Daily updates on what's up in Coconut Grove and beyond including Brickell, Coral Gables and Midtown Miami

Saturday, January 31, 2015

More Grove whitewashing

Photo courtesy LoKal.
The whitewashing of Coconut Grove continues with the painting over of the mural that was at LoKal, the burger place, on Commodore Plaza. It was almost an institution by now, appearing all over the internet on social media and write-ups of the restaurant.

The State Farm insurance office next door, who got rid of the mural because the wall was damaged and it's State Farm's wall. The State Farm building ironically, was an eyesore for years, so they are finally cleaning up the place which fits in nicely with the renovations all over Commodore Plaza.

Valerie Davis-Bailey, owner,  says that the wall was damaged due to dumpsters being dragged against it which caused cracks and other building damage. The mural had to be removed so they can repair the problem.

"I take exception to your questioning me about my property. FYI - there was no permit ever obtained for the mural," says Valerie.

She went on to say, "My building will be undergoing  repairs due to the wall destruction. The building may or may not be sold in the next year or two,  I do not need approval from the furious and irate in Coconut Grove to make changes to my property. Thanks for minding my business instead of  your own."

Fair enough. I like that last comment. 

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Playing God

It's amazing that Michael Spring has so much power over the Coconut Grove Playhouse, it reminds me of Robert Moses, shown here, who had so much power over New York City in the 1930s through the 1960s; he did good and he did bad, he's one of the reasons the Brooklyn Dodgers left for Los Angeles. He was an urban planner, but he played God. It was his way or the highway, literally, as he literally built highways and parkways and bridges and split so much of the city up over this.

Robert Moses had autonomy from the general public and elected officials. He played God. Aren't those days over? Apparently not in Michael Spring's case and even with our City Commissioners. One person has too much control without any checks and balances.  I know that everything has to pass through the Commissioners in their districts, it's just the nature of the job. When I was condo president, I knew about every move that everyone made in the building, whether I wanted to or not. Now that I am no longer on the board, I am oblivious to everything that goes on and I love it. It's true that ignorance is bliss.

When I was the condo president, I insisted that two signatures be on every check that went out. I didn't want the responsibility of being the only one. I'm not understanding this power thing that so many people have. I guess I never will. 

You can read about Robert Moses here, he was quite an interesting character. 

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Ben Cohen's socially conscious workshop

Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen has spent nearly four decades working to bring the world some of the best ice cream and yogurt with some of the best names from his home base in Burlington, VT. Now the Socially-conscious, entrepreneur is heavily-invested in freezing big money out of the American political system via a Constitutional Amendment through his Stamp Stampede campaign. He will be on hand to personally lead a workshop about the ins and outs of getting money out of politics during the opening day of the Virginia Key Grass Roots Festival of Music, Art & Dance’s Culture Camp on February 15, 2015, beginning at 9 am.

The Stampede utilizes the viral way that paper currency circulates to create a “petition on steroids” by turning money into media. The way to do it is simple: legally rubber-stamping messages like “Not 2 B Used for Bribing Politicians” and “Stamp Money Out of Politics” on the nation’s currency. More than 30,000 people from every state in the union are now participating.

The workshop will begin with a humorous anecdotal history of Ben and Jerry’s, the theory and practice of socially responsible business, and how the Stampede grew out of those same values. Featured activities include: a demonstration of the Stampede Machine, a live participative enactment of Pete Seeger’s “Giant Seesaw Parable;” and money stamping (Stampede stamps will be available for purchase). Participants are encouraged to bring lots of dollar bills with them for stamping (they get to keep their money after it’s been adorned).

The marketing and political organization of the Stampede, which now involves more than a million Americans, will be covered in the context of America’s campaign reform movement. Discussions will also include the current state of policy both nationally and in each state. Plenty of ice cream and stamps will fuel the discussion.

The location of this and all events is the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Drive. Culture Camp tickets are available online - view the full schedule and purchase tickets online, click here. The cost to attend each day of unlimited workshops is $25 and includes dinner and a dance. Children under 12 are admitted free to all events.

To learn more about the Stampede campaign, visit stampstampede.org.  
For more information about the festival, call 786.409.5261.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

They want answers about the Grove Playhouse

The folks running the "Save the Coconut Grove Playhouse" Facebook page are quite adamant about getting answers from Michael Spring, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, regarding the next steps in involved in the Coconut Grove Playhouse. The group feels that the next step is demolition, which of course is the last thing they want.

