ArtCentric

Beatriz Monteavaro: Miami’s Wonder Woman

As a girl in Miami, Beatriz Monteavaro liked to make noise and watch women fight. She got her first drum set when she was 12. Countless drum rolls later, she has been keeping the beat with a Miami band called Beings. Around the age of 4--soon after her family settled in Miami after leaving Havana, Cuba, where she was born--Monteavaro became a fan of Wonder Woman TV shows.

During my visit to her studio in Miami's Wynwood Arts District earlier this year, I saw her collection of dozens of action figure toys, including Wonder Woman dolls. Why the early attraction to this woman warrior? "What wasn't there to like?" Monteavari reflected. "There was the cool super hero outfit, which was like the American flag. She would spin around and there would be explosions. She had powers. She was against the Nazis."

A multi-tasking artist known for her drawing, painting, sculpture, and video, as well as for her drumming, Monteavaro seems like a woman warrior herself. You could even call her Miami's Wonder Woman.

A ferocious dinosaur is tattooed on her shoulder blade. To create it, she describes collaborating with Mike Taylor, a tattoo artist in Miami. It covers an old tattoo resembling "The Scream" by Edvard Munch. Why the recent change? "The colors had bled out a little bit. It looked sloppy," Monteavaro explained.

Less interested in video these days, she has been focusing on her early fascination with TV and comic book characters who fight. Another inspiration has been Florida's Disney World. It was a popular vacation spot for Monteavaro's family when she was young. Smiling, she recalled how much she loved to enter fantasy worlds conjured by elaborate rides there. "I remember thinking on Mission to Mars that we were going to Mars. We had left the earth. I remember thinking I had seen ghosts in the Haunted Mansion," she said.

But now Monteavaro, 39, generally avoids the costly allure of theme park special effects. Yes, she retains a child-like fascination with scary stories, comic book warriors, and monsters including dinosaurs and Frankenstein. Lately, her ideas also derive from amateurish, home-made materials that produce chills and thrills. From Internet searches, she has discovered, as she explained to me, "this whole culture of people who make their own Halloween decorations and haunted houses." That's why recent sculpture, painting, and collaged drawings incorporate kitschy materials like latex masks, fake fur, and foam sprayed from a can.

More ideas spring from "The Mad Doctor of Blood Island," the 1969 horror movie classic. As Monteavaro went on to explain, "It's set in a Polynesian island and has this monster with disgusting skin--a really badly put together yet aesthetically pleasing monster." Such an outrageous paradox clearly delights this graduate of Tyler School of Art at Temple University.

She has shown her art in Miami and Paris. In Miami, Monteavaro is represented by Fredric Snitzer Gallery, where her art has usually been selling for between $500 and $10,000. More affordable is a recently published book of drawings from [NAME] Publications, "Quiet Village," at $15. True to its title, this book is indeed quietly charming and provocative.

Intrigued by doomed monsters, she roots for the underdog. "Quiet Village," sold with a CD by the band Beings, retells the story of Frankenstein. "It's kind of a pathetic creature, not a winner," Monteavaro said, a bit ruefully. "It has to find a way to survive, but ultimately doesn't, because it's an outsider."

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