Beauty at the Beaux Arts Festival

The 64th annual Beaux Arts Festival was once again held on the University of Miami campus January 17-18. With South Florida winter weather the way it is, now is the season of the arts festivals and Beaux is one of the largest and best. A recent $1.5 million gift from Beaux Arts to the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum should keep this tradition for a long time to come.

What is striking about this particular festival is how the campus seems to naturally enhance the art it hosts. Booths meander through grass, trees and walking paths reflecting art in nature. The nearly $20,000 in cash prizes to the artists may be enticement, but the clincher is the feeling of the weekend for both artist and visitors to the show. “We do this every year because it is relaxing. It’s part of the Miami experience and our family enjoys seeing the traveling art in our community,” remarked Miami native Elenita Rodriguez.

Todd Andrew Babb’s sculpture work caught my eye. His pieces are long, flowing and seemingly dancing. “I’ve been at this particular style and format for about eight years now. I’ve done festivals all around the country and this is my first time here. I’m very impressed and pleased. My work is in collections around the world and the warm reception I’m getting in Miami is wonderful.”

Todd Andrew Babb with his 'DECOdent Blue' sculpture piece

Todd Andrew Babb with his 'DECOdent Blue' sculpture piece

‘DECOdent Blue’ stood out as my favorite. The misspelled name is a twist on the deco art inspired figure. The blue is from the woman's long, flowing dress. Babb says he’s inspired by surrealism and the art deco period and this is his homage to both.

'Pressure' by Jack Hill

'Pressure' by Jack Hill

Another artist, Jack Hill, also stood out in my eyes. He too is a sculptor, but working mostly in wood. “I very strongly feel the goal in art or the essence of art is to comment on the times you live in. So I work hard to do so… and aspire to make even more universal observation,” explained Hill. One piece on exhibit, called ‘Failed’ showed a student growing from an old-fashioned school desk on wheels. His body is riddled with square holes and a broken pencil is evident. It is left it to the beholder to decide who or what has failed. Hill suggests, “Maybe its more than one thing that has failed.”

Jack Hill with his work 'Failed'

Jack Hill with his work 'Failed'

With over 230 booths, there was something for everyone. If you missed it, there’s next year when the organizer promises it to be bigger and better.

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11th Annual CCDH Poker Tournament

In 2004, Palmetto Middle School student Michael Grey, started a poker tournament to raise money for wheelchair repairs. When Grey graduated high school in 2010, the Morrison brothers (Brian, 16 and Jay, 14)took over.  Jared Heller (age 17) joining soon thereafter. This year marks the 11th CCDH poker tournament, which has grown to well over 100 participants annually.

On February 1st, come join this worthy local charity event.  Congregation Bet Shira (SW 120th Street and 77th Avenue) hosts the 3-hour Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament beginning at 12:30 pm. Entry costs $20 (though many contribute more) to try your luck, but more importantly to support the boys in their quest to help wheelchair bound individuals. All players and volunteers receive 4 hours of community service credit.

During the event, there will be free food and drink, raffles and lots of good conversation. Volunteers of all ages make sure this is an event everyone can enjoy. Through the years, Martin Berger has provided the poker chips, Congregation Bet Shira donates their venue and the Morrison, Heller and Grey families volunteer food, drink, time and effort to making this a special day.

Since 1975, CCDH has been Miami-Dade County's leading agency to plan, provide, coordinate, and arrange services for individuals with disabilities and their families. Last year more than $6200 was raised. With your help, more will be donated this year. For event information or to volunteer call Brian & Jay Morrison at 305-613-2069 or Jared Heller at 305-484-8831. You can also email pokertournament4charity@gmail.com