stat counter

Sunday, November 27, 2011


The Art People are descending on Miami. You know them by their dark apparel and weird glasses. Local artists have been up all night preparing for their arrival for Miami's Art Week.

First there's Design Miami, Art Miami, then the biggie, Art Basel. The Art Week menu is too long. Some run away because there's too much art. Francesca and I try sipping it in small doses.

-On Tuesday we'll be at the grand opening of Wynwood Walls (see previous blog). It's free and open to the public from 9 to 11.
-Design Miami opens on Wednesday in a giant tent on Miami Beach. $25 gets you in the door.
-Art Basel begins its four-day run in the Beach's Convention Center. It costs forty big ones but if your name is actually "Art Basel", you might get a discount.
There are a zillion galleries in the Design district, Wynwood, and on the
Beach showing their wares for free. Thy'll be open every day of the next week. Satellite fair art tents ("Art Miami", "Red Dot" and "Pulse"), dot the Wynwood landscape as well.

We wandered into the DotFiftyOne Gallery last week because we were lost.
The one person inside was so happy to see us we pretended we had come there on purpose. After taking a few token stares then notice the art on the walls was rather fantastic.
That one person in the red shoes was the artist
Gonzalo Fuenmayor. The Colombian had created this roomful of large drawings with just his eye, hand, and charcoal. He told us each takes a month to complete.
How rare it is to see the results of an artist's hand moving in such delicate ways.
We chatted with the young man for some time then promised we'd tell you about his show.
Gonzalo and his drawings are located at 51 NW 36 Street, blocks away from the craziness of Art Week.

For more information go to

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Francesca and I were on a Street Art Tour in Wynwood last Sunday. We were taken by a collection of murals where NW 23 Street meets Miami Avenue. The neighborhood has quite a variety of outdoor art but these really grabbed us.
I took pictures then headed back to the car.

As we turned on to North Miami Avenue I almost hit a shirtless, tattooed cowboy. Standing in the road, he barely noticed.
The hombre stood motionless, like he was ready to draw. But there was no gun in his holster. just a can of black spray paint.

I parked the car and introduced myself. Justin Vallee told me he was more than an urban artist,
"My buddy and I are renaissance gypsies. We travel all over". His friend, Jeremiah Taylor, came out to join us. The gleeful duo explained that they live in an ancient Shasta mobile home. They gave Francesca and I a tour. The boys were all grins until I pulled out my camera. They agreed
to be photographed if they did not have to smile. Cowboys (and gypsies) don't do that.

I asked them if they would like to star in the King Mango parade that we're having in Wynwood December 10th. That got them smiling again as Jeremiah asked "That's sounds great! What do you want us to do?"
Just be yourselves", I replied, "You're great the way you are".


Are you one of the few who has not yet visited the Wynwood Art District? Just west of Midtown Miami, it has restaurants, bars, theaters, and over thirty exciting art galleries. The place has also become known for its "Second Saturday Art Walk". The next one is on Saturday, December 10, 5 to 11 pm. Save the date.

Wynwood has also gotten the world's attention for the 100+ huge murals painted on the walls of its buildings. They're in an area packed with warehouses, 4 blocks by 8. The blocks are l o n g
and it is best to see them walking or touring by bike during the day.

Topping them off is the magnificent Wynwood Walls complex. The outdoor art gallery is located on NW Second Avenue, between Joey's Italian Cafe (at 25th St.) and
the art-filled Wynwood Kitchen & Bar (26th St.). "Walls" is a collection of large murals painted by some of the greatest street artists on the planet.
Come see, you'll be amazed.

Two years ago I visited Walls as the painting was beginning. Artists from eight countries scurried about spraying paint here and there.

Shepard Fairey (famous for his Obama "Hope" poster) pasted his printed paper creations on an 80-foot section. The red band grabs you as you enter the private park.
Wynwood Walls is finally complete. On Tuesday, November 29, it will have its Grand Opening.
The man who made it happen, Tony Goldman, has invited the public to join him, from 9 to 11 pm, for this special affair.
I hope to see you there.

