Face it: Americans can be pretty biased. Even the most enlightened among us are often guilty of a certain kinda cultural xenophobia. We listen primarily to American and British music; follow primarily American and British artists and designers; read primarily American and British books; watch primarily American and British films.
Indeed even at our most adventurous we generally explore no further than the European continent. And when we do watch a French film, or dig a German band, or read an Italian or a Spanish or a Portuguese novelist (in translation of course), we often pat ourselves on the back for doing so. On the very rare occasion when we bother to investigate anything any more exotic than that, hell, we’re ready to give ourselves a medal.
But there’s a whole subset of sound and vision coming outta the other America, that continent to our south, as well as from the countries that share its language, and we’d do well to get with it. Because despite the fact that our town has more in common culturally with this other America than we do with, say, some place in the Midwest, if a Miamian isn’t bonded by blood to somewhere down there, it’s unlikely we’ll know much about it all.
Well cats and kittens, get ready to remedy that situation. For we are about to get an opportunity to open our eyes and our ears to a history of sensation that’s done as much for others as we’ve done for ourselves.
It’s called “Mira Que Lindas” (literally “Look How Pretty”), and it is a mad mix of vivid imagery and sonic wonder. Put together by Maria Del Valle, director of the Central Cultural Espanol (CCE Miami), who got the idea fromRuben Scaramuzzino of Madrid’s Zona de Obras Media, and going down in the 20,000 square foot spread known as The Awarehouse, MQL is where graphic design and music collide. And where we can see, hear, feel and touch just what makes both so essential to each other.
The action kicks off this Saturday night with a combination concert/art opening that’ll find New York-based, Dominican-blooded Pacha Massive and local Afro/Latin/Soul stirrers Elastic Bond taking the stage amid a barrage of 500 carefully chosen album covers.
The LP sleeves represent the last four decades of Latin music, of every variety, and they range in image from Molotov’s near-pedophilia to Caetano Veloso’s Tropicalia trippy. There’s La Lupita’s burning amp, Modern Clix’ urban wasteland, Upa’s grazing surreality, and Adrenalina’s winged pig. There are clean lines and streamlines and puns that play off of themselves. And unless you were either present at each release’s creation or you’re some kinda crazed collector, every single image is gonna be new to you, and it’s a cinch each will give you something to groove about.
As of course will the array of acts set to take the stage over the 21 day salute to all this sound and vision. CCE teamed with Fabrikalink.com and the Latin Recording Academy® * (LARAS) to ensure the widest variety. And in addition to the aforementioned opening night line-up, there’ll be music from Nicaragua (Ramon Mejía ofPerrozompopo), Spain (Fangoria, The Nancys Rubias), and Mexico (Nortec Collective’s Clorofila), as well as Miami’s own Grammy-nominated Xperimento. There’ll be DJs, (Le Spam, Mr. Pauer), workshops (Graphic Design and the Music Industry; Publishers and Songwriters), and acoustic showcases (among them Brazilian YamandoAcosta). In other words, there will be something for everyone who’s anyone at all.
And for those few of you who’ve not yet had the pleasure or the privilege of visiting The Awarehouse, there’s the majesty of the space itself. Home base of the label known as Acustronic as well as the band organicArma, it’s a multi-purpose, many-configured hotbed of cultural activity. The kinda action that doesn’t so much as fly below the radar, as much as it defies it, in every way possible. This is where tomorrow’s ideas get a run-through before the world gets a hold of them. And this is where now does down every moment of the day. That such a grand space happens to exist in the MIA, within 15 minutes of everyone’s proverbial fame, is a sure sign that this town is no longer a cultural ghost town.
Yeah, Americans might be a little biased at times, even a tad naïve. But with shows like “Mira Que Lindas” hitting our shores we can ensure that we’re not. There’s a whole wild world out there, and it’s in all of our best interest to embrace it every chance we can get. Go ahead, see for yourself, and look how pretty and open mind can be.
To Go: Awarehouse, 550 NW 29th Street, Wynwood Arts DistrictFree. $10 donation for concerts. For info: 305.448.9677 + 305.576.4004 or their web.