Friday, November 19, 2010

Special Miami Memories for MDC

It was a sun-splashed afternoon on the Kendall campus of Miami Dade College. As I was leaving my shift at the College Prep Writing Lab on November 10, I had the privilege of encountering this ceremony: The dedication of "Big Red" and "Untitled" by Jean Ward, sculptures donated by Martin and Pat Fine.

This was truly an unexpectedly elegant affair on this busy commuter campus. Programs were printed for this event. Palms and a podium were arranged by the Martin and Pat Fine Center for the Arts. The Kendall Campus Brass Quintet played and the Kendall ROTC did a snappy, sharply focused "Presentation of Colors." At the beginning, Dr. Lourdes Oroza spoke about Martin and Pat Fine's enduring commitment to the visual arts and to this campus. She noted that many art students, when they graduate and leave the outstanding facilities of the Martin and Pat Fine Center for the Arts, often wish they could return and pursue a four-year degree on this campus.

John Adkins, Department Chairperson of Arts and Philosophy, spoke about how Jean Ward was among the artists who wanted to make a difference at Woodstock. I recall how he allowed, with some gentle humor, that of course many of the students at the ceremony might not be quite sure what Woodstock was.

Soon it was time for Martin and Pat Fine to speak. They told us about their long attachment to art and to MDC. Clearly, Martin was very touched by how MDC has for fifty years offered so many students and newcomers to Miami the chance to get an education and get started on making a life and living in this country.

Pat offered these memorable thoughts about Jean Ward: "She was a skinnny little thing, but she was a giant in her thoughts." And then she invited the students to come up with a name for "Untitled," because she thought that it deserved one to honor and continue the boldness of Jean Ward's memory.

With a warm smile, she offered this parting admonition to students: "Don't kick it, but touch it. It will become your friend."


  1. It is an honor to be able to teach art at MDC Kendall campus. We may not be able to offer a BFA this time, but we can offer students the best art educational facilities in South Florida. This wouldn't be possible without Martin and Pat Fine's generosity.

    I know for a fact that my students appreciate these wonderful buildings. And I know the addition of these new sculptures on campus will benefit them as well. Thank you Elisa for writing this and a huge Thank you to the Fines!

  2. There's always something happening at Kendall. It's an art haven in an otherwise bland neighborhood. Thanks for a description of the event. I'm sorry I missed it.

  3. Thank you Elisa for documenting the event! It was an amazing experience and very emotional as the Fine family expressed! Keep up the great work!

  4. I am Jean Ward's niece. Growing up Jeannie was my favorite aunt, always the ecclectic, lived her life on her own terms. Since I was just a teenager when she passed and we lived in AZ, I didn't get to see her nearly as often as I wanted to. But when we did I soaked in every moment with her and Uncle Bill.
    I cherish the pieces of her pottery that I have and also the sketch done by Uncle Bill. Having just moved back to FL., I am hoping we can get to see her pieces in Miami and Naples (I believe). Is it possible that anyone may have info about my Uncle Bill? Also, can I find out where we (my husband & I) can see Aunt Jeannie's work? I would really appreciate it!
    Thank you to everyone who loves Aunt Jeannie's art as much as I do and has done so much to remember her. Thank you to Martin & Pat Fine for their enormous generosity! My dad (Jean's older brother Guy), was always so proud of her and I know he would appreciate it too, as would all of her family.

    Denise Barker