Home Is Where The Art Is

An Art Collection From Bauhaus To Cuba And Beyond

José Valdés-Fauli began collecting art when he was 19-years-old, he says, “because my parents were collectors and I sort of inherited that from them.” Today his collection occupies nearly every square inch of the 1927 home on Alhambra Circle that he shares with his partner, Dr. Shed Boren, an assistant professor at FIU. Valdés-Fauli retired 10 years ago after a career in banking, and since then has “become a more avid collector, getting involved with museums.” He is currently on the board of the Coral Gables Museum, where he helps curate art exhibits.

The collection in Valdés-Fauli’s home contains the works of many well-known Cuban artists, including Roberto Fabelo, Gina Pellón, Emilio Falero, and Manuel Mendive, as well as Chilean painters such as Guillermo Muñoz Vera and Enrique Campuzan. He also collects painters and sculptors from Central America, Mexico and the U.S., as well as antique objects from China and Africa. “His collection has been put together with a great eye for quality,” says Ramon Cernuda, who runs Cernuda Arte on Ponce de Leon Blvd.

The Private Art Collection

“I think this is one of the finest pieces I have,” says Valdés-Fauli of a still life painted by Chilean artist Guillermo Muñoz Vera. He acquired the painting in 1993 from Latin American art dealer Gary Nader. “I just think it’s a masterpiece.” Vera, born in 1956, is recognized worldwide as a hyperrealist.

Among his prized objects is a small stainless-steel work by the American sculptor Ernest Trova, a Chinese Tang dynasty ceramic horse, and a museum quality Bertoia sculpture that can be “played” by stroking it. “I have always had a theory in life that you own your possessions, your possessions don’t own you. So, things are meant to be used. If it breaks, it breaks, if it stains, it stains.”

The one thing that remains understated is the furniture, which is contemporary (Artefacto) and classic (Biedermeier). “This house is almost 100-years-old,” he says, “so you’ve got all the architecture going on, and then you have all the artwork going on. So, you can’t have furniture going on. It has to be the classics, so that it’s very subtle and doesn’t fight with anything.”

Valdés-Fauli documents many of his pieces, going so far as to have Oxford labs certify his Chinese vases and tiles. Much of his collection comes with a story – a silver bowl that he coveted for 30 years before being able to buy it, offers he made for pieces that were too exorbitant to be refused. And many of his stories end with “I saw it and fell in love with it and had to have it.”

The private art collection

The living room (shown above) at the home of José Valdés-Fauli is filled with objects of art that he has spent a lifetime collecting. The two large paintings on the wall, hanging above a Baker sofa, are both by renowned Cuban artists, Victor Manuel (left) and Mariano Rodríguez (right). The large sculpture on the left is one of a pair from the Ambete tribe in the Congo, called “The Protectors of Children.” The back wall inset-display areas hold mostly Chinese art, with the notable exception of a vertical metal sculpture (right, center) by Italian-born American sculptor Harry Bertoia. When stroked, it produces harmonic chimes.

The private Art Collection

The tile-floor entrance hallway to the house, with beamed ceiling, contains two Cherner chairs, a statue (“Mujer Levitando” – Levitating Woman) by Venezuelan Abigail Varela, and a wood sculpture by Cuban artist Armando Guiller. The glass table is by Artefacto.

art collection

In a corner of the living room sit a Biedermeier chair and table. The dark painting (“Three Women”) hanging above is by Cuban artist Roberto Fabelo; to its right are two Kcho’s, and to its left are works by Moises Finale (top) and to its left are works by Moises Finale (top) and
Carlos Quintana (bottom). All are Cuban.

The private Art Collection

A comfortable breakfast nook off of the kitchen is occupied by a “theater” sofa from Design Within Reach, ergonomically designed for maximum comfort (also enjoyed by Eli the dog). The large painting above is by Brazilian Antonio Amaral; the red painting is by Sandor Gonzalez, the yellow by Flora Fong, both Cuban.

The private Art Collection

The formal dining room is dominated by a large traditional dining table, with “architectural” leather-covered chairs by Bottega. The long painting of a child is by Venezuelan Alirio Palacios. The candelabras on the server are Mexican silver.

Private art Collection

The Florida Room (shown above) in the Valdés-Fauli home is dominated by two large paintings created by contemporary Mexican artist Hugo Lugo, entitled “Paper” and “Pencil,” which Valdés-Fauli purchased 15 years ago at an art auction here in Miami. The red metal sculpture in front of the arched windows is by Venezuelan artist Felix George.

Art Collection

This painting by contemporary Cuban artist Joel Besmar contains a bookshelf of titles about nothingness (“Non-Existent Objects,”  “Negation and Non-Being.”) “The details and draftsmanship are exquisite,” says Cernuda. “This is no longer common in today’s world.”

Art Collection

This painting is by Victor Manuel, the founder of Modernism in Cuba, who lived in Paris in the 1920s. “His work was about everyday life and brought back to Cuba the idea of social justice through the arts,” says Cuban art expert Ramon Cernuda.