Bathtubs overlooking the Intracoastal are what give this place so much charm. Like some clandestine hideaway, Le Tub lurks behind lush foliage and a big brown picket fence. Inside you'll find South Florida's wackiest theme bar, a wooded alcove of rusty tubs and toilet seats and a quiet place to ponder moonlight ripples in yacht-disturbed waters. We like to find a perch where we can feed the catfish that gather just offshore and dig into Le Tub's superior gumbo. A well-stocked jukebox, brandy in plastic cups, and a lonely, scuffed pool table only add to the experience.
Bathtubs overlooking the Intracoastal are what give this place so much charm. Like some clandestine hideaway, Le Tub lurks behind lush foliage and a big brown picket fence. Inside you'll find South Florida's wackiest theme bar, a wooded alcove of rusty tubs and toilet seats and a quiet place to ponder moonlight ripples in yacht-disturbed waters. We like to find a perch where we can feed the catfish that gather just offshore and dig into Le Tub's superior gumbo. A well-stocked jukebox, brandy in plastic cups, and a lonely, scuffed pool table only add to the experience.
To families, block parties are a way to commune with neighbors, to fight suburban isolation with lawn chairs and potluck picnics, basketballs and bicycles. To college students, parties are a way to commune with the opposite sex, to fight social ineptitude with couches and kegs, bongs and bongos. And to the City of West Palm Beach, Clematis by Night is a way to commune with citizens, to fight downtown deterioration with restaurant tastings and refreshments, live bands and local artisans. The crowd comes in waves, first children bopping around their parents' ankles as a musical group warms up on Centennial Square, then teenagers trying on twisted silver rings and embroidered backpacks, and finally seniors waltzing in the street outside the Clematis Street Theater. The fashionable set arrives still later, swarming around Sforza's sidewalk tables and air-kissing acquaintances, ears abuzz, at My Martini. They stay later, too, sealing Clematis by Night's status as the weekly social event and showcase for the city. Not only has the program spurred redevelopment of downtown since it began in 1995, but proceeds from alcohol sales help support local museums, civic organizations, homeless shelters, and perhaps most appropriately, neighborhood associations.
To families, block parties are a way to commune with neighbors, to fight suburban isolation with lawn chairs and potluck picnics, basketballs and bicycles. To college students, parties are a way to commune with the opposite sex, to fight social ineptitude with couches and kegs, bongs and bongos. And to the City of West Palm Beach, Clematis by Night is a way to commune with citizens, to fight downtown deterioration with restaurant tastings and refreshments, live bands and local artisans. The crowd comes in waves, first children bopping around their parents' ankles as a musical group warms up on Centennial Square, then teenagers trying on twisted silver rings and embroidered backpacks, and finally seniors waltzing in the street outside the Clematis Street Theater. The fashionable set arrives still later, swarming around Sforza's sidewalk tables and air-kissing acquaintances, ears abuzz, at My Martini. They stay later, too, sealing Clematis by Night's status as the weekly social event and showcase for the city. Not only has the program spurred redevelopment of downtown since it began in 1995, but proceeds from alcohol sales help support local museums, civic organizations, homeless shelters, and perhaps most appropriately, neighborhood associations.
You could spend days scouting the dozens of commercial galleries in Broward and Palm Beach counties for that perfect piece of art, or you could do one-stop shopping at Gallery Center. This 30,000-square-foot complex is more like a museum than an art mart, with a small outdoor sculpture garden that draws you into the building, a sprawling, airy complex where you can wander among eight galleries under one roof. The art, all for sale, is mostly contemporary, although the works of such art-world trendoids as Mark Kostabi, Julian Schnabel, and David Salle are conspicuous only by their welcome absence. Instead there's a far-ranging selection of photography, sculpture, glassware, and oil, acrylic, and watercolor painting, including works by major artists. You might stumble across a Pousette-Dart or a Botero canvas, for instance, and the breathtaking glasswork of Dale Chihuly is a staple. There's first-class art for as little as a couple hundred dollars or as much as a quarter of a million. In other words, don't go there looking for something to match the sofa.
