MasterMind 2015 Finalist: Limited Fanfare Records

Categories: MasterMinds

Lil Daggers - Dada Brown [Official Video] from Michael J. Ruiz-Unger on Vimeo.

For Brian Kurtz, it all started with a Fisher-Price record player in his Brooklyn apartment.

When he was a kid, Kurtz fell in love with music while spending hours listening to Michael Jackson and the Pointer Sisters on the cheap set.

These days, the 33-year-old has upgraded his sound system but still spends as much time as possible reveling in the possibilities of records. It took him time to find his niche, but Kurtz has lately become a major player on the local indie scene, thanks to his imprint, Limited Fanfare Records.

"I'm not a huge label, but I'm very patient," says Kurtz, who's won plaudits by focusing on his acts' growth over net sales.

See also: Congratulations to the MasterMind Awards 2015 Finalists

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MasterMind 2015 Finalist: John Bailly

Categories: MasterMinds

Courtesy of John Bailly
One of Bailly's paintings in the studio
"Home," painter John Bailly says, "is an abstract place."

John Bailly has spent most of his life thinking about the concept of home, as a physical place but also as a state of mind. Maybe that's because the painter has never really felt at home anywhere.

The 46-year-old was born in the United Kingdom to a French father and an American mother. Raised between Paris, Long Island, and Miami, he's never really identified with one single place as home. But Bailly keeps returning to Miami. He earned his BFA at Florida International University, left to earn his MFA at Yale University, and returned again. He's now the faculty fellow at FIU's Honors College.

"Consequently," Bailly says, "personal and cultural identity, as it relates to place, has persistently perplexed me."

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MasterMind 2015 Finalist: Jason Fitzroy Jeffers

Categories: MasterMinds

Just behind Jason Fitzroy Jeffers' desk in his North Miami apartment is an ominous-looking pile of sharpened machetes and handmade leather sheaths. It's not a deadly personal arsenal, though -- it's just the Kickstarter prizes he sent out to supporters of his short film Papa Machete.

The briskly paced, poetic documentary tells the story of a master practitioner of tire mach├Ęt -- Haitian machete fencing, a subject Jeffers first found while surfing the internet. He became entranced watching a Haitian man in his 70s expertly wielding a blade with one hand and swigging from a bottle of rum with another.

"I've always drawn strength from the machete," Jeffers says before crouching on the floor on one knee to imitate the famous Haitian statue to Le Negre Marron ("The Unknown Slave.")

See also: Congratulations to the MasterMind Awards 2015 Finalists

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MasterMind 2015 Honorable Mention: Juan Carlos Zaldivar

Categories: MasterMinds

Fillmmaker and video artist Juan Carlos Zaldivar has dedicated his artistic efforts to exploring the duality of how we feel and how we seem, but he keeps his pieces as subjective as possible, because that's half the fun of life.

"From the filmmaking point of view, I'm really interested in making films that don't use dialogue," he says. "I'm really more interested in something that's a little bit more open where you create a set of characters and a place in the world, but you don't really give all the answers. The person who's watching is left trying to project some of their own experiences."

He attacks different points of view through the lens of highly experimental projects, all exploring the same complex themes of self. We honor his playful and plentiful perspectives with an Honorable Mention in the New Times Mastermind Award.

See also: MasterMind 2015 Honorable Mention: Peter Hammar

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MasterMind 2015 Honorable Mention: Peter Hammar

Categories: Art, MasterMinds

Courtesy of Peter Hammar
A painter, installation artist, and performance artist, Peter Hammar is a man of many talents. From winning the Art Takes Miami contest in 2013 to exhibiting at the Moore Building, ArtCenter South Florida, and even Scope Art Fair at Art Basel; Hammar's eclectic work has made its way into the far reaches of our city's scene.

Swedish-born and Miami schooled (he has a Master of Fine Arts from FIU), Hammar's work runs from performance pieces and installations to sculptures and video. He plays with neon and experiments with form; he breaks down boundaries and challenges the status quo -- even getting into a spat with the city over his idea to paint Port Miami's cranes hot pink.

