Thirty-seven artistic works by Professor Thomas A. Spain, whose enormous talent and unwavering devotion to teaching design and drawing have indelibly impacted two generations of students, are on exhibit at the School of Architecture’s Irvin Korach Gallery through Friday, September 12, when a closing celebration of ‘Thomas A. Spain—A Retrospective’ and lecture by Professor Jorge L. Hernandez will begin at 6 p.m. in Glasgow Hall. A reception with the artist will follow the lecture.
University of Miami Libraries University Archives’ exhibition, Southern Suns and Sky Blue Water, is on display through January 2014 at the Otto G. Richter Library, and features photographs, fanfare, memorabilia, and publications that reflect student life at the University during the 1960s, 1980s, and early 2000s.
“There is a vibrant history here at UM,” says Koichi Tasa, University archivist and the exhibition’s lead curator. He notes that the exhibition’s title, the first line of the University’s Alma Mater, alludes to the timeless backdrop that unifies University athletics, student activities, and campus events across many generations.
Among the exhibition’s ’60s generation mementos is a vintage photograph of soul music pioneer Ray Charles performing at the UM Homecoming Concert in 1963, just two years after the University officially desegregated the campus. Research Services Supervisor Marcia Heath, a curator of the exhibition, said that Charles’s performance was a catalyst in raising morale among the student body during the racially charged period.
“These materials really show us where we’re coming from…how far we’ve come,” she said, also referring to the transformation in the University’s physical campus. One 1962 photograph of the Richter Library shows the completion of the main floors and stacks addition, which earned a design award by Florida Architect in 1964. The library now houses a print collection of more than four million volumes.
The exhibition, also curated by Education and Outreach Librarian William Jacobs and Special Collections Research Assistant Steve Hersh, includes IBIS yearbook spreads chronicling the evolution of traditions like Carni Gras, where students in the ’60s and ’80s strutted in high gear to embrace the Carnival spirit.
The exhibition even houses traditional fanfare such as a dink, once-required headgear freshmen sported until Miami’s first touchdown, and then tossed into the air. “Like the world, the University is changing daily,” said Cynthia Cochran, director of alumni programs. “The opportunity to visit some artifacts from those periods only enriches [alumni’s] visit back to campus, for some of whom it has been 50 years.”
Since he started at the University Archives in 2007, Tasa has worked closely with the UM Alumni Association. In 2010 artist Jacobina Trump created a mural at the Alumni Center, inspired by collection materials, conveying an unchanging horizon over the many generations to walk the campus. Like the exhibition, it also bears the words Southern Suns and Sky Blue Water. “Those words hit home for us all,” Tasa said.
Coinciding with Art Basel, the 6th Annual CaneFair, featuring works by University of Miami students who are pursuing their Masters of Fine Arts, debuted in Miami’s Wynwood Building last week and will show through January 24 by appointment.
Presented by the University of Miami Art and Art History Department, this year’s CaneFair showcases photography, sculptures, paintings, ceramics and other works by 19 students in the three-year highly competitive MFA program, which prepares artists for the professional, studio art world and qualifies them to teach art in college.
CaneFair is in the University of Miami Gallery, Suite 4, at the Wynwood Building, 2750 N.W. 3rd Avenue, Miami. A closing reception for the artists will be held during January’s Wywnood Art Walk on Saturday, January 11, from 2 to 9 p.m.
For more information about viewing the exhibition or about the Wynwood Art Gallery, call 305-284-3161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For a schedule of all department exhibitions visit www.as.miami.edu/art.
Some might consider national-award-winning independent bookseller Mitchell Kaplan something of a Warren Buffett of the book world.
With even corporate giants like Borders closing shop of late, Kaplan has not only survived the advent of the Internet and the e-book, the self-publishing frenzy, and the recession; he has thrived in his industry for decades, all the while helping his native Miami bloom into a hot spot for author appearances. How he’s managed that feat in the modern-age was the subject Kaplan came to address Friday, November 8, at the University of Miami’s Newman Alumni Center’s Toll Library.
Kaplan’s talk, “Success of the Independent Bookstore during the Age of the Internet,” was sponsored by UM’s School of Education and Human Development, where Kaplan earned his master’s degree in 1980. UM President Donna E. Shalala welcomed visitors to the event, which helped kick off Alumni Weekend festivities, before departing to claim her spot atop a Homecoming Parade float.
Not only is Kaplan an alumnus; he has twin sons attending UM. Further, he co-chairs the Momentum2 University of Miami Libraries Campaign, as School of Education and Human Development Dean Isaac L. Prilleltensky noted in his introduction.
Kaplan began by telling the audience that his path to entrepreneurial success has defied conventional wisdom. “I took no business courses,” he said. In fact, after attending law school, Kaplan decided to switch tracks and become a public school teacher. But Kaplan said it was the very lessons he learned while standing in front of 250 10th graders for three years as an honors English teacher at Southridge High in South Miami-Dade that laid the foundation for his future ambitions.
In particular, he cited all the necessary planning and strategizing teachers must do. Plus, he said, “to be a teacher is to be somewhat of a salesperson.” Of course, all that would mean nothing without one final key ingredient: passion. “I spent more time in bookstores than I spent in the law school library. I knew I wanted to be a bookstore owner,” said Kaplan. “We have a quote in our stores by [the author Jorge Luis] Borges that reads, ‘I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books.’ I feel that way.”
When he launched his flagship Books & Books store in Coral Gables in 1982, he worked to create a place where communities of book lovers could congregate. “If we just have large conglomerates or chains, we lack something,” he said. Three decades later, Kaplan’s enterprise has expanded from one store to six, including one in the Cayman Islands and another in the Hamptons on Long Island. Books & Books hosts 700 author appearances annually, he said, while another 400 authors appear at the Miami Book Fair International, the wildly popular community festival Kaplan co-founded 30 years ago and whose board of directors he chairs.
Lionized for his achievements and his contributions, Kaplan has served as president of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and received major honors such as the National Book Foundation’s 2011 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Yet, he admitted during his talk, there have been plenty of obstacles. In the early days, one big challenge was perception: convincing publishers that Miami was about more than prescription drugs and sunbathing, that an audience of sophisticated readers was hungry for literature, and lots of it.
These days, it’s a different kind of struggle he’s facing. “When I started in 1982, 50 percent of books were sold in [independent] stores like mine. Now it’s only 8 percent,” Kaplan explained. “There were 7,000 ABA members; now there are 1400.”
But while Kaplan knows the numbers, he’s still bullish as ever on the power of the word. “I think we are going to go through a golden age of writing—and a golden age of book buying as baby boomers retire and have time to read,” he said, adding that the growth of electronic books is finally beginning to plateau.
Kaplan is also encouraged by what he sees as a trend toward younger people opening bookstores and closed with a bit of hard-won advice for any would-be proprietors. “You have to have a really high tolerance for debt,” he said. “No sane person would do what I do. You have to love it because there are not great riches. But it’s a lifestyle I would never give up for anything in the world.”
The Miami Book Fair International takes place from November 17 to 24.