You could spend days scouting the dozens of commercial galleries in Broward and Palm Beach counties for that perfect piece of art, or you could do one-stop shopping at Gallery Center. This 30,000-square-foot complex is more like a museum than an art mart, with a small outdoor sculpture garden that draws you into the building, a sprawling, airy complex where you can wander among eight galleries under one roof. The art, all for sale, is mostly contemporary, although the works of such art-world trendoids as Mark Kostabi, Julian Schnabel, and David Salle are conspicuous only by their welcome absence. Instead there's a far-ranging selection of photography, sculpture, glassware, and oil, acrylic, and watercolor painting, including works by major artists. You might stumble across a Pousette-Dart or a Botero canvas, for instance, and the breathtaking glasswork of Dale Chihuly is a staple. There's first-class art for as little as a couple hundred dollars or as much as a quarter of a million. In other words, don't go there looking for something to match the sofa.
If we're talking exhibition space only, the best area museum would have to be Lake Worth's Museum of Contemporary Art, a small but aesthetically appealing and tremendously versatile facility that's intimate without being claustrophobic. But if we're talking museum in the larger sense of the word -- as a cultural entity -- the winner is Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art, which has begun to shake off some of its stodginess. From last year's landmark Cuban exiles show to a refreshingly quirky Hortt Competition, the museum is opting for more and more adventurous programming. It also makes its auditorium available to other worthy arts organizations, including theater groups and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.
Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale
If we're talking exhibition space only, the best area museum would have to be Lake Worth's Museum of Contemporary Art, a small but aesthetically appealing and tremendously versatile facility that's intimate without being claustrophobic. But if we're talking museum in the larger sense of the word -- as a cultural entity -- the winner is Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art, which has begun to shake off some of its stodginess. From last year's landmark Cuban exiles show to a refreshingly quirky Hortt Competition, the museum is opting for more and more adventurous programming. It also makes its auditorium available to other worthy arts organizations, including theater groups and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.
Boys shove girly magazines under the bed when parents come home, and adults lock up the porn videos when kids are underfoot. Galerie Macabre is a warehouse-size "under the bed," where you can gaze at morbid and erotic art without fear of judgment. Lady Vanessa runs the place, displaying the work of half a dozen artists, including herself, during each show. Last spring's "Eroticabre" -- featuring Vargas-like nudes, homoerotic images, and bas-relief phalluses -- drew a curious mix of suits and middle-aged motorcycle boys. The next show, "Gothik," packed the gallery with goth kids, who ambled among the morbid photos and paintings as a thunderstorm raged outside. But the place is best when it's quiet, when the shock of seeing genitalia on the walls gives way to closer inspection of the more complicated artwork, like Shannon English's dolls encased in glass jars sealed with beeswax (Nobody Likes a Crybaby); Hortt winner Tony Campagna's bloody, anatomically detailed canvases (Convict); and the politically charged erotic photos of Wes Carson (Patriotic Lovers). Lady V's motives? "I exhibit art that has no limitations, no boundaries," she says, "because I want to provide that freedom for the artist." While inside her gallery, the viewer is also free.
Boys shove girly magazines under the bed when parents come home, and adults lock up the porn videos when kids are underfoot. Galerie Macabre is a warehouse-size "under the bed," where you can gaze at morbid and erotic art without fear of judgment. Lady Vanessa runs the place, displaying the work of half a dozen artists, including herself, during each show. Last spring's "Eroticabre" -- featuring Vargas-like nudes, homoerotic images, and bas-relief phalluses -- drew a curious mix of suits and middle-aged motorcycle boys. The next show, "Gothik," packed the gallery with goth kids, who ambled among the morbid photos and paintings as a thunderstorm raged outside. But the place is best when it's quiet, when the shock of seeing genitalia on the walls gives way to closer inspection of the more complicated artwork, like Shannon English's dolls encased in glass jars sealed with beeswax (Nobody Likes a Crybaby); Hortt winner Tony Campagna's bloody, anatomically detailed canvases (Convict); and the politically charged erotic photos of Wes Carson (Patriotic Lovers). Lady V's motives? "I exhibit art that has no limitations, no boundaries," she says, "because I want to provide that freedom for the artist." While inside her gallery, the viewer is also free.

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