Experience a new kind of window shopping in Coral Gables through an innovative e-tail concept featuring a curated display of vignettes showcasing the area’s unique history. The storefront is located mid-way on the north side of Miracle Mile’s 300 block.
The project was the brainchild of two friends, artist Nancy Martini and Villager Joanne Meagher, enabled by Kerdyk Realty’s donation of the space. The women, both residents of Coral Gables, were discussing empty storefronts in The Gables and the fund-raising challenges that face not-for-profits and small businesses.
“A light went off and an idea was born,” said Meagher. “We wanted to bring awareness to historic places worth saving and restoring.”
Meagher, a member of The Villagers, the County’s oldest historic preservation organization, began to pull together historic information to tell the area’s stories and Martini began to bring the stories to life through her New Media Art.
The centerpieces of the storefront display are 12 hand-crafted colorful multi-media shadow boxes displaying images and papier mâché representations of landmarks The Villagers have supported through restoration grants. QR codes allow viewers to scan and link directly to The Villagers’ website for more information about the sites, future events, becoming a member, or purchasing a copy of the award-winning coffee table book Gardens of Miami.
“My work is an homage to Denman Fink, the uncle of Coral Gables founder George Merrick and the City’s first artistic advisor,” said Martini. “I also have an affinity for The Villager’s quilts, so I created the display with quilt-like patterns to symbolize both diversity and comfort. The shadow boxes were inspired by memories of miniature displays in holiday windows and a more insightful view of my own neighborhood during this pandemic time of reflection.”
Yet another QR code takes visitors on a virtual tour of many of the beautiful quilts The Villagers have crafted and raffled as fundraisers through the years. Each of the quilts highlights a different historic theme and several are included as backdrops in the display.
The 12 historic sites visualized are: The Barnacle, Cape Florida Lightkeeper’s Cottage, Coconut Grove Woman’s Club, Coral Gables Merrick House, Coral Gables Woman’s Club, Dade Heritage Trust/Dr. James Jackson Office, The Deering Estate/ Richmond Cottage, Douglas Entrance, Miracle Theatre/Actor’s Playhouse, Montgomery Botanical Center Greenhouse & Home, Old Schoolhouse at Plymouth Congregational Church, and Tropical Audubon Society/Doc Thomas House.
For more information about Nancy Martini’s New Media Art images, and her “Quietly Urban” collection, visit www.martinidesign.art