me through the days and nights that I walked alone through the desert.

I want to cry when my feet first hit pavement, but there isn’t enough fluid left in me to fill a single tear duct. After walking on the scorching sand, the smooth black asphalt makes me feel human again.

Once I’m close enough to the neighborhood, I notice a man exiting his home followed by his wife and daughter. He gives them both a kiss goodbye before walking down to his car on the driveway, a briefcase and coffee tumbler in his hands.

The man is blond with blue eyes and a medium build. He sets his coffee on the roof of his car and scrambles for his keys. Then he catches a glimpse of me as I slowly make my way down the street.

I attempt to smile, but my lips are so parched they break apart instead. Warm blood drips down my chin as I come closer to the family. The man quickly ushers them back into the house, his tumbler and briefcase forgotten atop his sedan. I decide to keep walking.

Before I make it past his house, the man re-emerges holding an assault rifle. He is still wearing his work clothes, a red and blue striped tie tucked into a white wrinkle-free shirt. He cocks his weapon and points it directly at me.

It feels like my blood has been instantly replaced with ice water. All of the hair on my body stands in terror. The shock paralyzes my jaw and my bloody mouth hangs open. My lungs fill with a numbness that almost suffocates me before I can take another step.

I peel my eyes off of the gun for a few seconds to look for help. I see a man in a white lab coat and light blue scrubs outside of the house across the street. I remember the Hippocratic Oath and I am filled with hope again. But my hope for humanity quickly fizzles as he gets down on one knee and pull back a crossbow aimed directly at my heart.

The way that they have positioned their weapons gives me the feeling that they want me to turn around and walk right back to where I came from, but that’s not an option for me. I can only move forward. I would rather die than go back into the desert. In fact, I will die if I go back there.

The thought alone gives me the impulse to continue my journey. Every step I take might be my last, but I am okay with that as long as my last step is in this direction.

After a few steps, the blond guy with the striped tie warns me not to step onto his property.

I slowly make my way past his yard and inch closer to the doctor with the crossbow. I see a stethoscope thrown on the driveway next to a small carton of orange juice that has emptied itself onto the stamped concrete.

When I reach the doctor’s house I find him calmer than the blond guy, but this could only mean that he is more comfortable with his finger on the trigger. I am terrified to look into his eyes, so I look into the window of his house. His wife is standing by the window in the kitchen rinsing his breakfast off their dishes without a care in the world.

The confusion makes me want to scream until my throat is swollen shut. I barely make it past the doctor and his wife before the entire neighborhood has been alerted of my presence. Every property owner is on his or her lawn with some form of armament: bats, whips, maces, guns, swords and crossbows.

The more I walk, the more narrow the street becomes. At first I think it must be an optical illusion created by my fear, but before long the street is two feet wide. It’s almost as if they’ve designed it in a way that would give them a reason to kill me.

I begin to experience vertigo and feel like throwing up. As much as I want to stop, I realize that I have nowhere to go.

Soon, my journey becomes a tightrope walk. My ankles are wobbly and my feet tremble, begging me to give in and just fall to my fate. Right before my knees begin to buckle, I reach the end of the road.

To my horror, the narrow street ends on a cliff. At the bottom of the cliff I see the desert. I look down at where I came from and try to decide my fate. If I let myself fall, I will die before I hit the ground. That seems like the most humane option.

Although I am ready to die, there is a question in my head that keeps my battered body from giving in.

Before accepting my fate, I turn around and look at the people with their weapons. Their apathetic faces incite a fury in me that I have never felt before. They are ready to push me over the edge without hesitation, but I refuse to make it so easy for them. My desperation turns into a hurricane that rips through my lungs. I open my mouth to scream and a gale force wind rushes through me.


As soon as the word escapes my mouth, my body begins to disintegrate. I become part of the sound waves pushing through the white picket fences and trees, past all of the people outside of their single family homes who wish to do me harm.

Gravity has no effect on me anymore. Like an eagle who has finally been set free, I soar toward the sea because there is nothing stopping me anymore.

Time is Running Out, Oil on Canvas by Gramatges Jordan

Questions About Becoming an Artist in Miami

How do you decide to become an artist?

My first exposure to oil painting came when I was a child. My mom had taken it up as a hobby and I used to watch her paint in the kitchen of my childhood home in Kendall, a suburb of South Florida.

My most vivid recollection is of walking in and seeing her paint a row of colorful daisies. I remember them clearly because when I went back into the kitchen a few minutes later, they had disappeared.

The canvas had been covered in a thick coat of violet paint with a bit of ultramarine blue splattered across it and some white highlights. It was the same canvas, but another painting entirely.

At that point I became mesmerized by the power of the artist to alter the fate of a painting.

It wasn’t for another twenty years that I would have my first experience with oil painting.

I had just moved back into my parent’s house after deciding against climbing the corporate ladder in financial services and moving out of my condo in Coral Gables. I was in my late twenties and I decided that I had to make the most of my time at home so that I didn’t feel like moving back was a step in the wrong direction.

To that point, the only thing that I had figured out was that stressing over financial figures, client meetings and performance reviews was not something that I wanted to do in the long term.

Where do you start your creative journey?

I started my creative journey years before that while I was writing for the FIU Beacon, my college newspaper.

I reviewed books, movies and music at first, then ventured into humor and anecdotal nonfiction – all the while discovering new characters and stories in the pages of my short fiction and poetry. My creative work never saw the light of day, though. I was too insecure to put them out there at the time.

I had attempted to make a career out of writing after college, but the type of work that it required to be successful in publishing in Miami was not the type of work that I was interested in doing by the time I was in my mid-twenties.

So, I figured that I had no other choice but to pursue some form of art – a choice I had been intimidated by since I was an adolescent.

How do you develop and discover your artistic talents?

By my late twenties I had collaborated on digital photo collage work and editorials for local publications, but my main focus had been on writing.

Once I decided that I was not going to take the traditional corporate track to find my success, I wanted to build my skill set as a visual artist so that I could eventually focus on art and design as a career.

As fate would have it, my mom was taking oil painting classes from an older Cuban couple when I moved back home.

I joined her for a couple of classes out of a desire to try something outside of my comfort zone.

The studio was on the second story of a strip mall on Calle Ocho and the bohemian instructors were kind and welcoming. The smell of linseed oil and the diversity in the colorful student work displayed on the walls immediately drew me in.

Applying a coat of wet paint to a blank canvas felt very sensual to me – it still does. It can be tedious, time consuming and frustrating, but I now understand the immediate gratification and long term value in painting.

Outside of oil painting, I found myself drawn to painting the furniture we had in the house that nobody was using at the time. I would stare at these vintage pieces and carefully figure out how a coat of paint could bring new life to an otherwise forgotten furniture piece.

What happens after you identify your talents and passions?

Once I realized that I had something to express with paint, I decided that I needed to do more than just paint in order to make it a career.

I began The New Miamian as a literary and visual art studio to share my work and the works of other artists that I encounter along my artistic journey, with a focus on Miamian Art.

And instead of shutting off the part of my brain that craves analysis and written communication, i’m going to use my words to create a dialogue about art and how impossible it seems to be able to make fine art a career choice in the twenty-first century.

The way it works now, only artists that appeal to collectors and curators have any chance of living as a professional artist.

My concern with this system is that it doesn’t encourage artists to experiment or to produce work that may not have a market at this moment in time.

What do you say to the Vincent van Goghs of the world, who will never sell a painting in their lifetimes, only to have them hang in the most important museums of the world a century later?

We should encourage everyone who is passionate about art to produce it, not just those with the possibility of appealing to those who hold the purse strings of society.

Is art a profession?

The true artist refuses to assimilate to a lifestyle that ignores the realities of society.

A rejection of the status quo and a divestment of the trappings of contemporary life are necessary to be able to view the world with the objectivity necessary to create honest art.

It’s hard enough to overcome the insecurity of looking at a wet canvas with odd shapes and colors on it without wondering if you’re losing your mind. Adding to that society’s dismissal of art as a profession only makes it sound more insane to want to become an artist.

Only recently did it occur to me that it doesn’t sound like a career choice for a reason: the role of the artist goes beyond commerce. The artist is meant to ask society the questions that we don’t have answers to yet – and these questions are usually met with resistance.

Where are we going as a civilization?

Technology has added a lot of noise to our daily lives and it’s hard to live without, but what happens next?

Will we end up in another nuclear war that will devastate our already deteriorating environment?

Will our children be able to witness nature in the multitude and splendor that the last few generations have been lucky enough to experience?

Will religious wars overshadow their doctrines, creating the first generation on the planet that does not worship a deity?

More importantly, though, who is asking these questions – and to whom?

Gramatges Jordan, Artist