De La Cruz Kind of Art
By brett sokol
Adding insult to injury, Rosa’s family home in western Havana had been seized by the government and turned into the new Polish embassy. The official edict: “Your home now belongs to the people.” What had once seemed like a temporary sojourn in Miami was looking permanent. It’s a status that, even five decades later, still troubles the de la Cruzes. Carlos, now a beverage magnate, has been named by The Miami Herald as one of the dozen most influential businesspeople in Miami-Dade County. Rosa wields a similar level of power within the local cultural milieu. Yet the Cuba of their past—and the Cuba to be—weighs heavy on their minds.
So call it subtle symbolism: Visitors to the Space are initially greeted by a life-size mobile of a giddy young German couple behind the wheel of a new Volkswagen. It’s a seemingly upbeat image, until de la Cruz reveals that its creator, Polish artist Paulina Olowska, was inspired by apprehension over the hordes of Germans f lowing across Poland’s post-1989 border in search of cheap consumer goods. The same drivers were also whizzing past emigrating Poles who were in search of employment in the reunified Germany. All those decades of struggle and suffering under communism—only to end in job-hunting exile.
The final image visitors are left with is one of Cuban-exile artist Félix González-Torres’ signature paper stacks—two piles of poster-size sheets, one stamped NOWHERE BETTER THAN THIS PLACE, the other SOMEWHERE BETTER THAN THIS PLACE. All are free for the taking and continually replenished—a way for González-Torres to fuse a philosophical musing with a subtle jab at the often sanctimonious “don’t touch!” air of traditional museums.
The lasting message is simple: Home is wherever you make it. Informed that visitors were opting for “Nowhere” posters over the “Somewhere” competition—at a ratio of almost two to one—de la Cruz flashes a smile that mixes both triumph and relief. “That’s Miami!” she says.
TOP IMAGE: Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz wih Cesar Trasobares' Hojas Libres. MIDDLE IMAGE: De La Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space. BOTTOM IMAGE: Paulina Olowska, Car Mobile.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BEN SHAUL (DE LA CRUZES); CARLOS RIGAU (INTERIOR)
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