Miami is loud, hot, and colorful. Miami is delicious and boozy. Miami is tropical, ready to party, and full of history. Miami is a lot of things to a lot of people. Some people hate it; some people love it. Like any grand urban center, it's best seen from a variety of angles, and Concrete Beach Brewery (325 NW 24th St., Miami) is about to put a few of its best on display. A while ago, Concrete Beach asked locals to send in photographs that showed off what the city of Miami means to them. The beer bosses opened the contest to judging and whittled it down to a few favorites. Now the bar will show off the winning entries this Thursday at the official Miami Original Gallery Opening. From 7 to 11 p.m., Miamians and their out-of-town friends are welcome to take in the beautiful and moving pieces that made the Top 20 cut, then hang around and sip some of Concrete Beach's scrumptious and bubbly Miami originals. There will be live music, chocolate-and-beer pairings, and, of course, tons of beer. Admission is free. Call 305-796-2727 or visit concretebeachbrewery.com.
For foodies on a budget, this is the most wonderful time of the year. This week marks the kickoff of two glorious months of Miami Spice, offering discounts on meals at restaurants all over Miami-Dade County, including places you'd ordinarily have to miss a rent payment to enjoy any other time. But you don't have to wait until Monday to dig in. Iron Fork, New Times' annual foodie bash and chef battle, will take over the American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) this Thursday at 6 p.m. And because Iron Fork is the official kickoff event of Miami Spice, it's designed to prime your palate for the next two months of dining on the cheap. This year's Iron Fork features a tag-team competition between two pairs of chefs. In one corner, it's the "Wonder Twin Chefs," also known as Fabrizio and Nicola Carro of Upper Eastside restaurant Via Verdi. In the other, it's the "Dynamic Duo Chefs" — Dustin Ward of BLT Prime and Sean Brasel of Meat Market. While attendees watch them square off, they'll also be able to wander from station to station, sampling bites from some of Miami's best restaurants, including Hyde Beach Kitchen & Cocktails, Suviche, Chef Creole, and dozens of others. Spam Allstars will provide the live entertainment. And a silent auction will offer restaurant gift certificates, VIP dining experiences, and even vacations, with proceeds going to the No Kid Hungry Campaign. General admission, starting at 7 p.m., costs $70 at the door; VIP access costs $110 and includes upgrades such as early access to the venue at 6 p.m. and all food and beverages in the VIP area. Visit microapp.miaminewtimes.com/ironfork.
We can all probably agree there is no photographic image more narcissistic than the digital selfie. Those 18th-century kings and queens and judges and dukes and counts who posed for days at a time in starchy regalia so that commissioned artists could paint laborious portraits of them for posterity have nothing on the selfie generation, where self-love is not only rampant but also in need of constant replenishment: Shoot, post, dispose, repeat. It's hard not to think of the ubiquity and immediacy of this most expendable of art forms when viewing Aurora Molina's "Selfie" exhibition at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (1650 Harrison St., Hollywood). The Cuban-born, Miami-based fiber artist comments on the inherently transient nature of self-snapped images by re-creating them with the most painstakingly slow method imaginable: needle and thread. Her dozens of smartphone-sized selfie quilts put our digital snapshots into new perspective by treating each smiling mug shot and dramatic scowl as a work worthy of such finger-aching commitment. Listen to the artist discuss her process and the themes addressed in her work — from egocentrism to social-media addiction — at an artist talk in the gallery at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The talk is included with museum admission, which costs $7 for adults and $4 for students, seniors, and children ages 4 to 17. Call 954-921-3274 or visit artandculturecenter.org.
Florida is a weird place — we get it. Long has the Sunshine State been mocked by the other 49, ridiculed as more of a joke than a real place where real people live. And look, it's not like we don't bring it on ourselves with our corrupt, vampire-looking politicians and our face-eating zombies and our many iterations of Florida Man. But guess what, America? We're taking you down with us. Journalist Craig Pittman did some digging, and it turns out Florida's weirdness has been wafting north across the rest of the nation like smoke from an ancient tree burned down by a meth addict. His book Oh, Florida: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country outlines Florida's specific brand of weirdness, places it in context, and explains the ways "America's Wang" has subtly affected the rest of its anatomy. Pittman brings his evidence to Books & Books (265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables) Friday for an event beginning at 8 p.m. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408 or visit booksandbooks.com.
Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz needed a place to showcase their impressive collection of contemporary artwork to a wider audience than could fit inside their home. So in 2009, they did what very few would do: They built one themselves and opened its doors for the public's viewing pleasure. The de la Cruz Collection (23 NE 41st St., Miami) isn't just for seasoned art farts to drool over; it offers promising local artists installation space to make new works. Most important, its focus is on providing the community with a real, productive, and interesting arts education. Toward that goal, the de la Cruz Collection welcomes Ivy members and friends for a special after-hours tour. It will be topped off by an afterparty at the posh Bocce Bar (3252 NE First Ave., Miami). Ivy is a group dedicated to beefing up intellects and social interactions through engaging experiences. A "social university," if you will, the group wants young professionals to appreciate culture and, it's hoped, someday become patrons of the arts. If there were a place to inspire this sort of reverence, de la Cruz — with its exceptional works, high ceilings, bright spaces, and strong programming — is it. The Ivy Art Tour at de la Cruz Collection begins at 4:30 p.m. this Saturday. Admission for members costs $10 to $40 depending upon the number of guests. Visit ivy.com.
About a hundred years ago, when the Deerings were building the formal gardens and magnificent main house at Vizcaya (3251 S. Miami Ave., Miami), they needed an artist — someone to really make the swimming-pool grotto pop. They brought Robert Winthrop Chanler in from New York. He whipped up an underwater scene to die for and, while he was at it, the Vizcayan Bay screen in the sitting room, featuring imagined explorers to the area. The real and imagined sea life and underwater flora that seem to almost swim out of the mural has inspired a new work by the Processional Arts Workshop (PAW). The group collaborated with community members on workshops to re-create, animate, and illuminate scenes from Chanler's work to prepare for the big performance, Whirl: A Twilight Performance, taking place this Saturday. PAW creates site-specific "carnivalesque" performances with locals in a blind collaboration of community togetherness. They include "pageant puppetry, mobile architecture, and illuminated structures." PAW has put on shows at the High Line in New York, at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and in Istanbul and Trinidad, and now it's bringing new life to Vizcaya with this twilight performance. Expect a lot of moving parts working together to create an unforgettable performance at a special location. Whirl takes place from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for general admission and $5 for Vizcaya members. Call 305-860-8423 or visit vizcaya.org.
With the world playing Pokémon Go and radios blasting Blink 182, it's easy to imagine we've gone back in time. So, nostalgia junkies, hold on to your Ed Hardy hats, because another epic throwback is on the way: Harry Potter himself is making a return. It's been many a year since the world began its love affair with the boy who lived. And while quidditch practice has taken a back seat to Vaporeon hunting lately, millennials certainly remember Harry Potter mania. If you're a wannabe witch or wizard, it's time for another try at the sorting hat. This Saturday, Books & Books will host an extraspecial release party in honor of JK Rowling's new book/play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. By day, Books & Books will be its usual literary self. By 10:30 p.m., however, it'll transform into a magical milieu. There'll be games and food, live music, dancing, a costume contest, and other Potter-inspired activities. Time to party like it's 2003. The party kicks off at 10:30 p.m. at Books & Books (265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables). A ticket for two is free with purchase of Rowling's new book, which costs $29.99. Visit booksandbooks.com or call 305-442-4408.
Revenge and redemption are themes GableStage at the Biltmore (1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables) has often tackled in its productions, but arguably none has been as intense as Stalking the Bogeyman, which opens Saturday. Stalking the Bogeyman tells the real-life account of award-winning journalist David Holthouse's plot to confront and murder the man who raped him when he was 7 years old. Holthouse first shared his heart-wrenching ordeal in a Westword article that begins with his plan to shoot his rapist in the balls, and unravels into a candid and emotionally raw account of the day his childhood was taken from him by a then-17-year-old son of family friends. Under the overwhelming feeling of shame, and having been threatened by his abuser, Holthouse never shared his ordeal with anyone until circumstances forced the truth to light. As it is with all GableStage plays, Stalking the Bogeyman promises a dark, visceral, and well-acted production that will leave audiences shaken, but also open up conversations about the nature of sexual abuse and reveal unspoken things about victims and their abusers. The play runs through August 28 every Thursday through Sunday. Tickets start at $45 for general admission and $42 for seniors. Call 305-445-1119 or visit gablestage.org. Read New Times' preview of Stalking the Bogeyman .
