Parents who trip over toys scattered on the floor and scream at their children to put them away might not realize that those little doodads could inspire their tykes later in their lives as artists. In the hands of a child, Barbie may seem to be nothing more than a big-boobed plastic blonde. In the hands of an artist, morphed with pointy-headed Bert from Sesame Street, she is a freakish monster. Nine artists got to "play" with toys by contributing to the exhibition "Toy Box," opening tonight at 7:00 at Casas Riegner Gallery (25 NE 39th St.). Included among the works are fanciful drawings of toys by Neo-Popster Yoshitomo Nara (above); photographs of mini figurines in staged situations by Liliana Porter; sculptures made from found objects and comics-like drawings by Roy Bautista; and paintings of Barney the dinosaur and Sesame Street characters in discomfitingly surreal settings by Arlene Berrie. The show runs through Saturday, August 28. Admission is free. Call 305-573-8242.
Chefs’ kitchen collaboration
Delicate foie gras, braised lamb chops without the mucho macho carnivore overdrive. Lady fingers? Five of the area’s top female chefs are building a menu in a coordinated effort to fight world hunger. Tonight’s Share Our Strength dinner will be prepared by cutting-edge and compassionate gals who have a flair for flavor. Whipping up the feast: Carmen Gonzalez of Carmen the Restaurant, Michelle Bernstein of Azul, Cindy Hutson of Ortanique on the Mile, Andrea Curto-Randazzo of Talula, and Jennifer Brown, pastry chef at Chef Allen’s. Proving they can set their egos aside (unlike many of their colleagues), the women chefs will work as a team for a good cause. The dinner begins at 7:00 p.m. at Carmen the Restaurant, 700 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables. Tickets cost $250. Call 305-633-9861.
That instant headache you get the moment a drop of champagne — cheap or expensive — passes your lips. That’s the “pain” in champagne. But you drink it nonetheless, charmed by its tiny bubbles, its intriguing flavor, its festive air, its utter Frenchness. Well, to prevent your head from exploding, you might consider swallowing a handful of aspirin before attending the FluteFest Champagne Festival taking place from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. at Flute (500 S. Pointe Dr., Miami Beach). Representatives from various French champagne houses will be on hand to chat with you as you sip 20 top brands, and plenty of hors d’oeuvres will be passed so you won’t drink on an empty stomach. Cheers! Admission is $75. Call 305-674-8680.