Twenty Can't-Miss Art Events

"Monsters Under My Bed: Childhood Fears Group Art Mega-Show"

October 2 — November 13 at the Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery, upstairs at Tate's Comics, 4566 N. University Drive, Lauderhill. Call 954-748-0181, or visit tatescomics.com/bearandbird.

Tate's Comics has a slick art gallery upstairs, Bird + Bear, where the young and hip congregate, and where a staggering 200 local artists — like Pac23 and Coma Girl — are showing off depictions of their childhood fears, from boogeymen to abandonment. Scott Hensel offers a cute comic of a giant cockroach destroying a city; Brandy Rumiez draws a mean bubble monster. The artists are a rich mix of professionals, like Seth Czaplewski, who's opening a gallery in New York, and amateur up-and-comers. So feast on the variety — and Japanese snacks, which Tate's sells in abundance.

"John Storrs: Machine-Age Modernist"

October 2 — January 2 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196, or visit norton.org.

In the early 1900s, John Storrs, a Chicago sculptor and painter who grew up among the world's first skyscrapers, traveled to Europe to study, and there fell in with the continent's avant-garde, befriending Marcel Duchamp and Ezra Pound. By the 1910s, he was making sculptures that, he said, like architecture, spurred "growth toward the sun and sky," and eerily prefigured art deco. Forms in Space, a sort of model skyscraper from 1927, looks in retrospect like an anticipation of the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center, which were built a few years later. Storrs spent WWII in France; his daughter joined the Resistance, and he suffered a grueling stint in Nazi prison. He resides now in the pantheon of American futurists, and the Norton exhibition of his works is the first in 20 years.

"Tom Wesselmann Draws"

October 2 — February 27 at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500, or visit moaflnsu.org.

European Renaissance painters, at least on canvas, liked their naked women coy and sumptuous. If those artists were transported in time to the Tom Wesselmann exhibition at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, would they croak at the violently erotic pop art nudes? Or would they kick themselves and think: "Why didn't I paint nipples like that?" Wesselmann, a master of pop art and an equal of Warhol and Lich­tenstein, made his name in the early 1960s with a series he called "The Great American Nude." His female models were rendered often without facial features — just lips, vaginas, and perky, pepperoni-slice nipples. MoA's exhibition is historic and singular, encompassing over a hundred of his drawings — his nudes, his vivid still-lifes of commodities, and much more — dating from 1959 to his death in 2004. When he died, in fact, Wesselmann was in the midst of preparing this very collection. The exhibition is especially dramatic for incorporating his works of aluminum, steel, fabric, and plastic; some are being seen outside his Greenwich Village studio for the first time.

"Valerio Adami"

October 12 — January 9 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500, or visit bocamuseum.org.

Once you've taken in Tom Wesselmann's oeuvre at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, head over to the Boca Museum of Art to appreciate the French branch of pop art in the works of Valerio Adami. The world-famous Italian artist fuses the bold colors of a Warhol print with hints of futurism and expressionism and a cartoon style reminiscent of the Tintin comics. Whereas American pop art is often criticized, fairly or not, as lightweight, Adami's nouvelle figuration plunges deep into the social and political, depicting everyday life, wistful dream scenes, architecture, and great thinkers like Nietzsche and James Joyce. The Boca Museum is showing 23 of Adami's best paintings, and to complement the exhibition, it's publishing a 222-page book with writings by luminaries like Italo Calvino and Octavio Paz.

"Romanticism to Modernism: Graphic Masterpieces From Piranesi to Picasso"

October 12 — June 19 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500, or visit bocamuseum.org.

Though we hate to employ hackneyed superlatives and exhortations, there's no other way to say that "Romanticism to Modernism" is a once-in-a-lifetime, must-see exhibit. When else are you going to see fine prints by Giovanni Piranesi, Francisco de Goya, James McNeil Whistler, and Pablo Picasso together at one location? The four artists form an arc from Romanticism to Modernism — and Goya is the keystone. Known as the last of the old masters and the first of the moderns, he smuggled surreal touches and political statements into his portraits of the Spanish monarchs, whom he described as looking like "the corner baker and his wife after they won the lottery." You can ponder Goya's "Disasters of War" — world-historic prints that stripped away Baroque pretensions about savage violence — alongside a wealth of drawings by Picasso, whom Goya directly inspired. Again: must-see, once-in-a-lifetime.

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF)

October 22 — November 11. The majority of films will be screened at the Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-3456, or visit fliff.com.

