www.ambiente.us JULY | JULIO 2009
NOEL | Artist | Activist | Visionary |
Taking the Art World by Storm
By George Neary, Exclusively for AMBIENTE
From his humble beginnings in Cuba, and after migrating to
Costa Rica and then the U.S, his career flourished - first as a
professional ballet dancer and later as a painter. For the last
20 years, Noel has accomplished a lot as an Artist.
International Artist Noel Suarez – or simply known as NOEL, was
recently featured in the International Art Expo at the Carrousel
of the Louvre Museum in Paris, and shows no signs of slowing
down in his quest to take the international Art world by storm.
George Neary| The community is just coming off the first and fabulous Gay Pride
event in Miami Beach-- you were all over it -- attending the Chamber event, the Miami
Design Preservation League exhibit, the parade on Ocean Drive and at the Miami-Dade
Gay Chamber's booth. Why?
Noel| My 2009 One Man Show was more of a community event this year, with
Joffrey Ballet. Just a couple of years later (right before my 30th b-day) my right knee
gave up and that was the end of my ballet career. Painting was always a necessary
hobby for me, and an outlet from dancing, and actually because of it I had the chance to
designing sets and costumes for the companies I worked with. After retiring from
Dance, somehow I transferred painting from a hobby to a necessity, and painting
became my full-time focus. I closed my number one passion, dance, and painting
became my new priority.
GN| What were you painting, and where was your first exhibit?
N| It was very Art Deco paintings inspired on illustration, very theatrical, executed in pen,
ink and acrylics, very different from what I’m doing today.
My first show was in Provincetown, Mass, in 1986 at Ricky's Republic gallery.
GN| Did you sell?
N| All 25 pieces were sold on opening night. Maybe my friends who had been telling me
for years how good I was as a painter, were right. When my first show was over, I felt
validated knowing that everything was sold…that people truly appreciated my second
GN| Then what?
N| More shows in Boston, and I opened my studio/gallery in Boston's South End, at the
same time I was approached to do a painting for a major AIDS benefit. The painting
“We Shall Overcome” made such an impact that sold at the auction for $6,000.00, the
most expensive painting I sold then so far was $750.00…a major shock for me, and
also a pleasure and joy that my work generated $6,000.00 for AIDS at a time that was
very much needed, this happened in1987. After this in less than a year, I had a huge
following in Boston. I transitioned from dance to painting, all unplanned and
I was in Boston for 9 years and began to travel to Miami Beach for Art Deco
Weekend. I convened visiting my family with Art Deco Weekend. In 1987 I met with this
lady named Matti Bower, that was the director and organizer of Art
Deco Weekend back then, and she encouraged me to take a booth. I did, and after two
other Art Deco Weekends, I made the decision to move to Miami Beach. The response
to my work was overwhelming. The acceptance of my works and the sales were so
much more than I had ever experienced before…
I knew I had to move here. Plus I was over the cold weather.
In 1990 I made my final moved (it took 3 trips and 7 months) to Miami Beach for good.
All those years Matti Bower, our current mayor, took me under her wing and introduced
me Barbara Capitman, founder of the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL)- that
organized an exhibit for me at the Cardozo Hotel. My name and the work really spread
around fast, and I decide to open my studio/gallery on Lincoln Road.
GN| How were they received?
N| Extremely well…we had a beautiful space at the Lincoln Center, a huge space 5,000
sq. ft. The Road was an amazing place, full of artists and creative
people. Carlos Betancourt, Carlos Alvez, Ali, Tony Chimento, and the
very different South Florida Art Center…a smaller and simpler
organization. We were the pioneers of Lincoln Road, of Miami
Beach, and all of us are still here enjoying wonderful careers.
GN| What part does being gay have in your creative process?
N| I don't believe creativity has anything to do with sexuality. Lots
of creative people are straight also…creativity is a gift. I think the
media, history, and people in general, pay more attention to gay
people in the creative field, because being gay allows you to go
further on certain subjects, allows you to push the envelope further.
To me creativity has no genre.
South(Miami)Beach in the early years was Fabulous !
The beach was just ours, it was one little happy family.
It was an underground success, not internationally known, no
media. We were creating the entire scene, it was just us… I was
the first Wire cover story by Andrew Delaplaine. I have the most
Wire cover stories, 13 of them. We always waited for the Wire to
found out what happened in our special little island. Andrew
really covered the pioneers. Then Luis Canales brought the New
Yorkers to see what we were doing down here…and the fun
and the creativity went on, and without knowing it, we put
Miami Beach on the map and created a great deal of media
GN| What was your creative process during that time?