The term "art rock" takes on a new meaning when assessing the work and curatorial interests of Jane Hart. One of the last exhibitions she presented as chief curator of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood was Dave Muller's "Rock 'n' Old," a mixed-media aural and visual environment by this record-collecting artist, which included a three-day pop-up LP sale during its opening weekend. The collages Hart creates under her anagrammatic nom de plume TJ Ahearn share a similar passion for the synesthesia of sound art and visual art, conjuring chords from images and vice versa. In "Jukebox Collection," her appropriately titled survey at Girls Club (117 NE Second St., Fort Lauderdale), Hart creates evocative and nostalgic mixed-media mélanges atop vintage album covers reflecting her diverse taste in music, from Simon & Garfunkel to the Sex Pistols. The pieces will be framed to reveal both her collaged front cover and the album's original back cover. "The records are also included in the albums, in case collectors want to get nostalgic and take them for a spin," says Sarah Michelle Rupert, gallery director of Girls' Club. Don't miss the opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, when Miami postpunk legend Pocket of Lollilops will perform a half-hour set. Admission is free. Call 954-828-9151 or visit girlsclubcollection.org.
The city's biggest fashion event of the year, Miami Swim Week, might seem like a distant memory, but that's no reason to let your style game slump. Instead, visit the Brickell Fashion Market, a one-day shopping and fashion show celebrating the best independent retailers, fashion designers, craftsmen, artists, and locally owned businesses in town. The expo seeks to bring out the best of South Florida's retail to the heart of Brickell to celebrate the city's chicest stores. The market is held the last Sunday of the month at the Hyatt Regency (400 SE Second Ave., Miami). At the market, enjoy bouncing around to more than 50 stalls of new designers, a DJ playing your favorite tunes, and a family-friendly atmosphere while you shop your favorite looks. The market is a fantastic fashion platform for emerging designers in Miami, giving them the opportunity to develop their brands and styles within their hometown. So go support local designers and buy some of the most fashionable clothes in Miami. The market runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit brickellfashionmarket.com.
The phrase "dog days of summer" dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. It referred to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens. It also happened to coincide with the most brutal and devastating summer heat, often leading to calamities caused by what we now call heatstroke. South Floridians can certainly relate. During the sweltering months of July and August, we lounge in air-conditioned abodes, sip iced cocktails, and stew in our bathwater-temperature beaches and pools in continual efforts to escape the sun's attacks. Another respite? Ice cream. This Sunday, Bassetts Sweet Servings Ice Cream Shop (2437 SW 17th Ave., Miami) will bring that memory back to life and raise it to another level. Its fifth-annual ice-cream-eating contest is all about cooling off while being the hottest competitor. It might sound like a recipe for the ultimate brain freeze, but the winner receives a trophy, 12 free pints of ice cream, and 12 free servings of ice cream from the ice-cream shop. Last year's winner ate two pints in a record-setting 4 minutes 22 seconds. Bassetts is looking for someone who can beat that time. The challenge begins at 2 p.m. Registration for the contest costs $10. In addition to watching the action, attendees can also enjoy live music and free ice-cream samples. Visit facebook.com/SweetServingsCatering or call 305-345-0011.
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Art is subjective and best experienced in person. The struggle of Cuban artists, and the Cuban people in general, is neither of those things. But the work produced as a consequence of the Castro regime is as beautiful, complex, and varied as the island, its population, and the diaspora. This Tuesday, Wynwood gallery Artium (2248 NW First Pl., Miami) will host a select group of Cuban artists transcending their combined heritage's culture and history. A number of avant-garde, expressionist, and postmodern pieces will be on display during the exhibit "Good to the Last Drop." Presented by the Cuban Art Project, the event features creations by some of the most provocative and unique minds in contemporary Cuban art, including Néstor Arenas, Ismael Gómez Peralta, Antonio Guerrero, Alejandro Leyva, Rafael López-Ramos, Sergio Payares, Ciro Quintana, and Robaldo Rodríguez. Admission is free, and complimentary cheese, croquetas, and wine will be offered to all guests. The opening-night event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Visit artium-miami.com.
American women have a lot on our plate. Every day, we wake up and face institutionalized sexism, the fight for equal pay, the battle to control our own bodies, and that creepy guy who follows us around the office a little too much. Still, we are resilient, and as Cyndi Lauper famously sang, girls just want to have fun. Good thing there's Ladies Night Bingo at the Freehand (2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach) every first Wednesday of the month. It may not be political liberation or social reform, but it is a damn good, funky time. Presented in partnership with Out Miami and Carli Nicholas, the night features happy-hour bites and beverages, plus the chance to win swag bags, pitchers of booze, food, and other goodies. It's free to play, and really, what is more beautiful than getting loose with your girls poolside amid the tropical flora? The party runs from 9 p.m. to midnight. Games are held at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30. Call 305-531-2727 or visit thefreehand.com/miami.