I think everyone is looking for answers. Just yesterday, as I was taking this photo, I was stopped by a couple of people asking me what the latest news was. I didn't have much to tell them.

From the Save the Playhouse Facebook page:

Michael Spring and Michael Peyton have been making intimidating phone calls to one of our Save the Playhouse members in an attempt to whitewash Spring's efforts to demolish the Playhouse, denying any wrongdoing. If Michael Spring is denying what is being reported here, this is an open invitation for him to speak freely on this page. Here is what we want to know from Mr. Spring:

--Why did he break protocol as part of the architect selection committee by refusing to allow the candidates to give their prepared oral presentations, something that is standard procedure on all county projects?

--Why did he say initially to the County Board of Commissioners and to the Mayor, that the Playhouse structure will not be taken down yet later change his plan to favor replacing the building with a much smaller 200-300 seat theater with retail? 

--How does he justify hijacking the citizens vote to spend our $20 million to restore the building to instead be used on demolishing it and putting up a theater a fraction of the size? His claim that an 1100 seat theater is not economically feasible is incomprehensible given that his 200-300 seat plan does not create the critical mass needed to restore the local economy or the Playhouse profits. And he's talking about economic feasibility? How does a smaller audience= more money? Makes no sense.

--Why was no historical board member present on the five member architect selection committee panel given the historical significance of the Playhouse and the mandate of the voters to restore it as such? You had the Miami Parking Authority and FIU represented on the selection committee but not a historical board member?

--Why was there no requirement/criteria established for the selected candidate to have any experience restoring historic theaters or structures?

--Why was Arquitectonica selected as a developer of the project (receiving, by far, the panel's highest ratings) given the fact that just recently the Miami Herald reported they are the subject of a multi-million dollar lawsuit resulting from major construction flaws of the Miami Heat Arena, costing the NBA team $17 million in repairs? 

--Mr Spring, under the criteria titled "qualifications and design awards" you gave candidate Arquitectonica a rating of 30 out of a maximum of 35 potential points. Yet you gave Richard Heisenbottle only 25 out of 35. Similarly, under the criteria of "Knowledge and Past Performance on Similar Projects" you awarded Arquitectonica the maximum 35 out of 35 points yet only awarded Heisenbottle a mere 25 out of 35. This is in spite of the glaring facts that the Miami Heat certainly would not agree that $17 million in Arquitectonica's construction flaws is deserving of a maximum score. And yet Richard Heisenbottle, who did a remarkable job restoring the historic downtown Gusman Theater and countless other historic treasures was rated much lower. How do you justify this gross oversight?

--Lastly but not least, why was there no vision plan prior to sending out RFPs in seeking an architect to restore a widely revered landmark and iconic emblem that dates back to this city's pioneer era? Considering that this is something that is loaded with so much history and reputation, it is incomprehensible how someone with the title of "Cultural Affairs Director" could fumble so badly in failing to protect and enrich something that is the epitome of culture on a local and national scale.

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Sailors break barriers at Olympic qualifiers

The ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami brought the top Olympic and Paralympic sailors to Coconut Grove this week. Paralympic competitors took in a week of racing, launching from host site, Shake-A-Leg Miami. They have been on quite a rigid schedule with launch times at 10 am daily for first Sonar and Scud race at 11 am followed by a noon launch for 1:00 pm 2.4mR races. 

Paralympic sailors from around the world come to Shake-A-Leg for this opportunity to compete for a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympics against other sailors with a range of disabilities from double leg amputees to paraplegics. Disabilities are the last thing focused on during this week, as sailor break barriers and set records. Team Argentina, England, Brazil, Ireland, Virgin Islands, Canada and Italy are a sampling of Paralympic teams being represented this week. 

On Thursday, January 29, there will be a great photo opportunity at dockside from 9 to 9:30 am as 2.4mR sailors load for the 11 am race. Scud and Sonar sailors will load from noon to 12:30 pm for the 1 pm race. At noon all sailors will be in the Bay; a great time to photograph all race classes.

On Friday, January 30, from 5:00-10:00 pm, in conjunction with the UM PT students, they are hosting a party for the all the Paralympic sailors and others attending the World Championships. 

