South Florida’s fall and winter are often fused into one entity and renamed “the season.” The weather is at its balmiest and the streets are at their busiest with snowbirds and locals alike. It’s also high season for the arts. Films, bands, comedians, dance performances, art exhibitions and celebrations abound, and while it’s difficult to narrow them down, we’ve got a few in mind.
The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is one of our favorites. Screening films from November 7 through 23 at four theaters – Muvico Pompano, Sunrise Civic Center, and Cinema Paradiso locations in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood – the festival, as always, will feature choice selections. This year look forward to Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive (starring Tilda Swinton) and the Spanish road picture Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed. The latter tells the story of a high school teacher who, driving to meet John Lennon, picks up two teenaged hitchhiking dreamers.
On the visual art circuit, there is the 27th Annual Las Olas Art Fair October 18 and 19. Organized by Howard Alan Events & American Craft Endeavors, the festival features both crafters and gallery-exhibiting artists. You’ll be able to scope out – or pick up – fine art, jewelry, books and treats, and admission is free both days.
That same weekend, on October 18, celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month with the Girls’ Club’s Art Fallout event. Girls’ Club, the purveyors of some of the most important work on a local and international level (the collection ranges from Vivian Maier to the TM Sisters), will highlight several of downtown Fort Lauderdale’s most interesting artists and art spaces. You can expect public talks, open studios and, at Girls’ Club, an open call exhibition: Artists of any level are invited to exhibit and receive feedback from professionals.
Hollywood is always worth a visit, especially the Art and Culture Center from September 5 through November 2 when Echos Myron will be on view. Curated by artist Beatriz Monteavaro (half of the Miami sludge metal act Holly Hunt) and Kreamy ’Lectric Santa violinist/Miami scene veteran Priyadarsini Ray, everything about Echos Myron functions like a Who’s Who of the Miami music scene, from its organizers to its artists. Bonus fun fact: It was named for a Guided By Voices song.
The selection for performance art in other mediums this fall and winter is hefty and, for what it’s worth, aesthetically beautiful across the board. The John Cranko-choreographed and Sergei Prokofiev-scored Romeo and Juliet – often regarded as one of the loveliest versions of the play – will launch the Miami City Ballet’s 2014-2015 season. See it at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts from October 24-26.
The Florida Grand Opera is slated to have an exciting 2014-2015 season as well, opening with Madama Butterfly, the famously heartbreaking tragedy of the geisha who falls in love with an American naval officer and takes her life awaiting his return. The opera will be performed at the Broward Center on December 4 and 6.
If smaller-scale productions are more your thing, check out a performance by The New World School of the Arts Repertory Dance Ensemble on October 29, part of the Smart Stage Matinee Series at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center. It’ll be a chance to catch a set of rising ballet stars before they make their inevitable debuts with the Miami City Ballet or other esteemed dance companies.
Aurand Harris’ The Orphan Train, to be performed on September 26 and 27 at the Broward Center, combines elements of other mediums (film and music specifically) and takes place in 1914, a time when thousands of orphaned or homeless children were sent cross-country by train to be united with families. The now famous play tells the story from the children’s perspectives, creating a moving examination of the country’s present problems through a poignant historical lens.
As for bands, Fleetwood Mac will perform at the BB&T Center on December 19. Finally, they’re all here, Christine McVie included. Appropriately titled On With The Show, the band’s 33-city tour has sent currents of excitement through the population of long-time fans.
Also worth checking out is Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band at the Broward Center on October 21. The cheeky band name is not simply a reference to the Beatle frontman, it’s also about the lineup, which features Todd Rundgren, Steve Lukather of Toto, Gregg Rolie of Santana and Journey, Richard Page of Mr. Mister, and Gregg Bissonette.
Susan Boyle is making her only South Florida stop at the Broward Center on November 3. Since her 2009 appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, she has received two Grammy nominations, sung for both the Pope and the Queen and sold more than 19 million albums worldwide, putting Simon Cowell’s initial dubiousness to shame.
Still on the subject of redemption and poetic justice, Los Lonely Boys are playing at the Parker Playhouse on October 23. Their new album Revelation (their first in three years) is a kind of musical documentation of the healing process; guitarist Henry damaged his spine after falling off a stage last year.
Comedians sometimes garner as much excitement as bands, and occasionally occupy the same stage. Comedian Amy Schumer will perform at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on November 14, and if you can get past the fact that you’ll be cringing as she somehow pinpoints your own embarrassing moments via hers, it’ll be worth it. Schumer’s sketches on Inside Amy Schumer weave everyday awkwardness into the kinds of on-point narratives that make viewers wince as they laugh, because they’re too true and so personal.
We’ve saved the best for last: the 2014 Florida Day of the Dead Celebration. The now two-day event (November 1 and 2) was a recipient of the Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Award. Last year’s drew nearly 10,000 participants; there were costumes (amazing costumes), dancing, art and general revelry all along Fort Lauderdale’s Riverwalk. The Knight Award was well-deserved – it’s a hearty community event that pays homage to the traditional Mexican holiday without exploiting it. We can’t wait to see this year’s celebration.