Best Display of Wealth - 2007
Until last year, the 1936 building that houses CiFo art space was just another in a long line of bleak industrial fa?ades in the desiccated cityscape of downtown Miami's warehouse district. Ella Fontanals Cisneros, CiFo's founder, commissioned architect René González to create a more appealing welcome mat for her gallery. González delivered: CiFo visitors are greeted by a capacious plaza, studded with bamboo plantings, beyond which lies a stunning custom-made mosaic composed of 4800 square feet of Bisazza glass tiles that suggest a tropical jungle glimpsed through mist. The gallery's interior is an austere industrial shell, its only flourish a high-sheen concrete floor, putting the emphasis on the contemporary Latin American art within. Cisneros founded the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation in 2002, the year after she divorced Oswaldo Cisneros, whose family is one of Venezuela's wealthiest. She also founded Miami Art Central, which opened in December 2003. MAC is merging with the Miami Art Museum, which will rise in Bicentennial Park (along with the Miami Museum of Science). The oasis she has bestowed on North Miami Avenue offers a glimpse of the new downtown Cisneros and her foundation aim to help create.