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Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Presents the 90TH Annual Gala, June 2, 2012


The Arts and Culture Council is proud to be an integral part of the program planning for the upcoming Annual Gala.  We thank Gala Chair Aaron Perry and the Gala Committee for including us in this exciting process.  Incorporating a multitude of cultural elements as a backdrop to the awards celebration, we will orchestrate a number of exciting and alluring artistic jewels not only to entertain the guests, but to highlight the caliber of arts and culture in Miami Beach.  We wish to honor the award recipients and celebrate their individual contributions to the community through carefully selected and choreographed works of art in many forms, ranging from the invitation design and the awards creation, to visual arts, music and dance.


A Commemorative Gift

Gala invitees received a commemorative print, gift representing the 90th Annual Dinner Gala and its theme, “Celebrating Success.” This limited series of prints was designed by celebrated local artist Mark T. Smith, from the original 48” x 48” work of art- a gift to the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds of the sale of the painting will be used to fund the Chamber’s Miami Beach Education Foundation, a 501c3 dedicated to bringing together the strengths and resources of the community to support the needs of public education in Miami Beach by way of financing scholarships, school programming and in particular the International Baccalaureate program.

A Musical Grand Entrance and Visual Delights


On the evening of June 2, 2012, guests will enjoy many musical interludes.  One of the most-anticipated musical components will be the FIU Jazz Ensemble.  We are so appreciative of Our Arts and Culture Council Chair, Dean of the FIU College of Architecture + the Arts, Brian Schriner for this musical contribution.  Music will set the tone for the evening, with an upbeat and sophisticated style.


During the cocktail hour, the main focus will be the silent auction, and mingling with other guests.  With a black-tie optional dress code, there is bound to be a high-fashion cultural component to enjoy.  Dare we say “eye candy?”  And of course, accessories are an important part of every fashion statement.  The jewels, shoes and evening bags will add to the dazzle of the crowd.


There are several surprise performances that will be revealed throughout the evening, and the dinner portion of the Gala will be infused with creative installations of art from the Bass Museum, the Wolfsonian and from the Art in Public Places of Miami Beach.  Each visual masterpiece will serve as a reminder of the importance of art in our community, and to acknowledge the lifetime of civic contributions of our five honorees.

During the award ceremony, each honoree will receive a hand-crafted trophy designed by students from FIU College of Architecture + The Arts.  Our Arts and Culture Council Chair, Dean of the FIU College of Architecture + the Arts,  Brian Schriner and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art + Art History, Jacek J. Kolasiński have worked closely with the students and alumni to create these personalized trophies.



Musical High Notes


One of the most exciting components of the evening is the performance by the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy.  A select group of musicians from the Symphony will create an indelible memory of the evening, playing a customized classical musical selection for the Gala, Mozart’s Serenata Notturna, or “evening serenade”- a perfect tribute to the guests and honorees!  This unique cultural institution has proudly supported and saluted local businesses for twenty-five years, and is pleased to celebrate the vibrant business community and leaders on this occasion.  Our Arts and Culture Council member and Assistant Vice President, Development of the New World Symphony, Stacey Glassman Mizener, has been actively involved in not only the performance prepared by the New World Symphony, but in all of the artistic elements of the evening’s program.


Dance the Night Away

What is a Gala without dancing? Guests will be riveted by a sizzling performance by the Miami Contemporary Dance Company.  We are grateful for the wonderful collaboration with this premier dance company, and its Founding Artistic Director, Ray Sullivan.

Not only will we have the opportunity to watch some of the finest dancers in Miami Beach, but the dance vibes will also get us ready to dance the night away in the post-dinner lounge sponsored by our generous sponsor, City National Bank.


From all accounts of last year’s Gala, everyone who stayed to enjoy the dessert and dancing had a wonderful time.  This year, we have added yet another exciting musical component… sshhhh it’s a surprise.


The Brightest Spotlights – Our Honorees


With arts and cultural elements shining in the background, we wish to point the biggest and brightest spotlights on the five exceptional honorees.  We thank them for their outstanding contributions to the community, and congratulate them on their well-deserved awards.

The 2012 Gala celebrates ninety years of history of the Chamber of Commerce as it honors five individuals who have created success in their own lives and for our community.

