Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Here I am, surrounded by my wildflowers, at Red Dot 2012.
We've just returned from a wonderful week in sunny South Florida! Our main purpose for the trip was to be at Red Dot Art Fair, which is part of Art Basel Week in Miami every December. This was one of dozens and dozens of similar art exhibits staged in and around Miami. Several of my wildflower paintings were on exhibit in the Artisans Direct booth at Red Dot. In addition to time spent at the art fair, we were able to visit a few of the other exhibits, including Art Expo/SOLO next door. (Art Expo also does the show in NYC in March, to which we'll be returning and exhibiting in 2013.) While Art Basel is held in the convention center on South Beach, many of the other shows, like Red Dot, Art Expo, Art Miami, Context and others, are held in huge tents that fill otherwise vacant lots in the Wynwood Arts district of Miami. Many more exhibits are staged throughout the area in hotels, galleries, vacant stores and outside on buildings, sidewalks, on the water, in parks and even in the air! It truly is a sight to see and an overload for the senses! On top of all of this, is the art that is everyday...from the Art Deco buildings in South Beach and the gardens and landscaped features of the homes and businesses to nature's art...namely the magnificent sunrises and sunsets!

Since Artistans Direct did all of the set up and represented the artists during the event, all I needed to do was to show up for the reception on Tuesday night and then again during the show over the next few days. The reception was well attended. Red Dot opened on Wednesday and each day the attendance increased with thousands walking through over the course of the show.

Of course, David and I still found time to enjoy our week in sunny Florida. With a little luck and David's diligent research, we were able to stay in a wonderful condo in a stylish 1924 South Beach apartment building. It was located in a quiet residential area that was within a few blocks from the edge of the famed Art Deco district AND within a few blocks of Miami Beach! Perfect location to start our mornings with a walk and end the day with a stroll over to the business area for a casual supper. Twice we set our alarm so we could catch the sun rising over the ocean. Just breathtaking!

We found with our last trip to NYC that one of the best ways to enjoy a city is by taking a guided tour on a double-decker bus. The Big Red Bus was just the ticket as we got to see parts of South Beach, downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and Little Havana that we would have otherwise missed out on. We didn't have a lot of time to hop on and off, but we were able to do so in Little Havana, where we soaked up the Cuban culture as much as we could during our brief visit. We got to watch a nice old man make cigars, lunch at a Cuban restaurant where we enjoyed an amazing stuffed plantain appetizer, and topped off the trip with a scoop of ice cream made in house at a cute little shop.

In addition to the bus tour, we took a boat tour that took us out to Biscayne Bay where the bi-lingual tour guide pointed out the homes of the rich-n-famous on Star Island, talked about the history of the various man-made islands, and shared other little facts about the area.

On Saturday, we decided to take off early and see how far down the keys we could make it before feeling that we needed to turn around and head back. Of course, the words and music of "Key Largo" filled my head for most of the trip! "We had it all/Just like Bogie and Bacall/Starring in our own late, late show/Sailing away to Key Largo....."

Sunset at Key West!
Shortly before getting to Key West, which is the last stop, we decided to hunt for a room and just stay the night. Turned out to be the best decision! We were able to get a cottage at a B-n-B that was in a quiet part of town but still within walking distance of Duval Street, the main drag of Key West. Little did we know that we would get to see the sunset on the ocean from Key West and then be treated to an old-fashioned, nighttime Christmas parade! The next morning we headed out early to catch the sunrise but fog had settled in. Instead, we ended up at the Key West Cemetery, which was very reminiscent of cemeteries in old New Orleans. All too soon it was time to head back to Miami for the last day of Red Dot.
Ocean Drive-South Beach

We made it back to Miami, cleaned up and headed over to the art fair for one last appearance, then back to South Beach for a final meal at a tiny little Italian restaurant where they make their own pasta fresh and a mighty fine pesto, too!

Monday morning we got in one last sunrise-on-the-beach walk before packing up and heading out. But we had one last treat in store. As we neared the Ft. Lauderdale airport, we drove in the downtown business district of Dania looking for a place to grab a bite of lunch. A full parking lot at a little restaurant was enough to convince us that it must be a good place to eat. Turns out it was, so good, in fact that it had been featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on the Food Network! We had a delicious last meal in Florida for this trip, then headed to the airport and back to Texas, where a cold front had arrived while we were gone! 
Sunrise on Miami Beach.