As our beloved Miami enters 2013 — 12/12/12 gone forever and the Mayan Calendar thing having fallen through — I have created a list that future historians and Googlers will be able to use to find out what happened in 2012 as they search for meaning in a life buried between habitual texts and tweets.
In other words, here is a (completely biased) Top 10 list of the most memorable art events of 2012:
2. Critical Mass Bicycle Rides — on the last Friday of every month.
3. Miami Heat— becoming NBA Champs and Lebron doing his magnificent dance.
4. The Artist — being held over for several weeks at the Coral Gables Art Cinema.
5. Marley — 144 minutes of reggae rapture and respect, screened at the O Cinema.
6. Black Violin — laying low at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.
9. ULTRA musicfestival — massive electronic music bacchanal in Bayfront Park.
10. Miami Made Festival — at the Arsht; free, local and creative!
Despite an occasional competitive pall that infects locals during Art Basel, as everywhere it seems, names drop like cheap Tommy Hilfiger jeans from Marshall’s over boxers on a 15-year-old in the hood, the best single event Miami has to offer its denizens is Art Basel week — hands down.
Though celebrity, it seems, trumps all else, with pop-up clubs from Paris, cheap big-brand alcohol sponsored parties in North Miami, and words like vernissage tossed around like beanbags at the fifth grade fair, legitimately brilliant art during Basel is as ubiquitous as sweat in August or sand on the beach.
Ignoring the pretense which rides shotgun at the Soho Beach House, the Royal James and ever-increasing sponsored pool parties at hotels, this posturing still cannot kill the Grey Goose that has laid the golden egg. More than 1,100 galleries from around the world invade Miami. Truly, there is something for everyone, much of it spectacular and eye popping. Those here anointed — Art Asia, Pulse and Miami Project — were the #1 jewels in a heavily studded crown.
In second place, Critical Mass keeps growing and spreading deep love with no judgment, nor cost, to anyone with non-motorized wheels. Rolling on!
Third on the list but #1 in our hearts, The Heat reigned supreme after heaps of drama and tribulation. Seeing Lebron’s smile light up an entire megalopolis was justice long overdue. Along with Dwyane Wade, this fine young brother delivered us from Thunder!
Positions 4 and 5 go to the little theaters that keep on giving. Staid Coral Gables offered a string of great films at the Coral Gables Art Cinema. Besides the masterful, award-winning silent throwback The Artist, both Pina and Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love filled seats week after week. Once edgy Wynwood’s O Cinema delivered tears of joy screening Kevin Macdonald’s delectable documentary Marley on the extraordinary Rastafarian prophet’s life, rhythm and times.
Sneaking in the back door as #6 was a little show by Black Violin, two classically trained string instrumentalists who went to Dillard High and connected their love of hip hop with, for example, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto. Exhilarating, uplifting and in Cutler Ridge.
Though Miami Spice Restaurant Month provides summer relief, Miami itself has been slow to get the crafty, beery, pickley thing going that those who live in Brooklyn, Baltimore or LA thrive on. Then Panther Coffee opened a while back, Zak Stern started baking, and the folks from Metro opened Lagniappe across from the railroad tracks. Though we grant love to others, these three deserve style points and #7.
The final three places go to events deeply embedded in the annual calendar. Miami Book Fair International — the Book Fair as we simply reduce it to — is an epic institution beloved by more than librarians. Miami Dade College and chair Mitchell Kaplan, he of the dignified Books & Books aesthetic, provide us with the cultural treasure each November. It is the ultimate, multicultural, intellectual party for thinkers and keeps getting better.
ULTRA musicfestival at Bayfront Park is the antidote for thousands of teenagers (and overgrown teenagers) frustrated by a transit system that is virtually disfunctional and inaccesible, plus takes more than 90 minutes to get anywhere if you are lucky. For three days downtown, our young are liberated but deaf.
Last but hardly least, Miami Made at the Arsht offers us a chance to see those talented friends and families who may one day make it big, but for whatever mad twist of luck, have remained local. This week reminds us that prodigious talent, artistry, originality and fame — whether sought or not — are divided by fate, not quality.
Carl Rachelson is a regular contributor to this newspaper. He has a Masters Degree in the Humanities and is an English teacher at Palmer Trinity School. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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