STEVEN D. SONENREICH, President & CEO, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Citizen of the Year Award


GARY R. GERSON, Founding Partner, Gerson, Preston, Robinson and Co., PA, City National Bank Hi-Tides Outstanding Achievement Award


DR. ROSANN SIDENER, Principal, Miami Beach Senior High School, Distinguished Service Award


JOSE ABREU, Director of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, Excellence in Tourism Award


TONY GOLDMAN, Chairman, The Goldman Properties Company, Lifetime Achievement Award

Napa Valley Wine Auction – Passage to Africa: On Safari with Chappellet

This fabulous auction package is part of the 2012 Napa Valley Wine Auction- Chaired by the Chappellet Family


Begin with a dream and end with an extraordinary story. The Chappellet Family invites two couples to join them in exploring the wilds of Pritchard Hill and the wild game of the African bush. This expedition, led by renowned naturalist Michael Lorentz of Passage to Africa, will take you from the vines and boulders of Pritchard Hill and the comfort of the Auberge du Soleil to the rivers and grasslands of Southern Africa. Spend 12 days exploring Table Mountain, the Cape Winelands, Kruger National Park, Victoria Falls and the South Luangwa while staying at luxury bush camps, including Singita Sabi Sands.

Your adventure unfolds with a trip for 10 into the Pritchard Hill wilderness. You’ll enjoy a tour into 1,000 acres of undeveloped country to an authentic bush camp created by Safari West Wildlife Preserve for lunch prepared by chef Janelle Weaver. The rugged hills are home to foxes, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, bald eagles, and the occasional black bear. Savor supper with the family and enjoy celebrated vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon including the 1969, 1975 and 2006.

Donn and Molly will share their most celebrated vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon including the 1969, 1975 and 2006. Two couples will retire for the evening at nearby Auberge du Soleil.

Cyril and Blakesley Chappellet will join you for an African adventure led by their friend Michael Lorentz. A native of South Africa, Lorentz was trained by the legendary tracker Jack Matabula. He will help you hear, see, touch and smell Africa in a way only a son of the Continent can.

Touchdown in Capetown for two nights at Cellars Hohenort: your home-base to explore Table Mountain, Cape Point and Robben Island. Then journey to the Cape Winelands and Le Quartier Francais for visits to wine farms including Vergelegen and Mulderbosch and a comparative tasting of the Cape’s Chenin Blanc that includes Chappellet’s Napa gem.

Your first bush experience is in Kruger National Park at Singita Sabi Sands. Ranked by Travel+Leisure as the #2 hotel in the world, this amazing two-lodge camp is surrounded by groves of trees and wildlife. Move on to Zambia and the Royal Chudu Lodge on the shores of the Zambezi to experience Victoria Falls from all angles. Venture into the Southern Luangwa to Chindeni Bushcamp, a sublime tented camp on the edge of a permanent lagoon where hippo chortle and elephant wallow. Your final stay is at Mfuwe Lodge where game viewing is second to none.

With visions of Africa etched in your mind, your cellar will hold two 3L bottles of Chappellet 2010 Pritchard Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon etched with sketches of African game created by Lygia Chappellet and two 3L bottles of the 2001 vintage.

*Safari must take place between February 2013 and May of 2013. Napa Valley experience to be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time. Does not include: international airfare, transportation within Africa, gratuities, visas or travel insurance.

2 X 3L 2001
2 X 3L 2010

Picasso, 1917 ~ Upcoming Major Exhibition in Metz, France


So beautiful…. Centre Pompidou-Metz presents 1917, a multidisciplinary exhibition that investigates the fundamental question of artistic creation in wartime. Originating with Picasso’s creation of his largest work, the stage curtain for the ballet Parade, in 1917, the exhibition examines artistic production of that crucial year in light of historical facts and their impacts on the lives of the artists.

Alongside masters such as Brancusi, Dix, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Matisse, Monet, or Nevinson, were amateur artists who felt the need to respond to the trials of war through creative expression such as Trench art, examples of which are a high point of the exhibition. Equally important are the war artists who were sent to the front to record its events, and the many individuals who, as eyewitnesses, expressed their memory of the conflict for posterity.

From physical and psychological destruction and rebuilding through self-portraiture, to the confusion between gender, and the transformation associated with camouflage, two major figures arise: the Harlequin and the stage curtain for the ballet Parade, whose monumental format and remarkable presentation constitute the climax of the exhibition. This masterpiece by Picasso was last shown in 2004 in Hong Kong and is shown in France for the first time in over twenty years.

