Sunday, December 31, 2006

Living Motif: Cool Housewares

Walking southeast from Roppongi crossing you’ll find AXIS, a design complex housing 17 stores and galleries on six levels. While there, I happened on an exhibit displaying innovative home design including an inflatable toilet and tableware featuring plates with bowl-size depressions. All of it is very futuristic and lovely. The Living Motif store on the ground floor offers the best shopping possibilities with a wide selection of design housewares and furniture. An Asian version of Crate and Barrel, except a bit more design-conscious, the Living Motif store is comfortable and homey yet their wares wouldn’t be out of place at the gift shop of a contemporary art museum. There are large metal serving spoons ($17 each) designed by Japanese design guru Sori Yanagi (his iconic Butterfly Stool, the winner of the Gold Medal at the Milan Triennale, has been a design classic for nearly half a century) and incense sets for the home ($9-$17) by the Kyoto company Lisn, using green moss, camphor and roses and are packaged in handsome sachets. Lightweight black “Koyori” placemats ($44 each) made by GALA Studio are composed using an ancient technique of twisting paper strings and coating with lacquer giving resistance and a shiny finish. Items for children’s rooms including a linen tepee and wooden blocks and stuffed animals ($35) from Bavarian toy company Sigikid add to the fun. The staff is helpful and friendly and if you’re lucky they may invite you to one of their many design events that occur regularly at the complex.

Living Motif at Axis
5-17-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku.

Fukumitsuya: Everything Sake

When in Tokyo, eat sushi, lots of it, and drink Sake, the rice wine that is as smooth and elegant as a silk kimono. The Fukumitsuya Brewing Company has been distilling the exquisite beverage since the 17th century and its Fukumitsuya Sake Shop located in the back streets of Ginza functions as both an intimate tasting bar and a wonderful outlet for all types of Sake and the drink’s accessories. Peruse sculptural Sake utensils such as cast-iron decanters, wooden sake cups ($35 each) and pewter flasks. There’s also graceful thimble-sized tasting cups made of porcelain ($300 for the set). In addition to all things Sake, the store also carries a unique selection of plates, chopsticks and distinctive Japanese hand-dyed cotton cloths called “tenugui” ($9 each) that double as napkins or handkerchiefs. The Sake selections available for tasting at the tiny bar run the gamut from the modest to the extravagant including a delicate Junmai ($4 shot glass) made from red rice and tasting faintly like rose wine, or the more robust Momotose ($10 for a snifter), a matured Sake aged over thirty years. Also make sure to try the sake ice cream ($4 a dish), as rich and fragrant as the drink itself. After sampling you can decide which bottle to bring back for friends, but make sure to buy one for yourself, as many of these brands are hard to find in Florida.
Monday-Saturday 11:00-21:00
Sunday and Holidays 11:00-20:00
Tel : 03-3569-2291
5-5-8 Ginza
Chuo-ku. West of Harumi Dori, on Ginza W. 5th St

Tokyo Shopping: Cow Books

From my article in InsideOut:
Nakameguro is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood of cafes, independent boutiques and design studios. Sunday morning you’ll find hipster couples having brunch with their kids, DJ's walking their dogs in collectible sneakers, and a smattering of Westerners since many embassy residences are a few streets away. It is also one of the quietest and most idyllic locations in otherwise bustling and congested Tokyo. After a relaxing brunch at one of the quaint cafes that dot the tree-lined street bordering the Meguro River visit Cow Books, a diminutive bookstore filled with design books – English and Japanese and other literary treasures. Fresh organic coffee and an inviting wooden reading table in the middle of the store combine for a relaxing book-browsing experience. If the spirit moves you, there are large English-letter woodcuts and ink pads on the table for custom-card making. A Jenny Holzer-esque scrolling digital LED sign lines the top of the bookshelves adding a bit of futurism to this 60’s and 70’s themed store. The “Letters” book ($10) by Postalco, a stationary design firm, is a collectible mini-book that looks at the visual traces mail leaves as it circles the globe.

