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Best Of 2004

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Magic School

There have been better times for magic, magician Larry Taylor admits. Fewer and fewer people are getting into the business of pulling rabbits out of, well, wherever. So Taylor, who's spent 35 years as a magician in Philadelphia and South Florida, is hoping to teach the next generation. Taylor gives one-on-one magic lessons for kids and soon-to-be pros out of his Boynton Beach magic shop, the South Florida Magic Company. The $50-an-hour lessons begin with simple card and coin tricks, eventually bringing the advanced student to Taylor's specialty, the ol' "cube zag." That's where Taylor sticks knives through his assistant (also his wife). Well, at least it looks that way. "That's the advanced stuff," Taylor says. After three or four lessons, Taylor contends, most students can perform for audiences. They'll need probably $500 for just the beginner's equipment and thousands more for technical tricks. But there are hatfuls of money to be made just in the bar mitzvah market, he says, and the big thing now is corporate events, where magicians make the rounds at company cocktail parties. Soon enough, however, magic may be back to the mainstream. "It's been around for thousands of years, and it's not going away anytime soon," the 65-year-old Taylor says. "It's going to come back before you know it." Maybe Taylor's just the man to pull the profession from his sleeve.

Best Radio Show

WLRN-FM (91.3) Sounds of the Caribbean has been a presence on South Florida's airwaves since 1979, when none other than Bob Marley convinced host Clint O'Neil that he could be an important voice of island culture in Miami, a city that could be called the capital of the Caribbean. Until recently, O'Neil's Monday-through-Friday, late-night broadcasts were supplemented with two weekend editions hosted by Kevin "Ital-K" Smith, but Smith's early Sunday and Monday morning shows were replaced with BBC News by station management in October. It's a shame Smith's quick wit and sharp British accent is no longer heard, but O'Neil is still on from 2 to 7 a.m. Sundays, laying down tracks from nearly every tropical genre, from soca to rocksteady and dancehall through Afro-Cuban. Through the Internet, the station reaches listeners worldwide. The show breaks up the canned chatter and carefully calculated playlists that rule the corporately controlled medium of radio today.

Best Group Art Exhibition

The Pissarro dynasty aside, it's not often that you find more than one generation of artistic brilliance in the same family. The Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art took advantage of this art-world quirk last year with "The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton," the first exhibition to encompass works by minimalist artist Tony Smith and two of his daughters. Dad was first an architect, then an art patron -- his collection included works by such abstract expressionists as Pollock and Rothko -- and finally an artist himself. The mathematical precision of architecture is prominent in Tony's works, including the huge The Keys to Given! (the title comes from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake), a large, black, steel sculpture you can actually walk through. It's too bad Tony didn't live long enough to see daughters Kiki and Seton hit their stride as artists. Kiki's fascination with the human body is evident in media as diverse as metal sculpture, ink drawing, and mixed media. The Paris-based Seton, in sharp contrast with both father and sister, works in photography, specifically large Cibachrome photographs that are, intentionally, ever-so-slightly out of focus. This beautifully assembled show, including more than 60 works created over the course of half a century, is a bracing reminder of the many ways artistic talent blossoms and flourishes.

Best Group Art Exhibition

The Pissarro dynasty aside, it's not often that you find more than one generation of artistic brilliance in the same family. The Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art took advantage of this art-world quirk last year with "The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton," the first exhibition to encompass works by minimalist artist Tony Smith and two of his daughters. Dad was first an architect, then an art patron -- his collection included works by such abstract expressionists as Pollock and Rothko -- and finally an artist himself. The mathematical precision of architecture is prominent in Tony's works, including the huge The Keys to Given! (the title comes from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake), a large, black, steel sculpture you can actually walk through. It's too bad Tony didn't live long enough to see daughters Kiki and Seton hit their stride as artists. Kiki's fascination with the human body is evident in media as diverse as metal sculpture, ink drawing, and mixed media. The Paris-based Seton, in sharp contrast with both father and sister, works in photography, specifically large Cibachrome photographs that are, intentionally, ever-so-slightly out of focus. This beautifully assembled show, including more than 60 works created over the course of half a century, is a bracing reminder of the many ways artistic talent blossoms and flourishes.

