It's that unmarked warehouse in the warehouse district, down the street from the cluster of services for the poor and homeless. The one that had a show with a giant flamingo made of bubblegum prostrate on the floor, the sole artwork in the otherwise barren space. The one with exhibits titled "Pigs and Lint" and "The Night Crazy Legs Went GQ: New Projects by Miami Artists." The one that is a nonprofit founded by three intriguing young artists: Weston Charles, Elizabeth Withstandley, and Cooper (one name only). Now it's also the one with an assistant director who is another fascinating artist, Gean Moreno. The one that shows alternative works from alternative artists consistently and interestingly. The one that greatly helped form our electric emerging art scene. The one that deserves to be called Miami's best gallery this year.

The mass of openings around Art Basel were incredible, but don't forget that there were 51 other weeks this year. On a Saturday night in March one show stood out above the rest. Holograms hung from the ceiling, sat on the floor, were mounted on walls. The images changed as you moved through the darkened warehouse space that is the Dorsch Gallery. Oops! As you twisted around to inspect one hologram (artist Koven taught himself how to make them) you ran smack into another viewer. Or wait, did she run into you? Indeed human "bumpers" were part of the show. As were two huge SUVs parked inside, with taped audio conversations emanating from their stereo speakers. You climbed inside and felt the expensive leather seats caressing your legs. Or wait -- maybe that was a "bumper" again. The single hologram hanging in the area with the massive "cars" looked like a hat. But as you moved closer to check it out, words appeared on the bottom: "This is not a hat."

Working Stiffs is an insightful and fascinating account of the popularity of tintype photography at the turn of the century. Carlebach, a University of Miami professor, does a magnificent job of not only explaining but honoring the values of America's working class. "For these sons and daughters of toil, born into a society that still valued making things more than buying and consuming them, manual labor was a legitimate source of respect, if not admiration," he writes in the preface. The book's true value, of course, lies in the photographs Carlebach selected; from the teenage girls laboring as tobacco workers to the plumbers and house painters stoically holding their tools of their trade, the photographs in Working Stiffs convey the true American spirit.

Readers Choice: Self Portrait by Alonso

South Florida is blessed with an abundance of theater for kids, but none tops the Actors' Playhouse, which takes children's theater very, very seriously. For starters the Playhouse, one of the area's major professional companies, has created an entirely separate children's division, led by peripatetic artistic director Earl Maulding. He produces a full season of plays for children, as well as providing classes and workshops. Maulding and executive director Barbara Stein aim for excellence, hiring experienced professional actors and designers to staff their children's shows. Then there's the company's National Children's Theatre Festival, which holds a national competition for new children's plays and stages a spectacular weekend event for the winner's world premiere. Finally there's the context of all of this: Children who come watch the plays often discover they want to attend the main-stage adult fare the Playhouse offers. Some kids from the training program end up onstage themselves in the big Playhouse musicals like this past season's The Sound of Music. Actors' Playhouse not only offers the best in children's entertainment, it's providing South Florida with an important cultural service by nurturing the audiences of tomorrow.

In 1977 Elvis Costello burst onto the musical scene, earning a well-deserved reputation as an angry, guitar-wielding young man. Penning punk-rock songs that were both literary and lacerating, he was pretty surly himself. Twenty-five years later it seemed only appropriate that the rocker's latest album would be dubbed When I Was Cruel. Cruel and Costello went together like punch and pie -- a punch in the nose and a pie in the face. So imagine our surprise at the kinder, gentler Costello who took the Gleason Theater stage this past November. Smiling, charming, and in better voice than he's ever been, the 47-year-old rocker -- backed by his band The Imposters (featuring former Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas, plus veteran bassist Davey Faragher) -- tirelessly pounded out a two-hour, twenty-song set that included new tunes and old stalwarts such as "Watching the Detectives," "Deep, Dark, Truthful Mirror," "Pump It Up," and "Alison." The young and mostly older crowd began excitedly dancing in the aisles and even rushed the stage, where they remained throughout the show.

