Doing It Off Script
“The American Dream” by Claire Breukel
Claire Breukel is the curator of Unscripted, Bal Harbour public art projects. Unscripted, Bal Harbour commissions a series of ambitious and site responsive contemporary art pieces throughout the public areas of Bal Harbour Village. Breukel shares her behind the scenes insights of the selection, artist installation and programming as each project progresses.
In 1947 in Bal Harbour “the American Dream” embodied frequenting its chic hotels and owning a home in its growing planned community. In 1947 William Levitt incorporated Levittown, a series of uniform suburban homes that formed part this constructed community—a housing estate so to speak— that came to fruition first in Cape Cod. Identifiable by their ‘sameness’, the Levittown house came to symbolize the post World War II urban expansion and the generalized aspiration to own a family home. In 1947, artist Jackson Pollock had begun his vast series of action paintings. Impacted by a post-war heightened self-consciousness, Pollock’s Modernist paintings used spontaneity and impulse to focus on the action of creating a painting, emphasizing process and not result. Equally, the notion of the American Dream over the sixty years since has—despite attempts to create representations that embody it— not reached a finite definition.
Thus, it is assuming to offer a contemporary definition of “the American Dream”, however one can express that America is home to an increasingly multicultural and transitory population, brought together through collective events such as political elections, holidays, and to a more specialized degree, trade fairs. This week, Art Basel Miami Beach entices visitors from all over America and the world to descend upon Miami’s shores. It is only too pertinent then, that George Sánchez-Calderón’s immense mirrored “Americana” sign stands firmly on the front lawn of the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort—a destination that art visitors, Bal Harbour residents and its’ work force frequents. This symbol, “Americana”, is universally understood yet speaks uniquely to each of us—perhaps it is a call to action, recognition of our societal evolution, or a provocation for us to consider our own position within the meaning of a word in flux.
Thanksgiving is a constant and quintessential American holiday that promotes an appreciation of ones fortune. But how is ones fortune defined in America today considering that it was once represented owning a family (Levittown) home. I would like to propose—with my tongue in my curatorial cheek— that ones fortune is defined by acquiring a greater social and cultural understanding, often sought out through interaction with art. If so, then one could conclude that ones fortune is defined by ones art collection. Taking this a step further, one could additionally conclude that the ultimate fortune would be having both— owning a family home and owning art—perhaps the true American Dream?
Unscripted, the first public art commission for Bal Harbour Village, and winning artist George Sánchez-Calderón launched its first series of limited edition artworks; “White Levittown House”, “Wood Levittown House”, and a special “Gold Levittown House” in an edition of 15 that humorously represents the 13 colonies that once made up America. With deep irony, Sánchez-Calderón’s editions fulfill our desire both past and present allowing is to acquire the suburban life whilst assuming the role of art connoisseur. With an even deeper layer of irony the holidays follow closely on the heels of Art Basel Miami Beach, representing a time for family and gift giving. The ultimate gift—a miniature limited edition “Americana” sign to forever remind us of our past and to forever provoke us to reconsider how we choose to define our American Dream today.