1-14-11 Aobadai Meguro-ku (03)5459-1747

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

If you build it, they will kvell

Florida’s landscape and climate have always been a draw for real estate developers. In fact, the state’s seemingly endless construction boom has had a deep impact on its Jewish community. From happy seniors playing shuffle board in retirement villages to hip club-goers sipping cocktails in restored Art Deco hotels, the story of Florida’s Jews is inter-twined with the history of its buildings and those who built them.

Over 500 visuals, from old photographs, postcards and housing advertisements to floor plans, land deeds, tools, even a few sacks of concrete illustrate that history in “Bonim: Jewish Developers Building Florida & Building Community,” at the Jewish Museum of Florida through March 11. “Bonim,” which is Hebrew for builders, explores the Jewish visionaries behind Florida’s thriving real estate world and the many structures and development trends that are their legacy.

The museum itself is a grand venue in which to view this memorabilia since the building that houses the museum (above) was designed by noted Art Deco architect Henry Hohauser in 1936. It was the home of the first Jewish congregation in Miami Beach and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum’s gold-copper dome, 80 stained glass windows and 8 deco chandeliers offer a taste of the bygone era of swanky Miami Beach. While you're there, check out the stained glass window donated by Meyer Lansky, a reminder of Miami's more unsavory characters.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Dinner in Paradise

A few weeks ago a group of bout 60 people met on an idyllic organic farm in Homestead, a farm that provides many of Miami's top chefs with their fresh, healthy, pesticide-free produce, for a candle-lit dinner that was both a feast for the eyes and palate. This was Dinner in Paradise, a fundraiser and culinary happening started by Michael Schwartz of afterglo and Nemo and the soon to be opened Michael's Genuine Food and Drink.

The idea is to pair the city's great chef's with the fresh seasonal produce of Paradise Farms. The chefs take turns designing the six courses and the result is a dining experience that easily shifts between the rustic and romantic. That night Allen Susser (Chef Allen’s), Tom Azar (Emeril’s) and Marc Ehrler (Loews Hotel) were the captains of the kitchen each bringing their respective talents to the table. The cooking and the eating happens outdoors with the various heirloom tomato plants and succulent avocado trees not far from the Gazebo dining room. Dinner rolls were provided by La Provence Bakery in South Beach (the crusty olive oil mini-baguettes are addictive). First course designed by Marc Ehrler was organic port pear tartare with stilton crunch, a creative stand-in for ubiquitous tuna tartare. Chef Allen followed that with baby brassica and edible flowers, and asian turnips dressed with mandarin citrus vinagrette. The micro-greens were almost poetic in their crunchy perfection. Tom Azar wowed the crowd with seared pompano, gnocchi, sweet tomato-basil sauce, micro pea tendrils, shaved pamigiano (below).

Fantastic wines, including a pleasing selection of fruit wines from neighboring Schnebly Winery, are paired with each course. Service was impeccable, with each course coming out in timed precision, preceded by an introduction by the chef that had created it. One of those Schenbly wines was put to good use by Chef Ehrler in a chilled lychee sangria with whipped mascarpone and coconut rock. The creamy goodness of the mascarpone combined with the sweetness of the lychee wine could easily have passed for nectar of the gods. Chef Azar's dessert of organic banana cream pie, caramel sauce and chocolate shavings was the delectable culmination of a foodie's dream come true.

The combined effect of this gastronomic collaboration is that you actually get more in touch with what you're eating; you see the hothouses where the micro-greens are harvested, you meet the visionary chefs that labor over the food in the beautiful open-air kitchen. And as the crickets chirp into the breezy winter air and you get to know your fellow diners over amazing food, you realize how Dinner in Paradise really lives up to its name. At the end of the night, the diners made their way out down a stone path carrying an organic party favor - 2 enormous Monroe avocados and a mug of organic coffee from Baby's Coffee of Key West (above).
And added bonus is that proceeds from the dinner benefit Earth Learning, an open learning community and a practical organization that attracts, inspires, creates, and sustains people, ventures, projects, and activities dedicated to earth literacy and sustainability in the Everglades bio-region.
Next dinner on January 14 features Alberto Cabrera (Karu&Y) and Michael Schwartz (Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink). Reservations at (305) 573-5550.

