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Demolition plan looms over 1970s mosaic murals in South Beach

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Huge murals on the side of the old Wells Fargo building on the central corner of Lincoln Road and Alton Road in South Beach depict scenes from US history.

An artist’s intricate work, exemplary of an ancient technique, used tiny pieces to create entire paintings on the building’s walls – and all could be lost in the demolition.

“These are great murals – mosaics,” said artist Emilio Romero. “They were made by in 1971 Enzo Gallo.”

Gallo’s son, Dr. Julio Gallo said the murals represent the American Dream and were created for Miami Beach’s international community. His work includes several monumental sculptures. His Christopher Columbus Sculpture is in Port Everglades and stained glass windows at Temple Beth-David in Miami.

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“My father was Italian and moved to Cuba and immigrated to this country,” said Dr. Julio Gallo.

Enzo Gallo was born in Padula, Italy. His parents were marble craftsmen. He moved to Havana to pursue his studies in architectural engineering, but instead studied fine arts. He also worked in Carrara, Italy. When Fidel Castro took power, he moved from Havana to Miami. Eventually he opened his own marble flooring and furnishings shop and art studio in Broward County.

Historical Byzantine mosaics inspired him for most of his career. As of Monday afternoon, chain link fences surrounded the abandoned building where his art has been displayed to the public in Miami Beach for more than half a century.

“When you see the mosaics, they are different manifestations of the American flag and how it has survived American history,” said Dr. Gallo on the arts in South Beach.

Officials said the building will be demolished to make way for a new mixed-use development. Local 10 first reported on the fate of the murals in 2015 when the demolition plan was confirmed. At the time, a representative from the Crescent Heights development company said there was an interest in preserving the mosaics.

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“There hasn’t been any action since then,” said Daniel Ciraldo, executive director of the Miami Design Preservation League, later adding, “Look, we’re trying our best, but this isn’t a historic neighborhood, it’s a building that we tried.” to stand up for us for years.”

The building itself isn’t historic, but preservationists like Ciraldo believe the 1971 work of art has value. A spokesman for the city of Miami Beach told Local 10 that there is no date for the demolition yet.

The asbestos removal has yet to be completed.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and we’re hoping through publicity and outcry, someone will emerge with the knowledge of what needs to be done,” Ciraldo said.

“We know we have to destroy some things to move forward, but don’t destroy creativity or wonderful murals,” Romero said.

Local 10 News reached out to CitizenM Hotels, who are planning to build a hotel on the property.

Copyright 2022 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.

https://www.local10.com/news/local/2022/06/06/demolition-plan-looms-over-mosaic-murals-from-70s-in-south-beach/ Demolition plan looms over 1970s mosaic murals in South Beach

Sarah Y. Kim

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