The ISAF Sailing World Cup is a world-class annual series for Olympic sailing. The regatta is a mainstay on the winter circuit for sailors who are campaigning for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions. In 2015, the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami is the second of five regattas included in the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup, the seventh edition of the annual series for Olympic sailing. Regatta Headquarters is located at the US Sailing Center Miami, an official Olympic Training Center.

Photos courtesy of ISAF

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Food worth its concrete

A food truck roundup at the Museum of Science a few years ago.
I was watching No Reservations and Anthony Bourdain was in a Brazilian city on the edge of the Rain Forest and the night before he set out on the river into the Rain Forest he got excited to see food trucks along the streets and he said this as he giddily approached the food trucks:

"What city worth its concrete, doesn't afford it's citizens the opportunity to eat on the street?"

We are that city, or village anyway, Coconut Grove still does not allow food trucks in the Center Grove and as we get more concreted up, you would think we would have food trucks worth our new concreted up village.

I miss Dim Ssäm à Gogo and  Ms. Cheezious and Health Nut on Wheels at Food Truck Friday at the Coconut Grove Bank lot, but ironically, that lot is being all concreted up with new condos, so the food trucks had to go.

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He gets his inspiration at his 200-year-old farm

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival is February 14-16, 2015. We'll be profiling some of the artists and performers who are participating this year.

Artist Aaron Hequembourg, from central Georgia, will be in booth 517 this year at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, this is Aaron's sixth year participating. He does a circuit during the year, showing at about 20 arts festivals around the country including Gasparilla in Tampa; Winterpark, the Smithsonian, Houston, Denver and Chicago.

A lot of the materials that Aaron works with is wood that he has salvaged from the farm he and his family live on. Most of it came from sharecropper houses that were taken down. The farm has been in his wife Hope's family since 1815 - it will be 200 years old this November. He also uses book pages and other materials he finds on the farm or on neighboring farms, he then engraves images into the materials. He was formally trained in engraving and printmaking on a scholarship to the University of Iowa.

He's won quite a few awards for his work at many of the arts festivals, including a few right here at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. 

"I began to produce work as a living a few years after college in 1989, I began to tour the festivals in the early 2000s as our family grew and my wife closed her gallery. In my current body of work my subjects are my neighbors,children and members of my community. Each subject receives 10% of the proceeds from each sale, many who need the support, it has changed their lives and mine."

Aaron with his four children and admirer, Martha Stewart.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Burlesque and vaudeville at Vinos

Burlesque and Sofia Luna are back at Vinos in the Grove on Saturday, January 31 at 9 pm.

Join in for a fun night of entertainment in the Art Gallery. Sofia Luna and her Burlesque dancers will perform classic burlesque and vaudeville.

$5 cover
$35 table reservation (includes cover and one bottle of wine)
Beer cash bar upstairs

RSVP to 305.442-8840

Vinos is at 3409 Main Highway.

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Quote, Unquote

Mary, Lord Grantham, Tom and Isis, the dog.
"We will build, we’ll even make money for the estate. But we won’t destroy what people love about this place."

"We can expand without destroying." 

These words were uttered by Lord Grantham on Downton Abbey, regarding a housing developer's idea of coming in and building "cheap houses" (Lord Grantham's words) on some acres of the Downton estate.

It seems that Mary and Tom met a developer, in the early 1920s, this is, who would like to build cookie cutter houses on part of the estate, which desperately needs the money. But in the end, Lord Grantham took the side of the villagers and decency, rather than a quick money fix. He went on to say that the developer would come in, build cheap houses and then be on to his next conquest.

Sounds familiar?

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Knight Arts Challenge open for applications

Beginning this week, South Floridians can apply for the Knight Arts Challenge, which funds the best ideas for bringing the community together through the arts. The deadline for the challenge, a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is Feb. 23.

Knight Foundation will host a kickoff party at Gramps in Wynwood (176 NW 24th Street) on Tuesday, January 27, from 6 to 8:30 pm, where applicants can meet other artists, past winners and Knight Foundation staff. In addition, as a way to recruit ideas from South Florida’s many neighborhoods, Knight Foundation will host a series of Community Q&A sessions. The events, taking place Feb. 2-5, will offer tips on creating a standout application, information on the challenge timeline and more. The schedule maybe be found at their website here: knightfoundation.org.

