"the" Mrs. Astor

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Poor Mr. Astor has been suffering from a cold for the past few days, allowing me to go into Clara Barton overload: home made chicken soup, medicine, lots of juices, and loving. Today, though, he was well enough to take to the Bass Museum; its exhibit, "Promises of Paradise: Staging Mid-Century Miami" was ending in a few days and if it promised anything, it was a collection of the crazy, mismatched patterns of design scattered throughout the area. It did not disappoint.

Before you entered this exhibit, you were able to view the works--in photographs and drawings--of Lawrence Murray Dixon, the architect of the most famous Art Deco hotels like The Tides, The Raleigh, and The Victor. With this in your belt, it was easier to digest what when on after World War II when the vast expansion of Miami and the Beach gave rise to the fun motels on Biscayne Blvd., the over-the-top Beach hotels of Morris Lapidus like The Eden Roc and The Fontainebleau, and the Fifty's Moderne style of tropical ranch home. If you spend time here the wide variety of architectural design can be dizzying; Spanish Revival rests next to Art Deco which sits next to Streamline Moderne. The War interrupts things for a bit, but the Fifties burst of George Jetson-like design takes hold, MiMo (Miami Modern), and settles into the kooky, garishness of big hotels on The Strip, or Gold Coast. One thing I read at the exhibit will linger in the quest to understand Miami: Lapidus once brushed off the mish-mash of design and--especially--the splendid, if nonsensical aspects of his own. "If Miami is a dream then it doesn't have to make sense."


At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Marc said...

Did you see the photographs of the drag queens and kings that used to perform in the hotels at that time? It was a very intriguing part of the exhibit!

At 12:38 PM, Blogger "the" Mrs. Astor said...

I certainly did! Leo and I were agog.


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