Guest Post: Be Present

This is from “Nat Turner” originally posted on Facebook. Reprinted with permission.

How often are we as humans actually present to the people around us? Something significant happened on my way into work today. I was not paying attention and leaving a convenient store, there was a mother pushing a stroller on the right side of me. Now I was nowhere near close to harming her or her kid but the fact remains I was not paying attention.

This woman went absolutely APE SHIT!!! Screaming profanity and even spitting on me and on my car. Now I could have done the same thing back. I did not deserve to be spit at, or on, for that matter. But, what I did was get “present” to her world and her feelings. I said, “You’re right!! I should have been paying attention!” She stopped yelling. I said, “I am totally at fault and understand why you’re so mad!” She still said nothing. I then said “I give you my word that I will be more vigilant and remember this moment,” and then I thanked her. She stood emotionless for what seemed like an hour then began to ball hysterically, crying.

She then apologized to me for spitting on me and said this: “I just moved down here from Vermont. This baby is only 8 months old. Her dad left us for his new wife and I’m all alone.” I hugged her and she cried. So did I! I told her that I live nearby with my girlfriend and am no stranger to pain. I gave her my business card and asked her if she would like to bring her child over for dinner one night with my girlfriend and I? She cried harder. I said, “You have to! It’s not an option now!” She started to laugh and I hugged her one more time.

If I did not have the tools to get “present” with another human being, this would never have happened. Spitting on me is a quick way to get your teeth knocked out. Ask somebody. But, we as humans have got to get present to the people around us. We have gto stop confusing our “standards and ideals” for “principles and values.”

I could have yelled at this woman. Instead, I got to feel her pain and be present to a total stranger’s life and made a new friend. I Love ya ;) Notice the world around you. You’ll find it looks just like you, but not at all the way your eyes see it.

The R.U. (A Grassroots Charity Movement)

Guest Article: Words on an important (researched) subject: Public Libraries by Jonathan Rose

A guest article by Jonathan Rose

For The Mayor and The Commission of Miami-Dade County:

“And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science
and libraries of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them. . . .” [emphasis added]
Letter to John Adams
[September 12, 1821]

From an essay by Gautam Patel (lawyer from India) Public Libraries: The Soul of a Civilization

“[T] the heart of every city is defined by two things: the state of its public spaces, and the quality and condition of its public libraries. Indeed, a public library defines not only the city in which it sits, but the state of the society that created it. [emphasis added]
* * *
Public libraries represent an ideal, an idea of freedom and a commitment to its continuance. In modern times, perhaps the greatest commitment to public libraries (and, this cannot be coincidence either, university education) has been in America and England.
[emphasis added]
* * *
Cutting back on public spending on libraries is every bit as catastrophic and dangerous as burning or physical destruction, and far more insidious. [emphasis added]
* * *
But there is a deeper reason why we should all protest against the closures and cutbacks being forced on libraries. The loss of every library is not just the loss of a building or a warehouse of books. It represents a loss of knowledge, an abandonment of a commitment to education, growth, development and freedom. The loss of every library shrinks its society. Jorge Luis Borges imagined paradise to be “a kind of library”; great societies shave great public libraries, for nothing represents a more democratic commitment to the citizen than a public garden and a public library. [emphasis added]
[Entire article]
and:
“Google may save time. Libraries save minds. There can never be enough emphasis added to the statement ‘Libraries save minds.’ ” [emphasis added]

by Jonathan Rose – July 4, 2014
Culture in the City

Guest Article: Outsmart ATM Fees and Give a Cool Toy to a Kid

Guest Article by Erin Mia

Outsmart ATM Fees and Give a Cool Toy to a Kid

A friend of mine recently shared an idea with me on how to outsmart ATM banking fees and get a cool toy at the same time. I thought it was so brilliant that I should share it, but I added my own twist and attached a little ‘Mitzvah Project’ onto it.

