A vibrant new photography exhibit is headed to the Art Deco Museum at the Art Deco Welcome Center, as part of its revamped Featured Local Artist program.
“Save My Little Havana” by writer and photographer Steve Wright tells the story of his neighborhood’s many historic residential and commercial buildings.
An Ohio native who first came to Miami Beach while working on a story on a local cruise ship, Wright says a guided MDPL tour he took in the late 1990s inspired him to relocate to the Magic City.
“I went to the gift shop and went on a tour and was kind of sold for life, and moved out here by 2000,” he says. Wright, who previously worked for former City Commissioner Joe Sanchez, is an advocate for disability rights.
For the exhibition, Wright was inspired by the rehabilitation of his own home in Little Havana. He is the owner of a 1920s Spanish Mission-style home in the Shenandoah section of Little Havana.
“When it was time to find a house and put down roots here, I settled for Little Havana because it has great architecture and great culture.”
With this series of photographs, Wright aimed to capture Little Havana’s hidden historic gems, saying “There are several Art Deco buildings in Little Havana that are on par with the Art Deco district in Miami Beach.”
Wright is passionate about helping to preserve what makes Little Havana special. As the city continues to grow and expand, and neighborhoods like Brickell continue to urbanize the city, he hopes to raise awareness of the hidden gems of the edifices that have graced his neighborhood for the past century.
“There’s been so much explosive growth in Miami. I fear that these gorgeous buildings will be torn down because it’s not as photogenic as Ocean Drive… I feel a strong sense of community from that authenticity and heritage,” he adds.
“There is a humanity and a human scale to these buildings, even if there are 3 stories and have no stairs or parking… I don’t want to see these little charming buildings become faceless towers.”
Wright hopes to inspire visitors to become more involved in the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of Little Havana’s unique architecture, as many of the buildings are in need of intensive care.
For Wright, this is also a full circle moment, as he is now having his work displayed at one of the institutions that inspired him to fully relocate to the Magic City.
“I can’t tell you what a dream it is… it’s wonderful coming back to where it all began for my journey in Miami,” he says.
“You cannot stop progress, but you can protect history and authenticity. This exhibit is in Miami Beach, which has done a world-renowned exemplary job of balancing growth with protecting its famous, incomparable Art Deco District.”
“Save My Little Havana” will debut with an opening reception at the Art Deco Museum on August 24. The exhibition will be on display until mid-November. As part of the featured local artist program, photographs will be available for sale with 1/2 of proceeds benefitting the Miami Design Preservation League.