Tokyo Shopping: Stationary Mecca

Ito-Ya: A big red paper clip adorns the façade of this 8-story stationary store on the main drag of Ginza making this an easy find in a sea of department stores and upscale designer flagships. After perusing Ito-Ya's dizzying varieties of stationary, writing implelements, rolls of rice paper, notebooks, calendars and greeting cards one can only conclude that there is a passion for paper in Japan. Ito-ya is the destination for all things paper-related. Everything from hand-made “washi” paper, derived from plant fibers and highly absorbent and textural, to multi-colored origami foil sheets ($3 pack of 10) is available. If letter-writing isn’t necessarily your thing you made want to splurge on a leather-bound desk calendar ($45), in both Japanese and English, it’s a handsome addition to any workspace. While you’re in Ginza, also check out Tokyo Kyukyodo across the street from Ito-Ya. Located in an historic brick storefront, this intimate store stocks hundreds of varieties of gorgeous hand-made paper and cards, some with intricate cut-outs and origami pop-ups. The regal rolls of printed paper line the walls and helpful employees will dutifully take down your selections and delicately unfurl and measure the paper making sure not to crease the designs. Prices vary according to selections but be prepared to pay about $5-$25 a square foot.
2-7-15 Ginza, Chuo-Ku. 03-3561-8311
7-4 Ginza, Chuo-Ku. 03-3571-4429

"Complicated Cake" Anyone?

In preparation for the Beijing 2008 Olympics the Chinese government is attempting to correct the hilarious food translations on menus in China. Excerpt:
Misspelt foods like "complicated cake", "pee soup", "five sliced things", "dumpling stuffed with the ovary and digestive glands of a crab" and, "crap in the grass", the carp literally getting translated as crap, are being banished from the city’s eating places.
Half the fun of ordering food in China is deciphering the English translations. But that's also why picture menus are so clutch. Though, I will miss "five sliced things."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

City 'neath the Sea

Today was the last day to catch Pablo Cano's magical marionette show at the MoCA. I missed the actual show but I did get a look at these impressive sets during an Art Basel party there. The New Times blog has a review here.

You May Ask Yourself....

David Byrne's Art Basel essays. A few choice excerpts:

On the buying frenzy: The pieces are jumping off the shelves — it’s a frenzy of art buying and selling. The testosterone AND the estrogen levels are through the roof. For a world in which NONE of the products have any real practical worth, the worth balances on a delicate construction of hype, status, desire and, yes, innovation and beauty.

artist is to Art Basel as banana is to United Fruit: I asked myself, why am I enjoying the art so much? Shouldn’t I be taking a more cynical attitude, with all this nonsense going on all around? Am I naïve? I realized the banana doesn’t know much about United Fruit and its nasty ways as it grows in the fields — it just tries to be the best banana in the bunch. Likewise, many artists, myself included, I guess, are driven to do what we do and if it gets bought and sold by unscrupulous developers and skeezy dealers, well, that’s not going to change our urge to make the stuff. Some artists are more cynically involved in the marketing of their stuff — but many are just bananas.

Miami's stellar rep: At a dinner the art fair folks invited me to I sat next to Jim Rosenquist who lives up near Tampa, and has spend a lot of time watching Florida change. We’ve been acquainted for years, and he told amazing stories non-stop — he’s a great storyteller — one story from the cocaine cowboy days featured someone buying art with a bag of money, giving instructions for the gallery to just count it in the back. I went for a pee and when I opened the bathroom door a couple were coming out of the one stall — ooops, I guess the cocaine days are not over down here just yet.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Folding Bikes: Swedes Love 'em

The hot new eco-friendly gift of the season if the folding bike. Ikea loves folding bicycles so much they gave one to each of their 9,000 employees (they probably need one to get around the massive stores). Given gas prices these days, a Citizen Bike seems like a no-brainer. Plus, it's cheap, lightweight and quite stylish.

