Artist Erik Lopez (a.k.a. Blur) is a bit of a renegade. At a time when many old-school gallerists are fleeing the Coral Gables scene for grittier pastures in Wynwood, Lopez is poised to bomb "The City Beautiful" with a consumer-friendly infiltration of lowbrow art and high-funk gear.
His new Miami Art Lab (3117 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables) injects some desperately welcome vibes into the gallery crawl tonight, featuring "First Time For Everything," a group exhibit including art-to-wear collectibles. "I wanted to create something quite different and offer an alternative, more accessible program to the masses. You will be able to come in, check out the work, and chill in the lounge area and enjoy some rock and hip-hop instead of the sterile gallery environment the area is used to," Lopez declares. What can his neighbors expect from this guerrilla in their midst? "Experimental paintings, photography, installations, unusual jewelry, silk-screened T-shirts, and a laid-back experience surrounded by great stuff." The revolution unfolds at 7:00. Call 305-461-1443. --Carlos Suarez de Jesus
SAT 3/5Children often associate geography lessons with textbooks. Show them other fun ways to soak up knowledge of the world with a pretend trip to a foreign land, and make Japan your first stop on the tour route. The Miami Children's Museum (980 MacArthur Cswy., Miami) is offering all the accouterments: elaborate backdrops, authentic garb, a campsite, and even fake bugs. The exhibit "Japan and Nature: Spirits of the Seasons" runs through June 6, and features four distinct activity areas where children and their parents can bang out tunes on Taiko drums, try on kimonos, maneuver fake sushi with chopsticks, set up their own campsite around a tent, and join in a rice harvest festival. Grab your pretend passport and head to Japan today from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission is ten dollars; free to museum members. Call 305-373-5437, or visit www.miamichildrensmuseum.org. -- Patti Roth
FRI 3/4Between friends, does it matter if one gets peanut butter in the other's chocolate? Not to curator A. J. Japour, who runs a virtual gallery on the Internet and is opening his doors at Murano at Portofino (1000 South Pointe Dr., Ste. 3302, Miami Beach) tonight during a champagne reception for "Friendship Heights." The exhibit pairs the work of artists and friends, Sergio Baradat and Mark T. Smith, while Japour vows the "conspiratorial creations" challenge viewers to discover where one collaborator's "bold, aggressive iconographic abstractions" begin and the other's "mysterious, shimmering secret narratives" end. Tonight at 7:00. Call 305-534-8322, or visit www.ajjapourgallery.com. -- Carlos Suarez de Jesus