‘Save Lincoln,’ art beats market forces in Miami Beach
By Ana Mengotti
Miami, Jun 4 (EFE).- Having successfully completed operation “Save Lincoln,” a group of individuals united in defense of the artistic heritage of Miami Beach now proposes that seven large mosaics made in 1971 by Italian-Cuban sculptor Enzo Gallo still be exposed in the city streets.
Were it not for the efforts of this group, the mosaics of Gallo (1927-1999), who was born in Italy and moved to Cuba as a young man to work with his uncles, marble workers in Havana, and went into exile in the United States. In 1960, they would have succumbed to the strength of the real estate market in South Florida.
Dedicated to people, events and institutions in the history of the US, a country that turns 246 Monday, the mosaics embellished an important corner of tourist Miami Beach for 51 years from the exterior walls of a bank building that is being demolished to build a hotel.
Using a technique that had its splendor in ancient Byzantium, Gallo portrayed President Abraham Lincoln, Betsy Ross, the woman who “invented” the “stars and stripes” flag, the first astronauts on the Moon and the winners of the battle of Iwo Jima, in World War II, when they planted the US flag.
He paid tribute to the three powers of the state with mosaics dedicated to the buildings where they have their headquarters in Washington.
Mosaics never went unnoticed. There were always tourists taking pictures, Jungian psychoanalyst Emilio Romero, who lives in an adjoining building, told EFE.
Romero is one of the saviors of Gallo’s works, who is recognized above all for his marble sculptures and left abundant work in Cuba, in addition to the United States.
“When I found out that the building was going to be demolished, I immediately worried about the mosaics,” said Romero, who quickly began to move to prevent them from disappearing.
His efforts overlapped at some point with those of Daniel Ciraldo, the executive president of the Miami Design Preservation League, and with other individuals who had also mobilized for the same purpose, so they decided to join forces.
“At first we only intended to save ‘Lincoln’, but we have managed to save all seven mosaics,” he says, pleased with this “triumph” of art over economic forces.
The demolition works of what in the last half century was a bank have been delayed in order to separate the mosaics from the cement walls without causing damage.
The company that builds the CitizenM hotel, which will replace the bank on the corner of Alton Road and Lincoln Road, has helped with a check for a six-digit amount and the owners of a nearby commercial premises have given it for a symbolic price to store the works for a year, Romero said.
A son of Enzo Gallo, the plastic surgeon Julio Gallo, financed the payment of a specialist to supervise that the removal operation was carried out with professional criteria.
Finally, the Miami Beach City Council unanimously approved accepting Gallo’s works as a donation and seeking a new destination for them in the city.
Romero now wants “Lincoln to be taken to Lincoln,” in reference to the pedestrian street that bears the name of the 16th president of the United States and is a must-see for those who visit Miami Beach. EFE