You've come a long way, Miami. Opportunities for cultural exposure were sparse in the '70s and '80s when I tagged along to intermittent exhibitions and theatrical productions with my parents and grandparents, who joined grassroots organizations galvanizing cultural development across Dade County. Enterprising art professionals and patrons nurtured a smattering of modest but dedicated cultural institutions that gradually sprouted throughout South Florida, planting the seeds for today's flourishing arts scene. Though often overlooked, this infrastructure was a key ingredient in the winsome brew of winter warmth, lively social venues and accessible contemporary art collections that lured Art Basel to Miami Beach at the turn of this century and continues to fuel its exponential growth.

The elaborate planning and intense jockeying for attention among fairs and exhibitions, pop-up showrooms and luxury launches, public dialogues and exclusive receptions that straddle the Intracoastal in the wake of Thanksgiving may be unmatched at any other time and place on the international art calendar. Yet an impressive array of overlapping events pose tough choices all year round, providing visual and mental stimulation even in the steamy summer months. The challenge of keeping up with what's new and next can seem as impossible as accepting every overture, especially as interconnectivity blurs personal and professional responsibilities, escalating demands on our free time and making savvy selectivity an essential skill.

A lifelong cultural consumer with an irrepressible intellectual curiosity, I have always sought out enlightening experiences and untold stories whether or not I had an appropriate venue to publish them. My antennae for intriguing events have been fine-tuned over decades of combing through listings and press releases from an ever-widening range of sources developed in my arts reporting.

With cloning and teleporting technology still beyond reach, I sometimes resort to virtual engagement, filtering invites and forwarding e-newsletters like SocialMiami's Art About Town to friends and family, students and colleagues, encouraging them to attend in my stead and fill me in afterward. Unsatisfied just spreading the word, I began curating Arts Encounters to connect more cultural enthusiasts to the creativity that makes South Florida one of today's most exciting areas to live and work.

Now I am inviting you all to join the circle of my Culture Compass, to open your minds and agendas to activities that might be unfamiliar at first but hold the potential to expand vistas by introducing people, ideas and pursuits that could enrich your life or spark interest among others in your realm, whether you follow my cues or pass them on. As an emissary of South Florida's arts community, I will report back on my most rewarding interactions, offering vicarious glimpses of happenings and personalities to keep you in the know even when you can't go. Subscribe at, follow @SocialMiami and @ArtsEncounters, sign up for a tour and send your own tips to!

Chelsea Rousso, Mermaid, 2016
fused glass wearable corset.
courtesy of Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts.
Wednesday, February 8, 6-8:30 p.m.
“A Touch of Glass”
Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts
481 South Federal Highway, Dania Beach

Meet local artists like glassblower Brenna Baker of Hollywood Hot Glass, and learn about the different techniques behind their works in the Wiener collection with Dale Chihuly's masterpieces. As Rob Farnan demonstrates lampwork, sip wine amid models wearing glass corsets by Chelsea Rousso, who teaches initiates to fuse cold glass plates at a workshop onsite this Saturday.

Thursday, February 9, 7-9 p.m.
Emilio Sanchez in South Florida Collections
Lowe Art Museum | University of Miami
1301 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables

The opening reception for this solo show (on view through May 21), the first public gathering of nearly four dozen works from private holdings, includes a gallery talk on the prolific Cuban-American artist by co-curators Drs. Victor Deupi and Nathan Timpano at 7:30 p.m.
Emilio Sanchez, Auto Glass Bronx Storefront
late 1980s. courtesy of Rubin Collection.
Elisabeth Condon, Kayak
courtesy of AIRIE and Emerson Dorsch Gallery.

Christina Pettersson, The Furies of the Swamp, 2016
Everglades National Park. performance still.

