|Toroazul Painting and Fine Arts
Detail of the mural, showing Juan
Ponce de Leon with "map" of the
Fountain of Youth and Tequesta
(Miami) youths, manatee in the water
The Miami skyline depicted in this original oil painting commissioned by the law firm
of Meland, Russin, Hellinger & Budwick in 2006 is a composite of “on-site” sketches
drawn from different locations along the Miami River and of my own readings and
reflections on this subject. From left to right, my vision begins at the Seybold Canal
and travels downriver. The Scottish Rite Masonic Temple is featured prominently,
with its bold pyramid structure on the top. On the far right of the mural, the Miami
River passes under Brickell Bridge by the Miami Circle, as it merges with the waters
of Biscayne Bay.
The figures in the foreground are those of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León and
two Tequesta Indian youths, as they might have looked when the conquistador first
came to these shores with his galleons and horses in July 1513, in search of the mythic
Fountain of Youth. De León kneels in reverence, holding a scroll with painted emblems
of the fountain and of Our Lady of Loreto, after whom an early Spanish mission was
named which stood where the Hyatt Hotel is located today.
Other symbolic details in the mural include a manatee, a Jewish synagogue, a lobster
fishery, and a group of figures conducting a baptism ceremony in the River. The
Tequesta youth presenting a conch shell to the European explorer stands both as a
living symbol of this land’s welcome to all newcomers and my interpretation of the
old and new “Mayaimi” as a place of shelter and life.