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Carlos Betancourt

We first met Puerto Rican-born and Miami-based artist Carlos Betancourt during an opening at Miami Art Week two years ago. Since then, we've followed his achievements, which most recently include a mid-career retrospective, "Recollections," at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico and his first-ever monograph, Imperfect Utopia (Skira Rizzoli). Betancourt moved to Miami in the early '80s, when he broke into and arguably catapulted the Miami art scene in a progressive new direction. His vibrant and vivacious sculptures and two-dimensional works reflect both his own unending charisma as well as the environments in which he spends his time, and his work now stands in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., and many more. Here are 10 things the artist wouldn't want to live without, in no particular order.

Dancing with my friends, my tribe: I am fortunate that my tribe truly loves to dance, and having similar taste in music and knowing the lyrics makes for an emotional and magical ritual. From Hector Lavoe and La Lupe, to The Cure and Monserrat Caballé, it works for us. Shouldn't every person be required to dance? I probably can't live without dancing. 

Creating: Everything creates something. It would be impossible to give up.  

Glitter: Well, what will life be without a little sparkle? Robert Farris Thompson's book Flash of the Spirits steered me to glitter. 

Alberto Latorre: My best friend, accomplice in life. Mi gran amor 

Henry Mancini ‘s "Moon River" and the entire album of Breakfast at Tiffany's: A current installation of my artwork at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico has a looped sound track with six different versions of "Moon River." Listening to this album for decades fills my life with joy. Like the ocean, it is never the same. While in the Italian theme, I wouldn't want to live without Venice, granita from Capri, or Sofia Loren.  

Pictured on right: Betancourt with Maria, "Queen of Granita," in Capri

Waterfalls in the rainforest in Puerto Rico  and the fireflies (cucubanos) that surround them at night around our land: My mind is a hopeful jungle. For decades, this land in particular has informed and inspired many of my artworks. I have discovered through the years that artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Federico Fellini, Ultraviolet, Peter Doig, and Allore and Calzadilla have also been around the same area. Nature in general is one of the answers, as we can always find something new in the source. Nature—hard to live without it.   

Our lovely and quaint Florida Bungalow and things to do in Miami: The bungalito is in a very lush, peaceful place; it is kind of a Love Shack, in an old up-and-coming Miami neighborhood called El Portal. The shack is at its best when we play Frank Sinatra from the Sonos system with all windows open and no A/C. It will be difficult to live without what is inside too: a huge multiple use and storage table deigned by Albert, a couple of cabinets of curiosities, as well as many display shelves (inspired by Robert Miller and Bruce Weber) with books, photo albums, artworks, etc. This place inspires and evokes fantastic memories.

While in the Miami theme...the light in Miami would be hard to live without. It is very crisp and clean and I am used to it, as everything appears to be in high definition. Boating around Miami and the Florida Keys during quiet week days is captivating. Morris Lapidus architecture and picking up seashells are also things that are very hard to give up.

Morning afirmations and deep breathing; practicing gratefulness and giving back. It's all as important as eating.  

Traveling: The Aegean Sea and the Cyclades are home in many ways. Like visiting the Masai Mara and Samburu in Kenya, walking in NYC during Christmas, meandering in Los Angeles, or getting lost in Luxor or Istanbul, it is all a necessity.  

Pictured: the Aegean Sea (top L, bottom R) and Masai

Sweetarts: I can't help it. This I just can't live without.

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