Timescapes, a five-story mixed-media mural created by South Florida’s New World School of the Arts (NWSA), by college visual artists Jeffrey Noble and Sebastian Duncan-Portuondo, was recently unveiled at Miami’s Sagamore Hotel. The second artistic project commissioned from NWSA by the Cricket Taplin Collection, Timescapes is a large-scale paint-mosaic-mirror artwork spanning the full height of the semi-exposed stairwell that leads up to the Muse beauty suite, the beach side spa at the “art hotel.”
The three-hour fete was much “more than an opportunity to enjoy this artwork,” explained Maggy Cuesta, dean of the visual arts program at NWSA. “It was a chance to experience the outcome of a beautifully executed collaboration between two students who barely knew each other at the onset of the project, but who drew inspiration from one another through their unique style and artistic approach.” A short documentary by Wet Heat, capturing the high-powered final week of the artistic effort, premiered during the reception.
Timescapes draws the eye of the viewer through intricate glasswork and a vibrant color palette. “My goal was to offer our guests a sensory experience through mixed mediums inspired by the natural oceanfront landscape,” said Cricket Taplin, who, with her husband Marty Taplin, owns the Sagamore Hotel. “The artwork in the lower flights offers a completely different experience – it’s more symmetrical, more organized. As guests climb the stairwell, the energy intensifies resulting in a more abstract yet rhythmic dialogue. The fifth and final flight is climatic – it’s a complete explosion of color, reflections and textures that dance in harmony with each other and with the oceanfront.”
“We referenced the changing sky during the day to create the linear bands of color that appear throughout the design,” explained Noble. “The paint emulates the various tonalities of the sky while the stained glass and the mirrors, working in unison with the paint, capture the hues and bring the sky onto the walls through reflection and refraction.”
Jeffrey’s background in large-scale graffiti art and spray-painting coupled with Sebastian’s vast knowledge of stained glass, mirrored mosaic and public murals were instrumental to the success of the commission. “Both stained glass and spray paint have very highly saturated and flat qualities so it made sense to approach the design in terms of the architecture, the graphics, the space, and the whole context of the environment,” noted Duncan-Portuondo. “Responding to one another’s work as we moved along, having fun with the project and having the freedom to go where we wanted to artistically, is what helped us achieve Cricket’s goal successfully.”
Based on experimentation, exploration and transformation, Timescapes took more than four months to complete, including the rainy season and the scorching summer months. “Rain definitely posed a challenge to the application of the paint,” said Noble, who used more than five hundred cans of special exterior spray paint to complete the artwork. “The paint is marketed specifically to graffiti and street artists. It is very high quality because it’s meant to withstand the elements and the exterior environment. But I still had to contend with the humidity, natural to South Florida, and the buildup of mist on the walls.”
Sebastian’s daily installation of the mirrors and mosaics was just as arduous. With more than 3,000 individual pieces of glass cut to fit the specific spots where they were placed, the process entailed trimming large sheets of glass into countless strips, mock placing, marking and cutting each piece of glass according to the artistic manifestation of the area, and meticulously attaching to the wall with the adhesive.
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