The Twelve Best Things to Do in Miami This Week

Friday, September 11

Dwntwn Art Days is like a three-day treasure hunt, with the treasure being so much art that your head spins. This year marks the fourth-annual Art Days weekend, a collaboration between the Miami Downtown Development Authority and the cultural spaces and artists residing in downtown Miami. Beginning this Friday, locals will find exhibitions, artist projects, walking tours, art parties, family programming, and much more across various cultural venues throughout downtown. The Miami Center for Architecture & Design (MCAD), located at 100 NE First Ave., is once again the Art Days Hub, where staff will be on hand to help plan your itinerary and find the best routes to travel to each venue. There will also be plenty of creative activities at the Hub — design your own free Art Days T-shirt, discover Miami's art on historic film and video, and experience Exile Books' newest exhibition, "Listen to This Building." Hub hours are Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Another significant aspect of the programming is Fringe Projects, a series of temporary public artworks that integrate, investigate, and interrogate downtown Miami's less conventional spaces at sites determined by the artists: Miami-based artist Dara Friedman addresses the historical traces of the Tequesta Native Americans who once inhabited Miami via a multidimensional project including performances and the creation of a film; New York-based David Brooks will mount an expedition to Brewster Reef, resulting in an activation of that park which brings the reef's significance into literal view; and Los Angeles-based artist Nate Page will create an intervention into the urban fabric of Miami's downtown by inserting a stretch limousine vertically, with the front fender facing the sky, questioning Miami's mythology of excess.

After a day of exhibition exploring, stop by McCormick Place (111 SW Third St., Miami) for its annual Art Days celebration, Under the Bridge Downtown, which will debut a new façade featuring panoramic exterior murals, a sculpture garden, a newly curated art gallery, fine-art studios, and a performance facility. Kicking off the celebration Friday at 6:30 p.m. will be food, drinks, DJs, and the Opera Atelier, all free and open to the public.

Dwntwn Art Days events, held Friday through Sunday, are free unless noted online. Visit dwntwnarts.com or call 305-579-6675 for locations and a full schedule. 

Among the many gallery shows at Dwntwn Art Days, "Rip Current" at Bas Fisher Invitational (100 NE 11th St., Miami) looks like one of the better bets. This Friday, the gallery will open an exhibition featuring a collaboration between Serge Toussaint and Michael Loveland. It marks the first joint work between the wildly different artists: Toussaint is a staple on the Miami mural scene — his work is easily found throughout Little Haiti — while Loveland, who's from more traditional stock, creates paintings and installations that explore the language of "media content."

Their collaboration promises to be a "body of work that will consist of large billboard vinyls and painted collages, as well as sculptures," according to the Bas Fisher website. It's bound to be an interesting show, playing on the political and environmental implications of the rip currents from which it takes its title, not to mention Bas Fisher Invitational's strong history of exhibiting thought-provoking work. The gallery will host an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and, in conjunction with Dwntwn Art Days, will display the exhibit throughout the weekend.

Bas Fisher is open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturday, Toussaint will paint live in the gallery. If you can't catch the exhibition during its opening weekend, "Rip Current" will remain on view through October 31. Admission is free. Visit basfisherinvitational.com "We as a group are using the performing arts to destigmatize veterans' issues such as posttraumatic stress, suicide, and community reintegration," the Combat Hippies' Facebook page states. "But raising awareness isn't enough. Our goal is to engage the community because we are stronger together." The Combat Hippies are local veterans who've turned to the performing arts and poetry as a way to transition back to civilian life. It's no secret that veteran services in this country have seriously lacked since the Vietnam era. Paired with the reduction of arts education in general, it is almost too blatant a slap to ignore the severity of the situation. Clearly, these are two areas that can benefit from each other.

Led by theater artist Teo Castellanos and accompanied by local rapper Brimstone127, the Combat Hippies recently held an open-mike rehearsal at Books & Books in preparation for the performance of "Conscience Under Fire" at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Miami Dade College's Teatro Prometeo (300 NE Fourth St., Miami).

Through the arts, the Combat Hippies aim to educate and involve the community in the demilitarizing of the war experience for returning veterans and for their neighbors to better comprehend the unique military culture that binds soldiers together. It is a great first step on the long road of healing and one that needs support. Admission both nights is free.

