Monday, June 29, 2009

I Love the 80s - Volume 8

I adore Kate Bush. Her music is whimsical, theatrical, melodic and filled with references to classic British literature. Her song The Sensual World was released in 1989 and inspired by the novel Ulysses by James Joyce. The lyrics mirror a monologue by the character Molly Bloom at the end of the book:

...Stepping out of the page into the sensual world...Stepping out...To where the water and the earth caress...You don't need words--just one kiss then another...Stepping out of the page into the sensual world Stepping out, off the page, into the sensual world...And then our arrows of desire rewrite the speech, mmh, yes...Stepping out of the page into the sensual world...

Kate Bush - The Sensual World

MAM Fourth of July Special

It's been raining in Miami everyday since June 1st. So, one way to ensure you won't get soaked this Fourth of July, is to head over to the Miami Art Museum and take advantage of their two-for-one admission special. The entrance fee is usually eight dollars but, if you invite a buddy to go with you on Saturday, it will only cost four.

If you're too busy setting up fireworks that day, try going on July 11th instead and take advantage of their Second Saturdays Free for Families day. The monthly event, from 1 pm to 4 pm, features hands-on activities for children and adults, such as storytelling, guided tours, gallery games and dance performances.

Or check out their MAM Summer Nights, which occurs every second Thursday of the month during the summer from 6:30 pm to 9 pm. The next installment on July 9th will feature a live dance performance called, Re-visit, Re-vision, Re-verb. The cost is ten dollars.

For more information on these events or to check out their current exhibit, go here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eye Candy - Anne Siems

From the Artist:
What I paint comes from an intuitive visceral place. Elements that are found in my work through the years are there because they feel right: they have no specific symbolism. What you see is an open ended narrative, one that I invite the viewer to enter into and complete or continue.

Friday, June 26, 2009

On the Trail of The Stoning of Soraya M.

Good news! I found one theater in Aventura (Aventura 24 Theatres 19501 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33180) that will be playing The Stoning of Soraya M. on July 10. However, no dates are set for Miami yet. For those of you who missed my last post regarding the film, here is a description of it:

The movie is based on a true story of one courageous Iranian woman's attempt to expose atrocities that befell on her niece, who was stoned to death because she was accused of adultery. The allegations against her are false and the very nature of stoning a person to death is barbaric and goes against basic human rights. The news reports I have read have given this movie raving reviews and the film has opened its audiences' eyes to the lack of women's rights in Iran.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Stoning of Soraya M.


Good news! I found one theater in Aventura (Aventura 24 Theatres 19501 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33180) that will be playing The Stoning of Soraya M. on July 10. However, no dates are set for Miami yet.


I wrote an e-mail today to the Miami Beach Cinematheque- an arthouse movie theater and home of the Miami Beach Film Society - about a topic I feel very strongly about right now. Here's a copy of what I wrote:

My name is Larissa. I'm a huge fan of the Cinematheque and wanted to thank your organization for granting me the opportunity of watching exceptional films.

Having said that, I noticed that one film, which I'm interested in watching, is not listed on your calendar of events for June or July. The movie, The Stoning of Soraya M., is set for limited U.S. release on June 26.

Do you know if this movie will be released in Miami anytime soon? So far, not one theater in the entire state of Florida is listed to premiere this film!

The movie is based on a true story of one courageous Iranian woman's attempt to expose atrocities that befell on her niece, who was stoned to death because she was accused of adultery. The allegations against her are false and the very nature of stoning a person to death is barbaric and goes against basic human rights. The news reports I have read have given this movie raving reviews and the film has opened its audiences' eyes to the lack of women's rights in Iran.

I feel that this is an incredibly important movie, especially given the recent protests in Iran. Art is not merely a vehicle for beauty, but also serves as a means for social and political change, which is why historically all oppressive societies have censored books, movies, paintings, etc.

Please bring this important movie to Miami. Or please advise me on what I need to do to get this film shown here.

With much admiration and respect,


Here's a preview of the movie:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Classic Moments in Cinema: Last Tango in Paris

Year: 1973
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Plot: Paul - played by Marlon Brando, of Godfather fame- portrays an American expatriate living in Paris and crazed by grief after his wife commits suicide. So he roams through the Parisian streets until he meets Jeanne, an unknown girl, while apartment hunting. Without a word, they have sex. Later, while Paul arranges his wife's funeral, he decides to lease the apartment where he met Jeanne. They begin meeting there for frenzied afternoons. "No names here," he tells her. They shut out the world and forfeit their pasts and identities, temporarily forgetting grief and responsibilities.
Category: One of my favorites films

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pop! Pop! - A Review

This past Saturday I ventured over to Pink Ghost - a Ft. Lauderdale-based store that sells vinyl toys, art books and magazines- for their opening of Pop! Pop! - a collection of low brow paintings and drawings representing aspects of modern 'pop' culture.