26 May 2012–24 September 2012

Centre Pompidou-Metz
1, parvis des Droits-de-l’Homme
CS 90490
57020 Metz Cedex 1

T +33 (0)3 87 15 39 39


We are very dedicated to community service and charity: public relations, marketing, fundraising, board membership, corporate partnerships and events


  • Arts and Culture:
    • Vice-Chair, Arts and Culture Council, Miami Beach (current Chamber appointment)
    • Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco- (2010); led marketing and PR for Maria Callas exhibition and gala event; exceeded fundraising and attendance goals by 40% ; Emmy Award for Red Carpet television editorial coverage  and garnered significant press-22 articles written about the exhibition and gala
    • San Francisco Ballet Auxiliary Board (1998 to present); $2 million annual net contribution
    • Tahoe International Film Festival – (2001) Marketing and Event Director; produced all materials and events; negotiated all corporate sponsorships
    • Member: Guggenheim Museums (Venice Italy, New York), Miami Art Museum, Bass Museum Miami Beach, The Wolfsonian, MOCA, Headlands Center for the Arts; MOMA; Fine Arts Museums (FAM); French Historical Society


  • Conservation/Wildlife:
    • South Florida SPCA (rescue and rehabilitation of abused horses); volunteer and fundraiser
    • Humane Society of South Florida; volunteer and adoption counselor
    • San Francisco Zoo Auxiliary Board (2007 to present); Public Relations Chair (2009 to 2011)
    • WorldWildlife Fund (WWF), Nature Conservancy;member


  • Humanitarian and Health Causes:
    • American Red Cross, Bay Area Chapter; Gala Committee (2006-2010)
    • Little Lighthouse Foundation, Miami FL – Hearts and Stars Gala Committee (2012)
    • Edgewood Center for Children and Families (2006 to present); Hope Ball founding member and PR Chair
    • Fritz Institute; Public Relations and Marketing; (2008-2010)
    • Breast Cancer Emergency Fund; (2007 to present) promoter/ auction contributor

Art in Public Places – A Venerable Public Treasure Chest


Throughout civilization, works of art and architecture have been commissioned and created that memorialize both a time in history and a style and taste of local cultures.  Italy is an astounding example of a country deeply infused with centuries of public art. From the art of Ancient Rome that proliferated from 750 BC to approximately 400 AD, to such works as Michelangelo’s  David  and the Trevi Fountain, Italy is indelibly enriched.   David, created between 1501 and 1504 and originally commissioned for a different purpose, which was ultimately installed in a public square in Florence; and the Trevi Fountain in Rome (1732-1762, commissioned by Pope Urban Vlll), both exemplify the visual treasure chest of Italy.


Miami Beach is a city that is highly committed to art and its future, as demonstrated through its “Art in Public Places” program.  Officially established in 1984, there were already several important works of art on display in the city.  Mermaid, created in 1979 by Roy Lichtenstein (yes, “that Lichtenstein “), is a highly visible and recognizable work of art located at Washington and 17th Street.  Today, there are nineteen unique and original works of art dotting the city like jewels of a crown.


The Resources for Public Art


In general, public art is installed with the authorization and collaboration of the government. In different municipalities, the government actively encourages the creation of public art by implementing a policy based on a percentage of different funds, often hovering around 1% of given real estate development costs.


The City of Miami Art in Public Places Ordinance, has established, 1.5 percent of the cost of city-owned construction projects is set aside for “works of art in public places other than museums which enrich the public environment.” Additionally, the 1.5 percents funding also included renovations of City building requiring compliance with the Florida Building Code fifty percent (50%) rule or, renovation having a value equal to or greater than $500,000, or addition to any city-owned building, facility, or other city-owned property. The definition of city construction project is also deemed to include construction projects that are developed by persons or entities other than the city, but which require the participation of the city as a party to a development agreement or ground lease. Additionally, Construction cost means “hard costs” associated with construction of a city construction project.  .


The Selection Process


The Art in Public Places program is under the direction of Max Sklar, Director of Tourism and Cultural Development and Dennis Leyva, the Art in Public Places Coordinator for City of Miami Beach.


Max Sklar, a Miami-Dade County native, is a graduate of The American University and Florida International University, Business School. He is highly regarded for his direction of the tourist and cultural initiatives of the city, including “Sleepless Nights” held annually on the first week of November.


Dennis Leyva, born Cuba and raised in Miami, is a graduate of University of Miami. Some of the most exciting projects of the Art in Public Places program have been completed in the past four years, under the supervision of Mr. Leyva.  They include Urban Deco, 2008, by Garren Owens; Morris’, 2009, by Dan Graham; Tempest, 2010, by Brian Tolle;  Liquid Measures, by Wendy Wischer, 2010; and most recently obstinate lighthouse, by Tobias Rehberger, 2011.


