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''The New World mural that now hangs in the Freedom Tower Miami is the second version,
painted and completely recreated
by the Miami Artisans in 1988.
It is a total New recreation of the lost design,
hanging in the Tower in 1987 ''
The first mural that hung in the “Daily News/Miami Tower" in 1925, to which the artists and designer were lost and forgotten with the passing of time, was rediscovered in 1987. Paradoxically, history has had a tendency to repeat itself once again,
This is how for a second time, the story almost has repeated the loss of the names of the authentic authors and the true story behind the mural. Wade Foy, John Conroy and William M.Coulthard were the principle artists of the mural's remaking, responsible for research and rendering/redrawing. Supported by an invited/honorary/collaborative group of three more artists, Phylis Shaw, Jerome Bruer Bergsen and this author, Ana Bikic.
The pictorial contents of the mural represent Ponce De Leon with his triumphant arrival to the New World, next to the Native Tequesta-American people's Chief, peacefully surveying the Pangea in addition to a whole message of hope and faith in the pursuit of new horizons and promises about fruitful relationships for a future respecting it's past.
In 1987, the Freedom /News Tower was completely repaired. During this restoration, when the construction workers removed panels on the second /Mezzanine level they exposed the top part of a mural semi glued; the ragged remnant looked like it was part of a cartographic map from the 1920's. Richard Heissenbottle, who was the Architect in charge of the Tower's project found black & white photos revealing a large mural over 44 ft long by 25 f heighet. He commissioned a new recreation of the mural from the Miami Artisans group in 1988. These artists of Fine Art Schooling were true muralists,working with the Coconut Grove Playhouse.
They carefully studied the history and researched the details surrounding both the time of the Tower's construction and the events around 1509 to 1513, passing long hours in the Miami Libraries, reading and copying relevant data, recopulating their findings of historical knowledge concerning the event in order to appropriately represent the creation of a new true masterpiece. In this way they achieved a magnificent piece of Art, characterizing in the composition the most faithful traduction of all the symbols of the past, as well as the messages pertinent to our present day understandings. The Miami Artisans brought in this form of reunion a finding of the primitive passion and the drama and glory of history, with it's respective messages as well as the renovated image.
Sadly, the mural was restored without any type of consultation from the artists that produced the historical mural.
The exclusion of known or living authors is detrimental to the validity of the whole art work of antiquity and originality.
None of the original artists were invited to the unveiling,
after the restoration, nor was the Architect.
The press reports about the unveiling were inaccurate and misleading with allegations of mysterious authorship,
still referring to the fine work as a simple restoration.
As the months unfolded in 2009 the advocacy has began a ground roots approach, currently thousands of Miami residents and people from around the world have listened, as the web sites rise to prominence, blogging, Face Book and other artist registries have helped to promote the advocacy taking it on an accelerating road of events. One very important contact occurred in august 2009. Artist Ana Bikic, leading the advocacy, published an article with the story of the New World Muralists, in Spanish with Cancunissimo, in the Miamissimo section of the Magazine, which has 18 years of International publishing in our region, with over 100,000 copies distributed in Mexico,Caribbean and South Florida.
The Miami Artisans 1988 group a 'total recreation' and all that this category of architectural commission implies. In the light of all that has transpired surrounding the Mural in the last 10 years ,it is fair and important to recognize the real authors and their magnificent accomplishment. The difference between a restoration and a recreation is huge; any comparison of the two categories is demeaning to the later achievement. A recreation is not a mere copy rendered ,it is an authentic interpretation based on original aesthetic values. This mural required research, redesign and reinvention to achieve the commission. It was in fact made to look like the original although only 50% of the information existed. The remnant that survived on the wall represented only 10% of the original and the photographic evidence was not only in black and white but limited and incomplete
Therefore, the three principle artists were responsible for the recreation of the whole color scheme and the design of all missing parts.
This process was overseen on a weekly basis by the commissioning architect and his staff.
With this in mind it is impossible to call this a restoration.
It is in fact a ''total or full recreation.''
The historical relevance of the New World Mural is
that it represents the first known North American settlement to be discovered by Spain,
nearly 500 years ago.
just north of the mouth of the
Miami River where the Freedom Tower stands.
The Freedom Tower is perhaps the most prestigious building in Miami. It symbolizes all civic freedoms from its usefulness throughout Miami's short history. The Tower represents our freedom of
speech through its journalistic beginnings, it has been used as a immigration center and as a health clinic, it is now owned by our Miami Dade College whose public standing has served further education
in Dade County to the point of National recognition. Their plans to use the Tower for historical and artistic education, as well as for conferences, completes the symbolic usage of the Tower. It is a grand icon for Miami, it's importance is still growing and so it is a serious mistake that should be clarify.
The truth belongs to us all.
This advocacy for "Rightful Recognition for Total Recreation" of the Freedom Tower's New World Mural 1988
looks for the benefit of all parties.
to.. The Artists and their Commissioning Architect as authors a rightful credit.
to..The Miami Dade College as Stewards an opportunity to celebrate without controversy.
to. the City and People of Miami as the inheritors, the transparency, truth and tradition.
to The State of Florida, as we are part of, the celebrative image that represents the first known North American settlement to be discovered by Spain, nearly 500 years ago, literally steps from the Freedom Tower itself, the Tequesta village of Miami, it's burial mound, huts and canoes, as reported in the Histories of the Gold Coast Treasuries of 1605.
''All deserve to have the real and unique truth placed openly and proudly.
This is what the Miami Artisans understood in 1988,
they were acutely aware of the significance of the symbolism