Though each artist invoked 'pop' in their own individualistic way, the collection - as a whole - was fun and playful. But two artists stood out.

The first: Helena Garcia. Her paintings were feminine, colorful and all around adorable! She had three pieces displayed, which focused on the fashion styles of: Berlin, Bogota, and Tokyo.

Peek through the kaleidoscope:

The second: Justin Rose. His paintings focused on the reshaping of popular fairy tales by adding elements associated with death, such as skulls and ghosts.

Spy down the rabbit hole:

All in all, the entire show was innovative and cheeky. I definitely recommend checking it out before it closes in July. But, if you can't make it, check out the rest of the show here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Eye Candy - Camille Rose Garcia

From the artist:
Camille Rose Garcia was born in 1970 in Los Angeles, California and grew up in the generic suburbs of Orange County, visiting Disneyland and going to punk shows with the other dissenchanted youth of that era. Her paintings of creepy cartoon children living in wasteland fairy tales are critical commentaries on the failures of capitalist utopias.

See and read more here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

My taste in art ranges from classical to abstract. I appreciate detailed craftsmanship as much as I appreciate abstract figures and forms; variations in style, color and theme usually exemplify the moral, social and political values of a century. These stylistic differences also display how the definition of beauty has changed over years. For example, when you look at a Botticelli painting, the women are slightly obese [when compared to modern/waif Miami standards] and are extremely pale. But paleness and obesity, at that time, were associated with wealth. The poor worked all day in the sun and consequently became extremely tanned. But wealth was synonymous with beauty - two things very few people could hope to achieve in that point in history.

Having said that, I purchased today a beautiful print from Ft. Lauderdale-based Bear and Bird Gallery! The print -a recreation of an original painting by the Mexican artist Anita Mejía- is cartoonish. It's also slightly unnerving in its perceived cuteness and innocence since it involves a subtle undercurrent of violence [see left]. I truly believe that many people in my age group - the late 20 somethings and the early 30 somethings - are stuck in some kind of eternal adolescence. I think the decadence of the 80s and the introduction of video games and MTV seeped into our minds so deeply that we still cling unto to some kind of idyllic and 'the skies are limitless' past that no longer exists except in our own minds. So, it manifests in buying cartoonish art, collecting vintage Star Wars toys, watching 80s movies that you've seen 20 times before or simply by trying to convince your son or daughter that bands like the Flock of Seagulls or Run DMC are truly kings.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wynwood Art Walk: A Pictorial Review

It was the good, the bad, the ugly and the WTF? at last night's installment of the Wynwood Gallery Walk. And though the humidity was thick enough to cut, a large crowd gathered to enjoy the art, drinks and rainless summer night. Here's a recap for those who missed it:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Poem of the Day - by Nikki Giovanni


In the reddish gray of morning just before night concedes I know the silhouette of Sunflowers turning their heads to the east

I hear birds gathering at the bird bath chattering away singing warning gossiping about the cat in the bushes

I watch the rabbits starting for the warren under my shed to rest from another night of survival

Mother 'Possum with six youngsters on her back slowly like any other overburdened woman makes her way back home

I look at the clouds push off against the lighter blue and making coffee I hear the friendly gurgle of the drip maker the sigh of the toast softly browning

I watch the world come awake sitting in my kitchen hearing smelling tasting another day but nothing is clear until you


Calling the sun to work

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Local Artist Meet and Greet: Gerry Stecca

Gerry Stecca is a Venezuelan painter and sculptor who earned his Visual Arts degree from the University of California in 1987. He moved to Miami in 1989, where collaborations with designers in the retail, travel and hospitality industries led him to an interest in "the potential use of 'space' as a medium". This and other experiences in Miami eventually inspired him to create sculptural installations involving clothespins [see the last two photos below]. You can currently see a Stecca mural on the side of the Design District Club The Vagabond.

You studied art in San Diego. How does the art scene there compare to Miami?

Well... it's been a while since my San Diego days and it would not be a current opinion. [But] I do know that the concept of an art opening, gallery walk, or even art fairs is treated different in the West coast. In Miami, any art event that does not have hints of a party mixed in suffers in attendance. Also, we run our events much later than most of the country [and] even advertise after parties! [I’m] not sure about the immediate benefits of this festive approach for the artist and the venue but it is the norm followed around these parts.

What's the best thing about being an artist in Miami? Please elaborate.

