The first week in December is becoming know as Miami Art Week every year since Art Basel (the world's premier international contemporary art fair formed in Basel, Switzerland in 1970) started to work with roughly 250 leading art galleries around the world to showcase work in the Miami Beach convention center. The show spills out into the environment transforming Collins Park and surrounding public spaces with sculptures, film, and live performance art. With Art Basel comes over 20 other major art fairs which take over an area stretching from South Beach to downtown Miami to the Wynwood Arts District.
Northeast Florida artists always flock south to participate in this international spectacle, which draws over 70,000 people from around the globe.
I met Florida painter Kevin Grass at the Red Dot art fair in 2013 as he was selling an original work to a Jacksonville resident. This year, partially aided by a crowd funding campaign, Grass was set up in the Spectrum art show run by the same people who put on Artexpo in New York. "It worked out so much better for me than Red Dot did. A guy who wants to show my work in Shanghai has already followed up with me from the show. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!"
Allow at least four days if you ever make the trek south for Art Basel and the surrounding art fairs. Miami can seem rough, decadent and even Babylonian. The beautiful weather and transformation possible through such a grand event as multiple international contemporary art fairs make it an epic journey.
Below are the personal takes by four Northeast Florida artists who attended and participated in this year’s festival:
“What I am always so grateful for is the fact that I can take a drive down I-95 and find myself at the very center of the contemporary art world. And I feel grateful that I can experience all of this once every year while never even leaving my state. This year I visited four different fairs in three days. It was the most I had ever …
Jacksonville filmmaker Damian K. Lahey can be a bit of a recluse at times, so — being the annoyingly prodding journalist friend that I am — I attempted to crack open his oyster shell and, in the spirit of All Hallows' Eve, ask him to give me a list of his favorite horror films. For those not familiar with Lahey from his award-winning Indie film work, his feature-length movies include Cocaine Angel and The Heroes Of Arvine Place, both shot here in picturesque Cowford. Arvine Place, a Christmas holiday-themed movie, is currently finishing up its festival run after winning several awards, and will be released this December on Blu-ray and all major digital platforms. The tireless Lahey has also just completed post-production on a lil' horror/comedy short that he shot in L.A. in July called Soccer Moms In Peril, and is in pre-production on his next feature, which will be shooting in Jacksonville at the beginning of 2015.
Anyway, Lahey agreed to churn out the list at my behest. Curiously (and I would say criminally) missing from his compilation is Tales From the Crypt: Bordello of Blood, featuring a post-relevancy Corey Feldman and pre-right wing Dennis Miller. I'll now step aside and let Mr. Lahey take over the scene from here:
Lahey: When RDS3 asked me to shoot him a list of my favorite horror movies, I was already tired from a long day of work and writing. Nonetheless, I threw back a can of HyperFizzics (a potent locally produced energy drink) and marched forth. Suddenly, it was 4 in the morning and I had not only finished this list, but had also nearly completed the construction of a fully operational time machine in the basement of my apartment building AND finished reading all of Dave Sim's Cerebus tomes.
Now, this is a purely subjective list. This is not what I believe are the best horror movies or the most influential horror movies. This is a list of MY …
When Sir Paul’s people hook up media types with review tickets, they really hook you up with review tickets. Like, on the floor, 12th row, maybe a hundred feet from the man who has defined rock ’n’ roll for the last 50 years, a living legend in every sense of the word. These were $500 seats, as I heard some clearly intoxicated bro behind me announce. (My photographer was not so lucky; he learned that his photo pass only granted him access for the first two songs. After that, he was escorted out of the building, and had to wait outside for me, as I was his ride. Clearly, I got the better end of that deal.) For that kind of coin, you expect not just a concert, but a show. And Sir Paul delivered.
Before we continue, a confession: I wasn’t a huge Wings fans, beyond maybe “Live and Let Die” and “Band on the Run.” And I’m not sure I could name three songs from the entirety of McCartney’s solo efforts, but then again, neither could most of the 12,000 or so people in attendance. Without John Lennon as a sort of ballast, McCartney leans a little too much toward sap and sentiment. That’s what made The Beatles work so well: John and Paul balanced out each other’s impulses. And so I, like almost everyone else, was hoping for a set list deep in Beatles songs. We got what we came for — “Yesterday,” “Back in the USSR,” “Paperback Writer,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Magical Mystery Tour,” etc. — especially toward the end of the evening.
When you are Paul McCartney, and you are doing a world tour, you can afford to hire some of the finest musicians on the planet, and McCartney’s backing band was indeed flawless, effortless, as you would expect. And while Paul’s voice showed its 72 years from time to time, especially on the high parts of “Maybe I’m Amazed” — no, Times-Union, he has not …
When Paul McCartney rolls into town this weekend, the legendary statesman of rock gives old and new fans of The Beatles a chance to reflect on a member of one of the most seismic forces of pop culture of the 20th century. Yet there is another person who, over the years, and almost by default, has become the proverbial “fifth Beatle.” Vilified by most, glorified by some, Yoko Ono might forever be known as the person who “broke up The Beatles,” when in fact most Beatles bibliophilia points the guilty finger at Sir Paul. Regardless of who pulled the plug, like that crazy relative every family seems to have, the one that is unilaterally loved or loathed by the rest of kin, there is no in between with Yoko.