N| It was all around us, we were feeding off each other…it was wonderful. For me its
still pretty much the same, I kept that feeling deep within me. But
creativity is always evolving. Creativity gets ahead of me, the creative
process takes places in the sub-conscious.
GN| Do you think your work is erotic?
N| My work is sensual, sensuality goes further than erotica. Let the viewer
go where they want to go. Also, because of my theatrical background, I can create a
persona, a character and they can show you what I want them to show you with a look of
the eye a turn of the head…go in and travel within the painting. I want the viewer to have
a relationship with my painting.
Some people go all the way, some go halfway, and others choose to stay outside the
painting. Art is about the person viewing the art, not about the artist creating it…that is a
whole other moment that ends at the moment the artist completes the work.
GN | I understand that you had become a philanthropist trough your work
N | I don’t consider my self one, for me a philanthropist is the person that gives actual
money to charities. From the beginning of my career to present, my work has generated
over $300,000.00 for different charities/organizations Nationwide, especially for AIDS,
so I guess that makes me one. I do love the fact that is my work, my talent, what raises
the money for the charities. I’m a big believer on giving back, and since the Universe
has given me so much and I grow up in a family of givers, giving is a way of life for
me…something that gives me a lot of pleasure.
GN| What about the future?
N| Three years ago, I signed with Global Fine Art, the wonderful Art agent that represent
a very impressive stable of artists, from the Masters to very established contemporary
artist., on the Luxury Liners of Princess, Cunard, P & O and Holland America. For the
last 3 years, I've been traveling the world and doing amazing exhibits, meeting great
people, galleries and collectors.
N| Portugal, Gibraltar, Sevilla, Alicante, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Monaco, Canes,
Marseille, Florence, Rome, Tuscany, Naples, Sicily, Amalfy Coast, London, Greece,
Istanbul, South and Central America., and many others.
GN| How is this different?
N| Been in over 20 countries, more than 60 cities in 3 years, it allows me to grow
artistically. Paris, Rome & Florence alone, are a must for an artist to experience.
Walking museums-- surrounded by the Masters, meeting new people. Besides this,
I am in the company of these contemporary masters the like of Alexandra Nechita,
Martiros, Howard Bherens, Peter Max, John Kelly, Pino, and many others.
A highlight for me was in June of 2007 when I had my Solo Exhibit on the Queen Mary 2
from New York City to London, a truly amazing experience.
GN| What do you see for the beach?
N| I hope the beach gains back a little bit of the culture and the creativity that it lost. The
Beach will never be again what it was, that time is over, it is part of evolution. But the
Beach needs back its galleries, artists, unique shops, a bit of what made it a very
special and unique place.
GN| How did you keep yourself grounded?
N| A true artist doesn't let success go to his head. A true artist is secure and
comfortable with himself and is truly never 100 % aware of how good he/she really is, is
not aware of how talented one is. If the artist is too aware and too involved in what
comes with the success and the hype of the career, then that artist is not longer in the
moment, is not longer in the creative process.
GN| After all you have accomplished haw are you so firmly grounded and
N| Surely it is due in part to my family and how I grew up. A family of artists,
dancers/performers/ singers/ all around celebrities/well-known people. They all taught
me that being humble is part of being a true artist, after all, our success is
marked by the acceptance of the people, the audience. I don’t ever take the gifts that the
universe had given me for granted.
GN| And the latest on you…
N| On April 26th, I left for my Solo Exhibit on the Crown Princess to
Portugal and Barcelona. This was my fifth time crossing the Atlantic
Ocean, and as always, an amazing experience. The new collection was very well
received by all, a wonderful success, specially the new Mixed Media Drawings...I'm very
On May 10th, I arrived in my favorite city…Barcelona, this city is always a very
nice experience and lots of fun, and I feel at home here…after all my grandmother from
my fathers side, was born here. This time I came to Barcelona to meet with the
directors of Crisolart Gallery about the exhibits scheduled for Summer and Fall of 2009.
I also had the chance to meet others in the Barcelona
art scene, which allowed me to generate great new contacts and discover a new gallery
(Artevistas) in the best location of El Barrio Gótico, that is ready to start working with me
as soon as late July 09.
