907 Whitehead St., Key West
Visiting Key West without making a pilgrimage to the Ernest Hemingway Home and gardens (and the resident family of six-toed cats) is kind of blasphemous. Much of the interior and a smattering of personal possessions from Hemingway’s years on the estate are lovingly salvaged originals. Don’t skimp on the tour as the guides are extremely well versed in Hem trivia.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo
The tropical waters of Key West are home to some of the most protected living coral reefs in the country. There are tons of outfits offering kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and even glass-bottom boat tours, but we like the in-house folks at John Pennekamp, which is a massive underwater park (statues, sculptures, and the like) that justifies the drive. They’re also nicely attuned to visitors’ wishes and skill-levels.
3852 N. Miami Ave., Design District
Three Miami-based artists got together in 1998 to create a not-for-profit art collective, and Locust Projects was born. At the time it was in the Wynwood neighborhood, but it has since relocated to the Design District. The current show, Horizons by Justin Rancourt and Chuck Yatsuk, is a commentary on the current state of media, the nature of commercialism in our culture, and the appropriation of hope as a marketing device. Previous exhibits have included a series of collage-style self-portraits by Pepe Mar that map that artist’s past and present experiences in the gay cultural meccas of Miami and San Francisco. A recent video installation by LA-based artist Fern Vargas Vargas that explores the relationship between drivers and police.
Nina Johnson Gallery
6315 N.W. 2nd Ave., Little River
Little Haiti’s Nina Johnson Gallery favors emerging artists. Johnson is a well-respected curator in Miami and has a keen sense of the work that will resonate with the community. A prime example is Tom Scicluna’s first commercial show: Named for a fictional address next to the gallery, 6319 NW 2nd Avenue is meditation on Miami’s rapidly changing urban landscape. Scicluna gathered things he found near the gallery and exhibited them to reflect the social and political context. Another recent exhibit was Derek Fordjour’s Ritual—a series of paintings made from acrylic and oil painted on newspaper scraps. These portraits capture men of color in moments of reflection and deep thought, while the grittiness of the paper is intended to subtly echo the poverty of the artist's upbringing in Memphis.
O Cinema Miami Beach
500 71st St., North Beach
O Cinema's newest location, within striking distance of plenty of great restaurants up in North Beach, occupies the old Byron Carlyle Theater—which was actually shuttered until the nonprofit revitalized it this year. Like at their other two locations (the original is in Wynwood and there's another in Miami Shores), you'll find a mix of independent, foreign, art, and classic pop culture screenings, plus plenty of programming for littles.
O Cinema Miami Shores
9806 NE 2nd Ave., Miami Shores
O Cinema's second location is part of Miami Theater Center (MTC to locals), which hosts live theater when it's not programmed by this indie film organization. The Art Deco theater, originally built in 1946, has been lovingly restored—it's now one of the biggest independent theaters in the area, with room to seat 330 patrons at a time. Like at their other locations, you'll find a mix of independent, foreign, art, and classic pop culture screenings, plus plenty of programming for littles. The Wynwood location is the original, and they now have theaters in Miami Beach, too.
O Cinema Wynwood
90 NW 29th St., Wynwood
This nonprofit indie theater in a converted warehouse is steps from the Rubell Collection and the Wynwood Walls—though it's tucked away behind the street, so it can be a bit tricky to find. O Cinema regularly screens independent, foreign, art, and classic pop culture films inside the cozy 112-seat theater, and it occasionally hosts outdoor film screenings on the patio. The Wynwood location is the original, but there are now theaters in Miami Beach and Miami Shores, too.
7221 N.W. 2nd Ave., Little River
Since 2005, Spinello Projects has been the heart of the revamped Little River area. In line with the city’s artistic DNA, Spinello is a space for experimental artists whose work isn’t suited for traditional galleries. The installations are meant to provoke, make you think, maybe make you rethink your positions on social and political issues. Spinello leans into artistic commentary however uncomfortable it may be. A recent example was Antonia Wright’s powerful exhibit intended to reflect the nature of police and riots in our society. The artist was standing behind a police barricade, a living sculpture, facing visitors, who were also in a confined, barricaded space.
2520 NW 2 Ave., Wynwood
Easily one of the most Instagrammed places in Miami, Wynwood Walls is the brainchild of developer Tony Goldman, who was key in the neighborhood's transformation from forgotten industrial zone to hipster paradise. The industrial buildings here, many of which lack windows, made the perfect canvas for Goldman to bring in what reads like a who's who of graffiti artists, including Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Jeff Soto, Os Gemeos, and Barry McGee, to paint major large-scale murals. Though Goldman has passed away, his wife and children bring new artists to the project every year, breathing fresh life into his colorful legacy. While the best way to experience these pieces is simply to walk around the neighborhood, street art nerds may want to book a tour, as they dig into the specifics behind some of the major pieces.
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