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Francesco Lo Castro's "Recent Works" at Butter Gallery

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It's a rather difficult task for Francesco Lo Castro to describe his steadily growing success. After all, he admits he was nearly dead a year ago from the strain of being a curator. "I really almost had a heart attack," Lo Castro says. "I left that line of work to save myself." Now that once-endangered heart is steadily beating and overflowing with gratitude after the noted success of his current solo exhibition at the Butter Gallery called "Recent Works."

Described as a "love letter to Miami," Lo Castro's exhibit offers glimpses of Miami's hipster underground culture thrown onto larger-than-life canvases. From ceiling to floor, images of Miami burlesque dancers, performance artists, writers, musicians and visual artists loom large over curious spectators.

"I guess I was mainly concerned with representing all the people that were in the portraits properly. I wanted to make sure I didn't portray anyone in a bad light. All those things really hinged on the individual looking at the portraits for the first time...but everyone seemed very much pleased, so I worried for nothing," the artist continues.

The exhibition opened to a devoted contingency of Butter Gallery fans and patrons, clearly impressed with Lo Castro's striking detail and skilled, yet approachable, style. Local band BFGF arrived later in the evening, at which point Lo Castro says that "it felt more like a family gathering than an exhibition."

With the buzz of triumph still lingering, Lo Castro is looking forward to experiencing the swirl of Art Basel Miami Beach as a spectator rather than a curator. "As an artist, I'm very much looking forward to it: paint a few murals and enjoy the circus of it all. On a broad side, I don't know if this is the year that tops last year or if things are going to settle. It's hard to see through all the hype."

Even so, the hype of this year's art fair carousel keeps pushing through the roof. Ever-charming gallery director Francisco 'Paco' De La Torre adds wryly, "We'll sleep in January." 

"Francesco Lo Castro: Recent Works" runs until December 1 at Butter Gallery (2303 NW Second Ave., Miami). Call 305-303-6254 or visit www.buttergallery.com.

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