Most of us find ourselves in need of a little pocket cash every now & again so stopping at an ATM is what we all naturally do. Well, chances are, if you need cash NOW, your own bank’s ATM is miles away so you’re going to be charged a $3. fee to use another bank’s services. That’s a drag. Have you any idea how much profit banks make on convenience fees?

Here’s the constructive solution: Stop in to any local Walgreens or CVS (they’re on every corner) and purchase a Matchbox Car for about the same price as the out-of-network ATM fee and use your ATM card to purchase it. When the machine asks you if you’d like cash back, hit YES and get your $20. or $40. bucks that you need. Now you have your cash, ‘Big Banking’ doesn’t get their $3. fee and you have a cool miniature of one of your favorite cars.

NOW… let’s turn this project into a MITZVAH (a good deed).

Donate those Matchbox cars to Kids In Distress or any children’s charity, so that children who could REALLY enjoy a new toy that helps them explore their imagination, will also benefit.

EASY – WIN-WIN-WIN.
Spread a little sunshine and share this with your friends :)

With Love,
Erin Mia Milchman
Erin Mia Milchman, Inc.

Guest Article: Oxenberg Fine Art opening of Fernando Vignoli by Ilmar Saar

Guest Article by Ilmar Saar

On November 30th Oxenberg Fine Art hosted and evening celebrating the opening of Fernando Vignoli‘s exhibition of oil paintings, From Babel to Basel. Also on display were works from other fine artists such as Mira Lehr, Cesar Santos, Brian Batt, Sebastian Spreng, Heriberto Mora, Mimi Bates, Riita Klint, Neltje, Albert Paley, Jonathan Hertzel, Marcello Corra, Linda Lee Johnson, Janet Slom and Dolly Moreno.

Interestingly enough the space not only hosts two galleries; Oxenberg Fine Art and Kelley Roy Gallery but also the the Finnish Consulate of whom Susan P. Kelly one of the galley owner is also the Swedish consul.

From Babel to Basel will be on view through December 31.

Oxenberg Fine Art / Kelley Roy Gallery / Consulate of Finland
50 NE 29th Street,
Miami, FL 33137

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Guest Article by Susan Bodack: Planning a South Beach Getaway: Where to Stay and What to Pack

Planning a South Beach Getaway: Where to Stay & What to Pack
This is a guest article written by Susan Bodack, the Social Media Marketing Manager at InStyleSwimwear.com–your one-stop online shop for women’s designer swimwear and resortwear. Whether you’re a South Florida local or a reader from afar, InStyleSwimwear will help you look South Beach-chic in no time flat.

If you’re looking for a travel destination packed with sexy people, swanky night life and spicy culture, there is no other choice but South Beach. The entire city of Miami is a pretty awesome destination, but this little section of shorefront is particularly well-known for its sultry fashions and sexy nightlife. If you’re not necessarily into the wild parties and club scene, you can equally enjoy being immersed in the Little Havana atmosphere that’s just around the corner, serving up delicious foods and knock-your-socks-off coffee. South Beach really does offer something for everyone–whether you’re into relaxing on the beach, dancing the night away at the club, pigging out on delicious foods, enjoying high-end shopping or all of the above, Miami’s South Beach is the perfect winter getaway.

Where To Stay
broken shaker bar at the freehand miami hostelIf you’re looking to pinch some pennies, there are plenty of budget-friendly accommodations in the area. Since South Beach can draw in a ton of younger tourists, there are many low-cost hotels and hostels. Consider staying at the recently revamped Freehand Miami, a chic hostel offering rooms between $40 and $140 per night, depending on if you share space or not. Complete with a lush pool and a happening bar, this is a great place to recoup after a long day in the South Florida sun. Another affordable option is the SoBe Hostel. Always hosting several international travelers and backpackers, the SoBe Hostel is a great way to meet tons of interesting people all under one roof. Conveniently located near the local hotspots and situated on the edge of a million-dollar neighborhood, the prices are surprisingly low. Rooms can be arranged for less than $30 a night, depending on your accommodation preferences. You’ll have access to a pool, internet café and community kitchen, which can also help offset costs if you choose to prepare some of your own meals.