Without a doubt, Miami is frequently an international stop, attracting people from all over the U.S. and the world and offering a priceless opportunity to share our work with so many people and nations, almost without having to leave home. How to do that [though] is up to each artist to figure out. But the opportunity is right at hand.

Also, compared to important cities in the world of art, we do not have as many artists competing for attention, space and clients. It [also] does not hurt to have fairly good weather most of the year either, which is good for morale even when times are hard.

Who is your favorite local artist [besides yourself]? Why?

There are more artists in Miami than the major local media lets people know (an old sore point with me) therefore answering that question is rather difficult. I will say that Wendy Wisher's work has consistently pleased and intrigued my imagination. There is also Federico Uribes’ sculptures and installations. Although we work differently, our minds follow the same road of repetition and pattern, thus I always look forward to seeing his work.

If you could have a drink with any artist living or dead, who would it be and why?

If it is only one [artist] that I get to choose, it would have to be Leonardo da Vinci, the all inclusive, one stop talent-do it all well-mastermind. I would probably just shut up and listen to what his vast mind would have to say. My drink would probably get forgotten.

Please choose your favorite: Picasso, Miró or Marcel Duchamp? Why?

Of those three, Picasso. I have seen a lot of his work in person and studied it in art school as well. [I’m] not crazy about most of it, but I
truly admire his relentless productivity and the intense approach he took to life. At a time when the world was a lot smaller than it is now - lacking the Internet, TV, international newspapers, etc.- Picasso was noticed and became one of the first art superstars [and has] retained his titled to this date (unlike most of the current [superstar artists], often fabricated by savvy art dealers).

How influential are other modes of art, such as film and music - on your own work? Has a poem, song, or film etc ever inspired you to create?

When it comes to my sculptural work, without a doubt, my inspiration is sparked by the discovery of the object, the unit, the one "thing" that I quickly see in my head as being used in single or in mass repetition as part of something larger. After, what seems like a mandatory period of trial and error, the object becomes an obsession or it is a bust.

As far as painting, drawing or designing something, the inspiration may come from just anywhere. The best ideas happen precisely when I am not trying to think of one, often while working on a very repetitious piece.

How/where did the idea of creating sculptures from clothes pins originate?

Most often asked question and the funniest to answer. While planning to attend a local fetish theme party, I offered to make a dress for my best friend. On an artist’s budget, I went to the closest dollar store and choose to buy a lot of clothespins. A few hours and close to 400 wood clothespins later, the first dress was created.

The satisfaction from that quickly improvised piece and the attention we got that night, led to a six year long [and] slow progression of the technique I use now, modesty aside.

Do you need long periods of time alone for artistic inspiration or are you energized by interaction?

Inspiration just happens. Be it while working on something, at a party, or driving across country (road trips are great thinking opportunities). Interaction with others is the most important source of experience, which in essence is the root of all true creative work. Musicians are born with the mathematical musical capacity already in them. Visual art, on the other hand, comes from experience earned throughout life.

Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

Originality is the art of concealing your sources.
- Benjamin Franklin

70s American punk rocker Iggy Pop, now a Miami resident, wrote this catchy tune, which inspired the British Siouxsie and The Banshees to perform their own version years later...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action!

Listen up Miami: the 13th Brazilian Film Festival kicks off this Friday with free double screenings of the film, My Name Ain't Johnny. The flick will premiere at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach at 7 p.m. and also at the Hollywood Beach Theatre at 8:30 p.m. For more information, click the image to the left.

There will also be plenty of other movies showing until the 13th, including a special tribute to Bruno Barreto - one of Brazil's premiere auteurs. If you haven't seen Barreto's work before, I highly suggest you do! The festival will showcase six of his films. His movies range from light romantic comedies to serious dramas. A great introduction to his work, and one that truly captures the spirit of Brazilian culture, is the film, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands. The movie will be shown on June 8 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque at 8 p.m.

Here is a description from Rotten Tomatoes:

Dona Flora is a young widow who remarries only to have her dead husband returning to her in spirit. While her ex never treated her right except in bed, her new husband is dependable if dull in the sack. What's Dona to do but take the best of both worlds--even if one of them is, strictly speaking, beyond the grave? This magical realist sex-comedy was a huge hit in its native Brazil and is based on the novel by Jorge Amado; it was later remade into the Sally Field film KISS ME GOODBYE.

Most tickets cost ten dollars and locations vary. Find more information here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Crooning on Venus - The Singers

L has been kind enough to spare me a tile or two here. I am Janus, an art and music enthusiast and to say anymore about me would contribute to overstaying my welcome. From time to time, I might write a bit about music, about art, about food. Today, music.

