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Miami artist pays homage to Madonna in Coral Gables exhibit

Miami native Mateo Blanco enjoys creating art out of unconventional items: coffee beans, dog hair, even peanuts.

Two years ago, he used 9,658 Planters peanuts for an image of actor Jennifer Lawrence. He also made a cheetah sculpture from Cheetos.

For his latest project, Blanco painted four portraits of singer Madonna, with wooden slits carved over her image.

Blanco said the slits create a two-dimensional effect, so that the Material Girl’s pose shifts depending on where you stand to look at her.

The four portraits make up his “Desire” collection, which will be on display from Dec. 6 to 8 at the ArtSpace Virginia Miller Galleries, 169 Madeira Ave., Coral Gables. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

“I have respect and admiration for Madonna,” says Blanco, 36, who remembers listening to early hits such as “Like A Virgin” and “La Isla Bonita” while growing up in Miami.

“Madonna has awakened different types of desires in people for decades,” added Blanco, who is also an opera singer. “I want these works to stay in force, just as Madonna has done for more than 30 years with her music.”

The Colombian-American artist, who now lives in Orlando, specializes in pop culture art. He’s done pieces inspired by other well-known personalities including singers Michael Jackson and Dolly Parton. The former was made from dog hair, while the latter was made from string. He also made a bust of “Modern Family” actor Sofia Vergara from hen feathers.

Some of his pieces are featured at Disney Springs and Aloft Hotel in downtown Orlando, as well as at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium. The Jennifer Lawrence peanut portrait was displayed at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Kentucky last year.

“I want to make art that is both beautiful and fun,” he says.

What’s next for Blanco? He says he’s working on a 2018 exhibit about the wonders of Florida and may incorporate elements of key lime pies and the magnolia flower into those pieces. He says he grew up with a magnolia tree in Miami.

“The fragrance is delicious, and the color is magnificent.”

For more information, call 305-444-4493, or visit virginiamiller.com.

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