Nightmare on Ocean Drive

Welcome to the world of Anastasia Monster of Art, where low art and the high life meet in an orgy of self-glorified kitsch

When Anastasia finally emerges, she's dressed in a metallic dark blue Armani mesh coat, black pants, and black, rounded, bulky shoes. “Sorry, I was working,” she says while shaking her hands, and then heads for the kitchen. She returns shortly and brusquely asks the New Timesreporter: “Where are you from? Oh, Cuba [pronounced Cooba]; I have been to Cuba many times.” Anastasia goes into the kitchen, brings back a cup of tea, and returns to sit on an oversize red velvet couch, which she designed. “My art is very classic,” Anastasia begins. “But not conservative. I always think of new generation. I like to invent, always something new. Because what is important in your life is to give something to society. If not your life is for nothing. [That] is my message.”

Hansen is sitting at a distance and has faded into the background with Mozart, though he monitors Anastasia's English by correcting her pronunciation and throwing out words that escape her. There's talk about their vision of South Beach. “Our mission is to promote Italian art and culture here in Miami,” Hansen says.

One of Anastasia's biggest projects is Miami 2000, a colossal golden bronze monument she wants to build in Bicentennial Park. The 170-foot structure overlooking Biscayne Bay would be seen from “every corner of Miami,” Anastasia describes. In her design Anastasia has planned for 2000 marble steps leading to the sculpture's base, with fountains and laser lights. Above, a torch-bearing siren representing the glory of Miami would be upheld by an outstretched arm of a man, with fluttering birds below. “We think this monument would put Miami on the map,” Hansen contends. “All great cities have a monument. Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Rio de Janeiro has the Christ on the sugar loaf, Miami will have Miami 2000.”

At charity events Enrico Vigo plays the prince and Anastasia the court painter
courtesy Anastasia Monster of Art
At charity events Enrico Vigo plays the prince and Anastasia the court painter
Behold Miami -- this is what Monster of Art has in store for you, if she gets her way
Jennie Zeiner
Behold Miami -- this is what Monster of Art has in store for you, if she gets her way
Behold Miami -- this is what Monster of Art has in store for you, if she gets her way
Jennie Zeiner
Behold Miami -- this is what Monster of Art has in store for you, if she gets her way
Behold Miami -- this is what Monster of Art has in store for you, if she gets her way
Jennie Zeiner
Behold Miami -- this is what Monster of Art has in store for you, if she gets her way

Then there's the Versace Forever fountain, which she hopes to erect across the street from the slain designer's former mansion. Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin looked at sketches of the design a year ago at Anastasia's studio. He declined to give his opinion, only saying that a final decision should come from the commission after the Beach's art in public places committee makes a recommendation. But Hansen hasn't proposed the project yet. He hasn't contacted anyone one from the City of Miami about Miami 2000, either.

While riding around South Beach in the back seat of the still-ownerless Jaguar, Anastasia stakes out the areas where she envisions her brand of art on display. “You see this meeting place?” Anastasia asks, referring to some bleachers under a hut on the grassy area along Ocean Drive. “Look at this, look at this, nobody go there, horrible. You make fountain and all the young people, children, mothers with babies go.... The fountain brings life; it's a beautiful creation. The Versace monument will be black marble and bronze, gold-plated with Medusas. And Medusas [will] throw drinking water for poor people, a gift from Versace.”

Then there's the South Shore Branch Library at 225 Washington Ave., in front of which Monster of Art wants to erect a gold-plated sculpture of an open book between two Romanesque pillars. “I like gold,” says Anastasia of her desire to cover most of her creations in the metal. She even cooks a killer risotto, she says, using champagne and gold leaf. “To me gold is like the sun.”

“It brings people energy,” Hansen adds. “But I don't take sun,” Anastasia retracts. “I stay in shadows. I like to see outside, but I always stay in shadows. I love sun, but my skin cannot take sun, because my skin is very white,” she explains. “Though sometimes we go boating,” Hansen interjects.

At B.E.D. some nights later, a friend of Anastasia, who asked that his name not be published, summed up Anastasia's talent in a few sentences. “Everybody else comes second when it comes to her,” asserts the Peruvian native. “She's so artistic it's not even funny. Her mind is from the Fifteenth Century; her body is from the Twenty-first.” And, he asks, “Have you ever seen Anastasia's big blue eyes?”

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