From postmodern tributes to the Cuban orisha Babalu Aye to the monthly "hood crawl" through Little Havana, the artists at lab6 have taken up a kind of anti-gentrification of Little Havana. Never content to confine art to the walls, visual artists Carlos Suarez de Jesus and Vivian Marthell traffic in the wacky and disturbing, often inviting dancers and other conspirators to make this space more than just a gallery. The outdoor stairs leading from the exhibition space on the ground floor to the performance loft upstairs make the surrounding neighborhood part of the show. As more conservative elements attempt to make Calle Ocho and its environs ever friendlier for tourists, count on lab6 to keep the street alienating -- but in a good way.
Since moving to Miami in 1992, painter, sculptor, and installation artist Edouard Duval-Carrié has forged some of the city's most enduring symbols. Ailing souls in the waiting room of Overtown's Jefferson Reeves Health Center can find temporary relief in the artist's renderings of vodou sirens and snakewomen that float in an ethereal sea of green across the atrium above their heads. Earlier this year art enthusiasts who visited the two-day show in the now-demolished Espirito Santo Bank building on Brickell found a strong political statement among the sand and sequins of the Haitian-born artist's "INS cemetery." While Duval-Carrié plays an important role in populating Miami's public spaces with sensuous and socially significant images, his worldwide reputation brings much needed prestige to our local visual culture. In collections and exhibitions from Port-au-Prince to Paris, from São Paulo to New York, Duval-Carrié's body of work challenges the limiting characterization of Caribbean-influenced art as "primitive" or "naive" without ever losing sight of the profound resources provided him by Haitian history and popular culture.
This venerable coral-rock edifice is on the National Register of Historic Places, and deservedly so. Built in 1935, it features numerous stately bas-reliefs on its pockmarked walls, and a fountain alive with sculpted sea creatures. Indoors the club has two large meeting halls, one with terrazzo floors and murals of roseate spoonbills, the other with a lofty ceiling and impressive fireplaces. If you're planning a medium-size wedding, reception, quince, or graduation party, this place beats the hell out of any top-of-the-strip-mall joint, and has more of a rustic, Old Florida touch than your fancy-schmantzy hotel ballrooms.
For millennia men have made an art of impersonating women in the theater. For the past fourteen years at Teatro de Bellas Artes in Little Havana, Mariloly has continued the tradition. This Spanish-speaking diva plies his craft far from the clubs of Miami Beach on a stage patronized by Miami's exile community, as well as Latin-American and European tourists. Did we say "drag queen?" Beg your pardon. Mariloly and entertainers of his ilk prefer to be called transformists or gender illusionists. However you refer to this dramatic form, Mariloly (actor Danilo Dominguez) is a powerhouse of honed talent. At the Teatro's "Midnight Follies," the cross-dressing review that runs Saturdays at midnight and Sundays at 9:15 p.m., he does a lot more than lip-synch his favorite tunes. As emcee he is as quick with a comeback as Don Rickles, yet as stylish in his delivery as Marlene Dietrich. Slightly bowed legs notwithstanding, Mariloly is always the woman Latin girls wish they could be.
"We had a daughter in Boston. We used to visit her on the weekends," says Bob Hummel, the man behind the Website called MassTimes.org. "It was a monthly trip, and it went on for four or five years. We were always in the struggle of finding [Catholic] masses, and that's how it all kind of got started." It's a database of every Catholic church in the United States, listing the times of every mass at each church, a map to the church, and a link to the church Website if there is one. Hummel's own site is as simple as a paper bag, yet his mission is increasingly challenging. After six years of operation, the database has grown to include 22,000 churches. Working out of his Key Largo home, Hummel and four volunteers make about 2000 changes to the database every month. "We get about 200,000 inquiries a year, so there is a need," he notes. "And an awful lot of nice kind words are showered down on us for doing it. So it has been worth it."
