Meet South Pointe Park’s obstinate lighthouse

By Dennis Leyva, Art in Public Places coordinator, City of Miami Beach

Starting in December 2008, the City of Miami Beach Art in Public Places (AiPP) Committee was given direction by the Mayor and City Commission to do a Call a to Artist with a project budget of $500,000, for an iconic, large format work within the context of South Pointe Park, Miami Beach, at the entrance to the Port of Miami and Biscayne Bay. The committee reviewed the public projects of 45 artists. On September 15, 2009, AiPP met and unanimously agreed to request proposals from the following four artists; Jim Drain, Mark Handforth, Tobias Rehberger and Gary Webb; and they presented their proposals on February 2010. On July 6, 2010 the Committee met and unanimously recommended Tobias Rehberger, lighthouse and on December 10, 2010 the Mayor and City Commission approved the project.

From a historical perspective there have been lighthouses at the entrances to ports or bodies of water; therefore the Committee felt this project was ideal for the location. The art work exemplifies the image of our community because it colorful, is great design, but at the same time playful.

Tobias Rehberger is a German artist who is also a professor at the University of Fine Arts, Frankfurt, Germany. Tobias conceptual art references, architecture, design, fashion and even advertising. Rehberger has had more than 80 solo museum shows in some of the most respected museums in the world and has been awarded several international art awards with the most prestigious being the Golden Lion in 2009 at the Venice Biennale, for the Cafeteria Project.

Rehberger conceived a special gateway to Miami Beach at its most southern point. His 55-foot obstinate lighthouse, 2011, is the newest addition to the City of Miami Beach public art collection and is created as an accumulation of nineteen staggered parts, topped by an installation of moving lights at its peak. According to Mr. Rehberger: “The sculpture is a modern and playful interpretation of a beacon. However, rather than guiding ships, the light functions to greet all city visitors and locals with a choreographed light display that references the lively spirit of Miami Beach.”

This is the City’s 18th art in public places project. The first Art in Public Places project in the collection is the Mermaid by Roy Lichtenstein, 1979, which was Lichtenstein’s first public project. Other recently completed projects unveiled during Art Basel Miami Beach are works by Wendy Wischer, Dan Graham and Brian Tolle.