FLIFF is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with more celebrities and movies than ever. From September 27 to October 20, it's putting on an epic retrospective, with daily screenings of films from each past year of the festival. On October 22, FLIFF officially opens with the Southeast premiere of the feel-good comedy Nice Guy Johnny, with stars Kerry Bishé (Scrubs) and Matt Bush (Adventureland) in attendance. The Trotsky, the story of a teenager convinced he's the reincarnation of the renegade Soviet leader, is screening on opening weekend as well. Judd Nelson (the ne'er-do-well in The Breakfast Club) is slated to attend the showing of his filmed-in-Florida crime thriller, Endure, in which a photo of a bound woman turns up in a fiery car-wreck and leads a detective and his smart-ass sidekick, a Seattle transplant, on a chase. On November 6, FLIFF hands a Lifetime Achievement Award to the eminent actress Claire Bloom and screens her fantastic 1960 horror flick, The Haunting (immeasurably better than the laughable remake starring Catherine Zeta-Jones). On closing night, FLIFF screens Casino Jack, a biopic of crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff (played by Kevin Spacey), whose slime-trail of corruption led back to the casino business in South Florida. As always with FLIFF, there are scores of high-octane after-parties, galas, and Q&A sessions with industry heavyweights. New this year is a brunch cruise on October 24. Check out fliff.com for the rundown of events and films.

The Las Olas Art Fair

October 23 — 24 on Las Olas Boulevard between SE Sixth and SE 11th avenues, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-472-3755, or visit artfestival.com.

The Las Olas Art Fair is a 23-year-old tradition in Fort Lauderdale. And unlike the Art Basel monster down south, it has something approaching a democratic spirit. Along with $20,000 metal sculptures and $10,000 paintings, the fair offers affordable trinkets, like $15 handcrafted earrings. More than 150 American artists, screened beforehand by a jury, set up booths along Las Olas, where they're obligated to sit and answer questions from the masses, making art appreciation interactive. Altogether, the fair has pulled in more than $15 million worth of art: paintings, sculptures, photos, glass, wood, jewelry, collage, and ceramics.

"The Art of Wine & Food: Boo-tiful Reds!"

From 6 — 7:30 p.m. October 28 and every fourth Thursday at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. To RSVP, call 954-262-0249, email gvilone@moafl.org, or visit moaflnsu.org.

If you've always hoped to learn the principles of wine pairing (e.g., low-alcohol wines go with spicy foods) or the rituals of tasting ("see, swirl, sniff, sip, and swallow"), then you need to shell out $30 for a social with a certified expert at the Museum of Art, where you'll get four pairings and a lubricated crowd of people to get drunk with. In line with Halloween, this tasting is "all-red." (In wine-speak, they're sampling "red varietals.") The Museum's galleries open from 5-8 p.m. for free buzzed/tipsy viewings, and "The Art of Wine & Food" happens monthly.

"Killing Kevin Spacey"

October 29 — 30 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in the Amaturo Theatre, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-462-0222, or visit browardcenter.org.

Charlie is a hopeless, dead-end working stiff, henpecked at home by his girlfriend and berated at work by bosses fluent in management-speak; his only high point during the daily malaise is a stop by the bagel shop, where he fantasizes about the barista. One day, a Kevin Spacey movie arrives via Netflix in the mail and Eureka! It dawns on Charlie that he's the embodiment of Kevin Spacey's weaker characters, especially the washed-up, failed husband/father undergoing a midlife crisis in American Beauty. Charlie decides that he'll transmogrify into Al Pacino instead. Killing Kevin Spacey is a Canadian contribution, and the Canadians must have some demented bloodlust for Spacey, because the play has earned five-star reviews from newspapers up there. At the Broward Center, it has its U.S. debut.

"Modernity and Nostalgia: Woodblock Prints by Toyohara (Yoshu) Chikanobu"

November 2 — February 20 at the Morikami Museum, 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach. Call 561-495-0233, or visit morikami.org.

In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy sailed into Tokyo Harbor, pointed his cannons at the city, and warned that if he wasn't allowed ashore, and if the Japanese didn't sign up for global trade, he'd open fire indiscriminately. It was classic American pirate diplomacy. The Japanese caved, and in came a flood of Western fashion, commodities, and sensibilities. The hermetic, feudal shogunate transformed, nearly overnight, into one of the most modern empires on Earth. That breakneck transition from the samurai to the Meiji era is chronicled in the Morikami Museum's 60 exquisite, painstakingly detailed woodblock prints by Toyohara Chikanobu, who, starting in the late 19th Century, depicted both Kabuki characters and sensational yellow-news stories, old samurai battles, and the clash of mechanized armies in the Russo-Japanese war. Chikanobu pivoted between the ancient and the modern: At first glance, the women in a print called "Western Clothing" seem to be wearing bright-colored, traditional kimonos, but look closer and you notice that they're decked out in the bonnets and corsets of a Southern belle. Today, Japan has, with its gadgets and fetishes, almost exceeded American modernism. But in Tokyo Harbor, there's still the ruin of an unsuccessful island fort built to keep the Americans out.

