Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Art Deco in Miami

Not being people to spend time on beaches, the main attraction of Miami for us was the abundance of art deco buildings along the South Beach area.  And we had been pleased to find that we could coincide our stay with the annual Art Deco Weekend.

When we worked out the bus systems and got our two buses into SoBe, we certainly saw a lot of great art deco architecture.  Some of it was the classic white style that you often see along beach fronts in the UK, which I have to  admit to being my own preferred type, while some had gone for more colour.

Art Deco gets its name from the 1925 Paris Exhibition of 'Arts Decoratifs', which focused on displays of modern art of the period.  As this was one of the biggest viewings of these new styles, the abbreviated name of the fair was adopted as an easy description of this post WW1 modern style.

Some of the art deco style uses a lot of Egyptian inspired imagery and colouring.  This came out of the rise in popularity of all things egyptian following the 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb.

There is a lot of this more ornate style here in Miami, as well as the simpler, more common influence of the pyramid in the stepped levels of building structure and decorative lines.

So we enjoyed looking at the buildings.

We didn't do the Art Deco tour though, preferring instead to do the 'underworld' tour, which promised stories of crime and mafia that happened in these parts.

Sadly the tour was a bit disappointing.  For a city that was - and possibly still is - so steeped in mafia connections, it was a bit thin on underworld stuff.
He did tell us that the decorative lines and arrows built into the flooring of some hotels probably pointed to the direction of the prohibition era speakeasies.

He also said that when the speakeasy got a tip off that they were about to be raided by the police, they would take most of their stuff to the Wolfsonian, which at that time was a storage company, to hide it until after the raid was over and they could get back to business.
Aside from those two points, and showing us the spot where Versace was shot, the only things we got were film and TV references, such as the fact that the neon work inside Club Deuc, the oldest pub in Miami, was brought in when they filmed some of Miami Vice there.

He did repeatedly tell us that everyone was corrupt during those mafia days, which was probably rather unnecessary for a group on an underground tour.  But if you were in the market for an expensive property, he did tell us that the house that Al Capone retired to in Miami is up for sale.
And unfortunately the market was a bit of a let down too.  As markets go, it wasn't bad.  There were some nice antiquey bits, some jewellery, and lots of other things, but it wasn't really art deco.
We had expected that there would be a lot of art deco related stuff here.  Obviously not all original, but we had thought we would see some good reproduction bits and other things that were clearly inspired by the art deco period.  There was a little bit of this, but not much.  The vast majority was what you would expect to find at any flea market.
We went along to the Art Deco Welcome Centre to see the 'bounty of Art Deco furniture' and saw about ten pieces.  Though admittedly one was a rather large and elaborate light which I though was pretty amazing.  Still, not much of a bounty, more of a smattering.
The parade of vintage cars was interesting to a point.  There were some nice old classics.  But even then, they were stretching the idea of vintage.  It was bad enough that they included cars from the eighties, but some of the cars being driven must have been from within the last ten years; I think a couple towards the end were just showing off their latest acquisition!
We had hoped for a bit of canine amusement with the Arf Deco parade of dressed up dogs, but they were a bit thin on the ground and very few really dressed for the occasion.
So overall we weren't especially impressed with the Art Deco Weekend.  A bit like Miami as a whole really.  It was alright, there was some stuff to see and do, but it wasn't as good as we'd expected and we not really sure what all the fuss is about.  Perhaps it really is just all about the beach here.

But hey, we had a couple of huge cocktails at a bargain happy hour price, so we were contented enough!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for explaining some of the history of Art deco! I've always felt quite drawn towards that style.


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