Plus, Third Horizon Film Festival kicks off and Miami artists are invited to share their best ideas.
The New Tropic

🚢 Florida notches a win in the clash over COVID-19 cruise restrictions

Plus, Third Horizon Film Festival kicks off and Miami artists are invited to share their best ideas.

By Zach Schlein

Welcome to Wednesday, Miami.

Other than a few isolated showers, yesterday kept up the sunny start we’ve enjoyed to this summer. Don’t get too used to it though: Forecasts are calling for a rain-filled few days ahead

But remain calm: inclement weather or not, The New Tropic will still be here to hold your hand through the storm, rhetorical or otherwise. Go grab your raincoat, remember to be extremely selective about using your hazard lights while driving through a downpour, and read on to see what else is happening in the Magic City today...

💧 What Miami is talking about 

Take a walk on the scenic side this Wednesday. 😎 | Want to see your own picture in this space? Tag either #thenewtropic or @thenewtropic to be featured in our Instagram of the Day. (📸: @xplore_your_city)

🛳 ICYMI, a Tampa judge issued a preliminary injunction against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s pandemic-related restrictions for cruises. The federal government had issued a conditional sailing order last fall in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody responded by filing a legal challenge to the order in April, alleging the CDC overstepped its legal authority. Now the CDC has until July 2 to make appropriate changes; the injunction won’t apply until July 18. Meanwhile, a simulated trip by Royal Caribbean’s “Freedom of the Seas” returned to PortMiami yesterday after setting sail on Sunday. (Orlando Weekly / NBC 6 South Florida)

  • Related: The CDC has officially lowered its travel alert level for cruising to a Level 3 warning, a downgrade from the advisory which said it was unsafe for anyone to go on a cruise while the pandemic was still raging. The new warning level applies to those who have not been vaccinated. (Orlando Sentinel)

😷 Florida was ranked No. 37 in an assessment of how individual states have rebounded from the pandemic. The group responsible for the study, TOP Agency, used data like consumer confidence, job market strength, and COVID-19 safety precautions to reach its findings. (Orlando Sentinel)

  • Related: There are concerns over whether or not Florida moved too hastily in downscaling its COVID-19 reports. State health departments recently stopped issuing daily updates on case numbers and infections, instead opting to share information just once a week. Jennifer Nuzzo, a leading epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Miami Herald “It feels like we’re running a marathon and we’re almost giving up a couple miles from the finish line.” (Miami Herald)

✍️ Answer in 150 words or less: “What is your best idea for the arts in the Miami area?” The Knight Foundation wants to gather responses from Miami creatives for The 2021 Knight Arts Challenge, which will see the organization donate a collective $2 million toward helping artists bring their answers to life. Submissions will be accepted right here between Thursday, July 1 and Saturday, July 31. (Artburst Miami)

🎥 Third Horizon Film Festival’s fifth edition is kicking off tomorrow. This year’s celebration of cinema from the Caribbean and its diaspora is taking place virtually (with a few exceptions) and will run through Thursday, July 1. Be sure to check out the trailer — which happens to be soundtracked to certified heater “Let’s Get It Together” by Shadow — shared by Third Horizon co-founder Jason Fitzroy Jeffers and learn more about this year’s programming via the fest’s Instagram page and official website. ➡️ (Third Horizon Film Festival)

🎨 Pepe Mar shares how Miami informs his artistic practice 

Pepe Mar is the latest local creative to have his work featured by the Miami art evangelists over at Commissioner. (📸: Carina Mask, courtesy of David Castillo Gallery.)

The following interview is produced in partnership with Commissioner, a membership program that aims to grow a community of new local art collectors in Miami and share the stories of Miami arts and artists. The interview was conducted by Commissioner and WhereBy.Us co-founder Rebekah Monson and it has been edited for length and clarity.

Pepe Mar was born in Mexico and lives and works in Miami, Florida. He received his BFA from California College of the Arts (CCA), San Francisco; attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine; and received his MFA from Florida International University. Pepe’s work has been exhibited around the world and is included in major public and private collections across the United States, Europe, and Latin America, including ICA Miami, Tampa Museum of Art, and Pérez Art Museum Miami. 

The New Tropic: Pepe, you're a very accomplished Miami artist, and Miami is referenced a lot in your work. Tell me more about how you draw inspiration from the city. 

Pepe Mar: This is a special year for me because it marks my 20th anniversary living in Miami. I am excited because I am doing this new work for Commissioner, an exhibition at Frost Art Museum, and I have an exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art—it's a retrospective about my time living here and being an artist in Miami. 

I always like being a part of the community. It's important to me. It's funny because now, whenever I talk about Miami, I think of when I first moved to South Beach and my experience was very lively, very gay, a lot of nightlife and all that sort of thing. It's something that I like to reference in the work because it's such a special time for me—a coming-of-age. 

I’ve lived through different eras—the era where South Beach was the place. And then, when I started showing with David Castillo in Wynwood, I remember the beginning of the art walk and all of that evolution. The city keeps evolving, and I keep evolving here, too. 

This nostalgia and the feeling of this place show up interestingly in your work — in the use of found objects, in color, in texture, and in vibrancy — so much of what you make reminds me of our city. How did you grow into your practice? 

