Cultural wasteland. Culturally deprived. Culturally backward. We've all heard the knocks about the level of aesthetic goings-on in Miami. How aware, we wonder, are those naysayers of the fact that in 1973, the county decided to set aside 1.5 percent of the construction cost of all new county buildings and devote it to something other than a big ol' slab of concrete? The dough would go to something enlightening and enriching: art. Since that time, the county has bought or commissioned more than 700 works of art to go in and outside of all sorts of places around town -- the airport, Metrorail and Metromover stations, libraries, fire stations, public housing developments, parks, you name it. A hell of a lot of art is surrounding us at all times.Still not convinced? That colorful strip of neon lights on the Metrorail tracks that you crane your neck to see when you're driving on I-95, nearly killing yourself and others in the process? That's public art. So is that very large rainbow of metal curves plunked on the grass next to the cultural plaza that puzzled you as you walked along Flagler Street. Those seashells embedded in the floor of a terminal at Miami International Airport? Yep. And those yellow French fry-looking things sticking out of the ground near the Metrorail in South Miami? Yep.
This evening at 6:00, Miami-Dade Art in Public Places and Miami-Dade Transit throw a cocktail reception to celebrate the art program's 30th anniversary and the restoration of works on the Metrorail and Metromover. The place? The Riverwalk Metrorail Station at 88 SE Fourth St. You'll know you're there when you see the giant tomato-red "M." That piece was created in 1996 by artists Rosario Marquardt and Roberto Behar. It just got a fresh coat of paint because the 42-foot-high structure is yet another piece of public art. -- By Nina Korman
Circling gay activist wagons
If you don't know the correct etiquette for addressing a man who lives as a woman, chances are you soon will. If you have trouble deciphering the alphabet soup of acronyms for sociopolitical movements, get ready, the LGBTST world is coming out. Never heard of polyamory or wondered what it means to be hetero-flexible? Sit tight, you'll soon be enlightened by some of the delegates of the Creating Change Conference, the annual caucus of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force being held on Miami Beach this weekend.
The front lines of the gay rights movement will be gathering to sharpen their organizing skills, perfect their rhetorical volleys, and shed light on the struggle for human rights for all people. According to task force executive director Matt Foreman, the objective is "complete equality under the law" and mutual respect for everyone. And they mean everyone: from bisexual Muslims to transgendered Jews to Two Spirit warriors.
The conference opens with a reception at 8:00 p.m. and runs through Sunday, November 9, at the Radisson Deauville Hotel, 6701 Collins Ave. Miami Beach. Registration costs $250 for the entire conference. See www.creatingchange.org. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Making over Rover
A day of beauty for your beast
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An oatmeal, tea-tree oil, cucumber facial could be just what your red-eyed hound needs to pick his lazy ass up off the floor. Before you dose your hyperactive terrier with Xanax, you may want to consider getting him a massage or reiki treatment. Dog lovers know that their pets can never get enough treats or attention. That is why Beneful dog food is touring the nation with an over-the-top spoiling of man's best friend. Today groomers, massage therapists, and nutrition experts will be sprucing up South Florida pets at the Beneful Smart Spa for Dogs in the Coconut Grove Women's Club (2985 S. Bayshore Dr.). This would be the perfect opportunity to make up for all those guilt trips your best buddy lays on you every time you come home. Best of all, it's free. The pampering begins at 10:00 a.m. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
One of the great fantasies surrounding a liberated Cuba is that thousands of well-maintained (and seaworthy, if we recall recent newsclips) vintage vehicles will suddenly come on the market. Very few car buffs admit or, perhaps, realize that these beauties are likely running on lawn mower engines and lack even basic accessories such as seats. The real deal, though, the perfectly maintained, the lovingly refurbished with original parts, the crème de la crème of classic cars are still on this side of the straits. From 7:00 to 10:30 p.m. at the Cypress Village Shopping Center (7300 block of Miami Lakes Drive), Jumpin' Jack "Flash" once again brings together South Florida's motoring lovelies for the Classical Car Cruise. In honor of Veterans Day, the Boy Scouts' Honor Guard will kick off the festivities and DJ Rockin' Billy will play tunes that recall the eras when these gems were the latest models. Free. Call 305-214-2277 to include your own antique chariot. -- By Margaret Griffis