Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School
Let's get one thing straight: This won't be a year-ender piece about Art Basel, the greatness that was the 11th annual orgy of international artists converging on Miami Beach for four days of art hysteria, or anything Miami-Dade County-related. This will be, however, a look back at a banner year for unusual art events in Broward and Palm Beach, a year that saw a pair of blues bars rebounding from an economic slump and — most surprising — a year for bald comedians to quit pot. Here's our list of the best art and stage events of 2011.
Toulouse-Lautrec and His 19th Century Mentors at Coral Springs Museum of Art, 2855 Coral Springs Drive. Mark this the year that a museum in northwest Broward suburbia reached a kind of late cultural puberty. We're talking about the Coral Springs Museum of Art which, somewhere between a Dale Chihuly glass art retrospective a decade ago and a recent polka-dotted parade of pop art from Miami's Romero Britto, managed to mature just enough to shed its artsy-fartsy stodginess. Case in point: the current Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition on display through Feb. 12, which combines paintings of the dreary nightlife spectacle of turn-of-the-century Paris with sketches of sharp-dressed prostitutes at the Moulin Rouge. The 90-piece show is a massive score for the near-15-year-old museum, and it's packed with such sweet decadence it ought to top an ice cream sundae.
24 Hour Theatre Project at Caldwell Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. One night this past October, 60 bleary-eyed, half-slurring people — most of whom hadn't seen a lick of sleep in 24 hours — mounted a stage in Boca Raton and talked of alien-induced orgasms and meeting 70-year-old anonymous sex partners on Craigslist. It was an evening of R-rated raunch, which just finished its fifth year, that came from married actors and co-founders Katherine and Antonio Amadeo. Their theatrical experiment on speed posed the question: Can a troupe of big-cheese actors, playwrights and directors write, produce and perform eight short plays — from scratch — within a single day? Answer: Yes, and with hilarious gutter comedy that could be produced only under the most sleep-deprived of settings.
Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival at Cinema Paradiso, Sunrise Civic Center and Muvico Pompano 18. The 26th iteration of South Florida's largest (and, apparently, best-bankrolled) film fest went jetsetting to Grand Bahama Island this year. While I skipped the swaying palm trees and spiked piña coladas as FLIFF treated audiences to sun-kissed, outdoor film screenings and underwater cinematography workshops (I swear I'm not jealous), what screened stateside was no less festive. About 150 American independent, world and documentary films flickered at three Broward theaters, including meditative bank heist drama Man on the Train, bloody cult talkfest Silver Case and The Artist, a current Oscar contender that's an elegiac homage to the silent film era. See? Better than a beachside screening any day.
Brian Posehn at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. At Brian Posehn's tour stop in South Florida two weeks ago, the ZZ Top-bearded comedian dropped probably the biggest bombshell to metalhead fans since Black Sabbath announced a reunion tour last month. “I changed a bunch of things about myself for my wife, for my baby. I quit going to strip clubs. My wife didn't like when I came home from Vegas and my glasses smelled like fake tits,” Posehn quipped. “The biggest change I made: I quit weed. I know, dudes. I boo myself every morning. Coherent thoughts, boo.” Yes, the 100-deep crowd of Slayer diehards delivered unto him a chorus of jeers — at first — until Posehn redeemed himself after the hour-long set. Joining closing death metal act Masticator onstage, he growled “More Metal Than You,” a track off last year's metal/comedy album Fart and Weiner Jokes, and later posed for pictures with fans. Not bad for a comic gone cold turkey.
The re-opening of Bamboo Room, 25 South J St., Lake Worth, and Back Room Blues Bar, 2222 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Roadside juke joints aren't exactly booming in this economy. Just ask general manager Mary Beth Farrell, who shuttered Lake Worth staple Bamboo Room in mid-2008 — partly to weather the imminent spending slump and partly because the club struggled to draw a dwindling number of well-heeled blues aficionados. Owner John Yurt likewise boarded up Back Room, once a stop for down-home legends Bobby Blue Bland, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and James Cotton, not two years later. Yet both survived their own version of the blues: Bamboo reopened in February, reincarnated as a hybrid club hosting jam bands, classic rock, Americana, rockabilly and a smattering of local and national bluesmen such as Albert Castiglia. The Back Room followed suit in March, ensuring that strong bastions of blues still exist in South Florida.
Will Shortz at Crest Theatre, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. From his lofty perch in New York, The New York Times' crossword puzzle editor headed across and down to Delray Beach this past April for a talk at Old School Square. Ardent puzzle-solvers packed the Crest for a cerebral evening of wordsmithing by the self-proclaimed “word weenie,” a man once labeled by Jon Stewart as the “Errol Flynn of crosswords.” And pick his encyclopedic brain we did. For a solid two hours, Shortz showed off his favorite puzzles of the past 18 years, including a dollar sign-shaped crossword that contained the word “one” in all four corners. We expected nothing less from the man who lives and breathes the black-and-white gridded landscape of puzzle clues.
Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School at Stage 84, 9118 State Road 84, Davie. This summer, inside a Davie music venue with tomato juice-colored walls, Lighthouse Point artist Charlotte Sundquist reinvented the life-drawing class, that sterile, much-detested college experience in which art majors quietly sketch pasty-skinned nude models in big, starchy rooms under blinding, fluorescent lights. Inspired by the Dr. Sketchy's drink and draws created by New York art school dropout Molly Crabapple, Sundquist launched a South Florida chapter in July to much success. About 40 hipsters and late-career artists, armed with giant sketchpads, occupied every plush couch and barstool in the place to draw a group of topless (but self-empowered) burlesque dancers. It was a night textured with schmaltzy showtunes from Marilyn Monroe and Peggy Lee, as free-spirited women with smoky eyes writhed and gyrated against a Victorian lounge onstage in bejeweled, come-hither costumes. The best part of all? The night of pinup-esque stripteasing was more about the kitsch than a tasteless parade of female flesh.
Contact Phillip Valys at firstname.lastname@example.org.