Reports about the demise of Ambrosino Gallery have been greatly exaggerated. Genaro Ambrosino, who owns the Coral Gables space, shut down in July to take a trip to Italy, Israel, and Denmark. By mid-August several sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told New Times that the art dealer had in fact embarked on a permanent vacation. The scuttlebutt was that the gallery had gone bankrupt and would not reopen. Ambrosino was gone.
"You know how this city is," sighs Ambrosino, who has returned from his trip and has no intentions of closing shop. "It's gossip all the time."
The rumors started when the IRS posted a citation on the door of the building at 3155 Ponce de Leon Blvd. The feds, however, were not after Ambrosino. The document targeted the former owner of the building, who had failed to pay taxes on a southwest Miami property. That delinquent property would be put up for auction if the owner did not pay.
"The citation did not even have my name on it," scoffs Ambrosino. "But tongues were wagging."
Until further notice, Ambrosino Gallery will continue to stand out among the resale boutique galleries that line the boulevard by showing multimedia works and installations by young artists. Work by Cuban artist Glexis Novoa, who moved to Miami from Mexico earlier this year, goes on view September 12. Novoa's large canvases in acrylic and pencil depict the monumental landscape of Havana as a futuristic fascist metropolis.
One of Miami's finest roadside attractions is Kevin Doyle's muffler zoo. Alligators, giraffes, cobras, and dogs crowd the lot outside the Mad Hatter Muffler Shop at 10051 NW Seventh Ave. A grinning ten-foot-tall tin man wearing leather work boots waves at passing cars.
A muffler man or two made by enterprising mechanics during slow spells is a fairly common sight at body shops around the country. But Doyle, age 42, who owns Mad Hatter with his father-in-law, can't stop at just one. He started making sculptures from mufflers and exhaust pipes when he got into the business in 1972, playing with castoffs while he waited for customers and putting them out on the lot. The ever-growing zoo has expanded to Mad Hatter's second location, at 4950 S. State Road 7 in Hollywood, where, Doyle reports, he's got "fifteen silly things and a car" made from old automotive parts.
To Doyle's surprise, people have started buying them. "It wasn't intentional," he explains. "First they said, 'Please, please let me have one,' and I didn't want to. But then I said okay." Prices range from fifty bucks for a two-foot iguana to $350 for a large flute player.
Customers and passersby have been buying the junk sculptures almost daily and even commissioning work. But Doyle still isn't calling himself an artist. "This is strictly a sideline," he says firmly. "It has to be done during down time, between cars.