Friday, November 18, 2011


If you're in South Florida this weekend, consider a visit to the Miami Book Fair. Dozens and dozens of authors will be there including our good friend, Norma Watkins. At 3:30 maƱana (Saturday) she'll share the stage with Bob Edwards (formerly of NPR). Her book, "The Last Resort" is doing well. Norma has agreed to do a book reading for the neighborhood on January 6.
But first consider going to the Fair. Stand in the midst of literary giants. It doesn't seem that long ago I heard Ken Kesey speak. He is gone but I continue to be in awe of his incredible talent.
I just re-read "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and it is as fresh now as it was fifty years ago. At one point the main character, Randall P. McMurphy is describing the asylum's new staff member, "The nurse was little, the small end of nothing whittled to a fine point.
It doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Every Veterans Day I hear the drums and trumpets and think, "It sounds like parade!".
On Friday I jumped on my bike and peddled madly north to Grand Avenue.
The West Grove veterans were putting on their annual procession. There's less than two dozen of them now, most having served in the Korean and Viet Nam wars, but their flags and solemnity remind

you of why you're not at work on a Friday morning.
The vets were joined by kids waving from a fire truck and two cops on horses.
The local high school band couldn't make it. The "band " I heard turned out to be a car playing a very loud marching music CD.
You could say it was barely a parade but we enjoyed the four-minutes it took to pass by.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


If you're in Miami this Saturday night, Nov. 12, come to the Wynwood Art District (NW 2 Ave & NW 25 Street) for Second Saturday. It's one of our town's most exciting events now and unlike the Beach's "Sleepless Night" (see below), you can actually find a place to park.
Thousands of art lovers descend on the six-block area every month to explore over 30 art galleries, restaurants, and the amazing
outdoor graffiti gallery, Wynwood Walls.

Fifteen food trucks set up in the big lot at NW 2d & 22 Lane. The park has bands, DJs, and ping pong tables to boot. The trucks are serving by 5:30 (the sun sets at six now) and the galleries are open from
five to eleven.
There's plenty of free street parking if you get there by 8. It can get iffy after that. We go at six, enjoy food truck delicacies, then stroll the gallery areas for a couple of hours. With the glorious weather we've been having, it'll be a good place to be.

You can also consider going early (or later) so you can head over to the New World Center on Miami Beach. The New World Symphony will be having one of their free "Wallcast" Concerts at 7:30. Lay on the lawn and enjoy the show. If you are unable to park, circle the block and catch snips of it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Every year South Beach pulls an all-nighter. The city hires hundreds of artists to entertain folks from sunset to sunrise for "Sleepless Night". The paper says over 100,000 of us went to the last night's event. From what I could see, only half of us were able to find places to park. By 7 pm, all the public parking lots were filled.

Francesca and I found ourselves cruising past beachside search lights, various groups in concert, and people that seemed to be having fun.

After eons we snagged a spot near Lincoln Road Mall. Finally on foot we we ran into a towering Scotsman with a frisky dog. He told jokes and played his bag pipes while the dog peed on everyone nearby. Yeah, I got hit but since there was a skinny guy inside the dog, it probably wasn't the real stuff.

The New World Symphony gave free mini-concerts inside their new hall. We watched one as it was projected live on a wall outside. Two hours later a group of gravity-defying artists were scheduled to dance suspended by ropes, on the same wall.

We couldn't stay for that. We wanted to drive to more Sleepless Night sites that, as it turned out, had no places to park.

We finally gave up on the whole sleepless bit. We found a great place to park right in front of our house.


Every year Francesca and I truck up to Lake Wales, Florida, for their Pioneer Days Festival. What fun it is hanging out with folks pretending to be living in the past.

We met Gerald, a man who spent the weekend carving scrub brushes. He showed us how he made them from cabbage palm tree trunks. We never knew palm tree trunks could be so useful. We bought several and they work great.

This older woman bought her 93-year-old
mother with her. The retired secretary/truck driver said they enjoyed living in their canvas tent on the lakeside park's grounds. It was as close as "Occupy Lake Wales" as this town will ever get (and they play-acting). The two diced vegetables as we talked and added to a big pot. An hour later it was pulled off the fire and offered to the public.


The New Harvest Worship Center was doling out hot kidney beans with cornbread. Ladies in long blue dresses ladled porridge from a steaming Igloo ice chest. The hot beans were delicious, healthy, and free but the boys selling kettle corn in the next booth were doing much more business. Sometimes you get what you don't pay for.

Every forty-five minutes you could go on a hay-wagon architectural tour of the town. As Earl's red tractor pulled

past houses of various vintage, sand hill cranes pecked bugs in the yards.

As we chugged along at bicycle speed I thought, "This is so cool. The City of Miami would never allow a hay wagon tour of anything".

After we returned to the park, Earl's International Harvester was joined by twenty others for the noon-time Tractor Parade. Proud farmers wheeled down the the festival's skinny road sometimes just a foot from the toes of the people watching.

The Highlander Band stepped lively behind them. They marched past an old man in coveralls. The fellow was spending the weekend happily surrounded by the small sputtering engines that powered the 1920's. With a Coke in one hand and chips in the other,

he enjoyed the beautiful weekend in his own kind of paradise.