A Florida politician unveiled this controversial pet project dedicated to man’s best friend Friday — and taxpayers are footing the nearly $1 million bill.
The Dogs and Cats Walkway and Sculpture Gardens — which features 52 oversized aluminum sculptures of furry friends — was spearheaded by Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo, Bayfront Park announced.
The permanent exhibit in Downtown Miami’s Ferré Park includes 26 dogs and 26 cats all painted by local artists “intended to portray the special role pets play in our lives,” the group said.
The art installation is free for walkers, but cost the city a pretty penny — approximately $896,000, the Miami Herald reported.
The politician led efforts to beautify the park after his wife, Marjorie, suggested the Floridian city replicate a similar garden that was erected in Cali, Colombia.
The expensive effort was controversial in the years before it came to fruition — in 2021, former Bayfront Park Management Trust board member Cristina Palomo resigned in protest after the board voted yes to the pricey contract with local foundry Art and Sculpture Unlimited Inc. to design, cast and install the statues without any debate or negotiation on price, the outlet reported.
“You always have a few haters,” Carollo said at a press conference. “They try to make this [seem] like it was the end of the world, that what we were doing was the original, mortal sin. And just because I mentioned that my wife brought the idea.”
But city politicians believe the sculpture garden will only skyrocket Miami’s reputation as a global arts destination.
Miami’s Mayor Francis Suarez — who said the park has “increased the image of the city” — said the city will likely soon dedicate another $5 million to restore the park’s fountain.
“Nestled within a beautiful garden made up of perennial flowers, hibiscus, palm trees and other South Florida native plants, the one-acre garden which was carefully curated by Artistic Director, Miguel Ferro, offers the community an opportunity to appreciate and connect with art and nature simultaneously while strolling through a lush promenade that leads to spectacular views of Biscayne Bay,” the press release states.
Though the new garden officially launched in February, thousands of visitors have already meandered through it as the group held a soft opening in December to coincide with Art Basel.
Each sculpture in the park was brought to life by a different artist.
One of the cats — named Dickinson — has a painting of a rural Haitian town on its side, while La Minina flaunts the many colors of Persia.
El Pana Golden, a golden retriever, sports the hearts, hands and faces of Scotland as Libero, a Yorkshire terrier, represents the greenery of England.
“I was amazed by just how much of that talent we have in Miami,” Carollo said