Best Artist Best Solo Art Exhibition

For the past five years that she has lived in South Florida, Carol Prusa has been quietly going about her business. And that business is turning out some of the area's most distinctive art. Prusa, who teaches painting at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, specializes in imagery that looks as if it's from some sort of alien anatomy textbook: pale, ethereal forms that suggest both plants and animals, rendered in a near-monochromatic palette that includes such ingredients as gesso, sulfur, graphite, and silver. Fittingly, she studied biocommunication arts and medical illustration at the University of Illinois before going on to earn an MFA in painting with a minor in drawing at Drake University in Iowa. Since arriving in Florida, Prusa has accumulated an impressive array of awards for her work, from the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood and the Boca Raton Museum of Art, most notably. Her solo shows have been at Palm Beach Community College's Eissey campus, Broward Community College's Pembroke Pines campus, and the Coral Springs Art Museum.

Best Solo Art Exhibition "The Sideshow of the Absurd" There are installations, and then there are installations. And then there is Pamela Joseph's take on the art form that people either love or love to hate. Joseph swept into town in February 2003 with "The Sideshow of the Absurd," which converted the first floor of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood into a series of interconnected installations and supplementary materials such as banners, sketches, and spotlights casting carny come-ons onto the walls. The Colorado-based artist draws on carnival culture and freak shows for her subject matter, which she then transforms into sly commentaries on contemporary American pop culture, usually with a feminist slant tempered with a sense of humor. Many of the "pieces" are interactive, not to mention wired for sound. Even the exhibition's catalog is outrageously over-the-top, a garish volume filled with photographs, drawings, essays, an interview with the artist, and an introduction by artist Larry Rivers, who died not long after contributing to this traveling show. The catalog also includes an interactive CD and a batch of temporary tattoos that play off the show's themes. What better way to celebrate the innate sideshow-like character of South Florida?

Best Artist Best Solo Art Exhibition

For the past five years that she has lived in South Florida, Carol Prusa has been quietly going about her business. And that business is turning out some of the area's most distinctive art. Prusa, who teaches painting at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, specializes in imagery that looks as if it's from some sort of alien anatomy textbook: pale, ethereal forms that suggest both plants and animals, rendered in a near-monochromatic palette that includes such ingredients as gesso, sulfur, graphite, and silver. Fittingly, she studied biocommunication arts and medical illustration at the University of Illinois before going on to earn an MFA in painting with a minor in drawing at Drake University in Iowa. Since arriving in Florida, Prusa has accumulated an impressive array of awards for her work, from the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood and the Boca Raton Museum of Art, most notably. Her solo shows have been at Palm Beach Community College's Eissey campus, Broward Community College's Pembroke Pines campus, and the Coral Springs Art Museum.

Best Solo Art Exhibition "The Sideshow of the Absurd" There are installations, and then there are installations. And then there is Pamela Joseph's take on the art form that people either love or love to hate. Joseph swept into town in February 2003 with "The Sideshow of the Absurd," which converted the first floor of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood into a series of interconnected installations and supplementary materials such as banners, sketches, and spotlights casting carny come-ons onto the walls. The Colorado-based artist draws on carnival culture and freak shows for her subject matter, which she then transforms into sly commentaries on contemporary American pop culture, usually with a feminist slant tempered with a sense of humor. Many of the "pieces" are interactive, not to mention wired for sound. Even the exhibition's catalog is outrageously over-the-top, a garish volume filled with photographs, drawings, essays, an interview with the artist, and an introduction by artist Larry Rivers, who died not long after contributing to this traveling show. The catalog also includes an interactive CD and a batch of temporary tattoos that play off the show's themes. What better way to celebrate the innate sideshow-like character of South Florida?

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Best Magic School: South Florida Magic Co.

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