For example, in the photo above, to bring literature to more Miamians, Bookleggers will expand its community mobile library, which provides books for free, for trade or by donation. The library currently holds events each month at venues such as public parks, art galleries, museums, bars and schools. With upwards of 300 people attending each Bookleggers event, the library has exchanged thousands of books with people across Miami-Dade County. Knight Foundation funding will help Bookleggers continue its community outreach, in addition to providing a free/low-cost used book market for Miami’s literary community.

Pioneer Winter / Pioneer Winter Collective won a 2014 Knight Arts Challenge grant - To provide opportunities for local choreographers, the Pioneer Winter Collective's Grass Stains project will commission site-specific works throughout Miami that are free and open to the public. The participating choreographers will choose from a set of curated, nontraditional locations that will heighten the level of site-specific work in Miami. Grass Stains will help these choreographers hone their skills in site-specific performance, as well as provide them with the opportunity to be mentored by noted Guggenheim Fellow and Bessie Award-winning choreographer and director Stephan Koplowitz. Grass Stains seeks to help professionals push the boundaries of their practice, make their work accessible to a wider audience, and create work that is socially and culturally relevant to their community.

“Whether you are an arts organization or a small collective, a longtime South Florida artist or someone who moved to town recently, we want to hear from you,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation. “Our goal is to make art general in South Florida. We do that through the challenge, and finding the best grassroots ideas for bringing our community together through the arts.” 

Anyone can apply. All it takes is 150 words to fill out the initial application, which will be available at knightarts.org and is deliberately designed to be simple to encourage nontraditional applicants.

There are only three rules for the challenge:
1) The idea must be about the arts.
2) The project must take place in or benefit South Florida
3) The grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment.

Knight has received more than 8,900 ideas from the South Florida community since launching the challenge in 2008. In total, 241 projects have received almost $25 million in funding.

Since 2006, Knight Foundation has invested more than $86 million in South Florida’s cultural community. Those funds have launched a new media program that includes the signature “Wallcasts” at the acclaimed New World Symphony campus, helped present Ibero-American films at the Miami International Film Festival, and are bringing every Miami-Dade third-grader to the new Pérez Art Museum Miami, among other projects.  The approach is two-pronged: Knight Foundation aims to open up institutions to more South Floridians with large grants, while the Arts Challenge ensures that smaller, grassroots efforts fuel and refresh the arts scene.

For updates, follow #knightarts on Twitter, @knightfdn on Instagram and Knight Foundation on Facebook.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Village Council meeting is Tuesday

The monthly Village Council meeting is Tuesday, January 27 at Coconut Grove Elementary School (3351 Matilda Street), starting at 6 pm

On the agenda:

Treasury & Budget Update
Meg Daly from Underline (formerly GreenLink)
Discussion Item:
Up Zoning Center/West Grove
Parks Committee Follow up
Main / Macfarlane / Bike path
Project updates:
Crime Watch
Playhouse /FPL Expansion Project
Grove 2030

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Random pics

These are some random pictures from our Instagram account, taken over the years in Coconut Grove. Follow us at Instagram at @CoconutGroveGrapevine 

Johnny's Vespa at the Mayfair in front of a gallery.
LoKal on a weekend.
Friday afternoon.

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My Deer performing at Coconut Grove Arts Fest

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival is February 14-16, 2015. We'll be profiling some of the artists and performers who are participating this year.

Jo Viscaino and Yannick J. Calleiro. My Deer.

My Deer will be performing for the first time this year at this year's Coconut Grove Arts Festival which is February 14-16, 2015.

"This is our first CGAF, We are very excited to be here this year! Have always loved the live music aspect of the fest and it is surreal to be a part of it now!" says, Jo Viscaino, founder of the group. Jo has dedicated time to local and national projects since 2006. She writes the lyrics and melody while partner Yannick J. Calleiro creates the music. 

My Deer specifically began performing live Jan 2014. So happy first birthday!

They describe their music as "disco rock with synth pop influence." Their debut single, "Story," was released last month.

My Deer started performing early 2014 and has taken part of larger events such as III Points Festival as well and Sweat Stock Fest. they have also performed in all major venues in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

My Deer will be performing, Saturday, February 14 at 3:30 pm on the main stage at the Arts Festival. Nice Valentine's gift!

