Tasteful Art

"The festival is intended to be a celebration of both the artistic palette and the one in your mouth," says Marshall Davis, executive director of Feast for the Palette. The inaugural event is taking place this weekend in and around Bayfront Park. Billed as the largest multiethnic festival in South Florida, Feast is sure to appeal to more of the senses than sight and taste.

There will also be plenty of auditory delights. Musical headliners for the weekend include late-Seventies rock icons Cheap Trick, who will perform on Friday with Pet Project. Saturday's tunes will also go retro with the swing-inspired Mighty Blue Kings and Rocket 88. Sunday offers a more ethnic tone with the Latin jazz of Roberto Torres and His Orchestra, as well as the Afro-Cuban folk outfit Oriente. In addition to the headlining artists, more than 40 bands are slated to make music on three stages throughout the weekend. Twelve of the acts will be celebrating the CD release of South Beach in Motion, a compilation featuring diverse local sounds such as the reggae of Johnny Dread, the world beat jazz of Amereida, the tribal sounds of Zac, and the Latin rock of Don Pepe.

Feast not only offers a wide variety of music, but also a colorful spectrum of street art: The I Madonnari street painting contest yields works that could easily be envisioned hanging in ornate frames rather than decorating the pavement. Over the course of the weekend, artists from California and art students from Miami's Design and Architecture High School and Norland Middle School will work for hours rendering intricate paintings (depicting everything from seascapes to the Sistine Chapel) on the wide sidewalks surrounding the park. The competition will culminate at 2:00 p.m. Sunday when a random group of festgoers choose the artists who will be named Madonnari Miami Masters. The contest is designed to preserve the sixteenth-century Italian art form, Madonnari, which originated from itinerant artists who made a living creating icons of the Madonna at outdoor religious folk festivals.

Of course it wouldn't be an authentic festival without food. Organizers take the "Feast" in the fest's name seriously. Davis points out that featured fare will come from just about every noteworthy culinary location around the globe, including the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and the Far East. Great music, remarkable art, and mouth-watering eats? A guarantee that every appetite will be satisfied.

-- Larry Boytano

Feast for the Palette takes place noon to midnight April 9 and 10, and noon to 9:00 p.m. April 11 in Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd. Admission is $5 or $10, which includes Friday and Saturday's headlining concert. Sunday's main concert is free with admission. Children age ten and under get in free. Call 800-282-9909.

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Larry Boytano