the setaiIf you’re not into the sharing space scene or are simply looking for lodging that’s a little more luxurious, consider checking into The Setai, an upscale art-deco resort where you’ll enjoy a refined breath of fresh air in all the South Beach hustle and bustle. Situated on the beach but also featuring a stunning pool area, you’ll have easy access to either swimming destination you choose. When you’re done soaking up the sun, you can retire to a suite of your choosing, ranging from a cozy studio to an incredible, awe-inspiring penthouse. With its swanky Asian-inspired atmosphere and ritzy accommodations, The Setai sets a high bar for its competitors. Equally impressive are South Beach’s SLS Hotel and Fontainebleau, but you really don’t have to search very hard to find luxury lodgings in the area!

What To Pack
la fama by luli fama south beachWhen it comes to South Beach style, pretty much anything goes–you can find runway-inspired high fashion, hipster and bohemian trends and skimpy club attire. Obviously you’ll want to look fabulously South Beach-chic, so make sure to pack accordingly. While you’ll definitely need plenty of sexy swimwear, make sure to take some classy “ready-to-wear” pieces as well for covering up on the journey to and from the water. Think breezy caftans with billowy sleeves, sleek maxi dresses and flowy tunics in fun prints, all of which can easily transition your look from the beach to the street. Stick to classic solids or vibrant colors and prints that work well with Miami’s Latin feel. A floppy beach hat and oversized glasses are a must to increase your poolside mystique, and they’ll also offer up valuable sun protection. In terms of shoes, pack for the activities you plan on taking advantage of–flip-flops for the beach and wedges and heels for night.

Regardless of where you stay or what you pack, you’re in for a fabulous fun-filled vacation full of swanky South Beach flair.

Guest Article: Park Avenue Pianos and the Rolls Royce Wraith Launch

Park Avenue Pianos treated Braman Rolls Royce VIPs to a private concert at the exclusive launch for the 2014 Rolls Royce Wraith, the most potent and technologically advanced Rolls Royce ever made. Park Avenue Pianos brought a mint condition and “Golden Age” Steinway Grand Piano from its collection, for a classical performance by: concert pianist Ronen Segev, president of Park Avenue Pianos; FIU alumni, Soprano Rebecca Longtemps; and 10-year-old singer and violinist, BPinchuk. Florida International University (FIU) President Mark Rosenberg attended the concert and event, which drew support for FIU’s music program. Park Avenue Pianos, with locations in New York City, Miami and Washington D.C., provides clients with the world’s most finely crafted Steinway & Sons pianos including Steinway grand pianos, upright pianos and Steinway baby grands. Park Avenue Pianos provides Steinway pianos of various vintages of past and present, including mint condition “Golden Age” Steinway grand pianos, considered by many to be the best Steinway ever made. Park Avenue Pianos works with concert pianists to handpick the finest examples of “Golden Age” craftsmanship from around the world, and, through a with a team of renowned specialty technicians, restores their original Golden Steinway piano sound. For more information about Park Avenue Pianos, visit www.steinwaygrand.com.

Photos by World Red Eye:
Ken Harte (Braman Motors general manager), Mark Rosenberg (FIU president), & Ronen Segev (Park Avenue Pianos president)
Park Avenue Pianos President Ronen Segev, musical performers Biana Pinchuk and Rebecca Longtemps
Kirstin and Uli Petzold
Nikki and Richard Barron
Katie and Alex Yahr
Steinway Grand Piano
Gerardo Guijarro & Rebecca Longtemps
Park Avenue Pianos at the VIP launch of the new Rolls Royce Wraith
10-year-old singer and violinist, Biana Pinchuk

Guest Article by Sylvia Pilar: International Wines: US Tour 2013

International Wines: US Tour 2013, article by Sylvia Pilar
Wine tasting has become  a favorite pastime across the country.  Tastings are offered everywhere from the local liquor store to the major discount wholesalers   and wine and food festivals across the country. These events have opened the doors to consumers to go out and taste local wines and from around the world as well as educate their palate. Special wine industry tastings from wine producing regions around the world offer  private events for the trade. T wo elaborate wine tasting events for the trade were held in Miami Beach this January .  As a sommelier and consultant, it was my pleasure to attend both these events.

