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Bridge to Paradise

DiamondRock Hospitality’s Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale Beach, FL, has a new art exhibition by South Florida artist Ruben Ubiera, known for his signature “urban-pop” and “post-graffism” style. Executed by the artist himself, the commissioned Aqua Vida transforms the skywalk that connects the property and the beach into a unique public art piece that enhances the cultural environment and beauty of the destination.

“My inspiration behind the ‘Aqua Vida’ mural installation was people, color and fun in the sun,” Ubiera told InspireDesign. “In the end, it manifested in the form of betta fish and hibiscus flowers, floating over a colorful-rainbow-like background. I believe there’s a feeling organic nature and longevity to the whole installation.”

The art project is a visual representation of a colorful, whimsical life on Fort Lauderdale Beach, evoking that true feeling of “vacation.” The installation also includes a “selfie spot” where community members and visitors alike can take photos and post them on social media to promote its popular Mexican restaurant, Lona Cocina Tequileria, and, of course, Fort Lauderdale Beach itself.

“The design process wasn’t simple, since I had to think of something that could wrap around in many different faces of the bridge,” he said. “I started with sketches drawn over the bridge architectural elevation, and tried working with a good ‘flow’ toward the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. The color circles were added after to tie it all in and add a feeling of constant growth and movement. Even though the design ‘bleeds’ off the bridge, in the viewer’s mind’s eye, the circles continue. As far as challenges, the rain and wind were my enemies. Today, I’m literally waiting on the wind to let me go finish. What the wind doesn’t know is that I’m a very patient man.”

Cementing its critical role in the Fort Lauderdale Beach landscape, this $150,000 installation is a gift for the City of Fort Lauderdale from DiamondRock Hospitality, which has commissioned other works of art at Lona Cocina Tequileria and murals around the hotel’s pool deck.

“The uniqueness—besides being the first of its kind and the most colorful installation in Fort Lauderdale Beach, marking the beach as the ‘before the bridge,’ or ‘after the bridge,’ creating conversation for millions of onlookers—is its location. It’s right in front of a world-class beach. It truly catches you by surprise as you approach it, and it’s so photogenic, I believe it will make memories for families and tourists from all over for years to come,” Ubiera said.

Opportunities for the public to celebrate this new piece of community artwork are already slated to take place in the first half of March. The development and production of Aqua Vida is being documented from start to finish to live as part of the destination’s history.

“My nod to the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort for approving such a big and unique custom endeavor,” Ubiera said. “I certainly hope that more hotels do this. I believe the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is definitely moving forward in this direction. As a commissioned Postgraffism artist, I try to create billboards without words, images that transcend the language barrier and communicate complex emotions, all while branding the art itself customized to my client—art that makes places and activates environments… just like the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort’s ‘Aqua Vida’ public-art installation.”