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Rise of the MasterMinds: Meet the Ten Astounding 2015 Finalists

They wrap neon lights in intricate crochet. They stage guerrilla ballets in abandoned stadiums and empty fields. They invite the homeless to act in theater performances, bolt poetic street signs above parking meters, and blast South Florida's best underground acts across the internet.

They are this year's finalists for New Times' MasterMind Awards, and they each add a soul-stirring dose of artistic genius to the simmering local creative scene.

They also represent the best of the best from a record crop of entries. More than 130 artists, musicians, dancers, sculptors, and others submitted entries for the sixth edition of our annual arts competition.

A group of editors and critics chose these ten finalists from that pool. The winners, who will each receive a $1,000 grant, will be announced live onstage at Artopia, presented by Miracle Mile and downtown Coral Gables this Thursday at the Coral Gables Museum. The finalists will show off their work at the event. Here's a taste of what they'll bring.

Alex Trimino

Fluorescent bars wrapped in crocheted cylinders. Glowing neon draped in tangled yarn. Tree-like structures of light sprouting leaves of knitwork. Exploring an Alex Trimino art exhibition can feel like wandering through an exotic, synthetic jungle -- a surreal spectacle.

Jolt Radio

The term "internet radio" may conjure some unsavory images: sad slacker dudes, perhaps, with bad haircuts ranting about conspiracy theories or playing pirated music from their moms' Florida rooms. Banish those thoughts, at least when it comes to Jolt Radio.

TM Sisters

When Monica and Natasha Lopez De Victoria were growing up in Miami, did they ever imagine they'd work so closely together as adults? The pair laughs at the question. Their decadelong collaboration as one of Miami's most mind-bendingly creative duos came together by happenstance, not planning.

Bistoury Theatre

Bistoury Theatre's latest production, Tribe, explores homelessness. It's an intimately familiar topic for the troupe's cofounder Alexey Taran, who lived life on the streets firsthand.

Randy Burman

Randy Burman selects a black sandal from a heap of shoes in a cardboard box. With a devilish grin, he hurls it across the length of his small studio. It lands on a painting of Rick Santorum's face with a satisfying thwack.

Liz Ferrer

Rather than argue endlessly about what to call Liz Ferrer's work, viewers should simply experience it. "I think categorization is socially problematic," Ferrer says. "Ideas and work... can exist as many different things; it's hard for me to identify as one."

Limited Fanfare Records

For Brian Kurtz, it all started with a Fisher-Price record player in his Brooklyn apartment. When he was a kid, Kurtz fell in love with music while spending hours listening to Michael Jackson and the Pointer Sisters on the cheap set.

Hattie Mae Williams

For Hattie Mae Williams, Miami is the ultimate performance space. Williams, a longtime dancer and choreographer, created her own style and company, the Tattooed Ballerinas, to bring movement and attention to both everyday and unique spots. Their guerrilla-style dancing began in New York subway stations and supermarkets before moving south to Williams' first home, Miami.

John Bailly

John Bailly has spent most of his life thinking about the concept of home, as a physical place but also as a state of mind. Maybe that's because the painter has never really felt at home anywhere.

Jason "Fitzroy" Jeffers

Just behind Jason Fitzroy Jeffers' desk in his North Miami apartment is an ominous-looking pile of sharpened machetes and handmade leather sheaths. It's not a deadly personal arsenal, though -- it's just the Kickstarter prizes he sent out to supporters of his short film Papa Machete.

This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 26 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit newtimesartopia.com.


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