Erev Xmas @ The Sagamore

Thursday, December 21, 2006

New World Symphony @ The Flamingo

The New World Symphony is one of the nicest cultural organizations in our city. They employ talented musicians, have frequent and varied musical performances and sometimes put on free concerts. Last Saturday the Friends of the New World Symphony, their young patrons group, held a performance at the gargantuan Flamingo Complex (now a hotly anticipated condo conversion building). The Flamingo building, usually known for its raucous party-happy residents was actually an inspired choice for this event. The enormous pool deck overlooking the bay was the perfect backdrop to the shmoozing before and after the performance.

There was food (Bar Mitzvah worthy carving stations and ample passed hors d'oeuvres), well-stocked open bars and fabulous young supporters of the arts. Organized by the always-glowing Stacey Glassman and lovely Shoshanna Mehrpouyan from Treister Murry Agency, the evening was a charmingly relaxed antidote to the Art Basel frenzy of weeks past. When the musicians did their thing, a respectful hush went over the crowd even through the band's energetic cover of the Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony."
The event was sponsored by the Flamingo South Beach which was fantastic of them. Sponsoring this and -scope art fair sets an admirable example for other developers. Wouldn't it be nice if other real estate companies put more resources into improving and enriching local life?

Jacques Herzog @ MAM

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

David Bouley Evolution: Darwin Eat Your Heart Out

David Bouley has brought classy back to Miami. And it's about time. The acclaimed Manhattan chef has raised the bar for upscale dining in our humble city and as the recent spate of high-end restaurant openings atest, Miami is ready to eat well. His new restaurant David Bouley Evolution, located at the Ritz Carlton in South Beach is plush, sophisticated and not for the faint of wallet. That said, once you have resigned yourself to spending a small fortune on incredibly well-executed food (which is actually comparable to prices at other popular spots like Barton G's and Prime 112) it is possible to sit back and simply enjoy one of the most sublime dining experiences in our "glorified sandbar" of a city.

Architect Jacques Garcia designed the formal dining room with a mermaid-chic sensibility using sea-anemone chandeliers, deco light fixtures and glass accents. All the windows are draped, giving the restaurant a luxurious submarine feel, though after a while it feels a bit like you are in the private dining room of a character from the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I kept waiting for Sean Connery to materialize along with the food which took an exceedingly long time to get to the table. But it is really forgivable given the magnificent end result of what actually ends up on the table. And the fact that for the time being Bouley himself is in the kitchen cooking this amazing food. He even made an appearance in the dining room, coming around to chat with guests. I swooned like a schoolgirl when he stopped by to explain how he imports his fish from the Massachusetts coast. Me being a Boston dame, we had a nice reminisce about Beantown. Sigh. He really is quite dashing.

Bouley has already proven himself a worthy contender with successful Manhattan restaurants Bouley, Danube and Bouley Bakery. His French heritage and days working with fishermen in Cape Cod shine through in sumptuous seafood creations - Chatham Cod pairs nicely with kumquat and parsley root puree, a small pool of Tasmanian mustard sauce providing adequate tang to the expertly cooked fish. A seemingly odd combination of Monkfish and borscht (below) actually works well with the Russian beet stew adding gorgeous color and sweetness to the pleasantly meaty fish.

As dinner progressed it seemed Mr. Bouley is fond of deep wine-colored sauces, such that after the monkfish dish and its palate-cleansing follow-up, a concord grape sorbet (below), which was cool, fruity and so refreshing I wished for more, the diner is left with a swirly dark purple mess at the end of the dish; beautiful and surprising in its uniqueness.

Appetizers were not all equally enthralling. An eggplant terrine with red bell pepper and Vermont goat cheese arrived as a precious slice, too meager and dainty to last very long. Same goes for the tuna carpaccio; high quality fish, but a little too safe. The yellowtail appetizer with hon shimeji mushrooms and ginger sauce , however, was brilliant with incredible depth and imagination and above all, pure deliciousness. That ginger sauce caused me to lick the plate clean with half my french roll, unladylike, I know, but acceptable in the elegant surroundings. That's because despite the posh decor and the socialite crowd, Bouley's establishment is above all about the food, and the enjoyment of those natural elements so often overlooked in cooking.
Attention is also lavished on dessert, lest you think Bouley would phone it in with the usual molten chocolate cake. Instead there is a delectable trio of creme brulees - banana, green tea and Tahitian vanilla - all smooth custardy goodness with the crunchiest of tops. The chocolate brioche pudding is absolutely hedonistic in its decadence. A red pepper chocolate sauce adds fire to the richness.

