Art on the Beach: Gerry Stecca

Categories: Art, Culture
Many of Miami's creatives are transient, showing up on our shores and disappearing as quickly as the tides. The Art on the Street series will document this overlooked and ever-changing element of South Beach culture.

Camille Lamb
Gerry Stecca and some of his clothespin sculptures on the beach at 35th Street on Wednesday.
There's an adage: "Do one thing, and do it well."  These words are rarely followed up with "even if that thing is making sculptures out of clothespins." In any case, Gerry Stecca, a Venezuelan ex-pat and a resident artist at the Bakehouse Art Complex has made a pretty serious habit of connecting clothespins to one another using a drill and wire, a habit he whimsically decided to showcase on the beach at 35th Street on Wednesday. His name may sound familiar as his mural on the wall of the Vagabond was vandalized during Art Basel.

Nine years ago, he assembled his first clothespin sculpture as a joke for a fetish party. He chose the medium "because it was cheap." Today, he says, "It's all I do. It's taken over my life, in a good way." 

The sculptures are rarely representational, but gradually take on intuitive forms that the artist says are a surprise even to himself. That said, several of the pieces on the sand bore resemblances to lanky primates, while one appeared quite canine. Another was essentially a very stiff beach blanket, which Stecca and his friend, South African photographer Simon Hare, tried to outfit with a real live baby for some photographs. The red-faced and wailing infant failed to cooperate, however.  

Camille Lamb
Stecca's art imitating life (look at the person sitting on the shore in the background).

As Stecca and Hare rearranged sculptures to catch the best of the fading afternoon light, beach-goers interrupted their splashing and lazing to interject sun-dazed words of praise for the unusual objects. 

"Are these yours? They're beautiful, good work," said a middle-aged brunette in a pink sarong before dragging her beach gear toward the boardwalk.
Camille Lamb
Stecca's interns, learning what it takes to be an artist.
Meanwhile, Stecca's interns lounged around the sculptures as if they, too, were part of the installations. They are participants in a mentorship program for which they spend hours a week working with artists, eventually "marrying" one and creating a major piece inspired by their time with their mentor, said Anna Barten, director of education at the Bakehouse, who was also at the beach on Wednesday. 

"I think they love me for getting them out of school today," Stecca grinned. 

The beach scene was, of course, a thinly veiled publicity stunt, which Stecca had little trouble admitting. Like most artists, Stecca likes attention, even if it comes in a questionable package. 

"During Art Basel, my mural on the wall of the Vagabond was vandalized," Stecca said. As I was about to offer my outrage, he exclaimed, "It was great! It was no big deal to fix, but it got tons of attention!" 

And with his work appearing on Home and Garden Television's Colorsplash last month, it would seem that Stecca's been getting more than his 15 minutes lately. 

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