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By Monique Jones
By Travis Cohen
By Liz Tracy
By Terrence McCoy
By Morgan Golumbuk
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By Michael E. Miller
T. Wheeler Castillo, an artist and codirector of Turn-Based Press, will lead art walking tours this weekend that are, like "Giants in the City," part of the annual DWNTWN Art Days. One of the stops he'll make is at George Sánchez-Calderón's CenTrust, a reclaimed 15,000-pound chunk of granite with the scandalized savings and loan's logo carved into it that Sánchez-Calderón installed on a downtown sidewalk late last year.
"It was being saved to use as granite for a countertop, but George, knowing about its connection to this really dark part of Miami history, decided to use it for something else, as a signifier," Castillo says. "It was a piece of our history before, and now it is becoming a piece of our city in a new way."
Back in his studio, as a cigarette burns in an ashtray, Mendoza uses the hem of his old skateboard shirt to clean a pair of wire-rimmed glasses. He enjoys that his installations encourage people to form ad hoc communities and believes their literal and figurative lightness allows them to engage people in a way wholly separate from what one has come to expect of large-scale public art.
301 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132
Category: Parks and Outdoors
"In Aruba, I remember a lot of people sitting on the grass with their backs against the Giants, reading or chatting on their phones," Mendoza says. "They just wanted to be close to them, I think."
Many of the sculptures inspire interactivity. One by Cuban artist Angel Vapor includes an interior chamber that visitors can lounge in as the blower whips air around them. Miami artist Yamel Molerio has created a 45-foot-long, 15-foot-tall wall designed to be tagged and painted by street artists as it travels around the world.
"You just need to turn off the blower, and the landscape is going to be the same as it was before," Mendoza says. "We're so impermanent, but hopefully, we are permanent in your mind."
He pauses to exhale cigarette smoke and watch the plume change shape in his studio's lights.
"When I visit Bayfront Park during the rest of the year and the Giants aren't there," he says, "it's missing something. Right now, it's empty."