"Made in Hollywood: Photographs From the John Kobal Foundation"

December 12 — March 6 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196, or visit norton.org.

The Golden Age of Hollywood produced actual demigods. The silver screen imbued the stars with impossible glamour. But the studio system was no heaven: It overworked and disposed of actors and churned out movies in the brutal fashion of an assembly line. Perhaps that's why so many photos of stars and starlets, today considered iconic, had to be saved from the dump decades ago by film historian John Kobal, whose foundation is putting up a collection of his salvaged Hollywood prints in the Norton Museum. You'll know some of them: There's Rita Hayworth in a silken gown, expelling a jet stream of cigarette smoke, a fur coat slipping out of her hand onto the floor, a sly cast to her eyes. Others are less well-known: Particularly entrancing is a picture of Marilyn Monroe sitting on a cement curb, lighting a cigarette in a long holder, with a book, The Body Thinks, by her side. There are 94 fascinating photographs in all — original gelatin silver prints.

"STARE: The Pleasures of the Intensely Familiar and the Strangely Unexpected"

December 15 — March 13 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196, or visit norton.org.

It's a deficiency of the English language that there's no single word for "morbid curiosity," the compulsion that makes humans slow down their cars as they pass accident scenes. It's the pleasure of the intensely familiar and the strangely unexpected that is the fodder for "STARE," a collaboration between artists and photographers from the U.S., France, Germany, and Africa who aim for "the singular moment when we cannot look away and we must continue looking." So, appropriately enough, one of the works is a portrait of Michael Jackson.

Freud's Last Session

December 17 — February 6 at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 322 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-514-4042, or visit palmbeachdramaworks.org.

Connoisseurs of philosophical conversation will lap up Freud's Last Session, a play that pits Freud, the cancer-ridden psychologist and gazer into abysses, against C.S. Lewis, the earnest Christian apologist. The fictional tête-à-tête goes down in London — on the first day of WWII, no less. "I want to learn why a man of your intellect, one who shared my convictions, could suddenly abandon truth and embrace an insidious lie," Freud demands of Lewis — the "insidious lie" being God. There's no action in this play, just discourse — and they never do resolve whether God exists. But their back-and-forth about religion, love, good and evil, sex, and war is riveting material, leavened by the humor and wit of two of the 20th-century's smartest men.

"Vatican Splendors: A Journey Through Faith and Art"

January 29 — April 24 at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500, or visit moaflnsu.org.

Next year is the 500th anniversary of Michelangelo's ascent to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where he painted the world's most celebrated fresco. It's also the anniversary of the Catholic Church's establishment of the papal Swiss Guard, the Vatican Museums, and St. Peter's Basilica. To commemorate the occasion of its total institutional domination of Europe's art and culture, the Vatican is shipping many of its finest valuables in a traveling exhibition to the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, one of three locations to be graced with the church's 700-year-old paintings by Giotto and the baroque sculptures of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The only thing better than this collection would be a tour of the Vatican vaults. Among the 200-plus priceless artifacts, many never before seen, are papal jewels, bone fragments of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and Pope John II's personal effects, along with swords, armor, and uniforms used by the papal Swiss Guards — plus, most stunningly, the compass and tools employed by Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel. The objects, as the MoA puts it, are meant to "illustrate the Catholic Church's impact on history and culture" — or rather, a narrow, whitewashed view of that impact, since a Giotto is no less a product of the Church than a witch-burning stake.

"To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures From the Brooklyn Museum"

February 12 — May 8 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196, or visit norton.org.

The ancient Egyptians believed that death could be overcome, but their afterlife was no cakewalk — it demanded rigorous preparation. The Egyptians held that the ka, a spiritual essence, required food and sustenance after death. And that was just the ka essence — the ba and kha essences had their own special needs. Before dead pharaohs could take up residence in the stars, they went through a postmortem spa treatment: Their carcasses were bathed in wine, stripped of all internal organs but the heart, mummified, and buried with buffets. Commoners had little chance of passing into the afterlife, unless the royals bestowed upon them the necessary accouterments. The inequality of the Egyptians' afterlife, and their rituals around life and death, are the focus of the Norton Museum's superb exhibition of more than 100 Egyptian treasures — including a real mummy — borrowed from the famous collection at the Brooklyn Museum. And from March 26 — July 17, the Norton also draws on the Brooklyn Museum to showcase ancient Chinese mummies and tombs.

