MIAMI — The kitchen is where all the action happens at the waterfront home of Leticia and Miky (pronounced Mickey) Grendene. For that reason they have used the large and inviting space as a canvas for their art collection, which is largely made up of photographs. “We spend so much time in here cooking, which Miky does every night, and enjoying great meals and wine with our family and friends,” Ms. Grendene said. “Why not display beautiful art here?”
The couple — he is 56 and from Italy; she is 52 and has Mexican-Puerto Rican roots — own Casa Tua, a restaurant and private club in Miami. They live with their three children: Giovanni, 23; Alessandra, 20; and Luca, 15; four dogs; and a cat.
The trove of photos in their home in the Bay Point neighborhood includes more than 100 pieces by artists as diverse as Irving Penn, Paulo Nazareth and Seydou Keita. “Generally, we gravitate to pictures that are happy and uplifting and have some meaning to them,” Ms. Grendene said of their collection.
These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Why are you drawn to photography?
MR. GRENDENE Photography has an immediate impact on you emotionally. And I like how it’s possible to buy fantastic photography at a reasonable price, compared with a great painting.
You tend to buy multiple works by the same photographer.
MR. GRENDENE We have seven pieces by Paulo Nazareth, a Brazilian artist. These pictures capture bits of the three-year walk he did through the Americas, barefoot. These photos communicate his state of mind. One of these images, for example, says “Don’t Worry”; this is my philosophy in life.
Leticia, given your background as a model, do you gravitate to pictures that remind you of fashion?
MS. GRENDENE Definitely. There are two of these hanging in the living room, including the black-and-white one by William Klein called “Piazza di Spagna.” It’s of two women circa 1960 at the bottom of the Spanish Steps in Rome. They are dressed up. I love the stripes on the floor and on their dresses, and their movement.
Then there’s the piece by Horst P. Horst of a woman in a white bathing suit and cap who is lying on her back with her legs crossed and up in the air. She’s balancing a red ball on her feet and holding a book. This was a cover of American Vogue in 1941. I love her pose, the colors, the light, the way she’s holding the book.
Where do you find your photography?
MR. GRENDENE We do a lot of research. Art is a jungle. We follow auctions, look at online catalogs, visit galleries and work with gallery owners.
Can you each name your favorite piece in the kitchen?
MR. GRENDENE For me, it’s the painting of an ice cream sundae by Wayne Thiebaud, the piece that I’m probably the most emotionally attached to. Thiebaud’s son Paul gifted it to me right before he [Paul] died of cancer. Paul and I became friends from the moment we met — he had an attitude to life that’s similar to mine, which is to always try to have a smile on your face. I smile when I look at the painting. Who doesn’t love ice cream?
MS. GRENDENE Like ice cream, who doesn’t love spaghetti? I love Mark Seliger’s picture of Benicio Del Toro and Parker Posey eating at an Italian restaurant. She has spaghetti hanging out of her mouth and is enjoying the moment and her food so much.
What other works do you own that are not photographs?
MR. GRENDENE In our family room, we have a long rectangle painting of a single brush stroke in red by James Nares. He created it by suspending himself over a canvas that he put on the floor. It’s bright and almost three-dimensional.
We also have a sculpture hanging from a tree in our backyard by an artist from Mexico, Jose Dávila, of four squares — one smaller than the next. The colors fade because it’s outside, and we have to repaint it from time to time to keep it looking fresh. It’s constantly moving and turning as the wind changes. Jose came to our house and said that he wanted to create a piece for us that could be outdoors like a flower in our garden.
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