A lot of shops, galleries and restaurants have had their fifteen minutes on Lincoln Road. Carel Gallery is going on more than 30 years.
Michel Carel, the owner of Carel Gallery at 922 Lincoln Road, fought in World War II, he drove a tank, he saw the death, he dodged the bullets and shot a few himself, and he was given almost every honor possible to a veteran in the war. Thankfully, the streets of Miami Beach are a lot nicer to him.
"On Lincoln Road i was the first gallery" he said proudly. He runs the gallery independently and wouldn't have it any other way. "I do my business myself because i want to buy what i like, not what others want me to buy" he said. "Many people buy for the customers, i buy what i like for myself".
Unlike the many galleries on Lincoln Road, Carel Gallery does not display and sell contemporary art, he's main interest is in "the old masters" of modern art.
Carel, born in 1923, is originally from Paris, and came to Miami Beach in 1963. He said he bought the gallery space when "no skating and bicycling" was allowed, "the police throw you away". He said "there was no Bal Harbour, no Aventura Mall, it was only us".
In light of all the changes thoughout the years, Carel intends on staying. "I still stay here because i love Lincoln Road". He called Lincoln Road "the best street in the U.S."
Originally, he moved to New York city for a brief period in which he said "it was terrible", he then came to Miami Beach and made an impressive name for himself.
Most every doctor, lawyer, and architect, they buy from me", he said. "They come from all over the world". and hes strong hold on the market has not been easy. He said it has taken so much work and knowledge of what he sells.
Carel keeps journals full of thank you letters and appreciation notes from buyers, painters and friends, some thanking him "for the art lesson", others for his and his wife's "warmth and hospitality" or expressing how pleasurable the gallery is to tour.
The famous painters correspond with him as if they were childhood penpals. "That is a reference already, no?" asks his wife, Anne.
Christine Burdick, president of Lincoln Road Partnership, said Carel Gallery is the gallery that has been on Lincoln road the longest. "He's been a good unofficial supervisor of the construction," she said, referring to the recent redevelopment project. When journalists or tourist come for group tours and they can't speak English, Burdick said Carel has helped many times, "He's pitched in" she said, "he is a real community member, he has a real appreciation for the road".
Barbara Gillman of Miami called Carel "a terrific dealer and lovely man", "he's survived the best and the worst on the road" she said. "Hopefully he will be responsible for bringing it back to life".
This Parisian in America has and continues to add an element of appreciation for art that most are not acquainted with. He treats his craft like a relationship, a menage a trois between himself, the art and Lincoln Road. "I've become American, i love it, i don't want to move, i love the people here".