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Don and Mera Rubell, Wynwood Pioneers

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In honor of our People Issue, which will hit newsstands and computer screens Thursday, Cultist presents "Miami Backstage," where we feature some of the city's behind-the-scenes culture makers. Have suggestions for future profiles? Email cultist@miaminewtimes.com with the whos and whys.

Don and Mera Rubell

There's a reason the Rubell's are Miami's first family of collectors. For starters they spend a chunk of the year living out of suitcases and traveling the globe in search of undiscovered talent and to keep their fingers on the pulse of what drives the contemporary art world.

They were also the first visionaries to plant their flag in Wynwood and open a museum housing their massive 5,000 piece collection there a decade ago. It raised eyebrows among peers, who thought their gambit in the down-at-the-heels hood, was well, insane.

But then again, today it's the Rubell's who are hailed as the "Miami Model," among the art world cognoscenti and tossed laurels by locals for helping convert Wynwood and its environs into a booming cultural enclave. And, in the end collector mavens like Marty Margulies and others who have their own mini-museums followed them into the artsy nabe. 

Don, a former gynecologist, and Mera, a former Head Start Teacher, began honing their eyes and collecting as a young couple in the '60s. Today, they regularly appear among ARTnews magazine's international list of top 200 collectors.

Miami artist's love them because they have supported names like Hernan Bas, Bert Rodriguez, Naomi Fisher and others early in their careers. Each year the family's Art Basel breakfasts and blockbuster shows are among Miami's most popular events among locals and the visiting arts luminaries helping elevate the city's cultural profile.

1. List five things that inspire you.
--First are new ideas
--Old ideas that stand the test of time
--Things that change the way we see the world
--And life itself

2. What was your last big project?
During 3 trips to China, we visited 40 artist studios all over the country.

3. What's your next big project?
American Exuberance, our 2012 exhibition with 64 artists at the Rubell Family Collection

4. Why do you do what you do?
Because the road is always in front of us.

5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?
That our collection is actually public and that it doesn't require a special invitation to visit. We are open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 to 6.

What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?
You can take us out of New York, but you can't take New York out of us.

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