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An Army of Artists

Be all that you can be. An army of one. No doubt these tag lines have a poetic ring to them. But a military recruiter's speech as "performance art"? Who woulda thunk it? Well... two artists who have persuaded a recruiter to come to the "Art Perform" series at Collins Park (2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach).

Art Perform is meant as a side note to the larger Art Basel event, America's largest contemporary art fair. But it's these side notes that promise the most intrigue. Sure, inside Basel's H.Q. — the Miami Convention Center (1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach) — you can see work from 195 of the world's elite galleries. You can buy work from emerging artists for "a few hundred dollars," according to press materials. You can ogle "multi-million-dollar museum-caliber masterpieces." And you can pay the $22 admission fee, plus another $12 to take a tour with an art critic.

But, dude, down by the beach, Asian-Canadian artist Tim Lee will play the "Star-Spangled Banner" on electric guitar while combining it with his take on Jasper Johns' flag paintings. Mario Ybarra will read aloud from the Scarface screenplay and then take people on a walking tour to locations that were used in the movie. Two British artists will examine the art of gurning (making funny/gross faces) and hold a competition; the eight-time World Gurning Champion's accompanying them. Ulla von Brandenburg will explore the paranormal with a performance piece in which "four ghosts appear on the shores of South Beach while playing Camille Saint-Saens' 'Danse Macabre' on their instruments and dancing the dance of death." And this stuff's all free.

Also down at Collins Park, 20 shipping containers have been converted into mini art galleries, and an "Art Sound Lounge" broadcasts audio pieces by contemporary artists. At an "Art Video Lounge," check out 11 flicks that include "performance video" and "appropriation and reality TV." There's also a little "video-theque" with 100 works that you can watch individually.

And that's just on the beaten path — events sanctioned by Art Basel. Go farther afield — to, say, the Rectangle Art Space (164 NW 20th St., Miami) — and find galleries piggybacking on the weekend's energy. "Parallel Universe: A Group Show of the New Movement" features lowbrow/underground/subculture artists — or, as they humbly refer to themselves, "artists who are the most vital part of the complex social structure of the 21st century." To give you an idea of the hip factor, this exhibit is sponsored by Tate's Comics, Juxtapoz magazine, and Sweat Records. The opening is Friday night. Call 954-696-8349. Over at the Faktura Gallery, artists have "pimped" shopping carts in an exhibit inspired by the homeless. And at Toob Studio (180 NW 25th St., Miami), fashion designers like Cardiac and Krelwear "display their most interesting and outlandish wearable art designs" in an exhibit called "Art Couture." The reception is Saturday at 7 p.m. Call 305-576-7465.

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Deirdra Funcheon

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