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When the East Ridge Lifestyle Center reopened in mid-September, it was only fitting the occasion be celebrated by residents at the Life Plan Community.

Annie Gonzalez, the chairperson of the Lifestyle Committee, felt a new look was needed for the Lifestyle Center that would offer her neighbors a sense of renewal, having had the building closed for six months due to the pandemic restrictions. Working with her committee and Kiyria Jimenez, Director of Community Life, they decided to give the community space a much-needed face-lift.

An artist in her own right and with her natural flair for color and design, Annie selected a warm pale beige paint color which would bring more light to the area and add brightness. Since the new layout of furniture needed to meet the pandemic regulations, Gonzalez wanted to make the center seem more like a living room than a multipurpose space.

The existing wood furniture was also refreshed. For seating areas, she selected and made brightly colored fabric pillows in a peacock print since peacocks are quite a common sight wandering on East Ridge’s tropical grounds.

To celebrate the event, resident and renowned artist Carroll Davis agreed to display his artwork. Gonzalez decided to expand the center’s gallery space and show Davis’ work throughout the Lifestyle Center.

“Having his vibrant landscapes hang on the walls was simply beautiful. It was so special to have his work on display and use this opportunity to share his work,” she said. “Original artwork is so much more dramatic and inviting.”

Davis, who continues to paint every day in a studio he and his wife created within their East Ridge home, is a self-taught artist who has painted for over 40 years. His work can be found in private collections across the globe. Pieces were acquired by the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, one of the oldest and largest corporate art collections in the world focusing on modern and contemporary painting.

His technique utilizes a palette knife. He creates rich textures of rocks, leaves and grasses that seem to come alive in his paintings, which are inspired by the couple’s extensive travels throughout France and Spain and the Florida Everglades.

While the event required reservations to limit the number of people in the Lifestyle Center at any one time, Davis was available to answer his neighbors’ questions about his art.

Gonzalez also revamped the art studio within the Lifestyle Center so it is geared to social distancing but can be used by residents. She updated the curio cabinets with merchandise from the community’s thrift store.

“This face-lift to the Lifestyle Center meant so much to everyone,” she added. “You could see the response in everyone’s face as they entered, and this was exactly what we had in mind.”

About East Ridge at Cutler Bay

East Ridge at Cutler Bay is Miami-Dade County’s only true Life Plan Community. The nonprofit community draws from the neighborhood charm of suburban Cutler Bay and the vibrancy of Miami in a lush tropical setting of 76 acres, located at 19301 SW 87th Avenue. The community offers a continuum of care including independent and assisted living residences in a neighborhood setting, respite and skilled nursing care, and rehabilitation services available within Three Palms Health Center.

For more information or to schedule a tour, please call 305-256-3564.