Why is Yoko the target of such animosity? To some degree, she was surely a victim of the place and the time. When she met John Lennon in 1966, the Western world was only two decades away from the aftershocks of WWII and knee-deep in the conflict in Viet Nam. Second-wave feminism was just beginning to rise. Would it be an overstatement to believe that there was an immediate suspicion, if not outright prejudice, towards an Asian woman (who was – gasp – a strong-minded artist in her own right) who would dare snag the Alpha Male of the Fab Four?
By the time John met Yoko (or vice versa) she had already established herself as a viable force on the NYC avant garde art scene, having collaborated with creative heavyweights like John Cage and La Monte Young and participated in a variety of visual and performance art activities. Art school dropout John was admittedly drawn to Yoko for her artistic output - he first met her at London’s Indica Gallery, which was exhibiting a show of her conceptual work. Over the next decade-plus, and up until John’s murder, the line between the pair’s romantic and creative partnership remained in a steady state of diffusion. Much to the dismay of close-minded Beatles fans, Yoko was …
Among his CEO duties helming self-started Grand Hustle Records, rubbing elbows with the likes of Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in Hollywood films, and serving two stints in county clinks, it’s undeniably impressive that Atlanta-based rapper T.I. (pictured) has found time to write and release eight studio albums, nearly all to chart-topping reception. The three-time Grammy-winning rubberband man brings his brand of hip-hop street cred to Jacksonville’s Aqua Nightclub. Say what you will about one-dimensional songwriting, objectification of women and migraine-inducing grammar – this man knows how to top charts and fill clubs.
When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. Or sometimes you just enjoy a really fabulous Game of Thrones-inspired cocktail. Superfans celebrate their obsession this weekend with a GOT-themed party, complete with fire-dancers, GOT-inspired burlesque shows and a costume contest. The best represented house will claim the Iron Throne and the glory that goes with it, and all can take pictures seated on the massive replica, created just for the event. Oh, and, uh, brace yourselves. Winter, and lots of geeky-fun cosplay, is coming.
In 2003, The Early November released its debut studio album The Room’s Too Cold, and the song “Ever So Sweet” guided many teenagers through the breakup of their first relationship. Emo music was on the rise, and The Early November were at the top of the game. The band split up for a while, reuniting a half-decade later. Currently, they’re taking a break from their day jobs and going on a small acoustic tour. They’re purposely playing in smaller venues, they say, to create that same intimacy that a teenager would feel listening to records at home.
Once touted as the thinking person’s heavy metal band, Helmet – aka Page Hamilton and the revolving door of musicians who support him – has stayed faithful to the atonal, aggressive songwriting style it helped develop in the post-hardcore days of the early ’90s. Initially, it’s hard to believe the ham-fisted, distorted, stop-and-go drop-D riffs are the brainchild of a guy with dual degrees in classical and jazz performance, but that’s kind of the point. The band’s breakthrough 1992 release, Meantime, captures the dissonance, grit and (dare we say) sloppiness that signified the bands of the era. Filter (“Hey Man, Nice Shot”) headlines.
Mother Superior is the newest addition to local label Infintesmal Records, known for putting out Duval’s best post-punk, indie and garage rock music. The band is a perfect fit for the label, with a super-scratchy, distortion-heavy sound and lots of feedback. Unique to the band, though, are the singer’s use of almost-whiny pop-punk vocals and a snarky sense of humor. It’s a bit sloppy, but a lot of fun, with lyrics like “I’m going to kill you, baby, ooh lalala. I’m going to suck your blood like Dracula.” Austin’s post-punks Vetter Kids (pictured) headline. They’re so good they got a shout out from music elitist blog Brooklyn Vegan. Bravo, guys.
The Ice Plant is Christiana Key’s favorite bar in St. Augustine. It reminds her of a place she frequented while she lived in New York City, with high ceilings and a modern atmosphere. She didn’t love New York, but it’s where she started her experimental magic-infused pop music project, Delphic Oracle.
“Ultimately I would like it to be called priestess pop,” she says.
She’s a one-woman band who plays everything through a loop pedal. Her medium is her electric violin, a keyboard synthesiser, a microphone and a four-channel interface mixer.
In the two years since she started the project, Key’s done an East Coast and West Coast tour, but has recently settled into St. Augustine, close to where she grew up, in Jacksonville. Most of her days are spent in a pirate souvenir and costume shop, a touristy place where she works and lives in a tiny room off to the side with only a curtain as her door. She works as a clerk in the shop, and sews some of the costumes sold there.
When I meet Key, she’s dressed in a black plunging-neckline dress, a color she feels most comfortable in. She’s 27, but looks younger on account of her edgy aesthetics and petite body.
We order drinks. The bar’s cocktail menu employs songs titles and pop culture references. She chooses the Mellow Gold, named after a Beck album: Old Forester bourbon, Liquor 43, ginger, lemon, orange, sugar and bitters. It’s a tall glass — and, she says, a big bang for your buck. It’ll get you drunk after just one. I press record on my iPhone, and for the rest of the night I’m engulfed in Key’s strange mind.
She starts by telling me about her music.
“I try to write songs that are really spiritually uplifting, and then I find myself going for a sexually tinged spiritual pursuit,” Key says.
A lot of the revelations she’s had in her life have been through sex and relationships, and she’s more …