Kevin Bruk Gallery
Located on a strip arguably housing some of the city's most stellar art spaces, this gallery stands out for the consistent quality of its exhibitions this past year. Kevin Bruk, who may have Tommy Lasorda's eye for spotting major-league talent, has been hitting back-to-back homers during a season in which one almost needed a scorecard to keep track of his stats. Bruk led off the year with Craig Kucia's stunning solo show, featuring a suite of sprawling, oil on canvas works in which the artist created quixotic, otherworldly outdoor scenes. During Art Basel, the dealer made a run with Fabian Marcaccio's richly textured wall-swallowing works riffing on the Iraq War, including an imposing, larger-than-life, gun-toting soldier fashioned from canvas and paint that anchored the show. After the New Year, Su-en Wong cleaned up with a series of skull-swelling shots, in which she painted multiple versions of herself, often nude or in schoolgirl regalia, to pulverize Western stereotypes of Asian women as submissive sex objects. Most recently Bruk brought in the big-swinging natural, Richard Butler, former frontman for the Psychedelic Furs. The painter's lavish oil on canvas portraits were hard to shake off, and depicted his subjects with freakishly distorted bodies and faces obscured with eerie fetish gear. Oh, and if one needs a better excuse to visit Bruk's ballpark, consider that more often than not, the talent he's been fielding lately has rarely, if ever, shown its stuff in Miami before.
Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Courthouse
One of the great things about being from Miami is that we relish our quirky uniqueness. Whatever happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but whatever happens in Miami is proudly announced to the world in English and en español. Even the new federal courthouse triumphantly declares where it's located. From a distance the 578,000-square-foot building's playful geometry is obvious, and it only gets better as you draw closer. There's a subtle, nautical theme in both the architectural and landscaping elements — as if a crystal ship is plowing through the waves at Fourth Street. While some of the interior design recalls Fifties/Sixties government architecture, it is nicely updated to fit into the scheme of the building and essence of the city. An eight-story blue atrium reminiscent of a water spout is the jewel in the crown. At $163 million, the blast-and-hurricane-resistant, environmentally gentle building designed by Arquitectonica did not come cheap or without lengthy construction delays. Indeed federal Judge Wilkie D. Ferguson didn't live to see the beautiful building that bears his name. But the beloved jurist and Liberty City native would likely have been proud to lend his name to what is one of the loveliest courthouses in the United States.
During Art Basel Miami Beach, the competition among local artists to catch the eye of the cognoscenti can seem like the machinations of those early PR hucksters like Jim Moran, who took the publicity stunt to an extreme. Moran's finest hour came when he tried to send three midgets attached to kites, plastered with advertising, airborne over New York's Central Park. For sheer audacity, homeboys Sam Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, who comprise the FriendsWithYou collective, may be Moran's heirs. The inventive duo, known for their zany line of plush and wood toys, curated the first ever Art Basel parade this past December, featuring fifteen art dirigibles that snapped necks along the stretch of sand from Seventeenth to Fifth streets on Miami Beach. Their kooky, helium-filled cosmic critters included a towering volcano, a fanged twenty-foot rabbit, and assorted unknown entities, some of which looked like funky black beans. (A number of balloons were also designed by other artist pals: Ara Peterson, Misaki Kawai, Paperrad, Mwarble Boy, David Choe, and Devil Robots among them). Nearly 200 volunteer balloon handlers helped carry the brightly colored confections during the raucous 90-minute march down the beach. The Hialeah Senior High School marching band led the procession, playing a tune composed by jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval Jr. especially for the event. Unlike colleagues who may have tried too hard to make a splash, these artists were among the rare locals more interested in putting on a show for the unsuspecting public than getting swept up in the fair hoopla. They focused on having a good time with family and friends, simply recognizing that no art savvy is required to enjoy an old-fashioned parade.
Tarpon Bend Raw Bar & Grill
Drive by Tarpon Bend on a Friday or Saturday night and the place is like a block party. Valet parkers have long thrown up their hands, and the entire sidewalk is covered with booze-happy weekenders trying to flag down a harried bartender. Well, you can only guzzle so many $8 Jack and Cokes ($10 on Fridays) before you gotta go. The ladies' room is located at the end of a long, dim hallway decorated with photos of enormous fish caught a long time ago. A massive doorframe with a bold white W glows from a charcoal gray door. Push it open to reveal a clean, well-lit place with gray-and-white marble tiles and tasteful amber wood finishings. Three amply sized stalls give the ladies some privacy, and the flush function is powerful and decisive — none of that "let's mush your toilet paper into mâché" nonsense here. The real stars of the show are the sinks, which are masterpieces of modern design. These oversize square porcelain basins feature faucets like glorified chrome beer taps, and they take some figuring out for the inebriated. Lift the middle protuberance for a satisfactory gush. Then fix your lip gloss and get the hell out of there — those mojitos aren't going to drink themselves.
Regal Kendall Village Stadium 16 & RPX
The scent of popcorn that embraces you as you enter this cinema might take you back to the old days of moviegoing, but there's nothing old-fashioned about the Regal Kendall Village Stadium 16. Opened in 2004, the theater has every amenity the modern movie watcher craves, from digital surround-sound to stadium-style reclining seats. Tickets can be purchased from the friendly cashiers or from the convenient computerized box office machines inside ($9.50 for adults, $6.50 for kids, $7.50 for a matinee). There's also a large customer service desk in case you want to buy a gift card without standing in the ticket line. The concession stand caters to the latest trends in cinema confections. You can get an iced coffee or a Cinnabon Gooey Cinnamon Roll, a giant pretzel or some El Monterey Southwest Chicken Taquitos. There are also traditional theater foods like nachos, and combos like a large popcorn, two drinks, and a kid's meal for $22.75. If you arrive a tad early for your movie, there are tables where you can sit and pass the time, or — for a little more action —you can visit the video game room, where a dollar buys you a role in The Fast and the Furious.