While talking to the directors of Crisolart Gallery about the exhibits and art fairs planned
in other cities around Europe and Asia, they informed me of very exiting and unexpected
news. They were accepted to participate at the prestigious Art Exhibit at the Carrousel of
The Louvre Museum from June 5th to the 7th, and they included me as one of the artists
that they were taking to Paris. A “TRUE and AMAZING” opportunity, and one that I always
dream of. The artists that they selected for this Louvre Carrousel Art Exhibit, are all very
well known and
established in Europe and Barcelona. One of them happens to be Gaudi´s grandson
(also an amazing artist) so I'm very pleased, honored and exited that they included me
on this exhibit. As a result, my work was well received by the Paris audience and art
connoisseurs, and now two galleries in Paris, and one in
San Juan, Puerto Rico, will be representing me. My goal of increasing
my international representation is being achieved.
Exhibits are now scheduled for summer and fall of 2009 in Barcelona, Paris
and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
I do want to give special thanks to Steve and Diane Berenson, and The
OOKS Fine Art Hardware Company, not only for being the main sponsors
of my April 15th Miami Beach exhibit at The Shore Club, but also for
making it possible for me to be part of The Louvre's Carrousel Exhibit.
They are wonderful true supporters of the arts.
Exhibits are now scheduled for summer and fall of 2009 in Barcelona, Paris
and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Visit Noels works and exhibits at :
Cover photo by Keith Douglas
Copyright 2009| Ambiente.
Do not reproduce without prior authorization.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Neary has been associate vice president of cultural
tourism for the Greater Miami Convention Bureau since 1998.
He is in charge of the creation and implementation of a new
arts and cultural program for Miami-Dade County. He directs
promotional programs which encourage and increase visitor
attendance at local cultural events and attractions. His job
also includes creating connections and partnerships
between Greater Miami businesses and the arts community.
Prior to his current position, George was the executive director of the Miami Design
Preservation League of Miami Beach, Florida, where he was responsible for creating
marketing and public outreach programs to preserve the historic Art Deco District, better
known as South Beach, for seven years. He is currently serving as a trustee for Dade
Heritage Trust, a past trustee of Miami-Dade Art in Public Places, a board member of
the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, chair of The Miami Beach Fine Arts Board and
a member of The Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council. Additionally, he serves as the
president of the Childrens’ Cultural Coalition, holds membership in the Black Archives,
and is an advisor from Florida to The National Trust for Historic Preservation. He is an
adjunct professor at Miami-Dade College and a trustee at Design and Architecture
Senior High School.
He was president of Neary Enterprise in Brooklyn, NY, which created, directed, and
administrated marketing, advertising, and promotional plans. He was director of United
States marketing for AFS Intercultural Programs, Inc. in New York City. George was with
the Peace Corps for seven years as training and orientation coordinator, recruiter, and
publicist as well as a volunteer in St. Vincent, West Indies.
He received his B.A. from St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH, and has been involved
in many community organizations over the years.
CLICK HERE for more George Neary
The Miami Gay Chamber of Commerce, the City of Miami Beach, and the official
opening of Miami Beach’s Gay Pride. It was a very nice opening at The Shore Club
Hotel, attended by over 400 people. We unveiled three very special paintings I created
that evening. First the City of Miami Beach 25/7 Tourism Campaign with our Mayor (and
my dear friend) Matti Bower. The second one was the Image that will represent the
Miami Dade Gay Chamber of Commerce, and the third one was the painting I created
for the main Sponsor of the event; OOKS Professional Hardware, titled, The Face of
OOKS. Steve Berenson the President of OOKS unveiled the painting with me. Steve
and OOKS are major sponsors of the Arts, and supporters of our community.
My 2009 Collection was very well received and the feed back from every body was
amazing. It was a whole new body of work inspired by my history of dance, new
paintings of city scapes-, and the new mixed media drawings.
GN| What is your history?
N| I went to the National School of Arts in Havana, to study ballet. Then I joined the
company and toured the world with the Alonso’s. It was an amazing way to grow up, I
learned a lot and worked with the best the World of Dance had to offer in those
days…an experience that I will never trade for anything in the World. Then in early 1981,
exactly 2 months after the Mariel Lift closed, I left Cuba with a visa for Costa Rica. There
I danced with the National Company of Dance as a principal dancer, a teacher for the
company, and also teaching in the National School of Dance. After 9 months there, it
was time to leave for my next stop, Miami, where my family was waiting for me. In
Miami, I worked with Ballet Concerto & Dance Miami for less than a year. Boston Ballet
came to Miami to perform Don Quixote with Rudolph Nureyev, I audition for them and I
was accepted to join them, so I packed my bags and left to Boston. I danced with them
for over a year, and then with New England Dinosaur Dance Company,
a wonderful contemporary ballet company.
Then New York was the next stop, where I had
the fortune to have Mr. David Howard as my
Ballet Master, and had opportunity to work with
MIAMI RIVER INN
People for the