P. Scott Cunningham's Top Cultural Events of 2011: Gehry, Borscht and Nudie Pics
P. Scott Cunningham is one man with many literary missions. He has crusaded to bring poetry to every Miami-Dade resident, and with the help of friends and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, he managed to get pretty close to poking us all with the poetry stick this past April with O, Miami.
Cunningham also founded and runs the University of Wynwood, a sort-of-real place that brings literati from around the world to South Florida, educating us on the written word. UW also publishes Jai-Alai Magazine. This year, Cunningham got right into the art world with his performance Gene Hackman at Bas Fisher Invitational with colleague Timothy Stanley. Daily, they wrote and then cruelly critiqued each other's work in front of a live audience -- proof that Cunningham is not only a lover of words, but also of abuse.
We asked the poet and man-about-town to share his five most memorable cultural moments of the year 2011.
This year marked the unveiling of the New World Symphony's Frank Gehry Campus on Miami Beach. The white building on Washington Avenue serves as a practice space for students, a stage for the symphony, and a place where the public can watch movies outside. "The building is perfect. It's beautiful; it's functional; and everyone who works there is amazing," Cunningham raved. "Plus, it doesn't hurt that New World Symphony consistently puts on great shows that satisfy all types of music lovers."
Borscht Film Festival was definitely one of the standout events of the year, Cunningham says. Showcasing Miami's beauty and pairing up talented local filmmakers with musicians resulted in a cinematic extravaganza this city won't soon forget. "It's really fun to watch this movement -- and I think it is a movement -- develop before our eyes. This year was the most impressive version of the festival yet," Cunningham says of Borscht. "Director Lucas Leyva and his creative partner Jillian Mayer are future superstars, and the fact that they're trying to pull the rest of Miami up with them should be commended."
Tucked away in the shadows of the Biltmore Hotel, GableStage is a small but noble theater where Miami can catch top notch performances. Cunningham agrees: "Thank you to Joe Adler for finally bringing Miami's own Tarrell Alvin McCraney back to his hometown. We're lucky that both of these guys are invested in this city's cultural life."
That's Not a Knife at the Little River Yacht Club
Miami's best place to meet intelligent men is also the best place to catch art that doesn't suck. "Funner Projects, AKA Justin H. Long and Robert Lorie, might not ever sell pieces for six figures, but to me, they're putting together the smartest exhibitions in the city right now," Cunningham says of the duo. "That's Not a Knife, an exhibition entirely composed of homemade weapons, felt equal parts Chris Burden and Johnny Knoxville. Who cares how 'important' it was; it was funner."
Artist Clifford Owens bust into this town and took a bunch of nudie art photos of Miami folks. According to Cunningham, "Owner Nina Johnson-Milewski announced herself as the most important gallerist in the city, and Jim Drain took his clothes off. Huge (pun appropriate) success."
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