Miami Beach Wants Its Own Instagram-Friendly Version of Coral Gables' Umbrella Sky

All summer, Miamians couldn’t open Instagram without seeing a selfie under Umbrella Sky, the floating canopy of brightly colored umbrellas in Coral Gables. The installation came down last week after a three-month run.

But just when you thought you’d seen the last umbrella pic, Miami Beach commissioners have decided they want their own version of Umbrella Sky.

“I definitely have an appetite to do something,” Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who proposed the idea, said during a Finance & Citywide Projects Committee meeting last week before clarifying he's not pushing for an exact replica of the City Beautiful's viral stunt. “I definitely don’t want to copy what Coral Gables did.”

Coral Gables paid Portuguese creative agency Sextafeira around $100,000 to install the multicolored umbrellas, which also made appearances in Pittsburgh and Pensacola. They drew thousands of visitors to the newly revamped Giralda Avenue.

Miami Beach commissioners last week chose 41st Street for its own artsy display. The street, also known as Arthur Godfrey Road, isn’t exactly Giralda: It hasn’t been updated or made pedestrian-friendly. Its businesses include the Forge, Latin Café, Pita Hut, and Cafe Avanti.

But Mayor Dan Gelber has targeted the area for upgrades and said he wants to see it remade into a “true town center.” Arriola said it needs “some love, some TLC.”

So city staffers have offered three options for a project similar to Umbrella Sky. Miami Beach could pay Sextafeira around $100,000 to create something unique and eye-catching. Alternatively, Miami Beach is considering issuing a call to local artists to commission an installation for somewhere between $50,000 and $75,000. Or the Beach could take the cheap and easy route and simply make city workers suspend some sails over the street at a cost of about $30,000.

The Finance & Citywide Projects Committee chose option two and a budget of $50,000, though they agreed they don’t want the project to be “schlocky.”

“We want something Instagrammable,” Arriola said. Commissioner Micky Steinberg added they want to bring something “interactive, cool, I guess, as the kids say, a ‘selfie moment.’”

The committee agreed to refer the idea to another group, the newly created 41st Street Master Plan Committee, to figure out which part of the street should host the art installation/Instagram backdrop. The full commission will consider it in October.
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Brittany Shammas is a former staff writer at Miami New Times. She covered education in Naples before taking a job at the South Florida Sun Sentinel. She joined New Times in 2016.
Contact: Brittany Shammas