Service is incredibly attentive, maybe too attentive, but that's not so bad given the usual level of service in South Beach. Polite, courteous and at times friendly, the staff do their utmost to ensure your every need is accommodated. The wine list is extensive with reasonable selections for $45-$60 and of course ascending upward. Appetizers range $14-$18, Entrees in the $30 range, desserts $13-$16.

David Bouley Evolution 1669 Collins Ave. (305) 604-6090

Monday, December 18, 2006

This Friday: One Toy = One Cocktail

On Friday December 22, Conrad Miami's "After 6" rooftop happy hour will be hosting a toy drive to benefit the CHARLEE program, a not-for-profit that helps abused children in the foster care system . All visitors can bring an unwrapped toy in exchange for a cocktail. Sounds like a good excuse to go toy shopping!
Festivities start 6 pm and continue until the bar closes at 1am. The Conrad Hotel is at 1385 Brickell Ave.

Art Basel Purge

Ok, I know it ended last week and Art Basel is already ancient history with New Year's fever in full swing but I felt it necessary to purge the Art Bazz pics and share all the joy, mayhem and all-around silliness of the art fest with you. Treat it like a trip down art-memory-lane.

First there's the party at the Wolfsonian Friday night (above). Awesome key lime mini-tarts, crunchy veggie chips and lots of silver coffee sets from the 50's
and 60's. If you have a chance, head over to this classy museum and soak up the swank.

Then there was this art performance party (above) at Twilo in downtown Miami. It was one of those shindigs where people dress up in Victorian costumes, romp around on beds and call it "art" because it's so surreal.

It reminded me of a Dada Festival I attended in San Fran a few years ago except at that party a woman peed into a cup onstage and then drank it - now THAT was surreal. This party was catered by Barton G - vats of couscous, seared tuna and awesome desserts - and was attended by the usual Miami party people: Esteban Cortazar, Ingrid Casares and the dude from "Deco Drive" give you an idea of the door policy. Then it was Saturday, time to check out the container galleries at Art Positions. Always a great setting right there on the beach, if only it wasn't so damn windy.

Then onto the Fairfax Hotel which is really a hotel/condo so you know what that means - condo party! Plus, there was some art by Daniel Josephs (above), but mostly lots of cheese.

And a scruffy yet charming Todd Oldham(below, right) hanging out, talkin 'bout wallpaper patterns.

Wynwood was the next stop to check out the Federico Uribe show sponsored by Puma.

Love the sneaker animals, the only minus was the use of real plants and foliage - he should have gone all rubber, all the time.

Then the Moss showroom, the Campana chairs are always fun, so Latin, so colorful!

The Design Miami party was next. There was a sleek Audi on the ground floor and of course, the best outfit ever.

At this point, the free drinks and visual awesomeness just about mowed me over so after chatting with Sean Dack who's got a show at the Moore Space and used to date Leigh Lezark from the Misshapes (Hipster New York is so small!) we decided to save a few brain cells and call it a night. And thus ends another year, another bloated art fair.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Elephants: Complicated Creatures

An upsetting story about an elephant in India that killed 27 people, though it's not clear whether they shot the right one. What's interesting is the article says how the elephant's family will now take revenge on the village - these beasts are way more complicated than society ever gives them credit for. The NYTimes Magazine had a fascinating cover story a few months ago about elephants going mad after years of herds being decimated through poaching and deforestation. Elephants are apparently highly socialized creatures with sophisticated rituals and communication methods. Here's an excerpt:

Elephants, when left to their own devices, are profoundly social creatures. A herd of them is, in essence, one incomprehensibly massive elephant: a somewhat loosely bound and yet intricately interconnected, tensile organism. Young elephants are raised within an extended, multitiered network of doting female caregivers that includes the birth mother, grandmothers, aunts and friends. These relations are maintained over a life span as long as 70 years. Studies of established herds have shown that young elephants stay within 15 feet of their mothers for nearly all of their first eight years of life, after which young females are socialized into the matriarchal network, while young males go off for a time into an all-male social group before coming back into the fold as mature adults.