In addition to the City of Miami Beach staff resources, seven Miami Beach residents are appointed by the City commission to the Art in Public Places Committee. Each of these individuals is selected based on their competence and experiences in art history, architectural history, sculpture, painting, artistic structure design and other areas of specialization. The current members of the Committee are: Chairperson, Megan Riley; Vice-Chair, Elizabeth Resnick; Lisa Austin; James Lloyd; Rhonda Mitrani; Lisette Olemberg-Goldstein; and Janda Wetherington.


Educating the Miami Beach Students – ARTventure


Students and teachers throughout Miami Beach now have access to a program that is helping to bring Art in Public Places into the classroom.  As part of the Education Compact, the City has developed the Backyard ARTventure program designed to enhance awareness and appreciation for public artwork throughout the City.  A map and interactive brochure highlight the locations and information on each work of public art throughout Miami Beach (a downloadable version is available on the City of Miami Beach website http://www.miamibeachfl.gov/tcd/aipp).


The Future Looks Golden


The most recent addition to the portfolio of art work in this program was unveiled during Art Basel  Miami Beach, December 1, 2011.  This project bears indication of continued great works for the program’s future.  Not only is the obstinate lighthouse a monumental, fifty-five feet tall art work, a stunning addition to the pristine South Park, but the caliber of the artist is world class, and highly regarded by critics across the globe.  The winner of the 2009 Venice Biennale’s highest honor, the Golden Lion, Tobias Rehberger and his obstinate lighthouse represents Miami Beach’s serious commitment to significant public art – as is so well deserved for our beautiful city.


Live Painting with Wyland –May 3rd and 4th 2012



The Arts and Culture Council, in conjunction with the Wyland Foundation, is preparing a unique live painting experience – the Wyland Art Mural Project of Miami Beach.  On Thursday May 3rd and Friday May 4th, internationally acclaimed artist and conservationist, Wyland, will mentor the Miami Beach Public School Students with the live painting of a ninety foot mural. This project is open to the public, and will take place from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. both days, at 410 and 420 Lincoln Road, directly in front of the FIU College of Architecture + the Arts.

“We are honored to be a part of this wonderful collaboration between the Wyland Foundation, the Arts and Culture Council and Miami-Dade Public Schools,” said Brian Schriner, Dean of FIU College of Architecture and the Arts.  “Hosting the live mural painting in front our Miami Beach Urban Studios is precisely the vision behind establishing this space as a creative environment that ultimately contributes to the good of our community.”

We invite the public to join us as we conduct this important undertaking – from the first brush strokes to the finishing touches.   Art, conservation, education and fun will come together in a highly visible and memorable production.  For two days, the artist and the students of Miami Beach will paint this gigantic mural, right on Lincoln Road Mall.


In advance of the live painting, Wyland will conceptualize the work in his studio, producing a painting that will then be recreated with the students in the form of a large mural consisting of two panels. The panels (each measuring ten feet tall and forty five feet wide) will depict indigenous marine life of South Florida. This unique painted homage to Miami Beach and its natural habitat will help remind us of the fragile aspect of nature, and the importance of environmental conservation.


Wyland’s accomplishments are prolific –from his iconic artwork portraying idyllic oceanic scenes, to his important foundation that promotes water conservation worldwide.  Globally recognized for his work with large-scale murals, Wyland’s work is held in private collections and public places in over a hundred countries.  His public works are viewed by an estimated one billion people each year.


The educational component of this project is key – each of the six Miami Beach public schools will participate, as well as the Hebrew Academy, with the fourth-grade students helping paint the murals.  Additionally, prior to the event, the schools will participate in the Wyland Foundation “Mayors’ Challenge” for conservation.  During the month of April, students are working in their science class to collect and conserve rain water, in water barrels decorated with a Wyland design, which will be used to irrigate the schools’ gardens.


“We are thrilled with this opportunity to partner with such an important artist and conservationist.  Wyland and his Wyland Foundation provide a great platform to help communicate the mission of our Arts and Culture Council,” stated Jerry Libbin, President of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and Miami Beach City Commissioner. ” And, the great part of this project is that it touches the lives of so many young folks in a meaningful way and incorporates Art, Culture and Education.”


This project will achieve many wonderful benefits- not only the involvement and education of the Miami Beach students, but it will create a means to raise funds for three pertinent charities –each of which will receive one third of the revenues.  The completed murals can be purchased for $50,000 each, with all proceeds benefiting these charities that support the environment, public education and the arts. Signed lithographs of the murals along with branded t-shirts will also be sold to raise funds.


