MIAMI DADE COLLEGE INHERITS THE NEW WORLD MURAL
INSIDE THIS ICONIC SYMBOL OF FREEDOM
William Mark Coulthard
Wade Foy & John Conroy
Freedom Tower Miami New World Mural "
The mural's center image presents Juan Ponce de Leon and the Tequesta chief
Miami Artisans in 1988
Wade S. Foy
W Mark Coulthard
New World Mural, Freedom Tower, Miami, by Miami Artisans 1988
The artists responsible for the research redesign and recreation, in 1987/88
Supported by an invited/collaborative group of three more artists. They were..
Phylis Shaw China
Gerome Villa Bergsen Fl,
Ana Bikic. Fl.
The past holds secrets and mysteries, events and people that become lost and forgotten
without leaving traces of their whereabouts or having knowledge of the roles they had played in
significant events that matters our civic past.
These pieces of the puzzle belong to as all. AB. 2009/2010©Copyright
The credit for this mural should be
for a ''Total Recreation.''
''The New World mural that now hangs in the Freedom Tower Miami is the second version, painted and completely recreated by the Miami Artisans in 1988.
It is a total New recreation of the lost design, achieved from old black & white photographs and some remnants of old ragged canvas, found by Richard Heisenbottle, hanging in the Tower in 1987 '' The first mural that hung in the "Daily News/Miami Tower" in 1925, to which the artists and designer were lost and forgotten with the passing of time, was rediscovered in 1987.
Paradoxically, history has had a tendency to repeat itself once again, since almost the exact same situation has happened to the current authors of this mural. This is how for a second time, the story almost has repeated the loss of the names of the authentic authors and the true story behind the mural. Wade Foy, John Conroy and Wm.Coulthard were the principle artists of the mural's remaking, responsible for research and rendering/redrawing.
Supported by an invited/honorary/collaborative group of three more artists, Phylis Shaw, Jerome Bruer Bergsen and this author, Ana Bikic. The pictorial contents of the mural represent Ponce De Leon with his triumphant arrival to the New World, next to the Native Tequesta-American people's Chief, peacefully surveying the Pangea in addition to a whole message of hope and faith in the pursuit of new horizons and promises about fruitful relationships for a future respecting it's past. In 1987, the Freedom /News Tower was completely repaired. During this restoration, when the construction workers removed panels on the second /Mezzanine level they exposed the top part of a mural semi glued; the ragged remnant looked like it was part of a cartographic map from the 1920's. Richard Heissenbottle, who was the Architect in charge of the Tower's project found black & white photos revealing a large mural over 40 ft long.
He commissioned a new recreation of the mural from the Miami Artisans group in 1988. These artists of Fine Art Schooling were true muralists,working with the Coconut Grove Playhouse. They carefully studied the history and researched the details surrounding both the time of the Tower's construction and the events around 1509 to 1513, passing long hours in the Miami Libraries, reading and copying relevant data, recopulating their findings of historical knowledge concerning the event in order to appropriately represent the creation of a new true masterpiece. In this way they achieved a magnificent piece of Art, characterizing in the composition the most faithful traduction of all the symbols of the past, as well as the messages pertinent to our present day understandings.
The Miami Artisans brought in this form of reunion a finding of the primitive passion and the drama and glory of history, with it's respective messages as well as the renovated image. A modern concept, a more objective and realistic view than the mural's 1920's version. These artists, the Miami Artisans, when they had finished the piece, cheered with the formulation of a promise, that they would ensure that the sad history of falling into total anonymity, as had happened to those poor artists of the 1920s, would not be repeated again!
Unfortunately, the Building/Tower fell again to abandonment, with broken windows allowing the inclement's and time to affect the new mural. Throughout this time the mural was never disrespected, even the indigents that sought refuge within the Tower, did not deface or draw graffiti on the mural, although all else was targeted by their delinquent and contempt, even they saw the mural as a virtuous piece. As credited in the Docu.HofF,TofD. The recent history...
