There's no need to line up for free booze at the Second Saturday Art Walk in Wynwood this weekend: The artworks alone will make you think you're seeing double or at least make you look twice.
From the sights and sounds of carnival to visions of goddesses, from brainy op and kinetic art to the grandeur of America's wilderness and Sarah Palin getting bitch-slapped, March's crawl delivers a sensory wallop on a bruising scale.
At Nina Torres Fine Art (2033 NW First Pl., Miami), the pomp and pageantry of Carnaval de Barranquilla takes center stage in "Carnival," an exhibit that rivals Second Saturday's growing street spectacle — only you won't find stilt walkers, flame throwers, or curbside vendors selling T-shirts or arepas here.
Instead, the attractions are paintings, sculptures, and installations by Colombian artists Carlos Vallejo and Alicia Torres. The gallery is also spooling a documentary shot 50 years ago celebrating the annual event, which traces its roots back to the 19th Century. UNESCO has recognized Carnaval de Barranquilla as one of "the greatest shows on Earth," and some people consider it equal in scope to the bawdy version in Rio.
"Carnival" seeks to capture the spirit of cumbia and Spanish paloteo street dances; folkloric porro, mapale, and fandango music; as well as the elaborate masquerade parades that convert the Caribbean port city into a sprawling block party during the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday.
Vallejo's paintings depict street revelers in garish getups that bring to mind refugees from a Dr. Seuss tale or a Tim Burton reverie, while Torres's opulent, feathered headdress fashioned from shimmering peacock feathers and emerald sequins appears regal enough to crown the head of this year's carnival queen.
Afterward, join the conga line shimmying over to the Calix Gustav Gallery (98 NW 29th St., Miami) for a walk on the wild side, where "Artbitch" aspires to convey a notion of the rebellious attitude and suffering of artists today.
Inspired by a song by Brazilian band CSS, artists in the group show include Spunk & the Orange Kittens, Charles Chace, Lazaro Amaral, Emil Alzamora, Jovan Karlo Villalba, and Eric Torriente.
In Don and Mera, Why Won't You Cum Across the Street, Spunk & the Orange Kittens craft a video dripping with desperation and despair, riffing on the lengths artists are willing to go to be discovered by the Rubells.
Amaral weighs in with an installation titled Fuck Art and pimps Sarah Palin as his "art bitch" in another arresting piece deftly combining text and patterns to upend Tea Party politics.
At Edge Zones Art Center (47 NE 25th St., Miami), New York-based artist Diana McClure explores the relationship between spiritual agency and concepts of female divinity from across the globe in an exhibit showcasing otherworldly goddesses.
"Cosmic She-ness" features selections from the artist's recent body of work referencing Navajo myths and a Chaka Khan classic disco tune. The works investigate notions of the interconnectedness of concepts such as Ashé, Shakti, chi, the Holy Ghost, and prana — essentially life-force energy.
In one work, the artist employs photography, small mixed-media objects, and recontextualized images to create a collage depicting a scantily clad and masked Grace Jones sprouting from a lotus flower superimposed over a fading, dog-eared map of ancient Mesopotamia.
The Center for Visual Communication (541 NW 27th St., Miami) offers a sweeping sprawl of America's purple mountains and fruited plains in Clyde Butcher's haunting panoramas of our national parks and wide-open spaces.
For 50 years, Butcher has used large-format-view cameras similar to those employed by Jackson, O'Sullivan, and Watkins — the men who accompanied Lewis and Clark and other explorers who widened the boundaries of a growing America. One hundred fifty years ago, they sent home astounding images that whet viewers' appetites to discover uncharted lands.
The majestic views of Oxbow Bend and the Snake River are among the mesmerizing landscapes that transport spectators to the USA's breathtaking wilderness and illustrate why Butcher has been recognized nationally as the foremost artist working in the tradition of great landscape photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.
Florida's dean of photographers, Butcher has spent the past five years crisscrossing the country from Florida to Washington and California to Maine, creating more than 1,500 negatives with his custom-built camera. At the opening, Butcher will be on hand for a lecture and book signing.
For those interested in brainy video installations, check out Pablo Tamayo's The Second and Seventh at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery (3550 N. Miami Ave., Miami), where the Colombian artist tinkers with theories posited by German egghead Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
The philosopher proposed that there are seven distinct arts — architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, music, poetry, and cinema. In his new series of large-scale video projections, Tamayo explores the marriage between two of these arts: sculpture and cinema.
His body of work challenges viewers to question the perception and interpretation of space, volume, and perspective in their surroundings. Layering yet another dimension into his exploration — time — Tamayo investigates the geometry of the space via multidimensional projections that resemble giant honeycombs.
If you crave more visual kicks, the recently opened Ascaso Gallery (2441 NW Second Ave., Miami) is showcasing museum-quality works by three of Venezuela's internationally recognized masters of kinetic and op art: Victor Valera, Carlos Cruz Diez, and Jesús Rafael Soto.
"Geometric Artists Collection" features Valera's structured compositions, brimming with the dots, lines, pure geometric shapes, and colors the artist uses to create an abstract language of space and logic.
Cruz Diez's rhythmic system of patterns engages the viewer both physically and emotionally in perception-tweaking pieces that oscillate with an inherent electricity and vibrancy of complementary matrices of color.
Soto, most famous for his series Penetrables, hijacks our common sense of vision with an approach the artist referred to as "Vision in Movement" in works that conjure a bogus sense of space and challenge notions of awareness.
By walk's end, you might never see the world the same way again.