Perhaps our greatest desired outcome for this project is to showcase to residents of Miami Beach, and to the general public, that we encourage the arts and conservation; and that we actively support educational efforts in our community.   We are honored and proud to work with Wyland and his Foundation – with the hope that through this project, more of our children will nurture their artistic talents, and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of conservation.


The partnership between the Arts and Culture Council and the Wyland organization is founded on much generosity by all of the team members, in particular as the artist and his Foundation team, who are donating much of their personal time, and project costs.  We thank Wyland for sharing his vision, his talents, and in demonstrating leadership and commitment to the future of our planet.

Beauty at the Bass – More than a Pretty Facade

The Bass Museum of Art is the iconic bright and shiny diamond of the metro Miami art world.  Rising majestically from its glorious location on Collins Avenue, it represents all that Miami has become in the milieu of fine art and innovative programming.

Located on the site originally built to house the Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center, the building was designed in 1930 by Russell Pancoast, grandson of Miami Beach pioneer John A. Collins.  First opening its doors in 1963, The Bass Museum displayed a private collection of Renaissance and Baroque works of art that was donated to the City of Miami Beach by John and Johanna Bass. Vastly evolving from its founding collection, the Bass Museum of Art currently offers a dynamic year-round calendar of exhibitions exploring the connections between contemporary art and works of art from its permanent collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings, sculpture, textiles, Apulian Vessel Gallery and Egyptian Gallery. Artists’ projects, educational programs, lectures, and free family days complement the works on view.


Architect Arata Isozaki designed an addition to the museum between 1998 and 2002 that doubled its size from 15,000 to 35,000 square feet.  Most recently, the museum selected internationally acclaimed Oppenheim Architecture + Design to lead its first phase of design and renovation tied to the 2010 completion of Miami Beach’s Collins Park. Oppenheim redesigned and relocated the museum’s arrival area to flow from and into the new park on Collins Avenue.
Today, the museum thrives under the leadership of Board of Director President George Lindemann, and Silvia Karman Cubiñá, Executive Director and Chief Curator.   


With a mission “to inspire and educate by exploring the connections between our historical collections and contemporary art,” Silvia Karman Cubina reflects that “all art was once contemporary and inversely, that all contemporary works of art are part of a continuum of art history.”

Exhibitions at the Bass Museum present art in dynamic conversations spanning time, history and cultures. Their educational programs demonstrate that art is a catalyst for creativity and positive growth, especially in the area of early childhood education. The museum provides affordable resources for the teaching community, based on sound scholarship.

Education through art is paramount for our future.  At the Bass Museum, education is highlighted through some very innovative programs that allow adults and children as young as two years old to appreciate art and learn about its importance in our lives.

The Lindemann Family Creativity Center was inaugurated in the Museum in January of this year. “Finally, we have a place to experiment, essentially create a laboratory for artistic experiments, where teachers, parents and children can be inspired to solve design problems and stimulate their imaginative energies. The specially designed work tables and art equipment make this classroom space unique in South Florida,” George Lindemann.

The Lindemann Family Creativity Center is the home of the museum’s IDEA@thebass programs of art classes and workshops.

IDEA@thebass stands for Identify, Discuss, Envision, Assess.
Developed in conjunction with  Stanford University’s acclaimed Institute of Design, IDEA classes employ a method of teaching known as  Design Thinking, an open ended method of problem solving that allows children to brainstorm, work in teams and engage in creative play.
Doodle 4 Google
Doodle 4 Google is a national competition for K-12 students, to create their own Google doodle (the logo that appears daily on Google’s homepage).  Over 100,000 students participated in 2011.

In late February, local students were provided tools (crayons and watercolors) to create artwork for this contest.
The Bass Museum will showcase the five Florida finalists’ art work during the month of June.  On June 24, coinciding with IDEA@thebass monthly family day, there will be a reception to honor these talented young artists.


Never too young…never too old

“Bass babies” and “bass buddies,” launched in February, are programs designed for young children (ages two through four, and four through six, respectively).  These sessions are held semi-monthly throughout the spring, and are led by a Montessori teacher utilizing art as the outlet for creativity and positive reinforcement.


The Creativity Center is also offers Art Club for Adults, lectures, film screenings, and teacher training workshops. Additional children’s programs include pre-school art classes, after school, weekend and summer classes for children. The Children’s Trust Network will provide scholarships to those that qualify.

Furthering art education for all ages is vital – bravo to the Bass Museum for its wonderful contributions to our community.



