Art is supposed to have an impact, but not like this.
On Monday a 20,000 pound sculpture fell from some fifteen feet in the air as it was being lifted into the sculpture garden at the new ICA, the lavish contemporary art museum in the Design District. The giant granite work, a ridged rectangular cube, smashed through a flatbed truck to punch a small crater into the street below.
The crash, which happened around noon, sounded like a bomb, said Sarima Gracia, who lives on NE 42nd Street, just west of the ICA. She was on the phone with her business partner, who was walking down the street as the sculpture, which a crane was hoisting over the trees that line the garden, fell.
“All of a sudden we heard a big boom, and the house shook, the whole street shook – it sounded like an explosion,” said Gracia on Monday afternoon, as she and other neighbors watched workers wrap the sculpture with metal cable to pull it off the twisted truck bed.
The sculpture’s sharp, serrated edge cut through the canvas straps being used to hoist the piece, half of a two-part work by Cuban artist Guillermo Calzadilla and American Jennifer Allora.
The ICA, funded by Braman, a billionaire auto magnate and visible backer of political candidates and causes, has been controversial. The private museum, chaired by Braman’s wife Irma, is east of North Miami Avenue between NE 41st and NE 42nd Streets, on the border between the luxurious Design District and the small, historic, close-knit neighborhood of Buena Vista East immediately to the north. Together with the De La Cruz Collection next door, the two institutions form a giant glass wall that looms over cozy, 1930’s bungalows. Many residents objected to the new museum’s scale, and the demolition of several homes to build the sculpture garden, and complained that the Bramans, supported by City of Miami mayor Tomas Regalado, pushed through the project over the objections of the city’s zoning and historic preservation boards. The groups have made peace since then (although the neighborhood never really had a choice); and the ICA, which opens Dec. 1st for Miami Art Week, has offered lifetime memberships and other perks for Buena Vista residents.
Still, they are not exactly on drinking on the porch terms yet. And this doesn’t help.
“It’s super scary,” said Gracia. “I love art. However I had a big issue that this was being put in a residential area. There were people walking by when this 43,000 pound sculpture was being lifted. It could have been a catastrophe.”
Maybe the ICA can claim the hole in the street as an art intervention, and the entire episode as a piece of performance art?