For the second year in a row, Hammar has earned an Honorable Mention in the New Times Mastermind Awards. We spoke to the artist on his favorite piece of performance art, nomadism, and painting Perez Art Museum Miami.

See also: Artist Wants to Paint Port Miami's Cranes Pink, Controversy Ensues

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MasterMind 2015 Honorable Mention: Bookleggers

Categories: Books, MasterMinds

Photo by Alex Markow
Just last week, Nathaniel Sandler moved Bookleggers' headquarters into an enormous loft space just north of downtown. Most books are still in cardboard U-Haul boxes and black plastic crates stacked on top of each other in the back of the main office space. A giant logo for Creative Lifestyle Realty, which owns the property, covers the large window in that main room, so Sandler can't even see out of it onto Biscayne Boulevard.

Sandler began Bookleggers, a type of community-minded roving library, three years ago this summer from absolutely nothing. As an idealistic, entrepreneurial enterprise, it serves as a mesh between an independent bookstore and mobile library, offering books to the community for free or cheap. Once each month, he sets up between 500 to 1,000 books in varied locations around town -- from bars and restaurants like Gramps and the Cypress Room to parks to community centers -- to unite the community in different ways through the written word.

See also: Congratulations to the Mastermind Awards 2015 Finalists

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Congratulations to the MasterMind Awards 2015 Finalists

Categories: MasterMinds

Every year, New Times accepts applications for our annual MasterMind Awards. This year we received more than 120 applications, and though it was a difficult choice, we've whittled it down to ten finalists.

Each of our finalists will be featured in a upcoming issue of New Times. In addition, they'll also have the opportunity to exhibit their work at our annual event, Artopia, held February 26 at the Coral Gables Museum. New Times, along with the wise counsel of past MasterMind winners, will choose three winners from our group of finalists and award each a $1,000 grant. If you're interested in celebrating these amazing artists, you can buy tickets at

See also: Miami International Film Festival Announces 2015 Lineup

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Artopia 2015: Get Your Early-Bird Tickets

Categories: MasterMinds

Photo by Monica McGivern
Don't miss out on Artopia 2015.
Every year the Miami New Times offers Mastermind Awards: a $1,000 cash grant and city-wide exposure to creatives all over the 305. Not only do we give three creatives some cool cash, but we also celebrate their artistic achievements at our annual shindig Artopia.

Artopia gives our Mastermind winners a chance to exhibit their work to broader public and allows you to rub elbows with Miami's up-and-coming creatives. You can say you knew them before they were famous and maybe even down a drink -- or two -- with our winners.

If past years are any indication, you won't want to miss it.

See also: MasterMind Awards 2015: Application Deadline Extended

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MasterMind Awards 2015: Application Deadline Extended

Categories: MasterMinds

Were you thinking about applying for our annual MasterMind award but maybe forgot? Maybe you were swept up by the sublime joy of Christmas, temporarily impaired by rolling your eyes at your drunk uncle, or maybe you are the drunk uncle. It's okay, we understand.

Keeping with the holiday spirit, Miami New Times has moved the application deadline back to Monday, January 19. If you've already submitted an application (thanks!) then there's no need to submit again.

See also: Submit Your Entry for MasterMind 2015: Win Cash and Exposure

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Submit Your Entry for MasterMind 2015: Win Cash and Exposure

Categories: MasterMinds

Are you a local artist, filmmaker, musician or dancer? Do you have a unique perspective or challenging project that you think deserves recognition? Then you should apply for New Times' MasterMind Award. Every year we offer monetary grants and well-deserved exposure to creatives across Miami.

Last year, New Times awarded filmmaker Julian Yuri Rodriguez, visual artist Kevin Arrow, and musician Otto Von Schirach grants. Previous MasterMind finalists include avant-garde choreographer Rosie Herrera and Borscht Film Festival co-founder Andrew Hevia.

See also: MasterMind Awards 2015: Win $1,000 and a City-Wide Arts Showcase

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