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DWNTWN Art Days Guide: This Weekend's Downtown Cultural Events

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If you can't wait for Art Basel or wish that Wynwood's Second Saturday Art Walks lasted longer, then DWNTWN Art Days is what you've been craving. Art Days weekend, a collaboration orchestrated by Downtown's Arts & Culture partners and the Miami DDA, kicks off this Friday and runs until Sunday evening. Get ready for a weekend filled with art, booze, opera, exclusive city tours, and even inflatable art (perhaps even a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man).

This year at Art Days, there's a central hub located at Grand Central Park where you can park your car, pick up information, and even catch a trolley to take you around the downtown area. For the most part, however, expect lots of walking.

The event website boasts about 130 events happening this weekend (though some are repeated throughout the three days, so they're included in that count multiple times). It'll be impossible to see it all, so we've compiled a list of the best and most interesting events going on during DWNTWN Art Days this month. Be sure to check out the full list of events online to see what else peaks your interest.


Creative Happy Hour

Although Art Days events begin taking place at 7 a.m., you'd probably prefer to start your night out the classy way: with a happy hour. The Arts & Business Council, CU-1 Gallery, Miami Center for Architecture and Design, and the Perez Art Museum have all collaborated on this happy hour of creative proportions. Its purpose is to bring together "young professionals" to network and talk art while sipping wine or beer and munching on food provided by Spris Pizza. Along with your beer, wine, and networking, expect some games with prizes throughout the night. There will also be a photo booth, some art play stations, and even a curated art tour. Since you're a young professional, you can afford the $15 entrance ticket for this event. Go here to reserve your spot, and don't forget: pinkies up.

5 to 8 p.m., CU-1 Gallery, 117 NE First Ave, Miami. Call 305-326-1021 or visit artsbizmiami.org.

Mary Brickell Village to Miami Circle Walking Tour

You've gone to Brickell on a Friday or Saturday night, or perhaps even for brunch on Sunday, but you've never experienced it like this. Take a guided tour of a familiar hotspot and take in some history, man. Playing tourist in your own city can be rewarding and educational. Learn about the history of Brickell and hear memorable stories you can repeat to your friends and sound smart.

The ending point of this tour, Miami Circle at Brickell Point, is a National Historic Landmark, which preserves the site where archeologists uncovered evidence of a Native North American group called the Tequesta. The "circle" is actually a sort of footprint left behind by a prehistoric structure of the Tequesta. No doubt that the tour guide will offer a more detailed explanation. The rendezvous point is Mary Brickell Village at 6 p.m., and the walking tour will last approximately an hour and a half.

6 to 7:30 p.m., Mary Brickell Village, 901 S Miami Ave, Miami.

"September's Storm" - A California Wine Tasting and Cultural Event

Winos, rejoice! Wine By the Bay is hosting a wine-tastic evening both Friday and Saturday night during Art Days. The wine and art boutique will be showcasing wines from Napa Valley winemaker, Andy Erickson, alongside Yozo Hamaguchi's art exhibit. Blending the smooth aromas of wine and visually stimulating art, Wine By the Bay offers a unique way to end (or start) your evening.

Aside from tasting wine, guests will also be taught how to blend their own California wine with the ultimate goal of a perfect glass. After the tasting and teaching, you get the opportunity to sit down with your wine during the East Coast premiere screening of Storm, a 2013 Sonoma International Film Festival official selection. Winemaking and an indie movie - can't get anymore hipster than that. Tickets for this event can be purchased via Local Wine Events and cost $30 per person.

7 to 9 p.m. (Friday and Saturday), Wine by the Bay, 888 Biscayne Blvd, Miami. Call 305-455-9791 or visit winebtb.com.


Progressive Studio Tour

If you've never heard of the Artisan Lounge, you're not alone, which is why it's a cool idea to take part in their open studio tour. The Artisan Lounge is basically a rentable workspace for artists, featuring 26 studios and three gallery areas to show off your work. The atmosphere is ideal for any new artist starting out or a seasoned pro who is just looking for an escape. There will be various individual studio tours during Art Days on Saturday starting at noon and ending at 2 p.m. Lounge resident artists will give a brief 15 minute talk and allow spectators to view their works in progress as the tour makes its way through the studio. For a full list of featured artists and a breakdown of scheduled times, visit the Artisan Lounge website.

Noon to 2 p.m., The Artisan Lounge, 500 NE First Ave, Miami. Call 305-209-4278 or visit theartisanlounge.com.

Water Balloon Kickball Tournament, Cannonball vs. CIFO

We're in Miami, and it tends to get pretty hot in the afternoons, so what better way to cool off than with water? A water balloon kickball tournament, actually. Two of Miami's most revered art organizations, Cannonball (formally LegalArt) and CIFO (Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation), come together to resolve a nonexistent rivalry in watery giggles. (Where there are water balloons, there have to be giggles, right?) This is a specially created made-up game, so we don't believe you'll need to be privy to any rules - in fact, we're guessing it will be hard to determine a winner if all the balloon-balls pop before they can roll anywhere. It's all in good fun. There's no need to belong to either organization, simply choose a side and start kicking and tossing those water balloons!

1 to 4 p.m., CIFO, 1018 N Miami Ave., Miami. Call 305-455-3380 or visit cifo.org.