You can hear their single, "My Story" here

The music schedule for the festival with all the bands' performances may be seen here.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

People seem to love Florentine Plaza

Bikers in front of Florentine Plaza

The story on Florentine Plaza has really struck a nerve with a lot of people. It's been shared and reshared all over social media. People are not happy with the direction that Coconut Grove is going.

Rumor is that Florentine Plaza is going to be flipped and that it will become a small hotel. That of course is just a rumor and probably there is no truth to that but I really don't mind that idea. If it has to change, a small boutique hotel right there on that location might be interesting. I'm trying to be open-minded. Whenever I complain about redevelopment, I remember what someone said to me once: "Did your condo float down like a feather in the middle of the night?" No. No, it didn't.

I do like the structure itself, from the Fuller Street side, it sort of looks Southwestern and I always position myself in front of it during the King Mango Strut, as it makes such a great backdrop for photos.

Here are some comments I've taken from social media about the Florentine Plaza issue:

Fuller Street
Why are they trying to ruin the Grove?!

Here come the hipsters two by two...whole place is going to turn into Coconut Wynwood

The condos will be the scourge to the wonderful Grove vibe that presently exists.

This depresses me. There are so very few reminders of the Grove that I lived in back in the day but the place still holds a place in my aging heart. Why do developers see something that has made people happy for generations and suits the populace and community just fine the way it is and feel they must tear it down and replace it with some soul less upscale crap. This is not progress: this is money talking. Hopefully my visit in March will find this little corner still intact. For you and your Blu Moon Gallery Sheri I can only hope that, despite the loss of your location, things will, eventually, be better.

Coconut Grove, Soho and Earl's Court in London are just a few of so many areas that are are falling to the curse of greed. It's ironic that the people spearheading the demise of these places are called developers.

Another great place pushed away by a rich developer. That building with it's shops - is an absolute gem in a city full of soulless-ness and shite art! Well, at least we went out with a bang. Here's to the future, whatever it may hold.

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Chocolate Festival continues for one more day

We checked out the 9th Annual Chocolate Festival at Fairchild Tropical Gardens this weekend. Today, Sunday is the final day of the weekend fest. There was no rain, but it did look like snow. But it was warm enough that we had ice cream and frozen hot chocolate from the many vendors and food trucks serving up chocolate and non-chocolate things - like gyros, tacos, cakes, etc.
The Dale Chihuly exhibit is till in all around the gardens, so that's a plus while visiting for the Chocolate Festival. Chihuly is there until May 31, 2015.

There's a lot of sampling and plenty of chocolate presentations on cooking with chocolate, making chocolate and the origins of chocolate.

Our Coconut Grove friends Solar Dogs were performing and Sunday, our friend Ronnie Brooks is there with the BG Ramblers, so it's an all-Grove music venue this weekend. The band play right at the area where the food is, so you can sit at one of the many tables and enjoy.

Of course the star is chocolate and while there are some samples, it's not an event where you sample everything in site, the samples are few and far between; you buy the items you like, and there's plenty to like.
Cupcakes, cakes, a chocolate fountain, frozen hot chocolate and dark and milk chocolate bars are all part of the the fun.
The Sunday lecture schedule is:

11:00 a.m. Lecture by Richard Campbell, Ph.D., Fairchild
Science Village ClassroomCacao's
Struggle to Survive: Why We Should Care

12:00 p.m. Lecture by Osman Ariel Gutierrez, Ph.D., USDA-ARS
Science Village Classroom
The Genetic Background and Morphological Characterization of Cacao Genotypes from Plantations in Tabasco, Mexico
1:00 p.m. Cooking Demonstration by Danny Diaz, Sweetness Bakeshop & CafeCycad Vista Demonstration Tent
Chocolate Pot de Creme
2:00 p.m. Cooking Demonstration by Chris Bulgarin, Delicious Catering ServicesCycad Vista Demonstration Tent
Five Spice Chocolate Glazed Grilled Colossal Shrimp served on Black garlic Sesame Noodle Salad
3:00 p.m. Cooking Demonstration by Monica Duenas, Ortanique on the Mile
Cycad Vista Demonstration Tent
Chocolate Caramel Brownie

The hours are 9:30 am to 4:30 pm each day. Tickets are $25 for adults, no charge for Fairchild Members. You may buy tickets at the entrance or here online.