When an elephant dies, its family members engage in intense mourning and burial rituals, conducting weeklong vigils over the body, carefully covering it with earth and brush, revisiting the bones for years afterward, caressing the bones with their trunks, often taking turns rubbing their trunks along the teeth of a skull’s lower jaw, the way living elephants do in greeting. If harm comes to a member of an elephant group, all the other elephants are aware of it. This sense of cohesion is further enforced by the elaborate communication system that elephants use. In close proximity they employ a range of vocalizations, from low-frequency rumbles to higher-pitched screams and trumpets, along with a variety of visual signals, from the waving of their trunks to subtle anglings of the head, body, feet and tail. When communicating over long distances — in order to pass along, for example, news about imminent threats, a sudden change of plans or, of the utmost importance to elephants, the death of a community member — they use patterns of subsonic vibrations that are felt as far as several miles away by exquisitely tuned sensors in the padding of their feet.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Outdoor Screening: Israeli Film "Live and Become"

Bay Harbor Islands Movies on the Green
95th Street and West Bay Harbor Drive

Saturday December 16, 7pm

“Live and Become,” by Radu Mihalieanu, is a beautifully crafted epic story of the migration and assimilation of the Falashas, Ethiopian Jews and direct descendents of King Solomon, in Israel. It’s a gripping tale of deception and survival that entwines the issues of politics, religious right, love and identity around the fate of one young boy, a non-Jewish child, who is part of the exiled group. Sponsored by the Israeli Consulate, Live and Become has been screened at many film festivals and has consistently won the Public Award. Movies on the Green is hosted by Dwight Brown. Sandwiches and soft drinks are available for sale, and there are raffles and giveaways from local restaurants and retailers. Bring your own lawn chair or blanket. Tickets are $8 general admission and $6 for BHI residents. Parking is free.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pecha Kucha @ Parc Lofts

Sometimes all you want from art is the story; at the very best it's entertaining, at the worst it fizzles, but the narrative behind the art is usually more compelling than the work itself. One of the best events of last week's parties-with- a-dash-of-art was Inside Out Magazine's Pecha Kucha. An event imported from Tokyo's SuperDeluxe (a delightful space in Tokyo), it involves artists, designers and architects giving rapid-fire presentations of their work or whatever interests them. The rules are 20 slides and only 20 seconds to talk during each slide. It was a bold move to organize this event in Miami, a place not known for its lecture-hungry crowds, yet the audience behaved (for the most part) and despite the absence of blue-chip speaker Jacques Herzog, the event was brainy fun.
The Art Basel version featured a great roster of speakers - lots of witty Brits, Miami artists Federico Uribe and Cristina Lei Rodriguez (who seemed charmingly earnest compared to the biting humor of the Brits), an Israeli (Gal Benshetrit sporting a leather jacket and talking about the duality of black and white) and assorted European and Latin American artists.
Highlights of the evening include Barnaby Barford's sight-gag ceramic figurines, Marcus Fairs giving the audience a tour of his house and the many high-design lamps and furniture pieces that have needed to be replaced because of, well, bad design. (example: a Tord Boontje plastic chandelier that has melted from its own lightbulbs), and Spanish designer Jaime Hayon declaring "Fuck design, fuck style, I want a mix." The night got rowdier as everyone patronized the open bar (and the crowd thinned out after intermission) and it was a rollicking good evening of powerpoint and "pechacha," Japanese for chatter.

Food Gang to Open in Surfside

The Food Gang, a fine dining restaurant, tapas bar and gourmet market in Surfside, will kick off its opening by offering their a la carte for New Year’s Eve. Brainchild of Patrick Charpentier, a dynamic Frenchman, along with Howard Kleinberg, who until recently served as executive chef at the highly-regarded Ivy Restaurant and Lounge in Aventura, joins Charpentier in his mission to bring the world’s best gourmet products to South Florida’s growing population of knowledgeable gastronomes.

