Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
Before April of last year, the Fort Lauderdale Saloon was just another cinder-block and plywood rat trap on Federal Highway. Sure, the place had charm (and a laundry machine), but it was of the "let's go slumming" variety, hardly a draw to anyone other than aging drinkers and long-time regulars. Then during spring and summer of last year, a tiny but significant renaissance occurred. Affable owner Walter Ciuffini partnered with local promoters By the Way to bring favorite local acts into the joint -- bands like AC Cobra, Humbert, and Southern Flaw. Soon, it became clear to all that good shows bring hip folks, and hip folks drink a lot of beer. Eureka -- there's money in that there music! BTW has moved on, but Rock Bottom Hip-Hop Nights have taken its place on a nearly weekly basis. Now Friday nights mean breaking b-boys, graffiti in the parking lot, and rappers from all over South Florida strutting their stuff. All this killer music, and the Saloon still offers cheap beer and chicken nuggets. Now that's true South Florida culture.
If a list of recent shows at your art museum includes retrospectives of Miró and Nevelson, to say nothing of a startling arrangement of thrift-shop clothing by an artful duo called Guerra de la Paz, you've had a good year. Samantha Salzinger, curator of exhibitions for the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, is bringing the once-unremarkable museum into the artistic mainstream.
Salzinger's favorite art is, yes, kind of carny. A 2003 show, Pamela Joseph's "The Sideshow of the Absurd" (last year's Best Solo Art Exhibition), drew heavily on carnival culture and freak shows. "Joseph had an interesting take on what she called freaks," Salzinger says. "They're like someone in a fairy tale who's gone through a test in life. The rest of us all walk around fearing something terrible will happen to us. They live with it."
Photographer Diane Arbus had a similar vision. "Her pictures of a midget," Salzinger says, "are more about him being a man than a midget."
Yes, we've said it before -- this time last year, in fact -- but we'll say it again: The Boca Museum continues to dazzle. Some of the newness may have worn off the big, beautiful Mizner Park headquarters it moved into nearly four and a half years ago, but the programming has lost none of its luster. After the grand inaugural Picasso show, the museum has steered away from blockbuster exhibitions and emphasized variety. The payoff has been substantial: photography ranging from Roman Vishniac's documentation of Jewish life in Eastern Europe in the 1930s to Steve McCurry's images of contemporary Asia; Haitian paintings and voodoo flags from a local collector's stash; paintings by American expressionist Charles Burchfield as well as by Uruguayan visionary Ignacio Iturria; jewel-encrusted art objects from Italy's Buccellati family of goldsmiths; and the just-ended retrospective of the career of legendary American realist Andrew Wyeth. Any gaps in the schedule are readily filled by the annual "All Florida Juried Competition and Exhibition" and an ongoing series that highlights selections from local private collections. Throw in a respected art school, special events such as a film series, and one of the best permanent collections in South Florida and you have a full-service art museum that's hard to beat.
By the time he turned 40 last year, Enrique Martínez Celaya had a decade of exhibitions under his belt. His work -- which runs the gamut from paintings and drawings to photographs to sculptures and mixed-media installations -- is in demand among private collectors in America and Europe, and it has found its way into the collections of major museums such as the Met and the Whitney in New York and L.A.'s County Museum. So where does the Cuban-born Martínez Celaya set up shop? Why, Delray Beach, of course. That's right. Last year, the world-class artist -- someone for whom the world is his oyster -- chose Delray over not just Miami but also Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London, Berlin... And guess what: He's still a hot ticket. It's good to be Enrique Martínez Celaya.
When Revolution opened its doors last September, hopes were high that the new club would break the apparent curse that doomed the building's former occupants -- the Edge, Chili Pepper, and Star Bar/Venu (the latter having shut its doors faster than you can say, "What a dumb name for a rock club!"). But Revolution gets many of its acts from Clear Channel, and if there's one thing the communications giant is good for, it's bringing in the bacon. And that it has with a bevy of big names that run the musical gamut, from hip-hop (Snoop Dogg, Mos Def) to punk (Social Distortion, New Found Glory) to funk (George Clinton) and metal (Atreyu). A year ago, many of these acts wouldn't venture south of Sound Advice Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. And if they did, they'd go straight to Miami. Sure, Revolution got off to a shaky start, canceling its Wednesday-night local shows and Friday-night Pulp event. But with plenty of star power on its roster every month (Papa Roach!), Revolution might just beat the curse of 200 W. Broward Blvd. Let's hope that if a new venue wins this category next year, it has a different address.
Yes, the band that New Times chose as Best Band to Leave Broward/Palm Beach in 2000 is one of the few bands that hasn't made New York City its new home. Though guitarist/vocalist Derek Hyde and drummer Eddie Brandt took a stab at relocating to the Big Apple, Hyde moved back home in 2001. And we can thank the rock gods for that, because this is one of the few local bands that truly knows how to rock. There ain't no shoe-gazing here, just pure entertainment. The Creepy T's balance song and shtick, whether it's Hyde's manic meltdowns or the band's catchy, B-movie-inspired tunes with amusing titles you're not likely to find on the next Franz Ferdinand album. Try "Tiger with the She-Bitch On" or "Fire Gods of the South Pacific" -- quite a bit more interesting than songs about heartbreak and cheating girlfriends. Then again, Hyde's not big on following the whole indie hipster trend; he's more likely to wear a hula skirt than denim and Converse. And while the vintage farfisa sounds of keyboardist Thomas Dementrius place the Creepy T's in garage territory, the band operates outside that genre's hipster image as well. But if you doubt the T's rock cred, check out their new gig as backing band for King Coleman, the legendary "Mashed Potato Man" himself. Indeed, the Creepy T's carry the torch of rock 'n' roll like a South Pacific fire god -- hula skirt and all.