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

We are not alone

Over the years I've noticed something very interesting at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival poster unveiling parties at the Sonesta Bayfront Hotel. We're not alone. Now if you look at the photo above at Thursday's unveiling, everything looks great, there's the artist Duaív greeting the crowd, there's the commissioner and I see David Martin and Curtis Crider, the hands belong to Melissa  Nobles, my PR friend from Kiskinis Communications, but now look at the photo below this one.

You see the orbs now (the round glowing balls floating in air)? This happens every year and has happened every year for as far back as I can remember. The orbs only appear at the podium area. I took 100 photos that night, the orbs are nowhere else. You can see the story and photos I did here, do you see any other orbs in the room? I would love if someone could come up with an explanation.

Here again are the orbs in the photo taken on Thursday night. Now the Sonesta is on some very old land in Coconut Grove, it's known for that, if you go downstairs to Peacock Garden Cafe, you can see lots of old Grove photos of the area, in photos on the walls. Across the street at Peacock Park, the original Grove hotel, the Peacock Inn stood and that whole area is very sacred. In fact, right at the entrance to Peacock Garden cafe you'll find the grave site of Eva Amelia Munroe, one of the Grove's pioneers.

This is the poster unveiling in January 2014. See the orbs? The rest of the photos from that night don't have orbs. Also keep in mind, over the years I have used different cameras and different lenses.

Here is the Mayor Tomas Regalado and Monty Trainer in February 2012. The orbs like Monty.
This is January 2010.  Maria Reyes-Jones was the poster artist.
Here is Guy Harvey and his poster art in January 2011, along with the orbs.
And here's Monty talking to the crowd in January 2011. If you look closely, you can see an orb to his side.

You can go back to all the coverage and stories here in the Grapevine and see all the photos taken at the same events. No orbs. Only at the podium area and not always with the dark curtains behind them. Here are a bunch of the poster unveiling stories from the past few years. Check them out. 

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Digital advertising on Grand Avenue

Speaking of street advertising (we were in the Big Belly story), you may have noticed that the Van Wager digital sign has been gone for months. That big light up sign that was next to the bus bench. There was an issue over the sign at the bus stop on Grand Avenue near Virginia Street. There was a static bus sign there for years and then the new glow-in-the-dark digital sign was put in. But after many complaints it was removed.

It was quite a mess and a lot of wasted money as the city dug up the street and spent a week working on the wiring. Which brings up this issue: SapientNitro is installing a big tv-type thing over one of the entrances to their offices. It's at the entrance to where the old Antiques Market was; at the former Benetton store. Is this ok? Since it is part of the building is it ok on the historic street? The bus signs were not because of the street's historic status. 

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Old Time Dance at The Barnacle

This Sunday, January 25, The Barnacle Historic State Park, right off their successful Alfred Hitchcock Festival (the final shows are Friday night), will be holding their popular Old Time Dance.

It's like it's 1899 again at this great event.  There's music and dancing from 6:30 to 10 pm, gates open at 6:00 pm.

Dance contras, circles, squares and waltzes to Traditional American music. Picnics are welcome. No pets, please. Admission: $10. Ages 9 and under free. Contact 305-442-6866 for info.

And January 30 and 31, don't forget Shakespeare in the Park will perform "The Tempest" at The Barnacle.

The Barnacle is located at 3485 Main Highway.

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Free walking tour of Coconut Grove

There is a walking tour of Coconut Grove, Saturday, January 24.

Miami historian, Dr. Paul George is leading the free walking tour of the Grove. Along the way, learn about historic Ransom Everglades School, Plymouth Congregational Church, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Millionaire's Row, and visit The Barnacle. Hear about Coconut Grove's secrets and history from a true expert.

Meet at Franklin Street and Main Highway. The tour is from 4 to 6 pm.

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Farmers markets

Grove Green Market last season.
I was glad to see that the Coral Gables Farmers Market is back for its 24th year.

We're still waiting for the return of our Thursday Grove Green Market here in Coconut Grove, I keep hearing that the county is holding up the contract; I'm assuming it has more to do with the Playhouse lot location than anything else. It is/was a great location, mostly due to the free parking, but I'm thinking its time for the market to move somewhere else, somewhere where it is wanted. It's just amazing to me how many quality of life things are slowly disappearing in Coconut Grove. If it doesn't line someone's pocket, it's not important, seems to be the line of thinking. 