Castilla-La Mancha US Tour 2013
January 17th- South Beach, Miami…Spain’s wines of Castilla-La Mancha US Tour 2013 was held at the
former Versace Mansion, now converted to an exclusive boutique hotel, “The Villa by Barton G”.  The opulent setting provided a marvelous opportunity to meet the winemakers who make the wines and are keepers of the traditions. It was also an opportunity  to  discover the wonders of this fascinating wine region  from the land of Don Quixote’s.  A seminar was conducted by local wine experts  to introduce and familiarize attendees to featured wine selections. Delicious authentic Spanish tapas and live music were splendid pairings and an added bonus to the excellent wines!

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The wine region represents one of the oldest wine-making regions in the world. The winemakers show-cased winemaking styles that utilize and wine2combine traditional methods with modern techniques.  The wines represented an array of 46 grape varieties to meet every palate and budget, from  the youngest to the special reserves: reds, whites, roses and sparkling wines.

Outstanding  wines from the various vineyards included award winning wines, and organic wines.The “Don Quixote’s Spain” brand represents a variety of wines from a region in central Spain that reflects the plurality and the diverse cultures of Castilla-La Mancha. FINE WINE, HOW DIVINE!

Vinitaly & Slow Wine Tour 2013
January 30, 2013  -  Miami Beach:  Slow Wine guide presentation and tasting  chose the Miami Beach Spa and Resort as one of the U.S locations. This wine expo was a joint venture of Vinitaly International, the ambassador of Italian wine  in collaboration  with  the publisher of Slow Wine Guide, an English guide to Italian wines.  It  offered  the  American wine trade 2013’s most comprehensive Italian wine tasting and education in the US.

The Vinitaly tour format combined seminars, interviews, round tables ,  tastings  to  buyers, distributors, food and beverage managers, sommeliers, opinion leaders and specialized press.  An exclusive olive oil master  class hosted by UNAPROL, the organization of Italian olive oil producers as well as master tasting classes on Prosecco and Soave,  presented an  additional element to the program.  A  light lunch, along with desserts, fruit and cheese complimented the walk around tastings.

With so many wines show casing, the event was spread over two floors: the lobby area and the 18th floor banquet and conference facilities.  Plenty of Proseccos and Moscatos were at hand along with the endless  varieties of reds, whites and roses.  With over 70 wineries sampling wines from  their portfolio, guests were  able to taste their way around some of Italy’s most important and famous regions, a most tasteful and educational afternoon.

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It was a bit  overwhelming  with so much  information on the  Italian heritage of people,  vineyards and the  vast amount and  range of wines,  but nonetheless an outstanding presentation.  Additional tastings aperitifs and festivities followed at “dei Frescobaldi”  restaurant inside  the Hotel Astor in South Beach.
Cheers,
Sylvia Pilar,
Certified Sommelier/Wine consultant/Writer

Guest Post – Art Week Miami Tips for Art Aficionados and Novice Collectors by Eric Smith

Finding Affordable and Accessible Art
Amidst Art Week Miami’s More Expensive, Eccentric Offerings
By: Eric Smith, CEO of Artexpo International

“It’s interesting… but is it art?” It’s a question you sometimes hear at Miami Art Week, as the ratio of quirky, kitschy and downright eccentric art seems to soar along with the event’s exponential growth each year. Ultra contemporary art certainly has its place, but is there still a market for buyers interested in more accessible offerings?

Absolutely, says Eric Smith, CEO of Artexpo Miami, which is now in its second year in the Wynwood District. “There will always be a place for more extreme, conceptual art,” says Smith, “but the fact is, there are a lot of people who come to Miami Art Week just looking for a few innovative new pieces for their home or office.”