In 2006 the MDC inherited the building, now called the Freedom Tower and with in it; the New world mural by the Miami Artisan '88 group, Along with the exchange of ownerships and abandonment's they had inherited the missing of evidence and true time line of the mural's real authors,consequently, the authentic story become distorted. They assumed that it was the mural of the 20'S and it is in this form ,how it was represented in the award winning documentary 2001. The Freedom Tower mural, with the script adjuncted as a presentation for the National Landmark Status in 2007. A new cloud of mystery went up threatening to entomb the real authors and their credit. If the hurricane of 1926 had blown away the first hands to paint the Miami Pangea Mural, then now the winds of ignorance threatened to definitely erase from our civic history the chance to celebrate this historic icon, a mural more relevant today to it's community than when the first version adorned the large hall 80 years ago. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to bring certain but truthful things to the light ...
The dust of ignorant indifference covering important events, people who move out of the area, lose contact with friends could increase the difficulty. friends, and then others who terribly die with out leaving reminiscence of their repentant departure. The mistaken history became unchallenged and therefore comfortable ideas are accepted as convenient solutions to poorly recorded data. Many years after the conclusion of the mural, the artist Wm. Mark Coulthard returns from the UK with this author, but does not find any of his fellow colleagues, as though evaporated in time. After a long search, he found that John Conroy was back living in his home town of New York/ Syracuse and then we sadly discovered through John that in our absence our friend and colleague Wade Foy, the founder of the group, had suddenly died in a freak accident in 1995. Stung by a bee, adversely affecting a cardiac arrest. Fortunately not all is forgotten, because of certain people that advocated for the rightful vindication for the Miami Artisans 88, they have brought out the artists from an unjust null, after all the pieces of the puzzle were collected, it only took uniting them to see the result. In this way the true authorship was achieved to change the National Landmark Status to reflect the truth about the mural or its authors. However, as much as the artists try to encourage authorities towards correcting this unfortunate mistake, they appeared indifferent to this honest request.
The advocacy in 2009
Sadly, the mural was restored without any type of consultation from the artists that produced the historical mural. The exclusion of known or living author is detrimental to the validity of the whole art work of antiquity and originality. None of the original artists were invited to the unveiling, after the restoration, nor was the Architect. The press reports about the unveiling were inaccurate and misleading with allegations of mysterious authorship, still referring to the fine work as a simple restoration. As the months unfolded in 2009 the advocacy has began a ground roots approach, currently thousands of Miami residents and people from around the world have listened, as the web sites rise to prominence, blogging, Face Book and other artist registries have helped to promote the advocacy taking it on an accelerating road of events. One very important contact occurred in august 2009.
Artist Ana Bikic, leading the advocacy, published an article with the story of the New World Muralists, in Spanish with Cancunissimo, in the Miamissimo section of the Magazine, which has 18 years of International publishing in our region, with over 100,000 copies distributed in Mexico,Caribbean and South Florida.
The Dade Heritage Trust was forwarded the correspondence concerning the National Landmark issue to Ms.Becky Roper Maitov, who was shocked ! It was discussed that the Trust would move towards transitioning the truth to the light and the annual magazine this year did include both John's and Wade's names but as owners of the company Miami Artisans, not as the mural's artists. It is the little things that get away. Restoration instead of Recreation, or Owner instead of Author.
Pitifully Fine Art history is filled with empty credit lines but serious historians always appear to unearth original stories. In the Fall the artists started a collection of paintings depicting the themes of the New World Mural. The first one was shown an the Cremata Art Gallery Supported By Beba Sardina Mann, candidate for Commissioner District #3 . The Painting was presented at another event for Council of Coconut Grove member Dr Kate Callahan as a campaign to bring awareness, the painting was raffled. Then shown as part of the advocacy campaign during Art Basel Miami Beach at the American Legion, where artists and visitors signed the petition for recognition. During this Event, the artists helped to make two more banners to use for the street petition campaign in January 2010. which already bare the symbols of Miami's notorious 'gl' artists.