While I enjoy our Saturday Glasser's Market on Grand Avenue, I like the idea of different vendors and competition which makes it a real farmers market. Our Thursday market has/had a real community feel to it. There is even a free bike valet along with the free parking. And you would run into so many friends and neighbors who came out especially for the market.

The Gables Market is every Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm from now until March 29. It's right in front of City Hall at 405 Biltmore Way, you can't miss it.

They offer farm-fresh produce, baked goods, juices, honey, herbs, jams and jellies, gourmet specialty foods, and a variety of plants. There is also live music, Tai Chi classes and useful tips at the free gardening workshops and cooking demonstrations. I'll be there Saturday.

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2015 Coconut Grove Arts Festival poster unveiled

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival has selected internationally recognized French American painter Duaív as the official poster artist for this year’s 52nd annual event. Thursday night, atop the Sonesta Bayfront Hotel, in Coconut Grove, the colorful, nautical-themed art was unveiled to a crowd of friends and sponsors of the festival. Above, Duaív  greets the press and party guests right after the unveiling.

Duaív joins the Festival’s selective group of official poster artists that includes such notables as Guy Harvey, Maria Reyes Jones, Jacqueline Roch, Xavier Cortada, Clyde Butcher, Rick Garcia, Lisa Remeny, Alexander Mijares and Romero Britto

This year’s poster image encompasses Duaív’s signature uplifting and bright style with one of Coconut Grove’s most emblematic icons. Titled "Voiliers" – meaning “sailboat” in French – Duaív blends his own fascination of marine imagery with scenes from that of Miami’s own famous harbor in Biscayne Bay. The work was done with a palate knife, so it's very textured. 

This full spectrum of hues and colors is created with only six to eight primary colors. Duaív has spent his lifetime nurturing, fostering and sharing the arts with the world. Born off the coast of France near Bordeaux to a classical pianist mother and a sculptor father, it was hard to deny the artistic talents that ran through his veins. He picked up his first paintbrush by age three, completed his first oil painting by age nine and was a talented cellist throughout his childhood and adolescence.  Above, from left, Tiffany Field, Grove Ambassador Louis Del Borrello, Sonesta GM Curtis Crider and artist Lisa Remeny.
Throughout the years, here and abroad, Duaív has received a multitude of awards 
and accolades. One of those most special to him was when HRH Prince Henrik of 
Denmark awarded him with the Commander of the Order of the Star of Europe, European Foundation Prize, for his efforts to promote and assist contemporary artists and his home country. He continues to exhibit all over the world in favorite locations such as France, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Tunisia, Australia and across the United States. The Sonesta did an amazing job of catering and hosting the event, as usual.

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival will be held February 14-16 on and around South Bayshore Drive in the Center Grove. Admission is $15 per person. There is no charge for children 12 and under, Metrorail Golden Passport and Patriot Passport holders. Admission is $5 for residents in the 33133 zip code.

Above, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff listens in as Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado addresses the crowd, right before the unveiling, which was live on the NBC6, 6:00 pm evening news.

For more information on the Arts Festival, visit cgaf.com

Magella, Duaív's wife listens as Duaív addresses the guests. Monty Trainer, president of the Arts Festival and Sylvano Bignon, owner of Greenstreet Cafe and LuLu, listen in, too. Sylvano is friend with Duaív and Magella, he joked that every time he sees them, their hair is a different color. Last time, they matched, both with pink hair. 

Margaret Nee, of the PointeGroup with William Rivas, manager of CocoWalk; Ken Drodvillo with Capt. Mike Dudik of Celebration Yachts.

Lilia Garcia, of the Arts Festival board with Peter Laird, president of the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce; Duaív and Magella.

John O'Sullivan with Monty Trainer; Yvonne Rosemeier with Eric Lopez, of the Loft Salon and Boutique.

Katrina Delgado Artist & Special Event Director of the Arts Festival with Susan and Roger Chai-onn and  Gregory Frye of Fast-Signs, one of the Arts Festival sponsors.

While I said that the Beaux Arts Festival is the most civilized of the festivals around town, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival has to be my favorite, maybe I'm partial, but the art, the surroundings, the food, the people the craziness is what makes it special. I can spend all three days a the Grove Festival and never get bored. 

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