Modern Art in Miami
South Beach turns into Europe in early December with the arrival of Art Basel at the South Beach Convention Center. In just four years, Miami Art Basel has become the preeminent art exhibition in the United States, showcasing the newest and boldest in art and photography from contemporary galleries around the world. Best place to stay while viewing Miami Basel is the new Ritz DeLido Hotel on South Beach. The DeLido, a cherished Art Moderne Melvin Grossman and Morris Lapidus-designed building, looks spectacular after a recent $100 million renovation. It has every amenity you'd expect from a Ritz-Carlton; and better yet, it's a five-minute walk to the convention center.
If the art of Scottish distillers is more your fancy, join the connoisseurs who converge on Miami to honor of their preferred libation and all things Scottish. The "Luxury Whiskey Weekend" Nov. 4-6 at the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne includes master classes with top experts, tastings paired with classic Scottish fare and a VIP reception on a private yacht. A grand tasting, featuring the "best of the best" whiskies and the world's most coveted luxury lifestyle products, concludes the event on Sunday.
MIRA MAR MOVES
Allyn Gallup's Mira Mar Gallery has been the gallery in town for years for fine modern and contemporary art, but its location on Palm just north of Main was cramped and out of sight. Now Gallup has joined forces with Frank Breuer's Missing Link Gallery on Pineapple to create the perfect new space, where this month he's featuring Nancy Hellebrand. A Guggenheim fellow, Hellebrand worked in black and white until 1994; but after a trip to Sarasota in the late '90s, it was only a matter of time until our skies became the subject of her work. She's now a resident; and while her Sarasota-inspired paintings have been exhibited at the renowned Pace Gallery in New York and elsewhere, this is our first chance to see her work firsthand in Sarasota. Through Nov. 27, 555 S. Pineapple Ave., 366-2093.
Still waiting to use your wireless laptop downtown? Prepare to wait a little longer. The county owns considerable bandwidth stretching from Ringling to Osprey and plans to allow free access to its Internet capacity by creating a variety of hot spots. But there's a problem-new service areas can encroach on business bandwidth providers like Verizon and Comcast. Case in point: Sarasota News and Books patrons sometimes enjoy wireless access, but courtesy of a neighboring business with service. Those concerns combined with access to unauthorized sites delayed the much ballyhooed opening of Selby Library to wireless access this summer, but service is finally slated to start this month. One day, wireless Internet access will be as common as cell phone service, but not until the economics are worked out. Until then, Sarasota hot spot hunters are limited to the big retail brands such as Starbucks, Kinko's and Borders.
NEXT GULF COAST
Sarasota beachfront property too crowded and pricey? Head down to Manasota Key, off the coast of Englewood. Naples investors have been creeping into Charlotte Country for some time, and to Pine View School parents moving south to Osprey and Nokomis, Englewood seems not much farther away. Manasota has avoided the intense tourist traffic that results from high-rise development. Instead, you'll find low-rise accommodations on the south end of the key and breathtaking private homes overlooking the Gulf and Lemon Bay (bayfront prices, especially, are bargains, with many properties under a million) as you travel north. The new interest is spurring growth on Dearborn Street in Englewood, where you'll find galleries of fine art, hand-painted furniture, antiques and vintage furnishings.
If there's a modern arts Renaissance man in Sarasota, it's jazz musician and abstract painter Bill Buchman. Buchman gives classes and workshops at Ringling School and several area art centers, and you can see his newest work at Sarasota's Galleries des Artes. His shows in Copenhagen, where he lived and work for several years, have sold out, so grab what you can. Buchman has worked with such jazz greats as Jo Jones (of Count Basie fame) and Red Callender, has performed widely in the United States and Europe, and his new Out of the Blue CD made Jazz Week's charts of the top 50 new jazz CDs receiving airplay on NPR. You may have caught his group, Bill Buchman's Art of Jazz All-Stars, on weekends at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, last season; you can see him in concert on Nov. 12 in the Sarasota Jazz Club's Friday afternoon concert series at the Bayfront Community Center.