Each December, more than 50,000 art collectors, gallery owners and designers descend upon Miami, which has become the go-to winter destination for the fine art community. The city hosts more than 20 art fairs at that time—from storied giants like Art Basel, Art Miami, Scope and Pulse, to boutique fairs like Artexpo Miami, Ink and Aqua. Admidst all the excitement, the crowds and media tend to swarm around the more show-stopping, eclectic artworks, just as people tend to cluster around über-luxe Porches, Lamborghinis and Maseratis at car shows. But when it comes time to buy, most people favor elegant and affordable over out there and overpriced. In the end, there aren’t all that many people who actually want to buy—or can afford to—a giant $150,000 statue of, say, Donald Duck in Communist attire.

If you’re one of the many art lovers who are looking for more down-to-earth, wallet-friendly art finds, try the following tips:

1. Hit the Big Fairs for Fun, But Shop the Smaller Fairs
By all means, visit the big, iconic art fairs that started it all. Art Basel, Art Miami, Scope and others will offer you no end of extravagant eye candy, entertaining performance art and fodder for thought. But when it comes to shopping, be sure to pop in the smaller galleries and art fairs, unless your décor—and wallet—can accommodate more outlandish, big-ticket items. Must-see stops include: Artexpo Miami, Aqua, Nada, Pool, Verge, Overture Miami and Design Miami.

2. Scour the Galleries for One-of-a-Finds
Sometimes, wandering the maze of massive art fairs can feel a little overwhelming. If you’re looking for smaller doses and more intimate settings in which to explore art, you’ll enjoy the smattering of galleries in the trendy Wynwood Art District. Recently named “the 6th most stylish neighborhood” in the world by Complex magazine, Wynwood is home to over 70 galleries, museums and collections. You’ll have a wonderful time exploring this artist’s haven, and you’re sure to meet some interesting new people too.

3. Mingle with Exhibitors, Ask About Their Offerings
At an art fair or opening, exhibitors are really only exhibiting a small selection of their work. In many cases, they bring their higher-end items. If there’s an artist whose work you really like, approach them (or the owner of the gallery or publisher who is exhibiting their work) and find out if they have pieces that are more in your budget. Ask if they offer limited-edition, archival-quality reproductions of their work, as many artists do. Or if the work is very large, ask if they do smaller works. It never hurts to ask, and besides, it gives you an opportunity to get to know the artist and learn about their inspiration, technique and larger body of work.

by Eric Smith, CEO with Artexpo International

Guest Review by Sylvia Pilar: Franklin Sinanan, Painter, Mixed-Media, Sculpture and Furniture Artist

Franklin Sinanan,  Painter, Mixed-Media, Sculpture & Furniture Artist; Art  Center South Florida 810 Lincoln Road, Studio 205, Miami Beach, FL 33139  November Exhibition: “Art of the Macabre” by Sylvia Pilar

Talented artists come from around the world, to live work and create in the Miami area, and it is no wonder that a plethora of   galleries  thrive throughout Miami  stretching far  beyond the Wynwood Art Distract and to the beaches. One of my favorite places to view and attend art openings is  The South Florida Art Center  on Lincoln Road:  The art center houses eclectic artists,  studios  and art in all forms:  from fine art,  to  decorative;  from  the subtle and serene,  to the exotic and erotic … and then there is “Voodoo” art: the dark art; art of the afterlife; art of the spirit world, or, what I will refer to as the “Art of the Macabre”.

It is here  at the Art Center where I had the pleasure of attending  a recent opening featuring resident artists displ aying their art.  It is here, where we meet  Franklin Roosevelt Sinanan, a unique, avant-garde artist like no other. It is here where we can find what I call the ‘Art of the Macabre”. Yes, it is here that we find the beauty in the “Art of the Macabre”.

Sinanan’s tiny studio space is like a miniature museum of voodoo and spiritual mystery. His art abounds in  its entire  splendor.  It is a feast for the eyes, filled with overwhelming images that quietly scream the secrets of another realm with an intensity that seduces the imagination.
Sinanan’s work  is more than just the   expression of the voodoo/dark  arts. It is an expansion of his inner soul  and passion.  It reeks of his vibrant energy beneath his quiet exterior.  There is a flame that sparks light and life into the darkness with or without understanding that  awakens the beauty of the mysterious world in the “Art of the Macabre”.

