Best Local Boy Made Good
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Yes it's true that Mario Cristobal is the second consecutive University of Miami football coach to "come home" to great fanfare and big dreams. And it's also true that the first one — the super-hyped Manny Diaz — lasted three excruciating seasons before the axe fell. Might Cristobal follow in those regrettable footsteps? Don't count on it. Cristobal comes here with an edge Diaz lacked, one sharpened during his last somewhat bitter exit from town. You might remember that back in 2006, at age 36, Cristobal was named head coach at Florida International University, a fledgling program coming off a winless season. He significantly improved the team, which won a bowl game in 2010 and went 8-5 in 2011. But after a losing record the following year, he was abruptly canned. The decision was widely considered rash and unwise, and Cristobal has since proven it so. After being snapped up by a small football program called Alabama as O-line coach, he landed the head-coaching post at Oregon, where he went 35-13 over the last five seasons, was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, and won a Rose Bowl. Now the second-generation cubano comes back to his hometown to coach the ex-powerhouse school with the big duck as a mascot (yes, we know it's supposed to be an ibis, but at games it looks like Donald Duck's slightly shady cousin and don't try to tell us otherwise). Will he return UM to its long-lost glory? Who knows, but it's a good bet he's gonna prove any doubters wrong.

There was a time when Jody Tagaris wasn't infamous for being crazier than a shithouse rat. In fact, as a former member of the GOP executive committee and Palm Beach County Commission candidate, she was a member of Republican royalty before it went totally in-your-face-death-cult fascist. Like so many of her ilk, it was January 6 that really brought out her Dark MAGA soul. On that day, the 67-year-old Tagaris put on her MAGA cap, her U.S. flag scarf, and her flag windbreaker. How do we know what she was wearing? Because she posed for photos while she was breaking into the Capitol, of course. In one she posed while climbing through a smashed window to the building ("Got tear gassed but okay!" she posted on Facebook.) Tagaris pleaded guilty in December to violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds — a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $5,000.

Best Local Boy Gone Bad
Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records

It's not because Kodak Black (né Bill Kahan Kapri) unironically glorifies criminal culture and greed. Or that he constantly has ugly-ass run-ins with the law. Those are staples for a certain brand of rap star. Though we should have, we didn't completely write off the famed Pompano Beach-born mumbler when he livestreamed an unidentified woman performing oral sex on his crew in a hotel room (while at that very time Black was facing criminal charges that he raped a woman in a another hotel room). That he has publicly demeaned black women and propositioned the girlfriend of the great Nipsy Hussle less than a week after Hussle was murdered should have been enough to end it for good with him — but somehow it wasn't. The last straw wasn't even his support for birther king and "fine people" admirer Donald Trump's re-election bid before the bag of orange goo commuted Kodak's 46-month prison sentence on a federal weapons conviction. The last straw broke in March, as the ex-prez continued to attack the democracy, well after a blatant attempt to steal the presidency, that Kodak again professed his love and announced that "getting rid of Trump was the worst thing America could've did." It was a reminder that he's a bad dude in the worst and most thorough way — and the last thing we need is more Kodak moments.

Best Public Art
Photo by Catherine Toruño

In Brickell, along the Underline public park — you know, the recently activated and colorfully greenspace under Miami's Metrorail tracks — there's tons of public art to interact with. You've got a functioning, Ping-Pong table by artist Cara Despin, you can often find a painted piano available for play, and then there's Edny Jean Joseph's The Allegory. Occupying an entire wall near the Brickell Metromover station, the Matisse-like mural depicts a group of workers silhouetted in black juxtaposed with larger-than-life yellow flowers and a blue sky. There's significance at work here: Although Joseph himself is Haitian, he chose to paint a mural alluding to the contributions Bahamian immigrant laborers made to the early development of Miami. The yellow, black, and blue color scheme pays homage to the colors of the flag of the Bahamas.

