Painting The Town – Rosa De La Cruz

 “Carlos and I feel that educational programs are necessary in order to enrich the lives of our youth.”

For years, Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz have been welcoming the public into their chic Key Biscayne home, generously receiving eager eyes seeking to delve into the couple’s worldly art collection. In 2009, the pair extended the courtesy to the entire Miami community with the opening of the de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space in the blossoming Design District.

“No doubt that our new space is an extension of our home,” Rosa de la Cruz tells us. “For many years, we have opened our home to art lovers interested in viewing the collection. Our space in the Design District has that same feeling; the only difference is that the new space is open five days a week and seeing the collection at our home is limited by appointment only.”

Inside the space lies a wealth of information, knowledge and passion, as delivered by a vast array of contemporary artwork, a full library and frequent workshops and lectures. Access to the gallery space—never referred to by de la Cruz as a museum—and to the many programs within is free of charge.

“Art institutions and museums should be admission-free,” de la Cruz said. “Charging alienates many who enjoy art but cannot afford the cost of admission, special events and workshops. I feel that art is part of the patrimony of a nation and private collections should be accessible to the public in general.”

It’s precisely because of this zealous wish to provide culture, experience and exposure to the community that de la Cruz has been on the receiving end of so many philanthropy and community service awards over the years. With the gallery, the de la Cruz couple has created their own unique form of community service.

“Carlos and I feel that educational programs are necessary in order to enrich the lives of our youth,” said de la Cruz. Their commitment to the arts reaches deep into the realm of young creative minds. Three years ago, the couple started several scholarship and travel programs for art students of Miami’s Design and Architecture Senior High (DAS H) and New World School of the Arts, with matching funds from the Knight Foundation.

“We need to empower our Miami art students and help them further their education,” continued de la Cruz. “The students are given the opportunity to continue their studies, travel abroad and attend a pre-college program at the School of Visual Arts.” The sentiment has caught like wildfire.

De la Cruz tells us that, since the inception of the programs, “We have had many supporters of these programs. Among them are The Key Biscayne Women’s Giving Circle, Braman Family Foundation, Montblanc, The Friedman-Klarreich Family Foundation, Telemundo, Stephen Eisen and Americans for the Arts,” said de la Cruz.

Of course a collection and commitment of the de la Cruz’s caliber doesn’t go unnoticed by the haute heavyweights in the art and design world. In March, the de la Cruz space was host to an exclusive event with Fendi, where the luxury purveyor celebrated its S/S 2012 collection. The runway show, subsequent champagne fête and seated dinner supported DAS H’s Young Designers Scholarship Fund.

“There is a real need to involve the design industry in helping the arts,” she said. “In exchange for the use of our space, Fendi donated to the Design and Architecture Senior High School $25,000 for the scholarship/travel program.”

Establishing an alliance with one of the world’s most influential brands is a milestone accomplishment, but the Fendi team is not the only one celebrating de la Cruz’s wild success. In fact, this year also saw a triumph that hit a little closer to home. She was acknowledged for her trailblazing efforts to fulfill the city’s gap of art with a special award—the first ever—from Design Miami/. The “Veuve Clicquot Tribute to Inspiring Women” honor couldn’t have been bestowed upon a more deserving individual.

“Craig Robins has been wonderful,” she tells us of the Vice President of Design Miami/, who also happens to be a close friend and business associate. “Since the Moore Space, we have worked together in different art projects. He values collaboration and is a faithful supporter of the artists and students in this community.”

In the custom of a true role model, de la Cruz credits her devoted team for much of their success. “Everything we do is a team effort,” she said. “Our director, Ibett Yanez, started working with us at the Moore Space. Throughout years of experience and working with different artists, Ibett has developed knowledge and skills, and also an open mind that is necessary in the contemporary art world.”

For those just discovering the de la Cruz Collection, there are plenty of projects and events to explore. When asked what’s to come, de la Cruz divulges, “On April 14 we are opening a new project in our Project Room by Miami artist Brookhart Jonquil that involves blurring the distinction between painting and sculpture.” Two weeks later, the gallery will host a lecture by professor, editor and author Katy Siegel.

The de la Cruz Collection is an incredible space that reflects the energy of the curators through influential contemporary works, and it is styled with a passion that can only be infused by Rosa de la Cruz herself.

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