Long considered an eyesore by residents, the North Beach water tanks at 74th Street and Dickens Avenue are receiving a splash of color that will turn them into something more pleasing to the eye.
The project got underway in February when the City of Miami Beach sought proposals from visual artists to transform the tanks.
“This project has been floating around the City of Miami Beach for some time, the idea of transforming the water tanks into public works of art,” says Brandi Reddick, the city's cultural affairs manager. “The residents felt they would look nice with artwork on them so, the City identified funding and put a call out for artists.”
After reviewing several applicants' work, the city awarded the project to artists Allison Matherly and Jeffrey Noble, the duo known as Nice’n Easy. The two are recognized throughout South Florida for their visually cohesive subtropical vernacular referencing beach scenes, palm trees, tropical foliage, and lounge chairs, often rendered in soft neon hues.
“Their proposal immediately stood out. It presented a celebration of Miami Beach’s notorious pool culture, while also referencing the functionality of the water tanks. It was the perfect fit and contributes to the overall aesthetics of the neighborhood,” Reddick says. “The artists are also addressing select areas on the top of the water tank by painting pool furniture and water splashes, creating surprise elements visible from above.”
Once they saw the call for submissions, Nice’n Easy knew they had to apply, given that “water is such a major motif in our work. We’ve done plenty of murals with a water motif and knowing how important the pool culture is to the city, it was an easy choice,” they said in a statement.
The decision for the pool theme came when the artists saw the water tanks and their architecture and shape. They wanted to make them part of the infrastructure.
Their larger-than-life swimming pool will wrap the entire circumference of the water tank. Nice'n Easy will also accent the top of the water tank with lounge chairs and pool furniture, creating a unique view of the artwork for surrounding residential apartment buildings and airline passengers.
Nice’n Easy is excited about working on the project, seeing the tank's cylindrical surface as a welcome challenge.
“As we’re working our way around the tanks and seeing other angles, we know the outcome will be fantastic. The public will see sections of it, and it will create questions in people’s minds,” the artists say. “And because of [the tanks'] shape and the way the light catches them, it creates a different effect depending on the time of day.”
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Matherly, a Miami native who grew up in North Bay Village, and Noble, a native of Melbourne Beach, are veterans of public art commissions with an extensive list of projects to their credit, including the Broward County Public Art and Design Program, the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project, the Bass Projects, Bass Museum, and the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood. In addition, their awards and fellowships include the Artist in Residence in Everglades program and South Florida Cultural Consortium fellowship.
The artists always want the environment to play a role in their work and feel their unique dynamic affects their work as a whole.
“We think having a local [Matherly] who sees the reality of Miami versus the idealized perspective of an outsider [Noble], up some of those tropes that make it Miami,” they say. “We also lived in Normandy Isle for a while so love contributing to the North Beach area.”
The project is expected to be completed in August. The biggest challenge for the artists at this time of year is the rain. The heat is a close second, which is why they often work at night — “but it’s been moving along very well, considering,” they say.