Best Public Art to Survive a Controversy
Photo by Joshua Ceballos

If art is meant to challenge conventionality, then it's no surprise when controversy follows. Though outwardly unassuming — an innocuous depiction of a Black girl reading books — the wall mural painted on the side of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) union's headquarters in Miami Springs was, until recently, the flashpoint of small-town politics. In addition to brazen vandalism that saw the mural's main figure splashed with black paint, the mural came under fire from members of the city council because it didn't conform to the sleepy municipality's requirements for a limited color palette in the 36th Street district. Following heated debates and a contentious council vote, the teachers union prevailed. UTD was allowed to keep its public art on display for pedestrians to enjoy and reflect on the fitting Maya Angelou quotation it bears as an epitaph: "But still, like the air, I'll rise!"

Best Visual Artist
Photo courtesy of Spinello Gallery

Reginald O'Neal paints like one of the greats. His works are both captivating and engaging, each brushstroke telling a story all its own. The 30-year-old artist specializes in figurative art, painting still-lifes based on autobiographical photos. A pair of his grandmother's glasses, a golden trumpet tree in full bloom, a haunting image of his father wearing a prison jumpsuit are just a few of O'Neal's most recent subjects. He's inspired by the world around him as well as his family and friends. In late 2021, during Miami Art Week, O'Neal had his second solo show at Spinello Projects, Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Institute of Contemporary Art recently added his work to their permanent collections, and earlier this year the Rubell Museum commissioned the young artist to create two works.

Best Photographer
Photo courtesy of Robert Andy Coombs

Robert Any Coombs can release the shutter on his Hasselblad and Polaroid cameras with his mouth. While it makes for a cool party trick, the logistics of photography are more complicated for the 34-year-old, who experienced a spinal cord injury in 2009. To bring his vision to fruition, Coombs often enlists photo assistants to help with his shoots, which may feature shirtless men, full-frontal nudity, and lots of touch. The artist's largely autobiographical work is at the intersection of disability, queerness, and sex — it's an expression of his sexuality that transcends his body's ability to perceive it. His images have been featured at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University and at the Photo Vogue Festival in Milan. Earlier this year, Coombs was awarded a $50,000 United States Artists Fellowship.

Graffiti artist Hiero Veiga's incomparable attention to detail might actually help you recall your wildest acid trip. The artist visualizes his carnal takes on psychedelics, love, self-identity, and street life through astonishing whimsical hyperrealism — a rare sight amid the animated street art Miami is best known for. His ambition to create wall art far exceeds the legal risks, even if that means no remuneration for his work. Sometimes it's easy to get trapped inside Miami's art trends, but Veiga stays true to his Boston roots by traveling regularly and grounding himself with support from Miami graffiti group, MSG (or as Veiga tells New Times, "It could mean Miami Style Graffiti, Maximum Satisfaction Guaranteed, Family and Love — whatever you're feeling").

HistoryMiami
Courtesy of HistoryMiami

The most satisfying aspect of HistoryMiami is in its name. They preserve history — the best moments, the not-so-great ones, and the ones we'd give anything to forget. They're committed to telling the larger community's story, often through the people themselves. One of the museum's recent exhibitions, "It's a Miami Thing," celebrated the city's 125th anniversary and featured items from the archives as well as some that were donated by residents. HistoryMiami often puts out a call for artifacts, asking Miamians to send in knickknacks that pertain to a certain theme or topic and share their unique story with the curatorial staff. You never know what nuggets might be uncovered thanks to those who've lived through it. Another great thing about the museum: It's located right near public transit, across the street from the Government Center Metrorail station and only a few stops on the Metromover away from the Perez Art Museum Miami and Frost Science. Consider that next time you feel the urge to go museum hopping.

Nina Johnson
Photo courtesy of Nina Johnson

Nina Johnson's eponymous gallery in Little Haiti started in 2007 as Gallery Diet in Wynwood — back when Miami's arts district was actually an arts district. But regardless of the gallery's name, Johnson has always had a knack for organizing museum-quality exhibitions while representing emerging artists like Emmett Moore, Bhakti Baxter, Katie Stout, and Savannah Knoop. Johnson has also organized shows around artists like Jim Drain, Marlene Bennett Jones, and Judy Chicago — established names worthy of solo exhibitions at PAMM or ICA. Whenever Johnson opens a new show, you'd be a fool to miss it.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®