Admission to the museum and the Lindemann Family Creativity Center: Free for Miami Beach residents.  Cost for non-residents: adults $8, children and students $6, and children under 6 are free.  Museum hours, Wednesday through Sunday, noon until 5:00 p.m. Reservations are not required.

Bass Museum of Art, 2100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach FL 33139, www.bassmuseum.org, 305.673.7530

Prepare Your Palate!

I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Mr. Lee Brian Schrager recently in anticipation of the upcoming South Beach Wine & Food Festival® (SOBEWFF), taking place for its eleventh consecutive year on February 23 to 26, 2012.  The Festival is held at some of the most exciting venues in Miami Beach, and over forty unique events will take place during the four-day Festival.  Each event has a theme, a particular food or wine concept, and collectively they offer a global perspective on the amazing palates of food and wine.


Mr. Schrager, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is Vice President of Corporate Communications and National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, and Founder and Director of the Festival.  He is delightful, passionate and a true visionary.  The festival began as a one-day event and garnered a respectable 7,000 guests.  In ten years, the prestigious festival has grown in scope, size and sophistication.  The event has become “de rigueur” for food and wine aficionados worldwide, last year attracting over 57,000 guests, top chefs, and nearly everyone from the “who’s who” of the culinary and wine world.  The events range from large tasting formats to intimate, themed affairs to targeted seminars. Each event represents the best of its respective category – from gourmet foods to grilled cheese.


This Festival is extremely important for the economy of Miami Beach – vastly benefitting the revenues and brand awareness of its many participating restaurants, hotels, markets, food and beverage companies and the many ancillary companies connected to the event.


It is also extremely successful and impressive in fundraising. At the close of last year’s Festival, approximately $14 million has been raised for Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (SHTM).  The Festival is produced by Southern Wine & Spirits in conjunction with SHTM, and this partnership is a great example of “win-win.”


To execute this scale of event, it requires precise preparation and exacting logistics.  Schrager and his team are assisted by over 1,000 students from SHTM, and, according to Lee, over two-thirds of his staff are recruited from this school.


The students have the opportunity to experience one of the premier Festivals in the country, and apply this invaluable experience to their education.  All the while, the level of excellence of the SHTM students’ performance is honed by working side by side with the Schrager team, whose requisite level of expertise is exceptional to produce such a prestigious and successful affair.


In addition to the event planning aspects of the Festival, the SHTM culinary students receive the rare opportunity to work alongside and learn from some of the most celebrated chefs in the world.  As Schrager noted, one of the keys to the growing success of the Festival is the heightened consumer appreciation of food and wine, and popularity of chefs – with the explosion of cooking shows and visibility of chefs and restaurateurs.  These days, the “celebrity chefs” are truly rock stars- including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Eric Ripert, Ferran Adria, Emeril Lagasse, Thomas Keller and Nobu Matsuhisa- all who are involved with the SOBEWFF, amongst many other great chefs..

Students and Festival guests are also fortunate enough to meet and work with some of the world’s most respected wine personalities and taste wines from some of the world’s most renowned wineries.


The charitable aspects of the Festival extend beyond the direct contributions of the Festival proceeds.  Two other exciting extensions of the Fair produce important funds for the school- an online auction and a book!


The Online Auction is an exciting vehicle that not only raises money for the charity, but sustains the buzz about the Festival after the event is over.  This year the auction runs from January 23 until March 5.  When I asked Schrager about the auction, he confirmed its financial significance – last year the proceeds from the auction contributed about $400,000 to the charity.


Schrager commemorated the special tenth anniversary last year with the release of his first book, Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $35/hardcover).  Like the overall Festival, all proceeds from the cookbook benefit the Florida International University SHTM.




FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink


FAVORITE WINE: Rose Champagne (he politely declined to designate a favorite brand)

FAVORITE US FESTIVAL (other than SOBEWFF):  Aspen, the “Classic”

BEST EXPERIENCES FROM PAST FESTIVALS: The commemoration of Peter and (the late) Robert Mondavi.  The brothers had become estranged, and bringing them together was a memorable experience.  Also, last year the Festival celebrated Alain Ducasse, one of the world’s greatest chefs.