Call 305-237-3262 or visit teatroprometeo.org
Before any great television and feature film career, a comedian must first feed himself to the wolves. A comic voice is found and honed on the standup stage, and even though Hollywood is sweet, nothing compares to the rush of a live audience. Martin Lawrence knows that fact firsthand, and he's ready to get his fix.

He made a national name for himself as the star of the film series Bad Boys and the supersuccessful Fox show Martin, but his role as host of Def Comedy Jam truly honors his first love: standup. It's been four years since he last took the stage, but the time has come once again for Mr. Lawrence to speak the truth. He'll give it to Miami straight at the American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami), and nothing is off-limits. Lawrence breaks down the hard facts of life, from sex to relationships, jail, race, work, and family. His frank observations and commitment to excellence in film have earned him two NAACP Awards and BET's 2005 Icon Comedy Award.

Don't miss him live this Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $36.50 to $112. Call 786-777-1000 or visit aaarena.com
Saturday, September 12

People tend to think the arts and sciences are separate but equal — artists aren't into petri dishes, and scientists probably won't pick up a paintbrush. But given that science begets everything and that Mother Nature is an artistic genius, you can't really divide the two.

At this month's Second Saturday at Pérez Art Museum Miami (1130 Biscayne Blvd., Miami), the dynamic duo will join forces for a day of creative experimentation. PAMM and the Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum of Science will host some fun programs for kids of all ages.

In "Eco-Environments: Art Meets Science," kids and parents can create mini eco-environments on the museum's terrace. Then, at "The Art of Robots: Science Meets Art," guests can explore the engineering behind robots, design their own creation, and watch it come to life. The future needs more blurred lines between the disciplines, so now is the time to get the little ones exploring outside their comfort zone.

The event takes place Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Visit pamm.org

Miami has become quite the hub for film festivals, though they usually occur during the peak of arts season. Luckily, the Inffinito Festival Circuit returns to Miami this month with documentaries, comedies, dramas, and biographies for the 19th Brazilian Film Festival of Miami (BRAFF).

The program opens Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at the New World Center's SoundScape (500 17th St., Miami Beach) with a free screening of Paulo Machline's Trinta, an ode to the genius of Brazilian Carnival director Joãosinho Trinta. This Sunday through Tuesday, Miami Beach Cinematheque (1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) will host Miami premiere special screenings of recent documentaries, including Latest Conversations, the last work of the Brazilian documentary master Eduardo Coutinho. And Cássia, about one of Brazil's most beautiful voices, will return to the Colony Theatre (1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach), which traditionally hosts BRAFF Miami's competitive screenings.

The films in competition are premieres in Miami and represent a diverse array of the latest Brazilian productions. Contenders for the audience-choice Crystal Lens Award for best feature film include the box office comedy Wedding Craze and the drama Casa Grande, both to be introduced by actress Suzana Pires; The Road 47, which will feature a Q&A with director Vicente Ferraz; Good Luck, directed by Carolina Jabor; and the romantic comedy In Between. On closing night, next Saturday, September 19, the Crystal Lens winner will be announced, and the award-winning film The Second Mother — whose director, Anna Muylaert, will be present — will be screened.

Documentary screenings Sunday through Tuesday cost $11 for general admission; competitive screenings cost $10 for general admission; and closing night costs $20 for general admission at the Colony Theatre. Member passes are available via the festival website. Visit brazilianfilmfestival.com or call 305-600-3347. 

It's no secret that summers in Miami can get sluggish, and not just from the overwhelming heat. Events and other entertainment options become sporadic rather than nightly. By the time September rolls around, we're all itching for the city to get back to full swing again. Celebrating the beginning of the nonstop arts season, the Adrienne Arsht Center presents ArtsLaunch2015, a day full of activities for the community, in conjunction with the Arsht's official box office opening.

Kicking off the daylong events at 9:30 a.m. will be a community cultural conversation, moderated by the Knight Foundation, discussing what Miami's culture will look and feel like in ten years, plus access to the Arsht farmers' market from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you're still hungry, sample complimentary food from the onsite restaurants' fall menus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Events will continue throughout the day, including 45-minute workshops from Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra beginning at 11:30 a.m.; face painting, coloring, and crafts from noon to 4 p.m.; three Miami-based documentaries screened in the Ziff Ballet Opera House beginning at 3:45 p.m.; a mini comic-book convention from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a cosplay contest at 3; and Culturist Sunset Cocktails hosted by Green Room Society from 5 to 7 p.m.

