Thomas A. Spain, architect, recently retired from the University of Miami School of Architecture where he’d been a faculty member since 1966. His enormous talent and unwavering devotion to teaching design and drawing have left an indelible impact on the students he taught over the past two generations. Especially known on campus for his drawings of Rome, through his almost yearly visits from 1991 to 2014 with his students, Spain’s extensive and brilliant collection of work focuses on memorable locations, revisited and redrawn over the years. The work demonstrates how time and acute observation lead to new ways of seeing, while revealing the circumstantial relationship between author, subject and medium.
Outside of the classroom, Spain’s fine art series is the architect’s most labored and personal work. It focuses on Coral Gables, the “City Beautiful” suburb of Miami, and Spain’s home. Developed by George Merrick in the 1920s, Coral Gables is a visual paradise, thoughtfully weaving lush landscapes of banyan trees and palms with its pioneer architectural monuments, faithfully executed in the Mediterranean Revival style. Spain, diverse in his choice of medium, alternates between pencil, watercolor, and pastel, using the unique characteristics of each to establish mood and artistic intent. The common thread of the work in the series is the contrast between the natural landscapes and the man-made landmarks that define Coral Gables. In the pencil drawings, place powerfully informs the work as the intense sunlight of South Florida is beautifully rendered through soft edges and deep shadows. In the watercolor series, unexpected attention is given to utilitarian parts of buildings contrasting with the more recognizable front façades, resulting in provocative, idealized compositions.
The editors, Steven Fett and Edgar Sarli, both architects and professors at the University of Miami, School of Architecture, present the most extensive collection of Spain’s work to date. Accompanying the art are essays by the editors, an interview with Spain, and a transcribed lecture by Jorge Hernandez, a renowned architect in Coral Gables, and a longtime colleague and friend of Spain’s.
Join the ICAA FL Chapter at Books & Books for a lecture featuring editor Steven Fett and Edgar Sarli as speakers.
Prints of some of Tom Spain’s work will be available for purchase.
For more information, please call Anne Finch, Chapter Director, 305-951-6314 or email Director@flclassicist.org