To Art or Not To Art: That Is the Question

Letters from the Issue of May 8-14,2003

The answer is yes to art -- but don't ignore the artist: As someone relatively new to the community, I read Celeste Fraser Delgado's article about plans for the Miami Art Museum with much interest ("Tumbling Chairs," May 1). She raises important issues about the place of art in our culture and in our city. In this coming debate there are significant questions that need to be raised about our attitudes toward art and the role of the artist in the process.

Why do we look at artworks only as objects to be collected but not as a process of engaging our world and each other? Why is aesthetic education and awareness not central to our lives as human beings? Why is it that we do not have religion or life without art? Why is it that we view and "know" cultures mainly through the prism of their aesthetic impulses and development? Why are cultures considered vibrant and powerful mainly through their aesthetic contributions to history? Why is it that physicists believe that engaging in aesthetic practice is important to the education of young scientists? Why are aesthetic questions seen as unnecessary to our lives and the depth of our society?

These questions and their answers may provide a way of approaching the issues addressed in her article. Isn't it odd that we would not build a hospital without consulting doctors but museums can be constructed without the participation of the artists who make it all possible? Perhaps it's true that artists are superfluous. If so, then we don't need to build anything -- or have concert halls or dance performances. We can just watch television.

Ed Levine


Hialeah's Three Nose Ring Circus

With this guy leading these women around, there's trouble ahead: Regarding Francisco Alvarado's article about Hialeah City Council candidates Cindy Miel, Vanessa Bravo, and Adriana Narvaez, they have lots to learn ("The Hialeah 3," May 1). They must not be intelligent if Modesto Perez is leading them around by the nose.

Everyone knows that Modesto didn't support Carmen Caldwell because she would not tolerate his inconsistency in the political arena. Modesto goes with the highest bidder. His son works for Marco Rubio; his other son works for another politician. Getting his support means you are obligated by his demands. Just ask county Commissioner Rebecca Sosa.

Anyway, there will never be another Carmen Caldwell. She was the gem of a lifetime. These three together will never be able to fill her shoes. The City of Hialeah lost a true champion for employees and citizens.

Ileana Rodriguez


My Big Belly Laugh

Being called a rabbit made it all the funnier: I am one of the Hialeah 6 fired by the Department of Children and Families, the one with 32 years of experience. I would like to tell you that Tristram Korten's column "Stalin Would Be Proud" (May 1) was one of the best things on this issue I have seen so far, even though I was described as a rabbit being chased by a greyhound. I died laughing!

Teresa Rio


Editor's note: Rio and her five colleagues have been reinstated to their DCF jobs with full back pay, benefits, and seniority.

Poof! You're Gone!

Hello? We're still here, but you wouldn't know it from reading this sorry rag: Miami New Times has rendered both Tigertail Productions and the Rhythm Foundation invisible. The Florida legislature is trying hard enough to make the arts disappear; we don't need the press joining in.

I just opened New Times and saw a photo of Mariza (page 59), the Portuguese fado singer that Tigertail and Rhythm Foundation are presenting May 7, accompanying an article by Juan Carlos Rodriguez ("Performance: Beats, Traditions Meld at Fest," May 1). The article did list one of the phone numbers correctly, but Tigertail's number was left out. Also there was no mention of who was presenting Mariza. The TransAtlantic Festival did not make it happen, and neither did the New World Symphony or the Lincoln Theatre. It is a part of the Tigertail FLA/BRA Festival and the Rhythm Foundation TransAtlantic Festival. There was no mention at all of Tigertail despite the fact that all materials from both organizations note that Mariza was being co-presented by Tigertail and Rhythm Foundation.

On page 91 of the same issue there was a second (and terrific) article about Mariza by Ezra Gale ("Beautiful Curves"). We really appreciate this great coverage, but again, not one word about who was presenting the event. The final kicker was that the wrong phone number was used (the Lincoln Theatre box office) and as a result no one could call us for tickets. Tigertail and the Rhythm Foundation are renting the Lincoln Theatre, which does not provide the service of selling tickets for us prior to the event.

