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.
Enter deep into this eight-acre native hardwood hammock and become a witness to the past in all its former glory, a time when banyan, pigeon plums, velvet seed, gumbo limbo, and Gulf licaria trees covered the Brickell area. The park has been undergoing restoration for several months (pesky foreign plants had threatened to wipe out the fragile native flora) and will reopen to the public this month. Here you can escape the concretized, high-stress world we've created and take respite in the world as it should be.
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.
Since opening in October, the grassroots Grubstake has helped an estimated 150 women, many of them drug-addicted prostitutes who prowled Biscayne Boulevard for tricks, right their upturned lives. Grubstake and its companion thrift store, Good & Funky, are the brainchild of Heather Klinker, who gave up a lucrative job in promotions to launch this venture. Klinker knows whereof she speaks; she's a recovered alcoholic. But among the nonprofits that help the poor, Klinker and her colleagues are anything but impersonal paper-pushers. They help their charges navigate the maze of social service agencies, rehabs, and job placement. They'll give someone a ride to a clinic, or help a woman who is kicking her habit furnish a new apartment with donated furniture. It's the attention to detail that makes her operation stand out. Recently Klinker helped a young addict get a truck out of hock at the impound lot, and brought money to a jailed transvestite so he could buy razors to keep up appearances.
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.
What's up with this boulevard through nowhere? It's sort of like taking a trip down a rural Southern road, where all you see are tarpaper shacks, junk, and mud. This stretch of pavement remains countrified, but with a touch of strip mall here and there. Maybe someone tried to develop the area and just gave up. Vacant, weed-choked lots run for blocks, broken up by fragments of fences and trailer parks, or the battered and rotted remnants of what might have been nice little settlements 30 years ago. It's pretty obvious this tract has been officially ghettoized when just about the only buildings not boarded up are a Church's Fried Chicken, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Popeye's Fried Chicken, and a roadside barbecue joint -- also a few mom-and-pop markets and a few churches. Add the used-car lots, check-cashing windows, and junkyards, and you've got yourself a genuine wasteland.
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.
For almost a year -- and at nearly every commission meeting -- at least one member of the Miami-Dade County Commission grouses about how the whole world thinks they are a pack of corrupt nincompoops, all of whom are on the verge of being indicted. The king of whiners is Dennis Moss, who trots out his Rodney Dangerfield "I Don't Get No Respect" speech at the slightest provocation. He demands to know why the media don't give commissioners credit when they do something right. Our advice to the good commissioner: Worry less about your public image and more about the public's business, and everything will come out fine in the end.
"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."

Best Political Consultant In The Hereafter

Phil Hamersmith

Phil Hamersmith

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®