Paintings by artists with special needs enhance Miami Lakes building

Community By Linda Trischitta, Editor Thursday, November 18, 2021

     When attorney Joshua Hertz walks to his office in the Andrew Jackson office building in Miami Lakes, the artwork displayed on the first and second floors evokes strong feelings.

     “The paintings bring a light and airy decorum to the lobby of the building,” Hertz said of three panels by artist Charlie French that hang on the southern wall. 

     “Charlie French’s paintings make me feel relaxed and calm, like a fresh breath of air,” Hertz said.

     French’s works, entitled “Isle of Skye 1,” “Isle of Skye 2” and “Isle of Skye 3,” and Mia Brown’s “White Flowers” painting, are the result of a partnership between building owner The Graham Companies and ArtLifting, a firm which represents artists who may be homeless or have special needs.

     The building at 8100 Oak Lane is one of three in Governors Square, where a fourth is under construction.

     A renovation of the Andrew Jackson building lobby  -- by designer P2 Interiors of Margate and contractor Dade Construction Corp. from Miami -- included new finishes on the exterior and interior as well as lighting and installation of the artwork and was completed in July, said Melissa Massey, manager of office properties.

     Hertz’s response to the art installation was a goal for Laura W. Ratliff, commercial portfolio manager of The Graham Companies.

     “The art has brought us a lot of joy, and we hope it does for others coming into the building,” she said.

     French, of Dallas and London, painted with colors that can also be found in nearby cattle pastures and in the always-changing South Florida skies.  He describes himself as someone who has Down syndrome but wants to be seen as the creator he is, according to ArtLifting.

     Outside the second floor elevator bank which overlooks the lobby hangs Mia Brown’s “White Flowers” canvas.  

     Brown, from San Francisco, has cerebral palsy, which affects the use of her hands.  She wears a helmet with brushes or a stylus attached to make textiles and paintings. She told ArtLifting, “I am a happy person, and happiness is what I paint and draw.”

      Hertz said Brown’s painting “evokes a feeling of happiness that reminds me of pictures painted by Monet. The melding of its hues brings about the image of an island landscape with the ocean crashing against its shore. 

     "In a busy office environment the painting is welcomed, to bring peace to the daily grind,” he said.


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