Despite a notable spike in new gallery shows opening in Wynwood this summer, August remains the sleepiest month of the year for most dealers. In fact, folks who venture out to this weekend's Second Saturday culture crawl will discover that many top-tier programs — including Fredric Snitzer, David Castillo, Dorsch, Pan American Art Projects, and Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts — are closed during the art walk.

In part, that's because collectors tend to flee the 305 as the mercury soars. But it's also because August gives galleries a chance to prep for the big season openings in September, when they crack out the big cannons in anticipation of December's Art Basel and its satellite fairs.

That doesn't mean you won't find some fresh exhibits worth visiting this weekend, though — all with the bonus of snagging a parking space more easily than you would on the average Second Saturday. For galleries that brave the August lull, it can be the perfect time to command eyeballs in a relaxing environment.

"There might be fewer collectors here for the summer, but we still have visitors coming to learn, enjoy, or just satisfy their curiosity," says Elaine Minionis, co-owner of the Lunch Box Gallery, which will be open this weekend. "We've all worked so hard to build the reputation of this area in relation to art content. Where does that go when newcomers visit and they find almost everything closed? It's a waste of opportunity."

Fortunately, a trio of shows — including one at Minionis's gallery — represents anything but a blown chance. Among the best offerings opening at 6 p.m. Saturday are a conceptual duo exploring third-wave feminism, a sprawling photography show featuring the work of 14 international artists, and a solo exhibit by a young Cuban painter whose vision of the French monarchy's waning days offers scathing commentary on absolute power.

With the presidential election season rising to a boil that's hot enough to match the blistering North Miami Avenue asphalt, the Magic City's premier alternative art space features two artists drawing inspiration from a Republican blowhard.

"Female Hu$tle," a collaborative project by Heather Miller and Rosemarie Romero at ­Locust Projects (3852 N. Miami Ave..; 305-576-8570; locustprojects.org), was created partially in response to the furor that erupted earlier this year when Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" after she testified about contraception before a congressional committee.

Miller and Romero, both MFA students at the University of Florida, write that they want to "explore a complex and contradictory dialogue about objectification and identity." To that end, Romero's Porn Nails is an actual nail salon in the gallery, where the artist offers custom manicures for women and girls "in exchange for conversations in relation to love, sex, and work specific to the geographic region of South Florida."

Romero says she wants to explore female stereotypes by employing camp and parody to transform negative labels of women into positive ones.

"I'm Dominican, so I will be performing as a Latin nail manicurist named Chichi and will be in the gallery on roller skates and wearing a platinum wig," she says. "I will be playing with the whole idea of the 'Miami girl' image in a beauty-parlor setting, making cafecitos and cortaditos on a hotplate for my clients."

The artist, who grew up here and often skated to Miami booty bass tunes at Thunder Wheels in Kendall, says Limbaugh's comments where offensive and hurtful; the project is also a way for others hurt by such language to reclaim the insults.

"I felt for her," Romero recalls. "After I finish giving participants their manicures, I will be taking portraits of them with a Polaroid for a large wall collage created as part of the project. They can then write the words bitch, slut, or other phrases on their pictures to reclaim negative female stereotypes as words of empowerment or pleasure."

Miller, meanwhile, has taken over the front gallery and storefront windows facing North Miami Avenue to present Gold/Mirror, a series of human-size sculptural/photographic works depicting female bodies painted gold, with their absent faces replaced by mirrors. Phrases such as "I will not become fettered to the role that you assign me" and "I will live with intention" cover the floor around the exhibit.

The work explores objectification as a means of empowerment and challenges feminist stereotypes, Miller says. "I use my body as bait to draw the viewer into my work. I create objects that transform the body in order to counteract the gaze. The sculptures are both retaliatory and celebratory," she explains.

For a compelling photo-based show that would command attention any time of year, visit the Lunch Box Gallery (310 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-407-8131; thelunchboxgallery.com), where "Summer Photo Show 2012" features scores of stunning images from 14 international artists.

Now in its second annual edition, the exhibit includes entries from all styles of the genre, including mixed-media works employing photography. On view is everything from conceptual and documentary photography to narrative photography, photo essay, iPhoneography, and photo collage.

Look for Noah David Bau's portraits of young professional muay thai boxers at a training camp in Bangkok's most notorious slum. In works that are at once searing and compelling, the Boston artist captures images of boys who have been orphaned or discarded, subjected to grueling workouts and brutal physical punishment, and trained to be merciless.

Another artist worth attention is Miami's Lissette Schaeffler, who focuses her lens on the Magic City's seedy hot-sheet motels. For her By the Hour series, she snaps haunting photos of empty pay-by-the-hour sex dives, inviting viewers to an encounter with the sordid landscapes of the illicit quickie rendezvous.

"The show we had for the summer in 2011 was highly crowded," Minionis says. "There is no excuse for not putting on a show — or even more, a good show — because it's summer... Besides, our particular purpose is not only about selling but also about educating people about the art form and its latest trends, bringing a deeper appreciation."

At Hardcore Art Contemporary Space (72 NW 25th St., Miami; 305-576-1645; hardcoreartmiami.com), a visually striking solo show by young Cuban painter Carlos Gámez de Francisco appropriates the opulence and decadence of the last French monarchs while referencing his life in Cuba during the island's "Special Period," the economic crisis that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.

Curated by the Aluna Curatorial Collective, Adriana Herrera, and Willy Castellanos, the exhibit, titled "Radical Genealogy: The Decline of Dauphins, Courtesans, and Hounds," features animations, paintings, and drawings that aim to explore "the relationship between the Eros of power and the threat of destruction." On view are provocative, richly textured images of a stuck-up Robespierre, the last words of Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette on the way to the guillotine.

Herrera, who is also an independent curator and an art critic for El Nuevo Herald, says, "Black humor serves as the narrative thread linking pictorial scenes in which the bloody and the absurd converge in ostentatious fashion."

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