Many are overwhelmed, many are perplexed and others are in awe of the images of alters, demons,  and  intense emotions  that provoke  the soul  to  question,  and interact with alternative perspectives. Regardless of whatever viewpoint one may have, there is no doubt that Sinanan is an authentic artist devoted to expressing his imagination through his art! During Art Basel Week, Sinanan will have a show at the “Art of Africa” in Overtown.

Brief Bio:
Born  in Trinidad  and raised in Canada,  Franklin Sianan now lives in Miami Beach.  Sinanan is self taught and his work has evolved and h as taken on a distinct Afro-Caribbean flair since moving to Miami.  “In Canada,” he says, “my work never looked like this. It was just a lot of white faces.”    He refers to himself as the outsider  but feels comfortable his work despite the controversial art form.  He says, “I’m Canadian … I don’t know anything about Santeria or Voodoo. “I was born in Trinidad, but I wasn’t brought up there, so all this is new for me. I don’t even know if they practice voodoo in Trinidad. Miami influenced me to create these pieces without really knowing  what I was doing. I just see it as art. But people keep telling me  its voodoo or black magic. But I just pulled this stuff out of my head. It’s all imagination.”

Review Sinanan Art2

Sinanan Summation:
“My work allows me to release my emotions and to draw the viewer  into the push  –  pull of life, love –  hate, violence  –  compassion, good –  evil. Through my work I become transparent  –  almost naked. Where nudity only shows my exterior, my art reveals the total me, inside and out  – the real me! I’m not a news junky, nor do  I read any lofty novels, but I absorb the world around me and with a non-religious spirituality I regurgitate my emotions into the work. For me, religion and politics are difficult to talk about, but when I channel it into my work it seems to come alive and mean something. I paint about everyday stuff: abuse, relationships, anger…….. Often my work offends people. I’m always surprised when people think my work evil, because I do it out of love for life. “

Franklin Sinanan
www.franklinsinanan.com

Gregg Shienbaum’s Got it Goin’ On — And Then Some 5/12/12

Gregg Shienbaum’s Got it Goin’ On — And Then Some
Urban/Street opens Second Saturday May 12 and runs through ???
Gregg Shienbaum Gallery
2239 NW 2nd Avenue
Wynwood Miami, FL

Article and Photos courtesy of John Hood

Just when you thought that Wynwood couldn’t add any more wow, along comes a mix of art space and street art which out-wows just about everyone. We mean Gregg Shienbaum, dig? Whose eponymous Gallery will be blasting out a most rousing show this next Second Saturday.

Known primarily for masters such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Johns and Hockney, Shienbaum’s taken inspiration from the Wynwood ‘hood he now calls home and gone about as urban as urban can get and still stay way urbane. In fact, in one very striking instance, the cat has literally taken it from the streets.

That would be the mysterious figure known as Clandestine Culture (aka Posca), who Shienbaum landed on a wing and a prayer and a whim. Till now, the elusive (and masked) man had never even framed one of his trademark works, let alone showed in a gallery. For May’s Art Walk, Shienbaum has changed all that. But don’t think for a moment that this elusive figure will be in any way tamed. Rumor has it he’s gonna come through even bigger and badder than ever come Fall.

Till then though art fans can bask in the fact that right here, right now Clandestine Culture and a cast of his contemporaries, among them Russell Young, Sarah Hardacre, Pvnch, Benvinido Rodriguez and Brett Polock (as well as all stars Ron English, Shepard Fairey and Jean Michel Basquiat) will be wowing Wynwood with one of its wildest exhibits ever.

See Urban/Street for yourself and experience the delirium.

