Opinion: Give Us A Glorious Native Poinciana To Gaze At Instead

David Pearson

Pearson is a native Miamian who went to St. Theresa School. He founded his public relations firm, David Pearson Associates, in 1966 after serving in both JFK and LBJ Administrations.  He is also an accomplished author.


In 2017, Hurricane Irma blew through Coral Gables and wrecked the two “flower”’ sculptures in the circles at Segovia and Biltmore Way.

If they were bizarre to begin with, Irma twisted them into Daliesque nightmares of poles, pods and petals. We benighted residents who have to look at these twin disasters every day implore the new City Commission to haul them off to the junk heap. 

Give us a glorious native poinciana to gaze at instead.

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69 thoughts on “Opinion: Give Us A Glorious Native Poinciana To Gaze At Instead

  1. Art is subjective and from someone who has visitors come here from other parts of the country on a regular basis, they always comment on how beautiful and how nice it is for our city to promote art. Thank you Coral Gables for continuing to place art in public places and not listen to people who have nothing better to do then criticize based on their “expert eye for art”….por favor!

  2. To those of you who have the ability and talent to see Art, in what are truly a shameful waste of taxpayers money, congratulations. But for most of us who lack the talent or education to see Art, in what are truly ugly pieces of steel called flowers, that look more like Asteroids that fell from
    outer space. Please get rid of them.

    Additionally, whoever authorized expending the big bucks in something that could have been made better and a lot less expensive, congratulations for wasting funds that could have been better utilized. How about if we could have commissioned a contest from the students of our
    U of M, School of Art & Design, for a couple of fountains that would have conveyed the true spirit of our City’ European and Spanish architectural heritage.

  3. Poincianas are NOT native to FL, but rather Madagascar… just saying
    And I love them, have a huge, old one in front.
    I can deal with the messy for the loveliness

  4. I walk by these pieces of art every morning. I don’t know how anyone could tell if they are damaged. I’m not making a joke. I’ve been pondering this.

  5. Please, get rid of them, I love modern sculptures but these do not represent our beautiful city. I prefer a large canopy tree that is beautiful to look at, ages organically with its surroundings, and graces passing pedestrians with much needed shade.

  6. Fairchild might be a nice place for these sculptures, but if I remember correctly, the agreement with the artist makes this difficult. As this was a sight specific art project, on it’s own initiative the city can only store it or trash it. Selling or moving the piece to another location requires the artist’s permission.

  7. Every year tens of thousands of the wealthiest people in the world visit Miami to see a cornucopia of art. Before these statues were installed in our city virtually none of those people visited Coral Gables while they were here. Art has proven to be a generator of positive economic activity.
    If art were reduced to a popularity contest we would be left with Elvis on velvet, kittens, flowers and Britto. Luckily it is not. Ms. Carbonell stated it very clearly.

  8. PASSION FLOWER SCULPTURES DESERVE TO BE ADMIRED AS MASTERFUL WORKS OF ART BY ALICE AYCOCK. Coral Gables Founder George Merrick emerged to envision a city of gardens. His planting plans incorporated native plants which he skillfully integrated with tropical and imported specimens, such as the passion flower. How short-sighted to refer to the commissioned passion flower sculptures as “junk” when in fact they are jewels created by world renowned, award-winning sculptor Alice Aycock. Personally, I am enamored with the one-of-a-kind sculptures and proud that the City of Coral Gables had the foresight to “plant” these important art installations. They stand in honor of Merrick’s garden city concept and elevate the city’s art in public places program. They should be understood for their value and contribution to the art world. They should be lovingly stewarded as destination art to attract art lovers. Sculpture artist Alice Aycock stands among the great installation artists in modern times and Coral Gables is a recipient of that greatness. She has exhibited in major museums and galleries nationally as well as in Europe and Japan. Her works can be found in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the LA County Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Sheldon, Storm King Art Center, the Louis Vuitton Foundation, and the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany. She exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Documenta VI and VIII and the Whitney Biennial. Aycock has received numerous awards including 4 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and the International Sculpture Center presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture in 2018. Coral Gables is among the major cities in the U.S. exhibiting Aycock’s public sculptures. Art connoisseurs plan their trips around visits to her installations all over the world. Coral Gables was founded by a man with a vision of creating a garden city draped in fauna and passion flowers. Aycock honored that vision in 2016 when she created the two flower sculptures which today decorate the roundabouts on Segovia and Biltmore Way. No they are not junk, they are important Aycock installations and Coral Gables residents should recognize the difference.

