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RE:CONSTRUCTION/ Our Cities Lie in Dust

The transformation of South Florida in the last 20 years has been overwhelming to say the least. Despite how hot and steamy this tropical swamp may be, shady business has always been our motto. The late 1970s brought so much drug money to Miami, it completely transformed Brickell Avenue via “construction” for the Cocaine Cowboys. Back then the Sunshine State was built on snow.

See, capitalism’s fault is it survives on growth with no plan for stagnation. Economists will tell you the money world has ebb and flow but America doesn’t listen. We don’t plan or prepare for the ebb. Things like the EB-5 Visa Plan and the development of “Opportunity Zones,” formerly known as blighted areas, are created and tweaked to provoke growth. For example, see the Jobs and Tax Cut Act of 2017.  In the last 20 years we have seen Miami grow into the third-tallest US skyline behind New York and Chicago, respectively. Much of this is a monopoly game for speculators and developers. They change neighborhoods and displace citizens. It is served up on a platter as “progress” and revenue-making with no regard for those pushed out.

Recently the State of Florida decided local rule is no longer acceptable. First came the overpowering changes to Air BnB rules in neighborhoods, then the attacks on Historic Preservation, and now we sit on the verge of doom. State law has decided to dictate and overrule cities with candy-coated named propositions like the “Florida Live Local Act.” Discussions and looking further into any of the above named rulings are worthy within your local community to see how severely these laws and propositions have affected neighborhoods. But I am really here to talk about something else.

The Hollywood Historical Society has branched out in recent years to include bike and walking tours, a documentary titled The Grand Lady, and has offered art shows and events at the Hammerstein House to increase awareness to the history of our city. Many of these things happened with the generous help of the Windhover Foundation. For more than 6 months a new avant-garde show has been in the works, which breaks new ground in the organization’s historic exhibits while also retaining the feel of how the Hammersteins lived.

RE:CONSTRUCTION is this art show and it opens October 14th, 2023.

Richard Vergez, a mainstay in the South Florida art and experimental music world, has been offered a chance to make collages from photos of historically important buildings that no longer exist in Hollywood. Mr. Vergez has exhibited his artwork worldwide and is renowned for his collage work. He has also been given the opportunity to view the inside of the house and envision where to display the art. There is something conceptual, destructive, resurrective, brutalist, and to some, political about this exhibit. Mr. Vergez’s mixed media background made him perfect for this challenge. When acquiring the photos he dealt with the unknown and how assembly creates something new. I could in fact write endlessly about his art and his resume but really, what’s important is for you come and see it yourself.

RE:CONSTRUCTION opens October 14th from 6-9pm with refreshments and the artist in attendance. The Hammerstein House will also be open Halloween evening 5-9pm and the first Sunday of each month from 1-4pm. There will be a closing of this exhibition in late Dec. 2023 or early Jan. 2024 with music performances. Private group tours are also available by appointment.

Hammerstein House is at 1520 Polk St., Hollywood, Florida.

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