Scratch the surface of many an avant-garde jazz musician and you’ll find a populist at heart; only a decade separated Miles Davis’ Stockhausen-draped-in-funk epic On the Corner from his anodyne covers of Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper hits in the 80’s. Lester Bowie went from founding the (much beloved by French underground filmmakers) Art Ensemble of Chicago whose charter declared a commitment “to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music” to playing Spice Girls hits before he died.

But what of those pop performers whose riches and hordes of adoring fans were secretly coveted in the farthest recesses of the art-music world. Sure David Bowie gave good Stockhausen in magazine interviews, and Joni Mitchell even recorded an album with (a sadly fading) Charles Mingus; but at the end of the day, Bowie still placed the chorus where the chorus was supposed to be and Joni just did Joni, but with more jazz.

Three pop (or should I say former pop) performers on the other hand, really did the unforeseeable and over the course of their careers jettisoned melody, fan base and bank balance alike to each pursue a dissonant muse. Scott Walker, Mark Hollis and David Sylvian each started off as a minor variation on the teen idol theme but, like the Jonas Brothers exploring Ornette Coleman, each became (despite having the voices of angels) a noisy, cantankerous and yet beautiful thing.

I start with Scott Walker, the oldest of this lot, a teen idol in the sixties, here he is with his then band of make-believe siblings, the Walker Brothers, singing their 1966 number-one hit "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore".

Within a year of this he was off to a monastery to study Gregorian Chant and began to record his own series of solo albums consisting of Jaques Brel covers and his own idiosyncratic compositions. This would have been dramatic a change enough for most, but by the 90’s he was setting Pier Paolo Pasolini to music described by one reviewer as "Samuel Beckett at La Scala". On his most recent full length recording, The Drift, he sings about Mussolini and his mistress with percussion provided by musicians beating raw meat . Here is an excerpt from the Scott Walker Documentary 30th Century Man.

You may not know Mark Hollis, but you know his songs. The voice of, songwriter and primary musician behind synthpop wonders Talk Talk. Often called the “poor man’s Duran Duran” they had massive hits with the eponymous track Talk Talk, Life’s What You Make it and of course, It’s my Life.

By 1990, the synthesizers (and most of the band) were gone. Hollis was listening to Miles Davis, Hector Berlioz and the strange voices in his head. It all peaked with the Laughing Stock album that year. Six tracks recorded with a classical ensemble that manage to be ambient, jazz with the occasional burst of well placed noise, all with Hollis’ plaintive vocals and strangely unsettling lyrics stitching it all together. This could have been the start of a good thing, but it was not to be. Hollis recorded one solo album in 1998, almost as good as Laughing Stock (but painted with watercolors where Laughing Stock used heavy acrylics) and then retired to his study to play piano and hasn’t been heard from since.

Perhaps of the three artists mentioned here, David Sylvian’s path to the esoteric was probably the most predictable. The final album released by Japan, his early glam rock band, experimented with ambient textures and tribal rhythms and his first solo album included contributions from artists outside the mainstream such as Holger Czukay, Jon Hassell and Ryuichi Sakamoto. This early arty period peaked with the moody Secrets of the Beehive, recorded in the middle of a span of albums that alternated song oriented outings with full length ambient recordings. Here’s Sylvian doing Orpheus, an unlikely hit with a brilliant Mark Isham trumpet solo.

In the 90’s, Sylvian got married, studied eastern religions, joined Robert Fripp to record a couple of surprisingly rockist albums and then seemed to disappear for a bit. When he returned, bearded, divorced and shorn of all artifice, it was with a raw album. Blemish recorded in his home studio features just three musicians, Sylvian, free-jazz guitarist Derek Bailey and synthesizer/guitar avant-electronica artist Fennesz. Songs about the dissolution of a marriage perhaps? “I fall outside of her/She doesn't notice/She doesn't notice at all/And mine is an empty bed/I think she's forgotten”

Of the three, Sylvian also remains the most prolific, collaborating with others under the name 9 Horses, working with Joan as a Police Woman and his old mate Ryuichu Sakamoto. A new album is due this year.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I Love the 80s - Volume 7

It's been raining everyday for the last two weeks and I've had this song stuck in my mind since then. So, I nominate Here Comes the Rain Again as Miami's official summer anthem. Admittedly, most people probably won't associate its haunting and nostalgic melody with the city. But this is the kind of song you listen to at 6 a.m. when driving home from a long night out or early in the morning when you just wake up. This is the kind of song you listen to before or after making love; the kind of song that reminds you of your awkward teenage years and reminds you of your first love...