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Miami Through its Spanish Performing Arts Spaces

Lillian Manzor, Author

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Deep Maps and Performing Arts Spaces in Miami (1950 - 1980)

During the first half of the 20th century, Miami was known primarily for being a tourist resort characterized by beautiful beaches and soft sand. The city "was built on promotionalism, on selling the image of paradise through new forms of advertising and media emerging at the turn of the century."FN The arts generally did not play an important part in the development of Miami as a resort destination. As a matter of fact, it could be argued that it was actually the commodification of Miami's nature as paradise that was used to promote the arts. The 1926 proposal to merge Miami's Art Conservatory and the University of Miami's School of Painting and Sculpture in order to create the Art Department, capitalized on Miami's climate and geography, almost as a tourist brochure: "Whereas most art schools can avail themselves of north light only, the University Art Studio makes possible the use of diffused light; this goes far toward providing the color and atmosphere of outdoors, at the same time ensuring the quiet and comfort of the indoor studio. . ." And the proposal continued with a quasi ekphrastic rendition of a Miami postcard: "with the diffused sunlight filtering through the foliage and casting its golden beams, purple shadows, and green haze upon the delicate pink of human flesh."FN By 1940, the Art Department was in the national news heralding open air art classes during their outdoor winter session on the sands of Tahiti Beach.FN 
The photograph included department head Denman Fink along with live models: Seminole Indians, a football star, women in bathing suits. While the rest of the nation and many regions of the world were covered in snow, this "advertisement" juxtaposed warm weather, sand, and the arts, along with Miami's stereotypical "cast of characters" reminescent of a tableau vivant.
     Theater in particular was insignificant during this early period. Indeed, a 1963 tourist guide book stated that "theater in Miami is limited" and proceeded to provide information on the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the Ring Theater at the University of Miami, and to acknowledge the existence of "established 'little theater' groups" such as Studio M Playhouse in Coral Gables.FN 
     This section traces the history of the development of different spaces for theater and the performing arts in Spanish in Miami through the creation of deep maps. (theory on deep maps)
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