Utter the word "aperture" and the amateur photographer might merely think about the opening on a 35 mm camera's lens. A more schooled photo fan will envision Aperture, the venerated quarterly magazine, created by the New York-based nonprofit arts institution of the same name devoted to advancing photography as fine art. Founded 51 years ago by photogs Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Minor White, and Barbara Morgan; historian Beaumont Newhall; and writer/curator Nancy Newhall, the Aperture organization has always been the photographer's friend, well-known for publishing works that communicate instantaneously without ever compromising the artist's vision. And what a stable of artists -- dead and alive -- it counts among its ranks: father of modern fine art photography Alfred Stieglitz; decisive moment maestro Henri Cartier-Bresson; intrepid adventurer Robert Capa; connoisseur of the bizarre Diane Arbus; and Paris portraitist Eugene Atget, to name a very few. Over the past half-century Aperture has made the dissemination of photographs an art, producing more than 500 exceptional books, and amassing a priceless archive from which it generates limited-edition prints for collectors. The foundation has also coordinated a series of more than 100 traveling exhibitions -- group and solo shows -- that have traversed the world as many times as some of the photographers whose works are on display. "Photography Past/Future: Aperture at 50" is one such presentation, opening at Miami Dade College's Centre Gallery today. Breathtaking landscapes, entrancing portraits, and compelling scenes of social realism are among the 170 images by famous names like Mary Ellen Mark, Paul Strand, Nan Goldin, and Cindy Sherman. The show serves a dual purpose: exploring the development of photography -- from the photogravure to the digital print -- and paying tribute to the countless artists of light and shadow instrumental in helping the magazine become an internationally recognized force. -- By Nina Korman
"Photography Past/Future: Aperture at 50" runs from Thursday, January 8, through Friday, February 13, at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, Centre Gallery, bldg 1, 3rd floor, 300 NE 2nd Ave. Admission is free. Call 305-237-3696.
Nose around neighbors' yards
Sure, you can trudge through the muck at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park for a glimpse of the rare Asplenium erosum (a fern more commonly known as the eared spleenwort). Or you can take the genteel approach and fawn over flora in the comfort of various home gardens on Miami Beach. Sponsored by the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, the Home Garden Tour is now in its third year and features a closer look at all that exotic leafy stuff behind those high fences. Tour 6 properties, from a SoBe rooftop condo with its garden designed by award-winning architect Chad Oppenheim, to a fountain room garden dubbed "Jungle Madness" by its North Bay Road owner that features a pandanus island and palm courtyard waterfall. The tour runs from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and begins at Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr. Admission is $25. Call 305-673-7256. -- By John Anderson
Although the characters in artist Ed King's paintings may look like big-eyed mutant hybrids from the South Park and Ziggy comics and cartoons, they have a more organic origin, namely nature itself. The world King paints is actually inspired by diagrams of atoms and nuclei smashing and releasing energy. King's main character in The Kaleidoscope Conspiracy is not just an adventure-seeking gremlin -- it's actually a uranium isotope with a big neutron stuck to the side of its head. King's pieces revolve around a cast of atomic-based characters, including cats, birds, and an orange elephant who inhabit a storybook world, but they tell a bigger story. King, a long-time physics buff, describes the work as snapshots of the energy of relationships -- from interpersonal relations among friends to foreign relations among governments. King's work is displayed at 7:00 p.m. at downtown Miami's Wallflower Gallery, 10 NE 3rd St. Admission is free. Call 305-579-0079. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
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Some facts about Jews in Florida you may not know: Jews weren't allowed to live in Florida until 1763. Before that, the state, owned by Spain since 1513, was for Catholics only. These days 16 percent of the American Jewish community (or 850,000 folks) resides here. Only New York and California can boast more Jews. Intrigued? Well, that's not even the whole matzo ball. Last year Gov. Jeb Bush designated January as Florida Jewish History Month. It will be celebrated for the first time at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, January 11, with a ceremony featuring bigwigs and a lecture/slide show at the Jewish Museum of Florida (301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). Attendance for the shindig is limited so if you haven't already RSVPed, don't count on going. Thirty days of other opportunities await, however. At 7:30 tonight, museum director Marcia Zerivitz will show off highlights from the collection and talk about its evolution. In a sort of Antiques Roadshow twist, local Jewish families are invited to bring artifacts and photographs with them to be considered for inclusion at the museum. Admission is free. Call 305-672-5044. -- By Nina Korman