The last Friday of every month hosts Little Havana’s Free Monthly Arts & Culture Festival. I’ve been meaning to go for...well, years, but just haven’t managed the trek all the way from the beach to Southwest 8th Street in Miami. Pathetic, I know. I had a multitude of reasons: forgot the day, probably too much traffic, hard to park. I finally got my “visa” to cross the Causeway and drive an entire 25 minutes for the event. Big surprise. Parking was easy enough and the early evening was a delightful time to while away, strolling in the dimming orange-y glow of the night sky. Music of the neighborhood wafted through the humid serenity of a waning day. Grab a ropa vieja, plantain and/or spot of flan: after all, cultural hunger is a big calorie burner. Right? Right!?! Getting away from one’s own “turf” is always a rejuvenating experience.
Was it complete and total immersion into the world of Fine Art? No, can’t say that, but it did succeed in bringing another cultural dimension into the art walks that pepper Miami’s city streets. Art Galleries are not rampant and are of a varying degree of successful ventures.
A reasonable smattering of outsider artists sporadically lined the sidewalks from 14th to 17th Avenues. Instead of buzzing by art that did not immediately grab me by the neck and shake me stupid, I paused to chat to the creative beings about their work. Amazing how a little insight can bring new interest to the world around us.
On Domino Plaza Stage, little children were awkwardly but gamely trying to follow an exuberant dancer in a screamingly pink outfit as she gyrated wildly about the stage. Several performances were scheduled on stage throughout the evening.
A trio of Chamber musicians played quietly in the windowed corner of Molina Gallery of Fine and international Art: vibrant hand-painted tiles adorned the doorway of Agustin Gainza Arts.
Suddenly, just as dusk was passing into night, Miami’s Critical Mass descended. In case you have never seen the group of ardent local bicyclists who gather on the last Friday night of the month celebrating bicycles by traversing auto-free streets, go to their site The Miami Bike Scene. I had....no....idea...how many cyclists participated in that group. Oh, my, very impressive. Miami could achieve a viable and safe cycling community with this much support.
Several restaurants are selling “libations” from their doorways to crank up the volume. The 1926 historic landmark Tower Theater is smack in the middle of the walk. It cut a fine visual contrast with the inky blue sky. Miami Dade College, Cultural Affairs Department manages the theater. Alternative and cultural exhibitions, performances, free educational lectures are offered along with Spanish and English-language films, (subtitled in Spanish).
The Calle Ocho Walk of Fame is an education into famous Latin Stars. In 1989 Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine became the first “star” on the walk, a la the Hollywood Walk of Fame in L.A. The history of the birth of this walk is pretty darn interesting by itself. It’s a nice place to bring out of town guests. Meander about the shops while you’re there for a full few hours in one of Miami’s favorite neighborhoods.
For more information on the non-profit group visit: