Let There Be Light

An Ambitious New Project Launches to Illuminate the Downtown

By J.P. Faber

December 2019

The presentation to the City Commission began with a simple phrase: “People are like plants. We all lean toward the light.” With that began a campaign last month to bring an annual world-class installation of light sculpture to downtown Coral Gables by the year 2021, to “Bring Coral Gables to the forefront of the art scene and elevate it’s awareness.”

“Illuminate Coral Gables” is a joint project by just about every public stakeholder in the Gables, including the city itself, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Improvement District, the Community Foundation, and the Coral Gables Museum, with the private arts sector representated by Stacy Conde (Conde Contemporary Gallery) and Olga Granda (The Sanctuary of the Arts). The project was a confluence of similar ideas by the immediate past chair of the Chamber, Patrick O’Connell, and BID president Venny Torre. “For me it sprung from a conversation with Mayor Valdes Fauli, because the mayor had seen something like that in his travels,” says O’Connell. Both men went separately to the city’s arts advisory council but were soon united, from there enlisting support.

“The idea is to use light and technology to transform the city with public art that will become magical at night,” says Torre, president of the new nonprofit; O’Connell will serve as secretary. Some buildings will be “mapped” with light, while in other places art objects will be installed – then lit up. The project is expected to cost $1 million; the city is expected to contribute $100,000 in seed money.