  9. If you think these flowers are bad, wait to you see the $3M dollar KAWS sculpture the developer wants to install in the Plaza. It’s pop art that doesn’t reflect Coral Gables and not to mention the price tag coming from the Gables Art in public places fund. Something more tasteful and beautiful would be expected at that price range. $3M is a lot of money in my book especially for a dead mickey mouse sculpture.

  10. We call them the alien flowers. They were supposed to stay water but that feature is long gone. A fountain would have been so much more aligned with the city previously beautiful.

  11. Ever since these horrendous monstrosities were installed defacing in fact our “city beautiful” I always wondered who got paid off to convince the then mayor to pay ONE MILLION dollars for them. I am a resident who regularly drive by both, the one at Coral Way and Biltmore Way and cannot hide my distaste for not only these ugly things but the awful greenery placed around them ! I suggest that the clown who approved these ugly things be sent to Europa and let him see some beautiful arraignments surrounding the circles in main streets of Paris, Barcelona, Belgium, etc.

  12. In my humble opinion, I think its appropriate to replace these sculptures and move them to a new location in a less prominent place, maybe they would look better if they were incorporated more into nature and better surrounding landscapes.

    These two roundabouts had the opportunity to become iconic for our city with beautiful fountains or other Spanish inspired monumental structures but I feel it was a missed opportunity approving these floral depictions. The landscape maintenance also needs to be addressed as when you drive around the two circles the landscaping looks like it hasn’t been touched since the hurricane damaged the structures.

    Add two fountains that speak to one another and I am sure most of the residents will be happy. Just adding a tree or a landscaped area won’t be enough. There is an opportunity here to do something really special. Our city and its residents deserves it.

    On a related topic, has anyone seen the plans for the Round about park across from the Plaza development on Ponce? I recently saw the concepts and they have missed the boat on that one as well. It’s really a shame that these prominent areas are not receiving the design attention that they deserve. We need better designers in charge of these projects. The Plaza complex is already extremely overcalled the least thing the city can do is provide a proper public space across the project for residents to enjoy. I encourage everyone to visit the gables website to see the renderings of what is being proposed for this park. We need something better, something truly grand!

  13. While many people of a certain age may find the sculptures unappealing, let’s not forget art is subjective. Have you asked your children or grandchildren what they think? These sculptures are what children have grown to know and love. One day, should someone try to remove them, they will invoke Merrick’s “vision” and say “how dare you”.

  14. I agree with Julio Grabiel, Dan Thomas, and Maite. Leave them alone, fight bigger battles, and royal poincianas, though beautiful in June, are not Florida natives and throw off hard seed pods and clouds of tiny leaves.

  15. The flower sculpture is beautiful, contemporary and looks like the native Florida passion flower. But maybe that’s the problem – it looks like a native flower and most Floridians have no idea what that looks like.

  16. Art has an important place in a great society. I may not personally like every art piece I see in a museum or in our public spaces. That doesn’t mean it should be thrown out. For every artwork I don’t like, there are people who do like it… These pieces should be maintained & repaired, as was originally agreed.

  17. Please, get rid of them, I love modern sculptures but these do not represent our beautiful city. I prefer a tree, or plants.

  18. Please replace this vertiginous display of chaos with a lifesize bronze statue of Donald J. Trump.

  19. For the sake of argument, will not debate if these have any artistic value. However, will certainly debate the real dollar value was a ridiculous and out of line expenditure of public funds.
    Royal Poincianas may not be native to the area, but they are here, and are beautiful. These two circles would’ve been the perfect location for these trees due to their shape and definitely glorious when blooming for all to see. The “natural” look much preferred!!!

  20. I am an older citizen who thinks these sculptures are lovely. I smile every time I pass by one of them. I am so glad we didn’t end up with another boring fountain.

  21. I don’t love these sculptures either-especially the puny one on coral way. I kept waiting for them to finish the coral way sculpture thinking there was no way that little flower was all that had been planned. However, I seem to recall spending millions on these sculptures. We can’t just tear them down–it would be such a waste. Can we relocate them closer to US 1 or put them on UM’s campus?

  22. The sculptures are HORRIBLE!!!!! What a waste of money! They’re an embarrassment to our neighborhood in more ways than one. Remove them. I live in a historical home and there are so many restrictions it’s absurd. How were these hideous pieces of garbage allowed?

  23. Many trees/plants are more beautiful than any of the art City has purchased!!
    Further, they clean our air and help the environment – thus:
    Plant trees instead of purchasing artworks!!

  24. Hoping they will be thrown away soon. There was a huge accident on the one on Biltmore Way from someone who didn’t know the area snd kept going straight and ended up next to the flower. Hope it will be removed in the near future.