"Altered States: Jose Alvarez, Yayoi Kusama, Fred Tomaselli and Leo Villareal"

April 2 — July 17 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196, or visit norton.org.

The Norton Museum of Art has your fix in four of today's biggest artists. First is Jose Alvarez, one of Florida's most innovative minds. With the care of an ikebanist (an artist in Japanese floral arrangement), he positions feathers, minerals, and other materials on canvas to form technicolor dreamscapes — friendly realms down the rabbit hole. Next is Yayoi Kusama, perhaps the world's most celebrated living female artist. She lives in a mental ward by choice and applies in her various media obsessive patterns and, in particular, polka dots, which she calls portals to infinity. Fred Tomaselli, an American master, paints scenes on wood panels of burning, ecstatic revelation, those moments when you have ten eyes and a wormhole opening in your mind. And Leo Villareal does light shows that are like hallucinatory neon constellations. Villareal is designing light architecture for a supertall skyscraper under construction in Seoul; the world would be a futurist utopia if we let him turn our cities into his art installations. Alvarez, Kusama, Tomaselli, and Villareal are titans of contemporary art, and their work is woven together at "Altered States," which this year could be Florida's most outstanding exhibition — a beautiful, arresting bender.

Lady Gaga's Monster Ball Tour

April 12 at the BankAtlantic Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. Call 954-835-7825, or visit bankatlanticcenter.com.

Before she became the most sought-after celebrity on Earth, Lady Gaga traveled from little gay bar to little gay bar, banging on a piano and belting out songs like "Poker Face" to roomfuls of curious onlookers. She even made a stop at Bill's Filling Station in Wilton Manors just a few months before her takeoff. Today, her concerts sell out in nanoseconds around the globe, but South Florida seems to occupy a privileged place in her heart. Gaga played two concerts in Miami last New Year's. This April, she's making another round in the region, with a concert at the American Airlines Arena in Miami and one for her Broward fans at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, where Semi Precious Weapons will be her special guest. A lot is bound to happen between now and April: Gaga's new album, Born This Way, is slated for release around New Year's, and no doubt she'll find a hundred new outfits to one-up her meat dress at the recent VMAs. Thus far, she's kept her promise: "Pop music will never be low-brow again." Here's hoping that Born This Way blows us away; and that, as rumors have it, Gaga is planning to string up actual cadavers next year and make them dance on stage.

Don Giovanni

May 12 & 14 at the Au-Rene Theater in the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-462-0222, or visit browardcenter.org

Don Giovanni, the two-act opera by Mozart, has captivated artists and philosophers for centuries. Kierkegaard called it "a work without blemish, of uninterrupted perfection." So what's all the hype about? Don Giovanni is the antihero, a young, rich, and lecherous playboy, so slutty that he records his sexual conquests on a scroll: 640 in Italy, 231 in Germany, 1,003 in Spain. In the opening scene, he wears a mask while sneaking into a home to seduce a woman named Donna Anna. But he's caught, kills her father in a duel, escapes unscathed, and is then enlisted to avenge the murder he committed. The ending is legendary. David Pittsinger, a frequent presence at the Met, sings Giovanni; Jacquelyn Wagner, who got her start in Europe, sings Anna; and conductor Andrew Bisantz has been extolled over the years in the Financial Times and New York Magazine. In such seasoned hands, it's bound to be a smooth spectacle as staged by the Florida Grand Opera.

Ages of the Moon

June 2 — 26 at Mosaic Theatre, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation. Call 954-577-8243, or visit mosaictheatre.com.

Sam Shepard is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, an Academy Award-nominated actor, and a film and television director — in short, one of America's most accomplished and dynamic artists. Last January, Ages of the Moon, his play about two grouchy old men and a gun, opened to laudatory reviews in New York. At the Mosaic Theatre in Broward, it will be in the hands of one of South Florida's finest directors, Richard Jay Simon. Ages of the Moon follows Ames and Byron, geezers on a front porch with problems to pore over and lethal tensions to suppress as they await a lunar eclipse.

"Out of This World: Extraordinary Costumes From Film and Television"

June 4 — September 4 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196, or visit norton.org.

If Star Trek is accurate, human beings in the 23rd Century will wake up every morning and pull on monocolor spandex body suits with walkie-talkies pinned to their breasts. As flattering as it is to the svelte jet-setters on the Enterprise, though, the Star Trek uniform has a long way to go before it's high fashion, let alone an item at Macy's. For now, it's a curiosity confined to a glass case at the Norton Museum, which is showcasing more than 30 costumes from sci-fi flicks, the ones that tend to be more grungy or leather-themed: Star Wars, Blade Runner, Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, and Batman.

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