Art and Culture of the South Beach Renaissance: The American Riviera,” bearing witness and providing context to a time in South Florida that was the polar opposite of today’s reality. Tales and facts are sure to entertain and astonish. Outlandish? Maybe. Factual? More than likely. The exhibition will open at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Box Gallery (811-B Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach). Tickets cost $10. Call 786-521-1199 or visit theboxgallery.info.
It’s hard to believe Miami Beach was once a no-man’s land of cheap rent, sun-drenched weirdness framed by Hasidism, coked-out kids chasing someone else’s dreams, and the hovering shadow of the Angel of Death’s wings over a forgotten grandparent. Today’s South Beach is the zonked-out swill of a developer’s vomitorium — a soulless shell of overpriced nothing. That old Miami Beach was a scary place — an island visited on a whim with the security of the mainland nearby. Naturally, the inhabitants then were colorful characters, and as modern South Florida’s original fringe arts scene, South Beach was home to many artists who’ve achieved varying degrees of success since the tempestuous days of the early '80s. Don Shearer, known for his HIV-positive blood paintings, was the first resident of the Española Way Art Center, and in the couple of years he worked on the Beach, he left an indelible mark on the nascent scene. As a companion to his retrospective at the Box Gallery, the “Unofficial Mayor of Miami Beach” Louis Canales, Pulitzer Prize-winning journo and author Liz Balmaseda, tastemaker Manny Hernandez, and curator Sandra Schulman will present “