Aviator’s paintings offer new perspectives
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Soaring high above Biscayne National Park, local aviator Luis Nunez was inspired by the breathtaking vista. Hoping to relate this airborne view to others, he created unique paintings that are now on display in the Dante Fascell Visitor Center Gallery for the latest art exhibition at Biscayne National Park.
“Biscayne: A Different Perspective,” is an exhibition of aerials in oil, painted in painstaking detail by Homestead artist and amateur pilot Luis Nunez. The gallery show runs through Nov. 28, as part of the park’s Community Artists Program. Established in 1997, the program showcases the works of artists inspired by the beauty of Biscayne National Park.
“This exhibition is unusual for most people because the perspective is from the air,” said Nunez. “[Biscayne] is a place that is mostly water and in my paintings people will see the colors of the water that are fantastic — they are colors you don’t normally see from land. It is a different view with a variety of colors and it is very stimulating.”
|Click on the video at left to view an audio slide show of the Nunez exhibit photographed and narrated by writer Danielle Kaslow.|
Gary Bremen, park ranger and coordinator for the gallery, showcases intriguing and distinctive exhibitions, giving visitors a different perspective of the park. For example, a recent exhibit called “Barking Up a Tree” featured close-up shots of bark from all the different trees in the park.
“Nowadays people are so busy that they don’t take time out to appreciate the little things,” said Bremen. “That’s one of the main points of the gallery — to slow people down and have them look at things a little differently.”
Bremen promises Nunez’s artwork will present visitors an entirely unique experience.
“With so many exhibits people can say, ‘Well how many pictures of the Boca Chita lighthouse can you really have?’ Well Luis, being a pilot as well as a painter, shows us a different angle and perspective,” Bremen explained. “He paints the Boca Chita lighthouse too, not from the water as most people see it but from the air. In his painting it is mainly water with just a little dot for the lighthouse — it’s a whole different perspective.”
“Biscayne: A Different Perspective,” an exhibition by Luis Nuñez, is on display in the Dante Fascell Visitor Center Gallery at Biscayne National Park. (Photos by Danielle Kaslow).
To create the oil paintings for the exhibit, Nunez relied mostly on memory. Occasionally he would also bring a friend along to take photographs for reference while he flew over the park. Since oil paintings require a good deal of time to complete, Nunez carefully worked on the 13 original paintings from January through the exhibit’s opening in August.
Though he is a very talented painter, Nunez was not always an artist. Born in Cuba, he has lived in Florida since the 1960s and was graduated from the University of Miami in 1977 with a degree in electrical engineering.
Nunez first began experimenting with oil paints in 1987, but only as a pastime. Art later became an important passion, leading him to study visual arts at Florida International University and eventually retire from engineering to pursue his childhood dreams of painting and flying.
“There is no feeling that can compare to the sense of inner peace and freedom that one gets while flying or while painting. For the first time ever I have put my two passions together and come up with the paintings for this exhibition,” reads a plaque hanging in the gallery, written by Nunez.
In creating the exhibition, Luis Nuñez combined his two greatest passions: painting and flying. Here he paints himself in “The Keyhole at Sands Key.”
Visiting the area for the “Wings Over Homestead Air Show,” Joy Stincic of Palm Beach County decided to check out the park for the first time with her 12-year-old son, Andrew. They began their visit in the gallery, examining Nunez’s paintings.
“The art exhibit is amazing, it makes me want to visit all these places,” remarked Stincic. “He gives you insight into things you can’t access by land and really piques your curiosity to explore these places.”
Stincic’s son, Andrew, appreciated the paintings in a different way. The seventh grader is a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force that teaches children about respect, leadership and flying technique.
“I am learning to fly and hope to take photos from above too,” he said. “Nature is really beautiful from such a different perspective in the sky.”
Andy Matthews, vice president of Concessions at Biscayne National Park, felt similarly about Nunez’s exhibition. Also a pilot, he understood the unique opportunity to view the park while airborne and to see nature at work.
|“Boca Chita and Ragged Keys” highlights Boca Chita Lighthouse.
“In Biscayne National Park,, there are three ecosystems at work — the mangrove, bay and reef ecosystems — and from an aerial view you get to see all three at the same time and how they work together,” said Matthews.
“From flying, I’ve learned how beautiful nature really is,” he added. “You see what a wonderful thing it is when viewing everything together at one time.”
Matthews’ words speak to exactly what Nunez hoped to express through his exhibition, an appreciation for the natural splendor of Biscayne.
“In general, it is the hope of every artist to show their work so people can enjoy it,” said Nunez. “I would have this hope for [visitors of] Biscayne, but on top of that I would like to see people taking more interest in the beauty of nature and realizing that we need to take care of what we still have before it disappears completely.”
The majority of Luis Nuñez’s oil paintings feature this innovative perspective of Biscayne National park, highlighting its natural beauty in a way not accessible to most park visitors. This piece is entitled “Soldier Key.”
If You Go:
WHAT: “Biscayne: A Different Perspective” exhibition by Luis Nunez.
WHERE: The Dante Fascell Visitor Center at Biscayne National Park, 9700 SW 328th St., Homestead, Fla.
WHEN: Exhibition runs through Nov. 28, gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
DIRECTIONS: From U.S. 1: Drive south on U.S. 1 and turn left on SW 328th Street (North Canal Street). Continue down the road and the entrance will be visible on your left. From the Florida Turnpike: Take Exit 6 (Speedway Boulevard) and turn left off the exit. Turn left on SW 328th Street and continue down the road. The entrance will be visible on your left.
PARKING: Free. There is a lot located adjacent to the visitor center.
GENERAL INFORMATION: For more information on the gallery and upcoming exhibitions, check out http://www.nps.gov/bisc, or call the Dante Fascell Visit Center at 305-230-7275.
“Conversations with the Light,” Natural light photography by Joel B. McEachern. Runs Dec. 3- Feb. 27, with an opening reception on Dec. 3, 7-9 p.m.
“Photography by Thomas M. Strom.” Runs March 4- June 5, with a celebratory reception on March 19, 7-9 p.m.