BEST RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NEW EVENTS THIS YEAR: “Trucks on the Beach”, hosted by Andrew Zimmern; “Salsa at Sea” brunch hosted by Douglas Rodriguez and Aaron Sanchez; (reintroduction of) of Moet Hennessy’s “The Q” hosted by Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri

BEST EVENT FOR GUESTS WITH LIMITED TIME OR BUDGET: Grand Tasting Village- guests may experience and sample literally hundreds of wines and foods

Arte Americas – Reflections on Latin American Art



Launched in 2003, the year after the first Art Basel Miami Beach, Arte Americas celebrated its tenth edition in early March.  The importance of Arte Americas to metropolitan Miami is paramount.  Not only does our geographic location represent the primary gateway to Latin America, but provides a visible showcase to some of the most important art and artists emanating from Spain, Mexico, Central and South America.

The show was created under the direction of Dora Valdes-Fauli; is backed by a veritable “who’s who” in the art world- with Leslie Pantin as President, Emilio Calleja as Vice President, and an advisory committee of over eighty members, including Paul Cejs, Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz, Bonnie Clearwater and Silvia Karman Cubina. This year’s fair contained works from forty-eight local, domestic and international galleries, and included several exceptional projects.  “Art Talks,” open to the fair attendees, approached important topics regarding Latin American art – from current trends and history, to collecting and programming.  The panel included our own Arts and Culture Council board member, and Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Bass Museum-Silvia Karman Cubina.  The final lecture, entitled “Living in Color” featured the life and work of the brilliant Carlos Cruz-Diez.

I was honored to attend the opening night of the fair, and was dazzled by the vibrant sounds, sights and feeling swirling around the space.  While all of the galleries presented beautiful works of art from very talented artists, a few highlights stood out for me.

Most Magical: Rafael Barrios, represented by Art Nouveau Gallery, creates illusions that defy gravity.  His works seem to literally bounce in the air, yet they are masterfully rooted, with a base that appears delicate and improbable.

I had the delight of meeting the artist at his vernissage last month, and have a deeper appreciation of his work.  In addition to the pieces exhibited here, he has also been commissioned by the city of New York, with a series of nine huge pieces adorning Park Avenue from March through June, located directly in front of the Armory building.  The Armory show, the most important contemporary art fair in New York, also occurs in March.

Most Powerful: The powerful work of Manuel Carbonell was highly visible in the fair.  The smooth, strong, black forms are a joy to behold. To quote the artist, “I search in my sculpture for the essence of the forms and the absence of detail while I struggle to obtain a feeling of monumentality…”

Most Dynamic: George Billis and his New York-based George Billis Gallery.  I chatted with George about his Gallery, and the beautiful and whimsical work of Alejandro Mazon, “The Memory of Rabbits” is a collage of nostalgic images- imbued with religion, family, work, love, heaven and beyond.  It is a fantasy created in acrylic, vintage papers, found objects, and mounted on canvas.

In addition to his Gallery, he directs Red Dot Fairs, present at both the Armory and the prestigious satellite during Art Basel Miami Beach.

Most Creative: West Encounters East, “Light and Shadows” curated by Stella M. Holmes

This exhibition is part of an evolving concept created by collector and museum trustee, Stella M. Holmes.  Cross-cultural ties bind all of the artists represented in this exhibition – Latin American artists with Asian heritage.  The influence of multi-cultural backgrounds is apparent in all of their works.  In particular, I was mesmerized by the photography of Guillermo Ueno, born and working in Buenos Aires, Argentine.   His work demonstrates a juxtaposition of light and dark, emotion often hidden from the faces of the subjects, or obscured from view.  Beautiful.

Most Forward-Thinking: Office of Engaged Teaching, Scholarship, and Creative Activities (ETSCA), established by Dr. Brian Schriner, Dean of FIU Architecture and the Arts, Chair of the Miami Beach Arts and culture Council.

As previously reviewed in an earlier column, the focus of the Office of ETSCA is “create, innovate and inspire a more beautiful, sustainable, healthy, and just tomorrow” through the Arts.  It is committed to research and activities that will impact the health and sustainability of local and global communities; it will bring together various FIU offices, local governments, business leaders, students, alumni and faculty to accomplish its mission.

FLOR500 is a multidisciplinary project developed by Miami artist Xavier Cortada to commemorate Florida’s quincentenniel in 2013.  500 Floridians will be selected to depict 500 native wild flowers- the same species that adorned the landscape when Ponce de Leon arrived in 1513 and named it “La Florida” from the Spanish word for flower. There will be more exciting components to this project, with connection to the community and the land, thereby fulfilling the mission of the ETSCA.

Arte Americas is an integral and invaluable part of the Miami landscape.  The role of promoting and highlighting a vast range of artists from around the world, with connections and ties to Miami, is critical for the further development of our culture.  From the well-established masters, to the innovative and bold students, the works exhibited at Arte Americas is a beautiful showcase for the past, present and future of art in Miami, resonating with the important heritage from Latin America.

