What's your best subject? Who gives the best tongue? Which superhero kicks ass? If you remember getting sent to detention for passing around slam books in middle school, the work of Michael Scoggins should ring a bell. His graphite and prisma drawings nail that sweaty-palmed feeling that comes with fading childhood, transporting the viewer to the lost halls of innocence. Anyone who's suffered the pangs of puppy love, the confiscation of a favorite action figure, or the stigma of a bad grade will revel in "Letter to the President" opening tonight at 7:30 at Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts (3080 SW 38th Ct., Miami).
Working from childhood drawings, journal entries, and homework assignments, Scoggins creates large-scale pieces from the originals, engaging our most primal emotions. "The work is an investigation. I study my past and try to figure out why we still lash out at one another as adults, why we form cliques, exclude and hurt each other as children do." The exhibit runs through June 28. Call 305-774-5969, or visit www.dlfinearts.com. --Carlos Suarez de Jesus
Images of Freedom
It's hard to believe that a quarter of a century has passed since the Mariel Boatlift took place. In 1980 33-year-old Carlos Manuel Cardenes, a local photographer, rushed to Key West to record the emotional arrival of 125,000 Cuban refugees and experience a historical moment that haunts him even now: "What I witnessed still chokes me up. Imagine a shrimp trawler with space for maybe 20, and over 200 people spilling over its sides. They were desperate for freedom, and many kissed the ground when they got off." Today at 2:00 his dramatic shots capturing the chaos and jubilation of those turbulent days go on display at the Coral Gables Branch Library (3443 Segovia St., Coral Gables). "The photos teem with desperate, hungry people, the confusion and courage etched on their faces," Cardenes relates. "It was a hopeful time for everyone." The exhibit runs through July 6. Call 305-442-8706. -- Carlos Suarez de Jesus
You don't have to drive from house to house, refrigerator to refrigerator, to see student artwork. The 23rd annual Student Art Exhibition opens today at ArtCenter/South Florida (800 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach). Part of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools' Museum Education program (in which students view and discuss art in museums and galleries), this exhibit features more than 200 original works by kindergartners through high school seniors. Support future Picassos and Pollocks through May 23. Hours are Monday through Wednesday 11:00 to 10:00; Thursday through Sunday 11:00 to 11:00. Admission is free. Call 305-674-8278, or visit www.artcentersf.org. -- Lyssa Oberkreser