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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Miami estate conjured up from a time well past still captures all my senses

We spent part of today at Mr. Deering's playful estate, the Viscaya in Coconut Grove, walking the grounds. Instead of peacocks and paramours there were herons, iguanas, foreign tourists and multiple "Quinceneros" photo shoots. Mostly a symmetrical layout directing the guest to the mansion, the gardens offered multiple side nooks for isolated pleasures. There are pools, amphitheaters, and even a labyrinth! The lines and textures of the estate were soothingly beautiful. It was all breathtakingly beautiful. Decay and growth vied for attention.

Built at the turn of the century, the area was originally surrounded by mangroves and wilderness. If it were not for the helicopters checking highway conditions overhead, I would have been traveling back through history when lavish homes mimicked the aristocratic palaces of Europe. Now South Miami Avenue is right out front, intersecting US 1 and connecting Mercy hospital with the yuppy Brickell area of downtown and the million dollar mansions to the south.
In the sanctuary of the estate walls, coral rocks dredged from canals are lined with statues, a lot of which are concrete cast and given the aged patina. Vines crawl over the edges of the walls and coral steps are smoothed by the feet of millions of tourists. It's been a hundred years and still the whole place is a fantasy land myth, a stage set, with a mood conjured by a man with a desire to play with the image of ostentatiously genteel wealth.

 



Michael in the Grotto like entrance to the "secret garden"
The statues on the cement barge were designed by the father of Alexander Calder- Alexander Stirling Calder.

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