The Food Gang is located at 9472 Harding Avenue in Surfside. Dinner: 6:00 p.m. –

midnight. Reservations suggested at 786-228-9292.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Art Basel Update: Get me a Bagel

Still have lots of pics and observations to share but that will have to come later. Off to check out NADA (finally) and take one last glance at the "big fair."
Memo to Art Basel organizers: Next year, for the bacchanalia that is "Art Loves Design," try and hire some street-food vendors, you know hot pretzels, arepas, whatever trendy affordable food fits the Art Basel aesthetic, because there were way too many drunk people getting into their cars in the Design District last night. It's great that whoever coordinates the Design District block party did a great job of landing liquor sponsors, because the booze was free flowing everywhere but there was no food to be had in any of the galleries or showrooms. Also, Design Miami, what's up with pushing the 90-proof vodka with nary a hint of mixer? Everyone at the Moore Space was sloshed.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pictures from the Verni

The Art Basel Vernissage Wednesday was pretty crowded but I was able to snap some pics and overhear some funny convos nonetheless. If you're looking for serious pics of the show check out Critical Miami. If you want ramblings, read on.
Above is a snapshot of Deitch Gallery's booth at the fair. There's a trippy phonebooth (is the trippy phonebooth that exhibited like 5 years ago at the Whitney?) by Robert Lazzarini, he's basically a one-trick pony, but it's a trick that never ceases to entertain. He used to be with Pierogi Gallery, so this move to Deitch is an advancement in the Art World food chain.

And of course Kehinde Wiley never disappoints with his portraits (above) of "urban" characters.
The best part about walking around Art Bazz and all the retarded parties is the overhearing conversations. Like this one:

"Karu. It's pronounced Kah-ROO, like 'kangaroo' without the 'anga.' I don't know, near the Performing Arts Center, I think."

"You know, it's remarkable. I am just obsessed with Crunk Hits Vol. 2!"
"Me too! I can't get Lil John's 'Snap Yo Fingers' out of my head!"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tonight @ The Ritz Carlton

Virgin Cocktails @ Sushi Samba

From my article on cocktails for InsideOut:
The term “virgin cocktails” conjures images of frosty beverages garnished with mini-paper umbrellas and canned maraschino cherries. And of course, the absence of alcohol. For pregnant women, designated drivers or those who are not yet legal (for drinking, that is), the best one could hope for when meeting for cocktails is juice or a carbonated beverage of choice. But cocktail culture is becoming more about using sophisticated ingredients than getting buzzed, and non-alcoholic cocktails are popping up on trendy menus around the globe. Sushi Samba Dromo, the South Beach outpost of the New York-based Brazilian-Japanese chain, glamorizes this neglected cocktail category and restores the honor to virgin cocktails with a healthy selection of non-alcoholic drinks.

The selections are all composed of fresh ingredients, exotic fruits, are labor-intensive and are all quite sweet. From the “Watermelon Mojo”made from fresh squeezed watermelon and kalamancy lime juice served in a martini glass to the “Ruby Smash” with pureed red currants and guava juice shaken and served in a wine glass, the drinks are refreshing but it is the curiously named “Acai Fizz” (above) that deserves the most attention.

The acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee), a palm berry fruit harvested in the Amazon rainforest, jammy in texture with a deep purple color, is stirring things up in the energy drink world. These Brazilian berries are nutritional powerhouses boasting vitamins A, C and E and the antioxidant anthocyanin – the healthful pigment found in blueberries and wine.

For the “Acai Fizz” Sushi Samba bartender Leo Lopez cracks an egg white into a cocktail shaker, adds simple syrup and acai puree and homogenizes the mix until it is smooth, frothy and henna-colored. Topping it with the tangy energy drink V + V citrus gives the drink a heart-blasting thump of caffeine and, well, fizz. A velvety sip of the acai cocktail rewards with chocolaty undernotes and a sweetness reminiscent of red bean, a prominent ingredient in Japanese desserts.