Friday, February 10 – Monday, February 20
Street Art for Mankind
7401 N.W. Miami Court, Little River

nitiating five annual exhibitions on five continents, this ambitious project aims to mobilize resistance to child labor and materialize the plight of enslaved youth by coating 16 shipping containers with a mural painted simultaneously by more than 35 internationally recognized artists. Connecting their imagery to form an “exquisite corpse” repurposes the Surrealist game of chance to serve the greater cause of raising awareness and donations for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation. Family-friendly activities include a street art maze and workshops, as well as themed concerts and cocktails sponsored by Villa Azur and Brasserie Azur, culminating in a live auction Monday, Feb. 20, 6-10 p.m.

Friday, February 10, 6-9 p.m.
Elisabeth Condon: Unnatural Life
Emerson Dorsch Gallery
5900 N.W. 2nd Avenue, Little Haiti

After months of retrofitting a property in Little Haiti's emerging arts district, Wynwood pioneer Brook Dorsch and curator Tyler Emerson-Dorsch reopen their gallery with Elisabeth Condon's solo show of environmental mirages awash in swirls of abstract color (through March 31).

Saturday, February 11, 3-6 p.m.
AIRIE Annual Benefit – Feathering Our Nest
Artists In Residence In the Everglades
The Kampong, 4013 Douglas Road, Coconut Grove

Since 2001, Artists In Residence In the Everglades has immersed 144 artists, writers and composers in North America's only subtropical wilderness. AIRIE's annual benefit presents work by 15 alumni at the landmark estate where David Fairchild presided over formative meetings of the Tropical Everglades Park Association. Mark Dion conjures Fairchild's experiments in the Kampong Laboratory, leading tours of his installation while Christina Pettersson casts the horticultural hero in a Greek tragedy akin to The Furies of the Swamp, staged on Long Pine Key last spring as part of the "Wild Culture” series. Proceeds support programming and remodeling AIRIE Nest, the first contemporary art gallery run by one of the National Park Service's more than 50 Artists-in-Residence Programs

Sunday, February 12, 4-7 p.m.
for all boat people
Under the Bridge
12425 N.E. 13th Avenue #4, North Miami
Gina Cunningham, for all boat people, 2017
installation at Under the Bridge.

The reception for Gina Cunningham's homage to marginalized populations features immigrants performing choreography by Colleen Farnhum in the courtyard of Bridge Red Studios at 6:15 p.m. Cunningham encourages guests to add small offerings to her multimedia installation, curated by Jane Hart inside the nonprofit space run by artist Lou Anne Colodny.

Wednesday, February 15, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
YoungArts Salon Series: Discovery + Emerging Talent
National YoungArts Foundation
2100 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami

Gain insight into the music industry from Bruno del Granado, director of Creative Artists Agency's Miami branch, and Arthur Baker, producer of New Order and Afrika Bambaataa among many other top acts. Victoria Canal, 2015 YoungArts Winner in Voice, moderates a conversation about discovering talent, developing artists, and making it big.

Thursday - Monday, February 16 – 20
Art Wynwood
3001 N.E. 1st Avenue, Midtown

Bearing the imprint of its prestigious parent, Art Miami, this more accessible and intimate fair combines high-quality modern and contemporary art from 50-plus galleries with a focus on street art. The sixth edition honors Shepard Fairey for his powerful, popular graphic messages and spotlights Cuban art with a curated exhibition of 20th-century masters and 21st-century standouts.

Saturday - Monday, February 18 – 20
Coconut Grove Arts Festival
2700 S. Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove

Miami's original multi-day art showcase since 1963 has stretched to nearly a mile of outdoor booths for 360 artists and craftsmen, including a mentoring program for emerging talent, and broadened to encompass a stellar lineup of performing and culinary artists.

SocialMiami Arts Editor Margery Gordon is a freelance journalist, art critic, curator and educator who grew up amid the development of our visual art community and has been active in its continuing growth. A longtime contributor to the official Art Basel Miami Beach Magazine, she has reported on cultural affairs for a range of magazines, newspapers and websites over more than twenty years. As the founder and director of Arts Encounters, Gordon conducts guided tours and informative programs for charitable organizations, businesses and connoisseurs at cultural venues throughout South Florida as well as group travel to dynamic destinations.

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