Doral brings art to the city amidst ongoing pandemic

Maria Bonnemaison/ SFMN

Despite the pandemic, the city of Doral is celebrating public art with 18 large sculptures on display in six parks.

Spanish artist Manolo Valdés’ work can be seen in Doral Central Park, Downtown Doral Park, Doral Legacy park, and Morgan Levy Park, among others.

Valdés has displayed his art globally, from New York to Rome. He owns a home in Madrid and a studio in New York, but his largest project began in a local bronze foundry. Valdés met Doral Contemporary Art Museum co-founder Marcelo Llobell at Art and Sculpture Unlimited, Inc., located right outside Doral.

After meeting with Llobell, Valdés agreed to lend his sculptures to the museum. Working with city government, workers transported and installed the pieces.

Doral Contemporary Art Museum Vice President Flor Mayoral said the idea for the public outdoor exhibit came at a perfect time to promote art in the city despite the safety and economic limitations of COVID-19.

“We decided it would be a good time because we can’t do anything indoors,” she said. “We are trying to rethink life because of the way COVID has changed everything we do and how we think about art.”

The non-profit museum was founded by Mayoral, Llobell and Ingrid Rockefeller. It exhibits local and international artists as well as Master of Fine Art students from FIU.

“We are inclusive in how we look at art,” said Mayoral. “The concept is simple – it’s art and industry. We embrace anything along the lines of engineering, design, architecture, and performance art.”

The sculptures – some measuring over 11 feet tall – have received positive reviews.

“People call us all the time, they’re still in awe,” she said. “It’s incredible how even as a small startup museum and we’ve been able to get this contemporary art master to donate his work for six months so that the city of Doral can enjoy. You need to stand in front of one of these sculptures to be completely blown away by the mastery of what he does.”

(Maria Bonnemaison/SFMN)

The Legacy exhibit provides an open cultural space that proves how even in times of hardship, art and artistic expression can prevail. Doral resident Carlos Guerrero said he appreciates the project and the growing emphasis on art in the city – of which he’s been living in for over nine years.

“Especially during this pandemic it’s just really nice to be able to admire art in a low-risk setting,” he said. “I’m also particularly excited about the fact that Doral is moving towards having its own art district.”

With the addition of the sculptures, the city aims to promote different cultural arts in the city. In 2018, the city voted on a $150 million park bond for the improvement of parks and cultural facilities. A new cultural facility will be built near downtown which will include art classes and exhibitions by local artists.

“For us it’s consistent since we’ve seen a lot of growth in our gastronomy and entertainment,” said Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez. “It’s a very exciting time for us as a city.”

The mayor added that along with the growing population of Venezuelan immigrants, the city is gaining attention from people across the state and all over the country.

“It’s interesting because it’s changing the demographic,” said Bermudez. “Probably 10 years ago Doral wasn’t as common, but today it brings a more diverse community.”

The Doral Contemporary Art Museum held its first grand opening on Dec. 20, 2020 and its second on March 20 in Downtown Doral to celebrate the completed project. The sculptures will be on view through June 2021.

Maria is an aspiring journalist from Venezuela studying at FIU’s College of Communication. She is passionate about politics and culture and hopes to pursue a career in digital media.