Old Parrot Jungle gift shop now an art gallery

Pinecrest Gardens art gallery features both local and nationally known artists.

Pinecrest Gardens is offering monthly art exhibits in a room that once housed the gift shop for the old Parrot Jungle tourist attraction, and the shows have become so popular that the space is booked through the end of 2012.

Most of the shows at the Gardens Gallery are coordinated by Pinecrest resident Tora Bueno, an internationally known art expert. She has worked both in the U.S. and internationally as an art consultant and curator. Now a Pinecrest resident, she was tapped by the Gardens administration to oversee the gallery.

“My dad has been an art dealer since the 1980s,” Bueno says. “I worked with a dealer until I moved here two years ago. Then I met Alana Perez (Pinecrest Gardens director) and she asked if I would be willing to organize the gallery. I plan the exhibitions and I coordinate the openings.”

Perez says Bueno impressed her from the start with her extensive knowledge of art.

“There is a certain something about Tora that sets her apart from the rest of the Miami’s art scene,” says Perez. “Call it her UK and Swiss upbringing, call it coming of age in New York, call it exposure and access to artists working in Europe or New York, she has her finger on the pulse of global art trends and she brings a whole new perspective. We are lucky to have her association and to have her as curator of the Gardens Gallery.”

Perez says the old gift shop was valuable available space that needed a purpose.

“The Gardens Gallery was a room just waiting to happen,” she says. “When I first came to work at the Gardens 18 months ago, the Hibiscus Room was a blank canvass. It served as an indoor rental venue with stark walls, incredible beamed ceilings and a floor plan that screamed out ‘fine arts gallery’. It was the right idea at the right time; and with the right person to curate it, the Gardens Gallery came to life. Each month we have a new and exciting exhibit, and I know in time the venture will grow in popularity among Gardens members, visitors and fine art lovers.”

In December, the gallery featured the art of conceptual artist Ethan Ryman.

“He flattens something that’s 3-D,” Perez says. “He’s always thinking about spatial perception, what photography does and doesn’t do.”

Other Gardens exhibits have featured watercolor art and wood carving statuary.

“The Gallery is still a multi-usage space and by its nature a community amenity,” Bueno says. “I will facilitate a variety of exhibits, from student-teacher shows to the very avant garde — Ethan’s, black-and-white photography, textiles, sculpture, you name it.”

The exhibits are not limited to professional artists. In November, the Gardens Gallery featured works by public school art teachers and their students. In January, another non-profit exhibit is scheduled. Bueno says her goal is to include exhibits by local artists, as well as programs by more well-known painters and sculptors.

Bueno says she hopes to have one show a month, except during the summer. She adds that the February exhibit will showcase botanical paintings and photography by local artists, and she is working on a Haitian art exhibit tentatively scheduled for June.

For information, call 305-666-6990.

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