Metrorail is one of Miami's only mass transit systems, and despite its limitations, every day it transports thousands of people from all walks of life to their homes and jobs. Whether they're lawyers, sandwich-makers, college students, homeless vagabonds, or Brickell Avenue CEOs, they all share the burden of commuting in Miami. At 5:00 p.m., blue-collar, white-collar, and no-collar bodies leave their jobs or posts in the heart of Miami and make their way to the Government Center station. They squeeze into the train cars and try to grab a window seat before they're all taken. Most keep to themselves; a few are belligerent; some panhandle. A mother shushes her two young children. A dust-coated construction worker nods off. High school kids snicker. A twentysomething woman in business attire chats on the phone. Others wait for a seat to open up. A businessman gives up his seat for an elderly bag lady while a young skater nods his head to the blaring music coming from his headphones. Despite the miles and miles of suburbs, the Metrorail and its colorful passengers serve as a reminder that Miami is a big city. As the train reaches each stop, the crowd dwindles as people make their way off. On the Metrorail it doesn't matter where you're from or where you're going, just so long as you get there.
The Women's International Film Festival is an infant compared to the big boy FLIFF, but if this year's lineup was any indication, the new girl in town will be around for years to come. The scope and ambition of this festival is to be admired. This year's four-day extravaganza featured more than 40 films from twelve countries, and included feature-length flicks, shorts, and excellent documentaries. The unifying factor is the celebration of all things female, and there was an inspiring representation of woman directors — admirable when you consider the fact that women only make up five percent of filmmakers overall. Festival founder Yvonne McCormack-Lyons even shone a spotlight on local talent by showing 3GZ's electro-documentary Darkbeat alongside global offerings like the South African Hip Hop Sistaz.Screenings were offered at a variety of locations, from an outdoor opening screening at Coconut Grove's Peacock Park, to the Miami Beach Cinematheque, to the historic Lyric Theater. Besides that, the fest brought some stars to Miami for guest question-and-answer sessions, including the likes of Ruby Dee and Babel star Adriana Barraza, who lost the best supporting actress Academy Award to Jennifer Hudson this year. Not bad for a fledgling film festival. We can't wait to see what's on the marquee next year.
It's only nine miles from downtown Miami, but the leafy and low-key Biscayne Gardens might as well be a continent away. This unincorporated community (read: low taxes) of big lawns (many houses are platted for one-acre lots) and modest Forties-era ranch houses is one of those truly rare creatures in South Florida: a well-kept real estate secret. "It's a hidden paradise," says proud longtime resident and civic association member Krim Hackman. Little more than a collection of pineapple plantations over 50 years ago, Biscayne Gardens has held onto its semi-rural charm and relatively affordable house prices. Homes here go for about half what you'll pay in nearby Miami Shores. Don't wait, though. Developers are increasingly looking to the area — one of the last stretches of green east of I-95 — with lust in their eyes. Biscayne Gardens is bordered by Opa-locka and Miami Gardens to the west, Northwest 167th Street to the north, North Miami Beach to the east, and North Miami and 135th Street to the south.
Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO)
Until last year, the 1936 building that houses CiFo art space was just another in a long line of bleak industrial fa?ades in the desiccated cityscape of downtown Miami's warehouse district. Ella Fontanals Cisneros, CiFo's founder, commissioned architect René González to create a more appealing welcome mat for her gallery. González delivered: CiFo visitors are greeted by a capacious plaza, studded with bamboo plantings, beyond which lies a stunning custom-made mosaic composed of 4800 square feet of Bisazza glass tiles that suggest a tropical jungle glimpsed through mist. The gallery's interior is an austere industrial shell, its only flourish a high-sheen concrete floor, putting the emphasis on the contemporary Latin American art within. Cisneros founded the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation in 2002, the year after she divorced Oswaldo Cisneros, whose family is one of Venezuela's wealthiest. She also founded Miami Art Central, which opened in December 2003. MAC is merging with the Miami Art Museum, which will rise in Bicentennial Park (along with the Miami Museum of Science). The oasis she has bestowed on North Miami Avenue offers a glimpse of the new downtown Cisneros and her foundation aim to help create.
Bayfront Park
Photo by Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock
Jostle your way through the box office and concession lines, and find a seat — if you arrive early enough — somewhere where you won't get whiplash. Try to ignore the crying baby, the ringing cellphone, the oblivious conversationalists behind you, the pounding noise from the action movie in the adjacent theater. Wait a minute — this is supposed to be best night at the movies, not typical night at the multiplex. Let's start over.Amble through Bayfront Park to Movies by the Bay, buy your ticket at the "box office" (it's actually a trailer; $9 for adults, $6 for children age five and up, $6 for seniors), grab a beach chair (there are 209 on site), and enjoy the bay breeze and glistening downtown backdrop. Movies by the Bay gets first-run films that cater to mass audiences (300) and families (Shrek the Third), but owners Bill and Susan Hertig also have the good taste to screen more refined offerings like Pan's Labyrinth and The Queen. The "concession stand" (also a trailer) offers the usual salty-sugary fare. They'll even give you something for free, something those multiplexes wouldn't dream of: mosquito spray.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®