Photographs courtesy Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

In preparation for its centennial, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens launches Lost Stories and Spaces of Vizcaya with an intent to provide the public – and Vizcaya’s 200,00 annual visitors –with a deeper understanding of the estate, its history, its transition from a private home to a public space, its evolving present and future. 

Historical images of villa vizcaya that portray lost spaces.

This year the CAP program has worked to conjunction with Vizcaya’s centennial, focusing on the theme of time, to highlight the lost stories of the house and gardens. Through a series of contemporary works, Lost Spaces and Stories of Vizcaya comments on historical elements of the estate that have been lost to the passage of time.

The result is a stunning mixture of new world meets old world ­in both a physical and narrative space – Amanda Keeley’s neon adorns the now empty parlor room, while Frances Trombly’s nouveau bell pulls remind visitors that houses like Vizcaya were once staffed.

In total, the exhibit features eleven original installations by contemporary South Florida artists or collaborative teams commissioned through Vizcaya’s CAP. The artists ultimately chosen for the project were given the guideline in the commissioning document, “Projects should connect to Vizcaya’s illustrious past, Vizcaya’s bright and interesting future, and Vizcaya’s value to Miami.”

“We’ve commissioned local artists who have a unique perspective on Vizcaya’s place in Miami’s cultural landscape to bring back lost elements of the estate’s original design,” says Gina Wouters, Curator of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

Though still a landmark, Vizcaya has transformed over the past 100 years, and with it much of the estate’s original design and history has too. Once called Villa Vizcaya, it was built between 1914 and 1922 as an estate and winter residence for James Deering, of the of the Deering McCormick-International Harvestor fortune. Inspired by the lavish European estates of the bourgeois, the property contains a main house, ten acres of formal Italian Renaissance gardens, a native woodland landscape, and a historic village – still to restored for future programs.

Though the architecture of the Villa is designed in Mediterranean Revival style and the landscaping was taken from the Tuscan Italian Renaissance time period, the house was and still is very much rooted in it’s subtropical Miami setting. Directed by Paul Chalfin who was the project’s director, Deering infused Villa Vizcaya with elements of South Florida – in the gardens’ use of Cuban limestone stonework, with the use of native subtropical plants, and the incorporation of art and antiquities commissioned by artists in the area. 

Artist Installation Renderings

Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova
the piece creates a reference to the Casba that appears as either unfinished for deconstructed, depending on perspective. 

Brookhart Jonquil FOCUSING ON THE ORIGINAL FIXTURES IN THE TWO ROOMS IN the casino, the piece uses light and architectures to bridge the physical and the immaterial.

Brookhart Jonquil
FOCUSING ON THE ORIGINAL FIXTURES IN THE TWO ROOMS IN the casino, the piece uses light and architectures to bridge the physical and the immaterial.

Frances Trombly
The artist designed new bell pulls for the historic bell pulls that called the staff throughout the Main House at villa vizcaya.

Now, 100 years later, Lost Spaces will bring to life the forgotten past of Vizcaya in two phases. The first phase features works that relate to the estate’s moat, map racks, staff life and lost decorated rooms. The pieces vary in medium, from a felted map to a neon sign to a sound piece that fills Vizcaya’s moat with ambient sound. In total, seven artists will bring their interpretations of Vizcaya’s Lost Spaces alive in Phase I.

In Phase II, on view starting in December of this year, five artists will create works in four areas related to Vizcaya’s gardens and leisure spaces: the Casba, South Property, the Casino and Basement Recreational Rooms. The locations highlight elements of the original design of the Villa that no longer exist – a pavilion that has since been moved to the Archdiocese of Miami, a staircase no longer used, and a tea house that stands empty.

Each piece activates a space overlooked or long gone to history, stirring new thoughts of what once was and reflections on a time period long forgotten. Lost Spaces and Stories of Vizcaya will culminate in May of 2017 for Vizcaya’s centennial.

Initiated in 2006, Vizcaya’s Contemporary Arts Program (CAP) commissions site-specific works inspired by Vizcaya from contemporary artists as a way to activate the historic site and maintain relationships with the emerging and established artist community.

The artists selected to present their work for Lost Spaces and Stories are Duane Brant, Brookhart Jonquil, Amanda Keeley, Juraj Kojs, Mira Lehr and Yara Travieso, Lucinda Linderman, Kerry Phillips, Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, David Rohn, Magnus Sigurdarson and Frances Trombly. 

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
3251 South Miami Ave | Miami