Tonight @ The Raleigh: Kenny Sharf

In conjunction with Art Basel Miami Beach, renowned pop artist Kenny Scharf will launch a special exhibition and event December 7, 2006, at 10 PM, poolside at the legendary Andre Balazs-owned art deco hotel The Raleigh on Miami Beach. The exhibition kicks off with an interpretative dance by Scharf and a group of fellow artists, and features a single work of art and marks the second public showing of a mixed-media installation known as the Astral Uber Cumulo Nimbus Atlantian Express: a flawless 1960 Cadillac Coupe DeVille - with only 5,200 original miles - that is a psychedelic collision of past and future. It is reminiscent of the artist's 1985 black light installation for Art in Action, at the Sogetsu Museum in Tokyo, Japan, where Scharf's customized 1973 Cadillac, Dream Car exhibit opened in a celebration that included performances with friends Ann Magnuson and John Sex.

Terrence Riley's House: Good for Bathing Suits

The NYTimes explores Terrence Riley's sunny splashy Mies van der Rohe house located in the Design District. The house looks exquisite and more Mies in Miami is always a good thing, but the sad unspoken truth is that the people who build these architectural gems in the Design District and Wynwood (like the Rubell's massive complex including a lap pool and tennis court behind their warehouse collection on 29th st.) live essentially in concrete fortresses. The articles sort of touches on that but really skirts the issue:
No one passing Mr. Bennett and Mr. Riley’s concrete-fronted house would call it off-putting, despite the near total lack of transparency. And, with each house using nearly all its lot, it does seem like a sensible way to achieve both dignity and privacy in a dense city with a suitable climate.

“It’s also interesting because it’s an anti-real-estate typology,” Mr. Riley said, warming to the topic. “Real estate is ‘location, location, location,’ but this house can be built anywhere.”

It's also anti-new urbanism to completely ignore the neighborhood where your house is situated. Riley's house (below) may be acceptable to the cultural elite, but its essentially the high-design version of a McMansion, with the same disregard for neighborhood cohesion that critics of trophy houses always bemoan. Oh, and next time you're at Riley's pad, make sure to bring your bathing suit.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thursday: Culture on the Verge @ Scope

Super Arty Super Party


Art Basel Kickoff @ MoCA NoMi

The MoCA Art in America Party always sets the tone for the wild rumpus week of Art Basel. Everyone makes an appearance at the North Miami outpost from the art freaks to the graying collectors and a good time is had by all in the museum's neon-lit courtyard. Often, it's the conversations in the courtyard that are the most fascinating. As I sipped the first of many Bacardis to be consumed throughout the week, this is what I overheard.
"What is that you're eating there? A falafel?"
"Yeah, it's like an African falafel. Made with black-eyed peas."
"...You really need to get down there and see it soon because Carlos is taking down the installation, like, as we speak."
"I'm gonna get a Bacardi Melon, they taste like Jolly Ranchers!"
"This art fair cost my gallery nearly 50k. Yeah, seriously, talk about business expenses."
"Why do they always have cheap Australian wine at these art things? Makes me swear like a truck driver."
And so on and so forth. Plus, there was a lot of French and Shcvietz-Deutschen going on.
And man, those Europeans are gorgeous. Talk about cheekbones! These women, many of them in their forties and with real life wrinkles are long legged and glamorous. It's nice to see women who age gracefully and aren't afraid to let their bodies show it. It also helps to be built like a gazelle.
Speaking of beautiful women, fashion icon Donna Karan (left) took in the Bruce Nauman neon exhibit inside and was gracious when local folks stopped to tell her how wonderful it is that DKNY "actually cuts a size 6 that real women can fit into." But I think Donna's glaring at the woman on the right because she said something like: "Oh I just love your wrap dresses, I've been collecting them since the 70's!" Oops, wrong designer, lady.

And is that Samuel Keller or a look alike? Because if it is, the dude on the right really needs to tell Mr. Keller about a young Polish artist that is literally shaking things up in the art world these days.