The young developer topped even himself this year. Robins has always been involved in the cultural life of Miami-Dade County, from his days rehabilitating South Beach to his move over to the Design District. It's there that he showed the world what we could be if we tried. During Art Basel, Robins's company, Dacra, opened many Design District buildings to local artists, who transformed the spaces into a hub of cultural activity the likes of which we have never seen. The streets were filled with live music, the drinks flowed freely (and for free), the impromptu art galleries were stuffed with locals and international visitors, and performance artists took to the hallways and streets, showing the world that something's happening here. Robins threw open the doors again for Art Miami a month later. While that event couldn't compete with Basel overall, the local artistic life that arose in the Design District was another spectacular success. Thanks, Craig. We needed that.

Since its first performance in 1997, Maximum Dance has offered Miami balletophiles a refreshing alternative to the tediously typical tutued-lady-lead-dancer-lifted-by-boy-prop programs. Though co-directors/choreographers David Palmer and Yanis Pikieris have put in time as principal dancers with respected older groups like the Joffrey and Miami City Ballet, their own electrically energetic ensemble does muscular, modern-way-beyond-Balanchine ballet that is deliciously unpredictable. Their works have been set to an astonishing variety of music -- classical composers like Handel and Lizst, modern masters like Philip Glass, stoner faves like Pink Floyd, even some original scores. The dances themselves are just as varied, ranging from this past season's world premiere of The Four Seasons, a romantic neoclassical piece set to Vivaldi's familiar score; to the hysterically humorous Grand Pas d'Action, a dance-off pitting a snooty classical ballet couple against a slinky modern-dance duo. The company also performs educational programs, including a charming children's Peter and the Wolf. Performances this past season included one in Belgium with the Royal Ballet of Flanders, but downtown's Gusman Center continues to be Maximum's performing home. Let's hope we can keep 'em here.

They flopped, naked, across the art gallery's floor. They looked like fish, struggling to return to water. As they flopped by your feet, you watched as the muscles propelled them around the room. You watched them flip from backside to frontside, and moved to get out of their way. The dancers from Rio de Janeiro put on quite a show, courtesy of Tigertail Productions. Mostly it was about movement, as a single man opened the performance by slowly, slowly moving his hand; and three women entangled themselves in each other so you couldn't tell whose hand belonged to which body, whose hair hung from what head. Eventually, on the eve of war, they put up a political protest (okay, sometimes bits of clothing kept coming off). At the end you couldn't help but look at the human body in a very different way, and maybe come away with some respect for other bodies about to be shocked and awed.

After dutifully plugging away at the Actors' Playhouse's usual lineup of tepid material, Arisco finally found the right vehicle for his considerable talents with the challenging, evocative Floyd Collins. Arisco's careful staging of the claustrophobic, emotionally powerful dialogue was balanced by his masterful handling of the carnival-like crowd scenes in a production that blew the roof off the staid Playhouse. Arisco has long shown his facility with a wide range of material -- from big, old-fashioned musicals to the inspired insanity of Comic Potential. But Floyd Collins reveals him to be a directing talent kept under wraps far too long.

He has long been regarded as the team's best defensive player and the most underrated cornerback in the league, often overshadowed by the team's other Pro Bowl corner, Sam Madison. But this season Surtain wasn't content to let his six interceptions speak for themselves. Having learned that media savvy can do as much for a career as game-day heroics, he announced that, after five years in the NFL, everyone had been pronouncing his name incorrectly. Surtain isn't supposed to rhyme with train, like sportscasters and fans had thought all along. The correct articulation is sir-tan, which made for excellent play-by-play fodder. Then, midway through this past season, his wife Michelle publicly campaigned for him to be given his overdue recognition as the best corner on the team. Apparently it paid off. He was picked for his first Pro Bowl, but also drew the ire and jealousy of his colleague Madison. Publicity stunts aside, Surtain is a game-breaker. Although running back Ricky Williams and defensive end Jason Taylor put up the most numbers, Surtain always sealed the deal when the team needed the big play. The last-second, one-handed interception that beat the eventual AFC champion Oakland Raiders was prime time.

Readers Choice: Ricky Williams

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®