Best Art Museum 2010 | Norton Museum of Art | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida
Since its 1941 opening, the museum has grown dramatically, more than doubling its size with one expansion, completed in 1997, and adding 75 percent more gallery space with another expansion a mere half-dozen years later. The museum now encompasses 122,500 square feet. The collection has grown commensurately, so that it's now up to more than 7,000 works, with substantial holdings in European, American, Chinese, and contemporary art as well as photography. And although a surprising amount of this art is on view at any given time, the Norton doesn't stint on its special rotating exhibitions either. Of the dozen or so from the past year, five were recently on view at the same time, and their diversity is a testament to the institution's creative programming: "Avedon Fashion 1944-2000," "Habsburg Treasures: Renaissance Tapestries From the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna," "Here Comes the Sun: Warhol and Art After 1960 in the Norton Collection," "Paul Fusco: RFK Funeral Train Rediscovered," and "Reclaimed: Paintings From the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker." In the case of an art museum, bigger really is better — it's a matter of having more room for more art, and on both those counts, the Norton wins.
Gregg Weiner was a goddamned fireball in Dumb Show, frying the eyebrows off his audience every night. As a drunken, drug-addicted, philandering actor who's been suckered by two yellow journalists into revealing every vile little thing he's ever done, Weiner was a jitterbugging mass of frayed nerves and wild, mammalian survival instincts. He tore around the stage like a nihilistic bull, every vein in his head seemingly ready to burst in a shower of coke-tainted gore — yet there was a febrile, calculating intelligence that never left his eyes, no matter how wild he became. There were many virtuosic performances in Broward and Palm Beach this year, but only Weiner's was a force of nature.
Clarence Reid's soulful side is hidden somewhere under that supervillain mask he wears as X-rated rapper Blowfly. When he wasn't composing some of the dirtiest raps known to man back in the '70s, Reid could turn on the charm and play his voice like a horn in Miles Davis' grasp. Even through his current thick rasp, the fella who created hits like "Master Piece" and "Funky Party" is still as dynamic as hell. During an unmasked performance earlier this year at Fort Lauderdale's Monterey Club, the Miami resident bobbed and weaved through a set of his classics with the unhinged intensity of a man young enough to be his own illegitimate great-grandchild. In addition to his own soul creations, Reid has penned tunes for South Florida's KC and the Sunshine Band as well. What we're talking about isn't neo-soul, gospel, R&B, or any other subgenre but just the pure, unadulterated soul of a man — with an adulterated mind.

"Masterpiece" by Clarence Reid.

As umpteen karaoke singers have shown, the artistry of Neil Diamond is impossible to replicate. If you don't get too close to Neil Zirconia, who dubs himself "the ultimate faux diamond," it's easy to pretend that the gravelly warble knockoff you're getting is the real gem. Discovered by an Elvis impersonator — how apt — Chuck LaPaglia has delivered sparkling sets of Diamond classics as the Zirconia alter ego for years. Unlike the real Neil, you're often getting a quality steak dinner and cocktails at fine South Florida restaurants while the man in a sequin-covered shirt unloads "Sweet Caroline, "Cracklin' Rose," and "Kentucky Woman" with flair — and if you haven't gotten enough, the wait for another local gig is always a short one. A thrill so cheap rarely feels so good. A Diamond might be forever, but Zirconia lasts long enough for a night of quality nostalgia.

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