See also: Cannonball and CIFO to Face Off in Epic Water Balloon Kickball Match

Dwntwn Art Days II After Party

Ain't no party like an Art Days after party! Saturday night's festivities at The Vagabond will include complimentary Stoli Vodka for the early birds from 10-11 p.m., and a Shameless Burlesque show at midnight. As per usual, there will be rotating DJs; in the main room: deep funk, outdoor garden: funk soul, and in the bar/lounge: disco. 10 p.m., The Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. Call 305-379-0508 or visit thevagabondmiami.com.


Fringe Panel Discussion

During this year's Art Days, a new interactive series is being introduced and it goes by the name of the Fringe. Scattered throughout various locations in Downtown Miami are six outdoor exhibits designed to challenge the way you view art. Most of the exhibits use some sort of inflatable device, so the experience should be both immersive and fun. Though some of the work can be seen at all hours of the day from different viewpoints, there are designated times where wanderers can have a closer look-see. The featured Fringe exhibits are: Standard Custom Logo Bench, It Takes Two, Latticework, Godzilla, Growing The Future of our City, and Pennies From Heaven.

After spending some time Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with these Fringe exhibits, sit down for the Sunday panel featuring the curator, Amanda Sanfilippo, and select artists. If you were curious about something you saw, now would be your chance to ask the artist directly. The panel event will take place at the same location as the Pennies From Heaven exhibit.

1 to 3 p.m., Brickell World Plaza, 600 Brickell Ave., Miami.

Beached Miami DWNTWN Art Days Bike Tour

This bike tour is perfect for you Critical Mass junkies out there. Instead of racing around the downtown area on a Friday night, take it easy with this afternoon tour guided by the Beached Miami website. Caution: this bike ride makes frequent stops. Along the route you will stop for artist talks and performances as you make your way back to where you started. Some of the local creatives you can expect to see are: Daniele Frazier, Tom Scicluna, Liz Ferrer, Brookhart Jonquil, and Trenton Duerksen. After the bike tour, a delicious picnic catered by Pollo Tropical will be awaiting you to help restore any calories you just burned off. The best part about all this: it's free.

Beached Miami promises this to be a short, casually paced bike ride suitable for anyone who can ride a bike. Space for this ride about town is limited (only 50 per day), so you must RSVP beforehand - and don't forget to bring your own bike.

2 to 5 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday), Art Days Hub Grand Central Park at Miami Worldcenter, 700 N Miami Ave., Miami. Visit beachedmiami.com/artdays.

Miami Lyric Opera

At this point, it's been a long weekend for you if you've attended DWNTWN Art Days since Friday, that's why we're ending it with a soothing trip to the opera. The Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center is hosting a dual program of the romantic operas Cavalleria Rusticana and Suor Angelica. These one-act operas are rarely ever performed in South Florida, and at an intimate venue like the Olympia, it's a shame to miss it.

Allow yourself the pleasure that comes along with experiencing the music of Pietro Mascagni and Giacomo Puccini as actors on stage fill the theater with their powerful voices. Indulge in the duality of the narratives, first with Cavalleria Rusticana, which incorporates love, drama, adultery, and murder all finely tuned. And end with Suor Angelica, a tale of a nun who struggles to live once news of her illegitimate child's death reaches her. Two operas, two days to choose from, and one price: tickets for this event range from $25 to $45 depending on seating level.

4 to 7 p.m. (also on Saturday at 8pm), Olympia Theatre at the Gusman Center, 174 E Flagler St., Miami. Call 305-374-2444 or visit olympiatheater.org.

Other noteworthy events:

The New Pérez Art Museum Miami: A Conversation with Thom Collins and Terence Riley: PAMM's director and former director are schooling Miamians on PAMM's architecture and design, months before the building officially opens during Art Basel week.

Friday, 6 p.m., at the Ziff Ballet Opera House. Admission is free. Visit pamm.org.

Balcony to Basement Tour of the Historic Olympia Theater: Take advantage of this swanky theater tour that takes you deep into 87 years of history and literally shows you everything between the balcony and the basement.

10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4p.m. (Friday & Saturday), Olympia Theatre at the Gusman Center, 174 E Flagler St, Miami. Call 305-374-2444 or visit olympiatheater.org.

Mural Talk: Bob Marley mural by Trek 6 at HistoryMiami: You've seen the murals, now listen to all the intricate details behind it. This event is in preparation for the upcoming "Bob Marley Messenger" exhibit.

1 p.m. (Saturday & Sunday), HistoryMiami, 101 W Flagler St., Miami. Call 305-375-1492 or visit historymiami.org.

Godzilla: Wacky inflatable sculptures popping out of a building? Who wouldn't want to stare, mouth agape? Don't miss the city being taken over by inflatable monsters.

10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), Christ Fellowship Church (Balconies) 500 NE First Ave., Miami.

Giants in the City: More inflatable giants. Just go.

10 a.m. - 7 p.m. (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), Bayfront Park, 301 N Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

Growing the Future of our City (GFC): Another one of the featured Fringe series that allows spectators to experience the art, GFC blends a site-specific installation of air duct and wheat grass plantings.

5 p.m. - 5 a.m. (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), The DRB, 501 NE First Ave., Miami.

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