Bravo to the countless individuals who have contributed to the success and ensured the future of this wonderful fair.  We look forward to seeing you all again in 2013!

Lights, Cameras, Fashion!




Miami is home to some of the most incredible fashion statements.  At the cross roads of Latin America and the United States- with many Europeans finding their way here as well, we have so many inspirational flavors to enjoy every day… from the “eye candy” on Lincoln Road to the flamboyant art scene in Wynwood, the Miami community is surely the hottest place for fashion.


Getting ready for the biggest and one of the most prestigious fashion events of the year outside of New York, Milan, London and Paris, I am excited to preview some of the plans for the upcoming Miami Beach International Fashion Week (MBIFW), created by Sobol-Perry Fashion Productions.  The fourteenth annual event will take place from March 21st through March 24th at the Miami Beach Convention Center. This year, the stylish and iconic Dionne Warwick will join the show, and share some of her fashion secrets.    Mrs. Warwick will host a media seminar for students and designers where she will discuss her life, her style, and offer the guests advice on how to succeed in following one’s personal passions.


In just fourteen years since its inception, this prestigious event has grown to become the fifth largest and one of the most important fashion weeks worldwide. Unlike many other shows, where the reigning designers showcase their new collections, the focus here is on new creative talent, bringing exciting trends to the stage, and incorporating emerging designers from around the globe.  In 2011, fifty-five designers from thirty-two countries were represented.  The event garnered an impressive 740 million media impressions, was promoted through 650 media outlets, and brought much excitement to the international fashion scene.


This year, President and Executive Producer Sobol promises even more designers, and more amazing new talent!


A preview of this year’s highlights include the Miami Style Showcase featuring Florida’s top designers Viviana G for Petit Pois, Ema Savahl Couture and Kayce Armstrong of Art of Shade among others.  The Prêt-A-Porter Designer showcase will feature the winner of Bolivia’s Mision Moda.  Banja Luka Fashion Fair Designer Showcase will present Marina Banovic, Liliana Majkic, and Davor Sladakovic from Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro.  Latin Fashion Weeks Council introduces the best designers from throughout Latin America.  Additionally, for the first time in the U.S., Walla Al Alawi of the Kingdom of Bahrain, widely considered the trendsetter for the Gulf region, will grace the runway with her latest collection.  Walla’s customers include numerous royal family members and her designs have already been selected by Saks Fifth Avenue Bahrain.


MBIFW has become a preeminent source for introducing the American fashion world with amazing designers from around the world who then continue on to long and successful careers.  Traveling the globe throughout the year, seeking out original new talent from around the world is one of the keys to the event’s success.


“Over the years, discovering the world’s best emerging designers has been a wonderful and exciting experience.  By creating the international platform through MBIFW that allows these designers to be seen by the entire world, we have been able to launch their careers to the next level,” cites Sobol.  “Many of our young designers, including Colombia’s Esteban Cortazar and Silvia Tcherassi,  Peru’s Sitka Semsch, Chile’s Ruben Campos, Manish Arora and Sabyasachi Mukherjee from India, Furne One for Amato Couture in Dubai and Heather Jones from Trinidad & Tobago are just a few of today’s fashion industry stars who have emerged from our runways.

An important aspect of the event is recognizing and rewarding new talent in multiple creative arenas through the International Student Designer Competition.  This year is the fifth annual Student Fashion Designer Competition.  The producers seek out the best student designers in the world to spotlight in the “New Stars in Fashion Installation.”

The award categories are: Emerging Designer, Student Designer, Jewelry Designer, Student Photography and Student Graphic Artist

Student Designers specializing in men’s wear and women’s wear (day or evening) have already been juried, and the three finalists per category are currently featured on the website.

The installation will be viewed each evening by local, national and international press, buyers, celebrities and VIP guests attending the event. One student designer per category will be chosen as the “International Student Designer of the Year” and honored at the opening press conference on March 21st.

The winner of the best Student Graphic Artist award has just been announced.  His work represents this year’s poster, pictured here.   Congratulations to Kleuddy Abreu, of The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.  Bravo!  Also featured is the work of the very talented Student Photography Winner, Carlo Fernandes from Curtin University, Western Australia.

Knowing the passion, talent and drive of Ms. Sobol, and her partner Aaron Perry, we can be assured that this year’s event will be even more glamorous and memorable than ever!