  25. those two pieces are art… ok… but are they right for the places that they were installed in? coral gables sends evvvverything through tons of approval processes, so how did those two structures slide through, i wonder. plus, i read that gables agreed to the artist’s requirement to spend 200.000 a year (!) on maintenance. gulp. i mean… wha…!?

  26. This “art” is tacky at best. This isn’t Barcelona. The aesthetic on the mile is equally hideous. Street art supported by our former mayor with legacy costs. Bad modern art sculptures with battery operated solar panels that look sub par. What is wrong with a nice fountain or landscaping? Has anyone been to Worrh Avenue? They don’t seem to suffer our consequences.

  27. As someone mentioned, it’s a replica of the “Passion flower.” I want to add that this flower is one of the host plants of the Florida native butterfly, longwing zebra butterfly. Our City Beautiful embraces nature and this the sculpture is well fitted. Take a walk in the butterfly garden behind our public library and you’ll find the real thing. A sculpture of a flower/plant, such as this one, that sustains our environment, was a good choice. It embodies the natural side of the City Beautiful.

  28. If the selection were to be done over today would any present commissioner be prepared to approve them?

  29. Those “sculptures” most definitely have to go ASAP they’re not only HIDEOUS but have absolutely NOTHING to do or relate to our City Beautiful!
    We would be obviously better represented by sone ornate WATER FOUNTAINS (much like DeSoto’s) lit up at nights – just like all over Spain, which we trace much of our architecture as well as street names too keeping with our MEDITERRANEAN concept!!!!🤙🏻

  30. Totally agree with you. Someone in the city government had to have been paid off to allow such monstrosities to be placed on public property. They are just so out of character with our city.

  31. If there is a way to replace the sculptures with landscaping that would be practical. You just have to make sure that nothing blocks the need for a clear view of oncoming traffic for drivers on the roundabout.

  32. $1M On art? What a waste of taxpayer money. Self serving interests definitely at work here. What can those 2 eyesores realistically be worth maybe $100k generously?

  33. It always surprises me how heated some people will get over these sculptures, don’t they know that passion fruit flowers actually look like that? Art doesn’t have to fit your definition of pretty petals and fun recognizable colors.

    That said, if the sculptures are in disrepair, they could always be moved and fixed, and then set in a different location, donation to the university perhaps?

    It would be nice to have a new piece by a local sculpture (although, artist beware, you better make something that fit these older folks sensitivities or you’ll just continue this scoff-a-thon)

  34. I totally you agree with you! This “art” doesn’t match the historic, family environment that differentiates Coral Gables from other neighborhoods. Not only the initial expense, but on-going expense to maintain this very odd structure. What a shame that $1m was spent and even more will be spent.

  35. What a wonderful alternative! The beauty of a royal poinciana far exceeds any metal sculpture.

  36. What happened to the Mediterranean look? Really never understood why these metal structures were ever approved? A beautiful Mediterranean fountain would have done the job.

  37. Agree 100%, someone getting paid for horrible art and we need to get rid of them ASAP

  38. I drive by these sculptures regularly and always enjoy them. It makes no sense to get rid of something so beautiful. Some of the art installations in the Gables do not match my taste, but seeing real art in community spaces uplifts us all, even if it is not what we would have chosen. Remember the Eifel Tower was maligned and excoriated when it was first built. Give this a few more years to grow on us.

  39. I admit I don’t pass these flower sculptures often enough to be bothered by them. Yes, they might very well be voted away if voters were given a chance but I suspect this might be true for many of the city’s art works. Any one against pink snails out there?

  40. Those pieces of metal -called “sculptures”- are horrible and it is a shame to have wasted two million dollars of tax payers money on them. A couple of fountains with natural flowers like the one on Granada Circle goes very well there and for less than half the cost.

  41. The one on Biltmore is an abomination, the one in Coral way is obviously left over material from the first that artist decided he didn’t have a place …get rid of both

  42. Why not a beautiful tree or a nice fountain instead ?
    Something classy that goes with the coral gables Spanish architecture

  43. Totally agree…. Really tried to get those “things” out, but was not successful. They have been described as “the Little House of Horrors” and the description could not be more appropriate

  44. I concur with Jennifer’s “Amen” statement provided it represents her expression of agreement to the comments above that these eyesores need to go and let Mother Nature’s artwork be substituted in their place and stead.

  45. $1 million dollars, down the drain. Also, Passion Flowers are toxic and poisonous..is that really the example we want to have for our city?

  46. They are extraordinary works of art they need to be repaired and continue in its location.

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