Manolo Valdés sculpture coming to Sunny Isles Beach

A blue 18-foot tall sculpture of a woman’s head with butterflies circling it will be placed at one of Sunny Isles Beach’s busiest intersections in a few months.

The massive artwork will be found in front of the almost-completed Milton Tower, a 14-story office building near NE 163rd Street and Collins Avenue.

“Blue Butterflies” will be built by the world-famous Spanish artist Manolo Valdés, who has presented his work in many museums and galleries, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Developers of the office building paid a commission of about $1.5 million to Valdés, according to Jesse Rachel Cukierkorn, a member of the Sunny Isles Beach Public Arts Advisory Committee.

The committee, a volunteer board of artists appointed by city commissioners, approved the sculpture after it was proposed by the developers.

“We want to enrich our city with artwork that allows people to have conversations and to cross-cultural bounds,” said Cukierkorn.

The artwork is part of Sunny Isles Beach’s Cultural Master Plan, which was created in 2017 to bring more art to the city.

“Because of the fact that Valdés is not just a well-known artist in the Americas, but also from Europe, we have him representing the multiculturalism of our city because he’s internationally known,” said Cukierkorn.

Sunny Isles Beach City commissioners approved the building of the sculpture after Cukierkorn presented it to them during the Oct. 17 meeting.

“The city is in some ways geographically challenged because we have such a small footprint, but I felt that having an outdoor sculpture was a way to really identify and bring beauty to our city,” said Commissioner Dana Goldman.

Cukierkorn and architects of the building hope the size of “Blue Butterflies” will spark people to explore the artwork from different angles.

“I think it’s a fun sculpture, that people will take selfies and photographs in front of. There’s a playfulness to it,” said Eduardo Castiñeira, the president of Axioma 3 Architects Inc.

Castiñeira and his team assisted the developers in deciding what artist would be commissioned to create the artwork.

Developers who apply for building permits of any size in Sunny Isles Beach are required to contribute an art piece valued at least $500,000.

Castiñeira said the festivity of the artwork reminded him of the work of Henri Matisse, a French artist who was known for creating childlike paintings.

“At one point in our lives, we’re very pure and when we grow up we have all these other things that come into play. Matisse made a statement that said that he’s making an effort to go back to the purity of the soul of feeling like a child again I found that to be very interesting because this sculpture is almost abstract to the point of view of a child,” said Castiñeira.

The sculpture will be made of stainless steel and will be treated with a blue, high-gloss paint with bronze and resin on its outside.

Milton Tower is scheduled to be finished by the end of this year. Valdés is expected to finish creating “Blue Butterflies” by June 2020.

Anna Radinsky is a senior at FIU majoring in journalism and sociology. Besides covering news around Sunny Isles Beach, she also runs the entertainment section of PantherNOW, FIU's student newspaper. She writes profiles on interesting people and covers news related to social and environmental issues, as well as culture and art.