At age 26, my grandfather from New Hampshire was hired to work as an auto mechanic at a garage in Miami Beach during the winter season of 1936 before he married my grandmother who was living in Massachusetts. It was too expensive for him to call from Miami to Fall River, thus they had to write to stay in contact. So in essence, their letters from this period are their relationship. After my grandmother’s passing in 2000, my family discovered all their correspondences from this time. I took particular interest in the love letters which provide a vivid and eye witness account of life in the winter paradise in 1936 since I came to Miami Beach sixty years later in 1996 for an artist residency program.
Knowing that I have something very special, it took six years and many attempts to finally conceive in October 2006 how to present the letters in a creative way that relates to my artwork. The project takes the form of a video installation. I have taken a 1930 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan and installed 6 projectors inside the car. The digital projectors convert the vehicle’s windows into video screens that show images of Miami Beach from the 1930s, as my grandfather’s letters provide the audio.
The car is the same make and year that my grandmother owned at the time and would be the car that they would eventually drive to Florida after they were married in New England in April 1936. The car is also symbolically important to the piece as my grandfather was an auto mechanic and was the reason why he came to Miami Beach. It also serves to date the images.
The project made its' debut at satellite art fair, Fountain Miami during ArtBasel Miami Beach 2006 and was written up in the online art journal, ArtInfo.com. Evelyn Aimis Fine Art presented the project at PalmBeach3 and Palm Beach! Art and Antique Fairs in 2007. The work was written up and published in the Palm Beach Post as well as appeared in a number of local tv stations coverage of the fairs. In November 2007, the project was shown at Miami Beach's "Sleepless Night" cultural festival and was written up in the online digest 411MiamiBeach.com as well as appearing in a number of local tv stations coverage of the inaugural event.
Copyright 2006 Steven D. Gagnon
Press for Time MachineMiamiBeach411.com: Sleepless Night Miami Style
a3tv Time Machine Interview
Palm Beach Post: Contemporary art fair a chance to buy, look
ArtInfo.com: Offbeat Highlights from the Fair Trail