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Photography Miami had a photo shoot at the Little Havana Festival, which is held the last Friday night of each month. I thought, well we will go for about an hour and then go to dinner somewhere, a good excuse to go into Miami. We arrived at 5:30 PM and left at 10:30 PM and probably would have stayed longer if it were not for an hour ride home.
Typical of the Latin culture, it was electric with music and dancing in the streets. As we have found in the past on our excursions to Little Havana the people are great and ambassadors for their neighborhood. Take time to talk to the locals, artists and vendors displaying their work on the streets and visit the galleries.
Around 8PM 1,000 bikers came rolling down Calle Ocho some wearing costumes, music blasting from their bikes, hooting and waving all the way. It was an amazing site and for a minute I thought I was in Beijing again.
We went to a Cuban restaurant with our group who helped us select a typical Cuban dish, with the waiter chiming in to help us make our selection. Later we were back out on the street listening to the Latin beat and watching people dancing.
The crowds got larger towards the evening, so I suggest getting the full flavor, go about 7PM and be sure to visit one of the many restaurants and galleries for a memorable evening in Little Havana
Some Street Photography
Boca Raton hosted a Chinese New Year Festival at Mizner Park last weekend. The town has announced that it will be a yearly event. It featured performers from the The Chinese Association of Science, Education and Culture of South Florida (CASEC) and the Anhui Huangmei Opera Theater in China.
I was lucky to have gone to the Bejing Opera House many years ago and looked forward to enjoying this colorful spectacle. For many Chinese as well as other attendees, this probably was the first time they had the opportunity to experience anything quite like Chinese Opera.
The performers were outstanding and the costumes were authentic, beautifully decorated and very colorful.
The children were enthralled as they lined up along the stage to take photo’s with their phones. For those of us who don’t understand Chinese I’m sure found ourselves wondering what the excerpts from the plays and opera were all about, but it didn’t matter because the performances were magical.
I was photographing as two Chinese men told me the story that was being played out. The traditional dragon dance was the hit of the evening.
Enough said it is better to view the beautiful costumes and performers, so put this event on your calendar for next year.
The Latin beat, aromas and vivid colors greeted our arrival in Little Havana. My friend Joan and I were invited by Miami Culinary Tours to join one of their walks in Little Havana led by Mirka Harris.
You can not pass a coffee bar without taking in the warm aroma of sweet cafecito and chatting with the locals. Venture into a cigar shop to watch the able hands of an experienced cigar maker, stretching, layering and rolling the deep brown subtle tobacco leaves and comfortable seating areas where cigar smoke fills the air as locals relax with their favorite brand. The sound of dominoes being tossed onto the table draws you to Domino Park as people play this game with intensity and friends stand around anxiously watching and playing along with their eyes as each move is made. The atmosphere is electric and game after game continues all afternoon. Little Havana is colorful from the murals painted on buildings, the vibrant works in art galleries to the Cuban culture and friendly people who are always willing to have their photo taken.
We started at the gallery of Midlrey Guillot, who was there to greet us and give us a little story of her life and how she came to paint mostly women and what they are passionate about. She says “after all it is what I know best as I am a woman”.
We visited several restaurants where we sampled Cuban food as our guide Mirka explained the traditional way it is prepared and eaten. We moved on to bakeries and markets, discovering the beautiful colors of the ingredients used to prepare these famous Cuban dishes. Like many Latin cultures food is what brings families and friends together from happy occasions to sad. It is about the deep sense of life and connections between them that make up their social world.
We tasted a cold sweet drink made with sugar cane, flaky pastries filled with guava fruit, typical Cuban sandwiches and plantain cups filed with chicken and beef. The final stop was Azurcar, the famous ice cream shop where we had the dilemma of selecting one of their many flavors. A very good way to end a culinary tour after walking around Little Havana on a sunny afternoon.
Yesterday was my birthday and he and I decided to have dinner at our favorite French restaurant in Miami only to find out it was closed on Tuesdays. So we headed to Wynwood, an district between NW 1st Ave and I95 and NW 20th and 36th Street. A friend had told me about the painted walls and galleries near the Design District where I had once considered opening a studio. I knew of the artist activity there even then, which is now about 10 years ago, but didn’t realize how far it had advanced.
It is growing and developing every day as artists set up studios and galleries and restaurants attract visitors.The shear complexity and variety of art is invigorating and the huge brightly painted scenes on the sides of buildings attack your senses simulating every part of your being. My feelings were dancing around in amazement as I found the work, sometimes confused and comical and others romantic and sensual. As I viewed each painting depicting its story in bright colors, I felt myself trying to absorb the intensity of the work. As we roamed the streets talking to artists and locals excited to tell us their life experiences we knew that we this district would be a continuing part of our visits to Miami.
The area is not all fully developed, in fact parts of Wynwood are still somewhat depressed, typical of most areas that artists are attracted to. The incompleteness and struggling sections blends in as artists move into these districts because they to are struggling to find ways to do their art and live inexpensively. This melding is what makes this neighborhood interesting. And where artists thrive, so does everyone else, a phenomenon that is both wonderful and at the same time is what causes them to move on eventually. For now this growing neighborhood is bound to be an attraction for a long time to come.
We found some of the friendliest people in the cafes, bakeries, coffee houses and shops where mingling is part of the lifestyle here. I talked to an artist who was painting the side of a building and he told me that painting is all he wants to do in life. Working on the side to pay the bills and earning small amounts of money painting whole sides of buildings is his life. He loves it, lives it and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. This is the passion of Wynwood.
The owners of these buildings collaborate with the artists about the theme of the work and are happy to promote the artist to whoever comes by. The second Saturday of the month is “Art and Gallery Walk” when all the galleries and shops are open and live music welcomes thousands of art lovers.
Art Basel stimulated this neighborhood to give itself over to the art world and the neighborhood responded and is reaping its benefits growing into an attraction of its own. Some of the photographs I took roaming the district will give you a small impression of the scope of the work. It is now up to you to discover it as I did.