One of the ways arts organizations in Miami stay alive is to collaborate and split costs. Tigertail and Rhythm Foundation have been doing this for years. When the press makes us invisible it hurts in many ways. For one thing, the artists we present are part of our identity. This is how we develop an audience and attract supporters. It affects not only our image and our audience but our funding as well.

New Times is our primary vehicle for letting our audiences know what we are doing. And we do appreciate your ongoing support and belief in what we do.

Mary Luft, director

Tigertail Productions


Editor's note: Our apologies to Mary Luft and Laura Quinlan of the Rhythm Foundation. Here is the correct contact information for both organizations. Tigertail Productions: 305-324-4337 ( The Rhythm Foundation: 305-672-5202 (

Proud of Pizzi

He was my Erin Brockovich and we need more like him: Francisco Alvarado's article about attorney Michael Pizzi ("Saint Pizzi," April 24) was an exceptionally fine portrait of a remarkable man. I have been very fortunate to have him represent me in the lawsuit that was filed against me by the Ouster Corporation in June 2001. Just this past week the suit was withdrawn, and I am deeply grateful to him for his efforts on my behalf.

Prior to having him represent me, I had spent countless hours seeking legal help and had contacted many individual attorneys and law firms, from Masry & Vititoe (of Erin Brockovich fame) to local attorneys recommended by friends and associates, as well as the ACLU, numerous environmental groups, and national legal resources. Many of my requests went unanswered, and the few attorneys who actually spoke to me had fee scales far beyond the means of any average citizen.

When I finally called Bierman Shohat Loewy & Klein's offices in July 2002 to try to reach Mike Pizzi, I was desperate, despairing, and fearful for my family's well-being. I was amazed when Pizzi answered his phone directly, and after I spilled out my story as rapidly and as briefly I could, he said, "I'll help you." Within days he met with me, agreed to take on my case, and has been a relentless advocate for me and my neighbors.

As for criticism of his tactics to utilize the media, it's pure nonsense. The media have been crucial in reporting the facts to the citizens of Miami-Dade County regarding public corruption, misuse of funds, and corporate irresponsibility. Without access to such information the public would be dangerously uninformed.

Mike Pizzi does his job phenomenally well, and he fights his battles in the open, which obviously makes his deep-pocketed and well-connected opponents very unhappy, because he can't be bought or silenced. He minces no words, seeks out the facts, and tenaciously defends our most basic and important rights. If anything, we need more people like Mike Pizzi in our community.

Ellen Perez


The Play's the Thing We Love the Most

Now we need to get the message out -- live theater rocks: Thanks so much to Ronald Mangravite for his wonderful article regarding the plight of the theater scene in South Florida ("Pulitzer Surprise," April 17). I just finished playing the character "Mother" in the Mosaic Theatre's production of A New Brain. The response to the show was overwhelming. It's a shame more people didn't have the opportunity to see it, but artistic director Richard Simon could not afford to hold it over.

It's good to know there is someone out there who evidently feels as passionate about live theater as we actors do.

Carole Cortland

South Miami

Frank to Fidel: Your Demise Will Not Be Peaceful

Which is exactly what you'd expect of a dictator: In response to Kirk Nielsen's article "Dialogueros" (April 10), letter writer Curt Bender says: "As long as we have ... exile leadership hostile to Cuba, there will never be any positive change." Yeah, right! If exile leadership would be as submissive to the Cuban dictatorship as the dialogueros are, there would be no real exile, just a bunch of stooges doing the dirty work of the communist dictatorship!

By the way, what positive change could ever come from the longest-lasting dictatorship in the Western world? Dictatorships never change peacefully, nor do they "dialogue."

Frank Resillez

Key Largo


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