By Ellen Frazer-Jameson
In his office on the fourth floor of City Hall overlooking Pride Park and the Convention Centre on Miami Beach, Commissioner Alex Fernandez is excited to discuss, Arts, Culture and Butts on the Beach.
Yes, we’ll get to the Butts on the Beach.
But first, let me tell you about Commissioner Fernandez. He is the son of Cuban immigrant parents, Jose and Mayra, and fiercely proud of his Cuban heritage. His parents brought him to Miami Beach as a child and his love of the city began in those early days.
Photo: of Alex Fernandez
“I loved the art deco district even though I didn’t understand the architectural significance or the history,” he explains. “Now I encourage people to get out of their cars and walk Ocean Drive. Observe our fantastic architecture up close. Be proud of the historic buildings we have lovingly preserved. Ocean Drive and other examples of art deco in the South Beach area, are living works of art. The unique colour palette , dynamic designs and the amazing structures that present an age of
discovery and aeronautics are as worthy of a visit as any museum.”
Commissioner Fernandez has dedicated his career to public service and his commitment to Arts and Culture are visible all over Miami Beach. He has made it his mission to beautify the environment, the streets, public places and green roots.
“I want people to live in the art,” he says, “ to be surrounded by images and impressions that are soul enriching and offer a quality of life that transcends the ordinary and gives pause to stop and observe the wonder of creativity and artistry.”
“Miami Beach actively encourages artists and creatives to contribute to the enhancement of our city. Works of art do not need to be hanging in an art gallery – though we have those too. We work constantly to improve the appearance of our streets, parks and beaches to raise the esteem and sense of joy felt by those who live, work and visit our city.”
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Alex expands on his vision. “We utilise our natural spaces for art, music and imaginative architecture. Not everyone wants to attend a concert or go to a museum but if the community live surrounded by artistic
impressions, quality of life is improved.”
One example of including the community in the immersion of art, is a set of stone murals removed from the old Wells Fargo building on Lincoln Road. Offering an historic interpretation of the old-fashioned Wells Fargo stagecoach, the murals were cut from the wall of the old construction. Now the beloved iconic murals will continue to be on public display and the city is sponsoring a new mural to replace of the traditional ones.
Alex Fernandez looks at everything though the lens of beauty and truly believes all aspects of the city should be inspiring and uplifting. He loves to talk about the natural environment of Miami Beach where the elegant
palm trees and lush tropical landscaping enhance the street scapes and offer inviting public spaces.
This summer Miami Beach has initiated a full-scale musical programme on Ocean Drive at Lummus Park and many other venues around the city including the North Shore Bandshell and Collins Park. Concerts and
performance attract appreciative audiences who want to spend their time in nature; culturally engaged, listening to many different types of music, classical jazz or Latin, all complimentary.
Alex never stops thinking of new ways to improve the urban environment and to get a close up look at the streets and alleyways, he often gets on his deco bike and cycles around the city. One of his newest incentives is to work with alley spaces – to beautify them.
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“Why should buildings only look good from the front," he says. “One of our most popular art installations was a cloud scape which transformed the space between two buildings on Espanola Way. The Little Clouds art project encouraged passers-by to look up and see the changing skyscape and realize not everything has to be manmade even in our lively commercial and retail environment.”
Miami Beach is a global destination and to combat sporadic episodes of negative activity which captured news headlines earlier this year, the Commissioner offers a positive take.
“Public spaces that are light, open, pedestrianised and claimed by those who want to live and behave in a people friendly way, are less appealing to those who like to hide in the shadows and cause disruption.”
Commissioner Alex Fernandez’s commitment to the city beautiful might be summed up by his enthusiastic pursuit of the “Butts on the Beach” policy.
From ist January 2023 it will become illegal to smoke or leave Butts on the Beach.
“This has proved popular with people who do not want the trash, health hazards and pollution that come from smoking on the beach.
“We love our visitors,” says Alex ‘but we want them to know the rules and respect our environment. We deserve to live in a culture that enhances our well-being. Miami Beach has a head start when it comes to
providing the feel-good factor, health and natural beauty.
“We welcome you to add your beauty to he Miami Beach Experience.”
Phone: 786-450 1161