Could it be? The very first bit of Art Basel Miami Beach news?
Every year since the Swiss art fair decided to hold its winter contemporary art expo in Miami Beach, our city's local crop of visual and media artists have fought to stand their ground and fight for some recognition.
This year, two Miamians hope to get the public's attention by floating a 230-foot gator through Biscayne Bay.
The 70 by 30-foot gator head will be sculpted from reclaimed metal by artist Kenneth Rowe. And thanks to engineer Waddy Thompson, the mouth will actually open and close as the self-propelled barge moves through the water.
Trailing behind this massive metal head, the gator body will be composed of over a hundred floating tiles printed with Lloyd Goradesky's photographs of the Everglades.
Goradesky and local historian Cesar Becerra dreamed up Gator in the Bay as a way to spotlight local talent during Basel and bring awareness towards the Everglades.
HuffPost Miami spoke with both about their ambitious Gator plans, currently looking for funding on Kickstarter.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW.
What do you find so inspiring about Christo's 1983 'Islands'?
Cesar: As my late uncle said "if you're not living near, looking at, or accessing the water in Miami, then what's the point?" I agree. We have this liquid living room that was first played with by its early founding fathers as they built causeways like the Venetian, etc., but not used as a great canvas until Christo did so in 1983. Really it's appalling that no one has utilized it on that level 30 years later. We plan to change that.
Christo's Surrounded Islands received plenty of criticism for harming the Biscayne Bay environment. What lengths have or will you go to see that Gator in the Bay is eco-friendly?
Cesar: It's sad to think whether Christo could even get away with that today in Biscayne Bay. Our project though is radically different than Christo's in that we are not putting down stakes anywhere or covering the sea bottom since we are a moving floating vessel. Even our floating tiles have separations between then to allow light to show through. Christo parked himself over sea bed grasses, but we are not stopping; our gator moves. Plus it will be floating for only 6 days.
Lloyd: The barge meets small vessel requirements and right of way rules, meaning that it can anchor and travel in shallow waters without causing harm to the environment. The floating art tiles that are printed using green-friendly inks and highly compressed liquid cell foam that will not deteriorate from the sun or water.
What are some of the obstacles you've encountered in dreaming up Gator in the Bay?
Lloyd: The gator head will weigh over 18,000 pounds and needs to be transported over land before it ever makes it to the barge. Over 100 tiles need to be created using a photo mosaic process that will allow them to be unique and interesting. And each floating art tile needs to be created so that it can be viewed vertically or horizontally, in addition, to looking different from each tile collage. As with most projects, money dictates the budget. As our budget grows, we are able to create and add to a wonderful art piece that will help save our planet.
What kind of reaction do you hope for when folks see the 230-feet gator out in the bay?
Lloyd: The first thing a viewer will notice is the size of the gator. Depending on the time of day, the viewer will see color and lighting that will provoke the wonderment of nature. The barge is self-propelled and the helm is relatively obscured from view. It will be big beautiful unique and highly visible for all to share.
Cesar: The glades in general are in a fight for their lives. Yes there are a lot of projects going on to restore them but even "experts" agree to disagree on whether the entire gamble will work. But as with all moneyed political issues, support of the glades could change, could dry up, so we want the gator to be a symbol that we must be vigilant.
What does a gator symbolize for you?
Cesar: Survival, beast, catalyst. When I was 10, I flipped over in a canoe on a Boy Scout trip and there was a large alligator on the bank just 20 feet away. It scared the crap out of me but it also calmed me. It was just majestic -- the king of the jungle.
Lloyd: The size and presence that Gator in the Bay will convey will evoke discussion and remind us what’s right in our own backyard.
Do you think local artists get their due during Art Basel Miami Beach?
Cesar: Look Art Basel has been amazing for Miami, no doubt, but at a level where not all residents of Miami can access or enjoy it. Our piece will float by several parks where the public will get a chance to see it. Before it goes into the water, the panels will be on a land area to witness for free before kayakers paddle them out into the bay and attach them to the gator head.