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Art Overload

An explosion of talent

MON 3/8 In its purest form, the art world is the default home of free expression, a place where diversity is celebrated and any viewpoint is relevant, no matter how outrageous or far from the mainstream. Staying true to this ideal, local arts organization ArtsUnited presents its annual "Art Explosion" at Hagen Park Community Center (2020 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors). The event is held to raise funds for the nonprofit ArtsUnited, which aims to push local gays and lesbians toward the sociocultural forefront of their communities. "Art Explosion focuses on using the arts to present a positive message about the gay and lesbian community," notes Chuck Williams, the organization's president. But Art Explosion is not just for gays and lesbians; Williams adds that anyone gay-friendly is invited to participate.

This year's Art Explosion features indoor and outdoor visual arts exhibits (including watercolors, acrylics, sculpture, and mixed media), live theater and vocal performances, a poetry slam, a half-dozen local authors reading excerpts from their books, and an erotic exhibit in one of the outdoor tents -- the latter being offered to fill a void in the mostly traditional, PG-rated local art scene. "There's a real absence of erotic art in South Florida," Williams says. "You just can't display it in the more mainstream art museums." Actually, Art Explosion offers lots of things you won't see in any art museum. The outdoor stage, for instance, features a variety of performance acts, including the Tropic Harmony choral group and several solo acts. Although that may not seem as wild as previous Art Explosions -- in which snake charmers and belly dancers entranced audiences -- Williams says plenty of nonstop events are planned for the evening. "It's an explosion because you really can't see it all; everything takes place simultaneously, so you view what you can," he says. But if you miss out on some of the artwork, don't fret: The visual arts displays will remain for the following week before moving to the Broadway Gallery (4063 NE Fifth Ter., Oakland Park).

The cost is $5 for ArtsUnited members and $10 for nonmembers. Call 954-530-2723. -- Jason Budjinski

Shining Brightly

A colorful new gallery

FRI 3/5 Artists have always come up with different ways to promote their work, from the crudest back-alley graffiti to taking part in countless local exhibitions. But few and far between are the artists who have the resourcefulness and entrepreneurial spirit to cut out the middle man entirely and go the do-it-yourself route. Fort Lauderdale artist Francisco Sheuat chose a more enterprising approach: He decided to open his own art gallery, Art Expressions (1212 NE Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale), which holds its grand opening Friday night. Influenced by the colorful paintings of Brazilian artist Romero Britto, the Venezuelan-born Sheuat works mainly with acrylic and canvas, infusing a vibrant mix of colors with a variety of subject matter, from still-life portraits of tableware to muscular dogs in bikini briefs. In addition to Sheuat's collection of paintings, Art Expressions carries a selection of blown glass, giving the gallery a third dimension. Local Latin singer Tony Cruz provides an audio backdrop to the sea of sights. And as with any good art opening, wine and cheese are available. Come check out Sheuat's work from 7 to 10 p.m. Admission is free. Call 954-527-7700. -- Jason Budjinski

The Beagle Wears Prada

Palm Beach pets on parade

SAT 3/6 Dogs in Burberry scarves. Kittens on Coach leashes. The term catwalk takes on a whole new meaning during the 10th-annual "Pet Parade" on ritzy Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, where teacup poodles and prize-winning ferrets are the ultimate fashion accessories. We're not kidding when we tell you that a beer-guzzling, nacho-eating monkey named Lenny is favored to win the "Dress to Impress" contest on Saturday, but don't let that stop you from entering your bird, turtle, or dog. Each contestant receives a goody bag, and prizes include leather goods and pet jewelry. Registration is free and starts at 9:30 in the Gucci Courtyard (256 Worth Ave.). In addition to the parade, pet-friendly stores along Worth will serve animal snacks at "kibble cafés" all day Friday and Saturday, and a professional pet photographer will snap away when you dress your animal friends up in cowboy costumes or wedding dresses during the "Glamour Pet Portrait Sessions" by appointment. The sittings cost $14.95; prints are extra. Call 561-659-6909 for photo appointments, 561-655-1996 for other information. -- Deirdra Funcheon

Return to Jigalong

FRI 3/5 Kidnap all mixed-race children and raise them apart from their black parents. Ensure that, when grown, the youngsters mate only with white people. This way, you can breed out the black blood and have a "pure" race in just three generations! It will be good for them! Such was the logic in 1931 white-supremacist Australia, where government officials snatched thousands of mixed-race children from their Aboriginal parents and sent them to orphanages to be trained as domestic servants. Rabbit-Proof Fence is the true story of three little girls who escaped from one such orphanage and, using a fence as their compass, trekked 1,500 miles across the Australian Outback to their home village of Jigalong. This gorgeous, yet, heartbreaking movie will put chills down your spine and a lump in your throat -- especially when you read the epilogue at the end. This is just one in a series of exceptional films shown by the Society of the Four Arts (2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach) on Friday nights. The $3 admission is a bargain. Call 561-655-7226. -- Deirdra Funcheon

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