In a city whose international image is often, and sometimes wrongly, drawn by hypesters peddling simplistic images of hot-pink flamingos, drag queens, scheming thugs, and hysterical politicians, it is somehow not surprising to find that the best museum in town is a South Beach warehouse packed full of the fruits of one local rich-guy-collector's aggressive, Deco-tinged whimsy. Indeed at Micky Wolfson's Wolfsonian, the twelve-inch torpedo cigarette lighter sits not far from the obelisk celebrating the signing of the Uruguayan constitution, which is itself only a few steps from a poster circa 1938 celebrating "Modern German Architecture." The place is so charming it will surprise you at first, rattling your sense of humor and making you smile before you realize it is a rich and scholarly collection of grace and strength. It's a serious museum that focuses on international art, design, and propaganda during the period 1885-1945. But it's also a lot of fun, and that's practically un-American. More like South Floridian. More Miamian. (Note to the fellas: Ask the guards on the sixth floor to show you the giraffes and monkeys on display in the ladies' room; they'll escort you in.)
Pat Nesbit is the sort of performer whose work finds its way to the foreground even if she's part of an ensemble, as she was in 1998's The Last Night of Ballyhoo at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. This past season South Florida audiences were lucky to see her at the Caldwell Theatre Company as one of two players in Donald Margulies' Collected Stories, a smaller, more intimate drama that showed off her style as a miniaturist. Her character, Ruth, is a middle-age college professor whose star is fading just as that of her protégé, Lisa, is on the rise. The play is not exactly subtle in the ways it deals with issues of artistic appropriation. Nesbit, on the other hand, is a master of small moments. In this performance, as usual, her brilliance shone through in her line readings, the precision of her inflections, the way her character, becoming increasingly ill, seemed to fade away in front of our eyes. For these reasons discerning theatergoers only want to see more of her.
Paula Vogel's 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive is not an easy play to sit through. Incest, alcoholism, self-destruction, and probing questions about the nature of love are the subjects it takes on. Told through the eyes of Li'l Bit, a woman who looks back at her youth and girlhood to recount how she was molested by a favorite uncle, the drama requires actors to portray fully fleshed people (Li'l Bit and Uncle Peck), as well as a Greek chorus of family members and secondary characters. The excellent Caldwell Theatre Company cast featured Kim Cozort and David Forsyth as the protagonists, both of whom gave subtly multifaceted and complex performances. Supporting them, and acting with much broader strokes, were the magnificent Dan Leonard, Jessica K. Peterson, and Viki Boyle. Director Kenneth Kay couldn't have asked for happier chemistry or more galvanic talent. And neither could we.
Step into this 7400-square-foot space and you are assured an intense visual experience with a mood somewhere between SoHo and Sofia, Bulgaria. Facchini, a São Paulo native, opened her Design District gallery in November 1999. She seems to have a taste for large paintings with an "elegant use of colors," as she likes to say. She also is fond of expressionistic human figures, be they of paint, clay, or stone. Giant ceramic totem poles were among the items standing on the polished concrete floor earlier this year. The renderings inside her walls can range from photorealistic to Rothkoesque. How does she decide what works to display? "What I love," Facchini answers in her Portuguese-tinged English. She also favors "strong" works with intense emotion. In an exhibition titled "Everything but Modern," she assembled sculptures and paintings by artists working in two very different places: Bulgaria (Krum Damianov and Svetlin Russev) and South Beach (Gregory Herman, Robert Fitzgerald, and Seth Bernard Minkin). Despite the radical difference in location, some of the pieces were uncannily similar, as if their creators came from the same strange universe. This unusual geographical mix suggests dramatic possibilities for future shows. Facchini has the capability to bring in heavyweight artists from far away. Damianov, for example, was commissioned to do a large outdoor sculpture for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and the Bulgarian countryside bears many of his monumental creations. Unlike many local galleries presenting interesting art (such as Locust Projects, Dorsch Gallery, and lab6), you don't need an appointment at Facchini's place.
Keep in mind that this behemoth contains more than 502,000 square feet of retail space. Then consider the multitude of twists and turns it takes to find your way from one location to another -- say, from the parking garage to the IMAX theater. (Did M.C. Escher design this place?) Finally take note of the mall anchors: NikeTown, GameWorks, the Virgin Records megastore that frequently hosts teen icons such as Ricky Martin and Britney Spears. Add it all together and it's practically impossible not to lose, um, we mean ditch, the kids for a few hours, if not permanently. Throw in some funds, maybe a roll of quarters, or hell, just relinquish the credit card and send those ever-growing feet to NikeTown, and you've bought yourself a free afternoon. What you do with it is up to you. But we wouldn't recommend dining at Sweet Donna's or Wilderness Grill, two eateries at which it's pretty darn difficult not to run into the very kids you just jettisoned.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®