They understood the necessity for representation and credit immediately, for them it was obvious. Through out this advocacy it has been expressed ,again and again by many, how very shocked and disappointed they are in our civic leaders. This mural that was intended to be joyful and inspiring, instead it is rapidly becoming a symbol of civic deception and administered folly. A rightful credit...
The Miami Artisans 1988 group are, despite the tragic loss of Wade Foy, determined to have their reported restoration corrected to a credit that fully acknowledges a 'total recreation' and all that this
category of architectural commission implies. In the light of all that has transpired surrounding the Mural in the last 10 years ,it is fair and important to recognize the real authors and their magnificent accomplishment. The difference between a restoration and a recreation is huge; any comparison of the two categories is demeaning to the later achievement. A recreation is not a mere copy rendered ,it is an authentic interpretation based on original aesthetic values. This mural required research, redesign and reinvention to achieve the commission. It was in fact made to look like the original although only 50% of the information existed. The remnant that survived on the wall represented only 10% of the original and the photographic evidence was not only in black and white but limited and incomplete
Therefore, the three principle artists were responsible for the recreation of the whole color scheme and the design of all missing parts.
This process was overseen on a weekly basis by the commissioning architect and his staff. With this in mind it is impossible to call this a restoration. It is in fact a ''total or full recreation.''
The historical relevance of the New World Mural is that it represents the first known North American settlement to be discovered by Spain, nearly 500 years ago. just north of the mouth of the Miami River where the Freedom Tower stands. It should also be noted that this was not the only mayor architectural paint project to the group's credit locally. The Opa Locka City Hall Chambers were
painted by Wade Foy and WM Coulthard a year earlier in 1987 and their work on the ceiling is still appreciated there today.
The Freedom Tower is perhaps the most prestigious building in Miami. It symbolizes all civic freedoms from its usefulness throughout Miami's short history. The Tower represents our freedom of speech through its journalistic beginnings, it has been used as a immigration center and as a health clinic, it is now owned by our Miami Dade College whose public standing has served further education in Dade County to the point of National recognition. Their plans to use the Tower for historical and artistic education, as well as for conferences, completes the symbolic usage of the Tower. It is a grand icon for Miami, it's importance is still growing and so it is a serious mistake that should be clarify.
The truth belongs to us all.
This advocacy for "Rightful Recognition for Total Recreation" of the Freedom Tower's New World Mural looks for the benefit of all parties.
to.. The Artists and their Commissioning Architect as authors; a rightful credit.
to..The Miami Dade College as Stewards: an opportunity to celebrate without controversy.
to..the City and People of Miami as the inheritors; the transparency ,truth and tradition.
to.. The State of Florida ,as we are part of, the celebrative image that represents the first known North American settlement to be discovered by Spain, nearly 500 years ago, literally steps from the Freedom Tower itself, the Tequesta village of Miami, it's burial mound, huts and canoes, as reported in the Histories of the Gold Coast Treasuries of 1605.
''All deserve to have the real and unique truth placed openly and proudly. This is what the Miami Artisans understood in 1988, they were acutely aware of the significance of the symbolism and history whilst making the mural. Many artists wanted a part in its making,besides the three principles only three more were invited to be involved.
Phylis, Jerome and this author. I am an involved eyewitness, my brothers helped to install the canvas and I have been married to this story for over twenty years.
Thank you for reading our story and signing on our behalf.
Ana Bikic 2009
Lead advocate for the Miami Artisans 1988 group.
"Torre de La Libertad Miami Freedom Tower New World Mural "
Miami Artisans in 1988
Wade S Foy, John Conroy and W. Mark Coulthard
Writen by Artist Advocate Ana Bikic.08/10©Copyright