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Venezuelan Artist Challenges Trump for President

On Wednesday, Nina "Dotti" Fuentes' luxury loft on the outskirts of Wynwood, Miami’s thriving arts district, is bustling. Her hair has been styled in flowy waves. Her white silk skirt suit has been pressed. Her makeup sits flawlessly on her smiling face. Her stylist douses her hair in spray before adding the finishing touch: a rhinestone tiara.

It's just an hour before she launches her first presidential campaign event: driving in a bright-pink Hummer limo around the Miami Beach Convention Center on Art Basel's opening night. Now, we're not saying it's easy to run for president, but Dotti sure makes it look fun.

It all started a few months ago, after Fuentes watched Donald Trump speak on his campaign. Fuentes — a Venezuelan-American contemporary artist — was offended by Trump's comments about immigration and gay rights. She figured it was all one big performance. So for Art Basel this year, Dotti decided to run for the White House too — all in the name of art.

“Donald Trump makes running for president look like a performance. It’s all an act,” Fuentes says with a sly smile. “I'm an artist and thought I'd perform too.”

Running for president seemed like the logical next step for Fuentes. At last year's Art Basel, she declared herself the mayor of Wynwood. But it (like her current presidential campaign) was also a performance. Her stage name: Miss Wynwood, a Venezuelan beauty queen who defends Miami's thriving arts district from gentrification.

That part might not be a performance, though. Fuentes runs the Chill Concept, a contemporary-art gallery in Wynwood. She's concerned about the rising rents as developers elbow their way in. She also publishes the Wynwood Times, a neighborhood paper that aims to raise awareness about the art district's history. (In the latest issue of the Wynwood Times, Trump's hair is mercilessly satirized.) The logo for her presidential campaign is a pineapple because Wynwood was once a pineapple farm.

“I think the most important thing for Wynwood right now is learning about its history,” she says. “It's so interesting. It doesn't have to be about bringing new things in.” Currently, Fuentes is working to preserve the historic Wynwood gates that rest on the northwest corner of the neighborhood. 

Fuentes hasn't registered with the Federal Elections Commission, but she's not letting that stop her from campaigning. Her office is located in Wynwood, and it's all pink. “It looks like Elle Woods was running for president,” Fuentes' "press secretary," Leonardo Romero, says.

Fuentes' political party is the Fantastic Awesome Fabulous Amazing (FAFA) Party. In one photo series, Fuentes hired a Trump impersonator to pose for photos while she tried to teach him Spanish and explain that a huge wall won't keep immigrants from entering the country.

“I truly believe that everyone can have it all: love, friends, a career,” Fuentes says. “That’s my real mission, to convince people to not give up.”

On Wednesday evening, she isn’t nervous at all. After she finishes getting ready, she meets at her campaign office on NE Second Avenue. There, she hugs guests and poses for photos. Shortly after, the bright-pink Hummer limo and driver arrive outside. Miss Wynwood and her closest friends pour in. And then they’re off.

For the next four hours, they drive around Miami, Miami Beach, Wynwood, and the Design District waving at pedestrians or others trapped in the Art Basel traffic. Miss Wynwood peeks her head out from the moonroof. Upbeat Venezuelan musics roars from the speakers.

“Vote Miss Wynwood!” she yells.

People can’t help but smile. 
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson