Nightmare on Ocean Drive

Page 5 of 6

On an early Tuesday afternoon, before Anastasia appears for an interview, Hansen gives New Times a museumlike tour of the studio and explains that Monster of Art “loses a lot of energy talking, so I take care of the boring stuff. She works nonstop. She gets so lost into her painting she loses time and space. She suffers from poor circulation from painting in the same position for long stretches of time; all of her blood goes to her brain and she has a very big brain.”

Hansen elaborates on the ideas that fuel her art and describes the techniques Anastasia uses to create. “The Vatican commissioned Anastasia to do this one,” Hansen says. “It's called Libre et Libre and it's painted on hardwood, which is prepared with ten layers of silk [it was the prototype for the popular library paintings]. For color she uses egg tempera, a combination of egg yolks and pulverized precious stones. The color lasts for 2000 years. It makes the piece immortal. It's the maximum you can get from a painting.” Mozart plays softly in the background, and Anastasia remains locked inside a bedroom for a full hour. “Miami hasn't realized how fortunate it is to have an artist of her stature,” Hansen boasts.

When Anastasia finally emerges, she's dressed in a metallic dark blue Armani mesh coat, black pants, and black, rounded, bulky shoes. “Sorry, I was working,” she says while shaking her hands, and then heads for the kitchen. She returns shortly and brusquely asks the New Times reporter: “Where are you from? Oh, Cuba [pronounced Cooba]; I have been to Cuba many times.” Anastasia goes into the kitchen, brings back a cup of tea, and returns to sit on an oversize red velvet couch, which she designed. “My art is very classic,” Anastasia begins. “But not conservative. I always think of new generation. I like to invent, always something new. Because what is important in your life is to give something to society. If not your life is for nothing. [That] is my message.”

Hansen is sitting at a distance and has faded into the background with Mozart, though he monitors Anastasia's English by correcting her pronunciation and throwing out words that escape her. There's talk about their vision of South Beach. “Our mission is to promote Italian art and culture here in Miami,” Hansen says.

One of Anastasia's biggest projects is Miami 2000, a colossal golden bronze monument she wants to build in Bicentennial Park. The 170-foot structure overlooking Biscayne Bay would be seen from “every corner of Miami,” Anastasia describes. In her design Anastasia has planned for 2000 marble steps leading to the sculpture's base, with fountains and laser lights. Above, a torch-bearing siren representing the glory of Miami would be upheld by an outstretched arm of a man, with fluttering birds below. “We think this monument would put Miami on the map,” Hansen contends. “All great cities have a monument. Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Rio de Janeiro has the Christ on the sugar loaf, Miami will have Miami 2000.”

Then there's the Versace Forever fountain, which she hopes to erect across the street from the slain designer's former mansion. Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin looked at sketches of the design a year ago at Anastasia's studio. He declined to give his opinion, only saying that a final decision should come from the commission after the Beach's art in public places committee makes a recommendation. But Hansen hasn't proposed the project yet. He hasn't contacted anyone one from the City of Miami about Miami 2000, either.

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