Miami City Ballet in Paris by Rebecca King

{A Guest Article by Dancer and Blogger Rebecca King.}

Miami City Ballet In Paris
by Rebecca King

This July, Miami City Ballet embarked on a three week tour to Paris where we performed 17 shows to sold-out audiences at the historical Théâtre du Châtelet. The experience was unforgettable for everyone involved and an experience we were so lucky to have. I am Rebecca King, a Corps de Ballet dancer with the Company, and today I bring you behind-the-scene photos from the City of Lights.


Miami City Ballet posters were all over the city! Dancers pose in front of the first one we saw on our first day in Paris.


We examine maps as we decide where we want to go next in the Louvre.


Checking the map, looking only slightly touristy.


The Eiffel Tower sparkling at night.


The Théâtre du Châtelet curtain from the audience.


Bowing after George Balanchine’s “Ballet Imperial” on opening night.


Enjoying fabulous French cuisine on a day off.


Ladurée macaroons became a quick favorite among the company members.


Bowing after George Balanchine’s “La Valse”.


Celebrating backstage after the last show of Twyla Tharp’s “In The Upper Room”.


A view of the Théâtre du Châtelet house from the stage.


A group photo taken after the final curtain fell on our first Parisian tour. The dance festival presenters lowered a banner from above the stage inviting us back to Paris.


Celebrating after the last show with the entire cast, including the orchestra.

We all feel so lucky to have had this exceptional experience in Paris. This was a once in a life-time opportunity. The success that we had was overwhelming; we never could have asked for a better reception from the Parisian audiences. We cannot wait to return and once again show Paris what we are made of.
For more on what is to come in Miami City Ballet’s 2011-2012 season, visit my blog, tendusunderapalmtree.com. To purchase tickets to upcoming Miami City Ballet performances, visit miamicityballet.org.

A Wynwood Photo Essay by Ralph Ventura

{A Guest Article by Photographer and Writer Ralph Ventura.}

Tomorrowland
by Ralph Ventura

Urban, hip, gritty, gentrified, artsy, blue-collar, new, and decaying. Wynwood is a place that defies description and one that presents us with a paradox.

Wynwood had it’s origins in the great Puerto Rican migration of the 1950’s. People came here in droves seeking a better life for themselves and their families, seeking a better tomorrow. Like immigrants before them, they founded a neighborhood that met their needs and reflected their character, all within the limited resources available to them. Through the years, Wynwood remained an island of genuineness in a city that was constantly being remade. It was an area apart.

As with many areas where rents are low and warehouse space plentiful, Wynwood eventually attracted artists. The artists in turn attracted the galleries, which in turn attracted collectors, dealers, restaurants, bars and speculators, all in search of their own tomorrow. Where once much of the neighborhood stood as an example of urban decay, it is now an example of “urban-chic”. The hipsters and the yuppies (can we still use “yuppie” in the 21st Century?) abound. If you look carefully enough, you’ll be just as likely to see young moms carefully cradling their infants as college kids carefully cradling their vintage 1980 Canon A-1s (you know, the one from the Winter Olympic Games?). Of course, this is all you’ll see as long as you stay on the main drags.

Venture just a little bit east or west of Miami Avenue or Second Avenue and you’ll encounter another Wynwood, one where the locals still live. La Boricua Restaurant, La Perla Bar, Guanabacoa Market and many single family houses, duplexes and courtyard apartments reveal a Wynwood that is very urban but not at all “chic”. Not much has changed, here. The locals live and love much as they have for fifty years, each in search of their slice of America, each hoping for their own better tomorrow for themselves and their children.

So, what to make of Wynwood? Well, that leads us to the paradox. For all its recent strides, Wynwood still is an example of urban decay. Many structures are boarded up; many that aren’t are in very poor states of repair nonetheless. Fix it, clean it up, paint it, . . . gentrify it? Still, if we turn the urban decay into urban chic what will happen to the locals? What will happen to their Tomorrowland?

Ralph Ventura is a lawyer, photographer and blogger living in Miami. The entire gallery of 28 images is available for viewing and purchase here. You can also follow Ralph at his blog.
Photos and text copyright Ralph Ventura, 2011.