Most events are free, but the happy hour costs $25 for nonmembers. Call 786-468-2000 or visit arshtcenter.org/artslaunch

When a former Saturday Night Live writer collaborates with another comedic author to pen a book, prepare to find a quiet corner to read — and laugh — to yourself. (You won't look too weird doing it.) Alan Zweibel and Adam Mansbach's Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain in My...! will be released this fall, and it features a unique take on an important historical figure. Just to tickle your funny bone, the book begins, "Dear Mr. Franklin, First of all, let me just say that this Assignment is Stupid. You are Dead. Why am I writing a letter to Some dead guy I've never even met?" This middle-school scribe has a way with words. Aren't you just itching to find out if Ben Franklin writes back?

Legendary columnist, author, and Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry will moderate a conversation with Zweibel and Mansbach. When you're a Pulitzer Prize winner, it's customary to include that fact in your official-unofficial title (Barry is undoubtedly nodding in agreement). This is one conversation you will want to be privy to (and it's not creepy at all that you eavesdrop) Saturday at 2 p.m. at Books & Books (265 Aragon Ave., Miami).

Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408 or visit booksandbooks.com

Sunday, September 13

Walking or biking down the street, you find that Miami is a place of many smells. It's a double-edged sword you can't help but notice, yet just alongside that olfactory adventure is an even more colorful experience. From trains to planes, cars, and conversation, the sounds of downtown Miami are constant and ever-changing. The sounds of a place tell its story, but it's a tale that usually gets carried away in the wind, never to be remembered. That can be unfortunate, but thanks to local sound artist Emile Milgrim, you can enjoy the sonic narrative of Miami while dancing your cares away Sunday at the Downtown Art House (100 NE 11th St., Miami). Archival Feedback: Downtown Sounds is a one-time expression and experience, presented by the TM Sisters and Other Electricities as part of Dwntwn Art Days.

Right now, Milgrim is roaming the streets and recording all noises big and small. During the performance, she will incorporate those samples into an electronic music mix for all to enjoy.

The event begins at 11 a.m., which might sound early for a dance party, but the mix will be recorded and replayed throughout the space for the remainder of the day. Call 305-374-7376 or visit facebook.com/downtownarthouse.

Monday, September 14

Unlike some other edible options, Japanese food tends to be universally loved. Ramen, sushi, mochi — there's so much deliciousness to dig into.

And in honor of the venerable cuisine (recently added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list), Japan's consulate in Miami is hosting a mini-film festival, Japan: Food in Film, which concentrates on that country's beloved eats. The films, screening on four separate days, cover everything from ramen to Samurai cooking. The screenings are free and run throughout the week, so you can choose based on your cravings. The options include Ramen Samurai, The God of Ramen, The Mourning Recipe, and A Tale of Samurai Cooking.

And don't worry — you won't have to spend the week with Rosetta Stone — there will be subtitles.

Ramen Samurai will screen at 2 p.m. Monday; The God of Ramen at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday; The Mourning Recipe at 2 p.m. Thursday, September 17; and A Tale of Samurai Cooking at 2 p.m. Friday, September 18. All screenings will take place at Florida International University, MMC, Graham Center, 11200 SW Eighth St., Miami. Admission is free. Email culture@mi.mofa.go.jp or call 305-530-9090, ext. 142. 

Wednesday, September 16

For those whose Spanglish is a little off, "pride" in Spanish translates to orgullo. But the connotation of pride in the LGBT context remains the same across both languages. For its fifth year running, the Unity Coalition/Coalición hosts its festival through October 3. The first Hispanic heritage and LGBT pride festival of its kind, Celebrate Orgullo represents a not-for-profit grassroots effort to celebrate the contributions of the LGBT community in Miami Beach. Admission to all events is free, and the proceeds from food and beverage sales benefit Celebrate Orgullo's LGBT Youth Scholarship Fund.

For the second year in a row, the Betsy Hotel (1440 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach) will host three events during Celebrate Orgullo, beginning with ArtNights: Rick Jazzed this Wednesday at 8 p.m. Additionally, Rolando Polo will perform next Wednesday, September 23, and the Betsy will host a third and final Celebrate Orgullo event Wednesday, September 30. Tickets are free. Call 305-760-6902 or visit celebrateorgullo.com

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