Iconoclastic Ichaso

Cuban cinema at the Tower

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In a review of Leün Ichaso's innovative biopic Piñero, Lynn Geller came up with this line that neatly encapsulates the current state of cultural affairs: "[He was] a true artist whose disinterest in ömaking it' stands in stark contrast to today's crop, many of whom would choose fame as an occupation." That was a description of the film's subject (Nuyorican writer Miguel Piñero) but it can be applied equally to Ichaso, a self-taught director who has danced in the margins and brought disenfranchised characters to the cinematic fore. A retrospective of work by Ichaso (who will be on hand for discussions) could hardly find a better location than Miami. The director arrived from Cuba at age 14 and his first film, El Súper, which he wrote, directed, and even financed (with his earnings from making TV commercials) dealt with the exile experience. The three-day retrospective begins tonight at 8:00 with Bitter Sugar, a troubling tale of a Cuban family torn by Castro's rule that reflects Ichaso's own life. Though one character injects himself with HIV to protest, the film relies on texture to make statements. The patriarch of the family, for example, is a psychiatrist who earns most of his money playing jazz. These characterizations raise the running theme in most of Ichaso's work: the connections between art, money, choice, identity, and how people should not be judged. Iconoclasm, rebellion, crime, and creativity are all important to Ichaso, and are addressed in included films such as Crossover Dreams (about a salsa musician striving for popularity) and Hendrix (about the troubled guitar legend). The screenings are at the Tower Theater, 1508 SW Eighth St., and cost five dollars. Call 305-237-3010 or visit www.culture.mdc.edu for a complete schedule. -- Greg Baker

Paint by Nature

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The work of painter Tony Monsanto is riveting attention on the modern art of Curaçao. His large canvases, infused with the light and color of the Caribbean, reflect the intricate social, cultural, and religious complexities of the region, and reveal the thoughtful intensity with which the artist approaches his work. Monsanto's conceptual palette weaves Afro-Caribbean legends, avian symbolism, and an examination of a natural environment devastated by humans with expressive power, resulting in a provocative visual conundrum. In an age when other artists experiment with a growing variety of "new media," Monsanto is devoted to exploring painting with promising effects. See "Mythologies from the Archipelago" tonight at Chelsea Galleria, 32 NE 39th St. Call 305-576-2950. -- Carlos Suarez de Jesus

Time Released

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Passing time and changing landscapes don't go unnoticed by Tempe, Arizona photographer Mark Klett. By revisiting the locations of original nineteenth-century photographs in the Seventies and again in the Nineties, Klett creates a photographic scrapbook documenting the urban evolution of the American West in his exhibit "Ideas About Time." The journey includes a once-ravaged corner of San Francisco's Powell and O'Farrell streets juxtaposed with modern bustle and traffic. Klett's free lecture tonight at 8:00 is followed by the exhibit opening at the Frost Art Museum on the Florida International University campus at SW 107th Avenue and SW Eighth Street. The exhibit runs through March 13. Call 305-348-2890 or visit www.frostartmuseum.org. -- Lyssa Oberkreser

Fashion State

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In the city that loathes suits and ties, the proper gear can mean the difference between an hour wait and an unencumbered waltz past the velvet ropes. This is a concept Miami native Chris Cardi thoroughly understands. As CEO of Chris Cardi Couture, the urban sophisticate designer has put together a collection sure to please the most fashion-forward trendsetters. His Spring 2005 line, termed Primer Grado, will be hugging the contours of some metropolitan models as they sashay down the runway tonight at Club State, 320 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, starting at 10:00. There will be a complimentary open bar till 11:00. For reservations call 786-621-5215 or visit www.chriscardi.com. -- Kris Conesa


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