I always love this idea that's in movies or the public imagination about Miami. I kind of created this fantasy that's the Miami that I have. It's Pepe convention: It's not really a style that exists because it is just my fantasy, but I love that people see it in my work. 

I inherited my passion for color and texture from growing up in Mexico. I think that's something that has carried through the work and it shines through naturally. There are a lot of other references, too—folk art, fashion, queer culture, all of my different obsessions... 

One of the main ways that Miami and identity show up in my practice is in this character I created called “Paprika”. You can see her form or face in some of the work. In thinking about Paprika as my alter ego, I take all these influences, all of these obsessions, and I often process them through her as a protagonist. I use her in every exhibition, and she takes on a different shape and gets influenced by what I am seeing. 

That is a great example of how you weave materials and concepts and personality, but also of the storytelling, the narrative quality, in your art. Your work is almost a personal history, but a history of all of these other influences and discoveries that you're making at that time.

Oh yeah, I think there's definitely always a point of departure that I use in exhibitions. I always create an imaginary narrative in my head. 

Every show always has something to do with queer life plus characters that I find fascinating and kind of want to live through. It starts with me trying to make sense of all these things that I'm thinking about, and then I put it all together in the work to tell a story.

I used to be a little bit more purist where I wasn't really displaying my whole way of thinking, but I think in recent installations of work, I try to be more generous and really share with the viewer. It creates more openness for viewers to understand the narratives of the work. 

Commissioner is aimed at getting new folks invested in local artists and collecting their work. What advice do you have for aspiring collectors? 

The city now has so many new people and we should all want these people to become involved in supporting the community of artists here in Miami. There are many opportunities between Commissioner, Oolite Arts, Locust Projects' Smash & Grab, and open studios. 

The cool thing is that if you support a Miami artist, you're part of their journey; and if you're living here in Miami, you're probably going to run into the artist again. It becomes like a relationship and that is important.

When I first arrived in Miami, I worked at Miami Art Museum, which is now PAMM, in the store and in visitor services. A lot of the people who I met while working there are still people that I work with—people who are collecting my work. There's always a beginning to everything, right? When a young artist meets the first person to buy their work, that is very significant and very important, and we need that support to keep making art and growing.

Promotion from Miami Dade College Foundation

🏆 2021 MDC Alumni Hall of Fame: Caridad Cuellar

Caridad Cuellar was a school nurse in Hialeah when the pandemic forced schools to shut down.

She shifted gears to provide telehealth for a community health center and, shortly after, contracted COVID-19 herself. After recovering from COVID-19 Cuellar went back to the frontlines, collecting samples at testing sites during the pandemic’s summer peak.

When schools began to reopen, she returned to institute new protocols and teach students hygiene practices.

Cuellar, who now works as an urgent care nurse for Baptist Health, received her LPN, RN and BSN degrees at Miami Dade College and plans to complete her master’s degree.

Watch Caridad’s story on The New Tropic’s Facebook

😋 Dinner’s on us

Want a chance to enjoy this luscious lobster for free? All you have to do is enter The New Tropic’s giveaway with EST. 33 Thai Craft Brewery & Kitchen to take your shot. (📸: @est.33_miami)

Enter now for your chance to win a $150 gift card to spend on dining and drinks at EST. 33 Thai Craft Brewery & Kitchen. The lucky winner will also walk away with a private brewery tour led by the Bangkok-inspired eatery’s master brewer, Todd Space. Good luck! 

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🚌 Learn about how Miami-Dade County’s Climate Action Strategy addresses "Transportation & Land Use" and share your thoughts on a sustainable future for the 305 (Online)

🤓 Happy hour with the best in #miamitech over pizza and drinks at The Freehold(Wynwood )

🍺 Catch Copa América 2021 watch parties all month long at EST. 33 Thai Craft Brewery & Kitchen including tonight's matches between Ecuador and Peru along with Brazil vs. Colombia(Brickell)


🎷 Enjoy the sound of Miami-made "Jazztronica" courtesy of TWYN during the latest Virtual Jazz at MOCA (Online)

🌴 Explore the history of Coconut Grove, the land across from the light, on a virtual tour with HistoryMiami Museum’s Resident Historian Dr. Paul George(Online)

🎥 Catch a screening of "La Piscine" at Coral Gables Cinema between Friday, June 25 and Thursday, July 1 (Coral Gables)

🎶 Kick off the weekend at EST. 33 Thai Craft Brewery & Kitchen and groove to live music all weekend long, with DJ sets from DJ Ani Phearce, DJ Elle & DJ Smeejay.(Brickell)


🎶 Sway to the sounds of three dynamic, powerful performers — singers, musicians, and songwriters Yusa, Inez Barlatier, and Keba— as they headline the Women of the Caribbean concert at the Koubek Mansion and Gardens (Little Havana)

🐶 Tune in to a virtual event celebrating the new illustrated children's book "Dogs at Work: Good Dogs. Real Jobs." presented by Books & Books and Miami Book Fair (Online)


🖼️ Check out the opening weekend debut of The Mindy Solomon Gallery's summer exhibitions (Wynwood)

🎶 Kick off the weekend at EST. 33 Thai Craft Brewery & Kitchen and groove to live music all weekend long, with DJ sets from DJ Ani Phearce, DJ Elle & DJ Smeejay(Brickell)


😃 Hear how you can become an Arsht Center volunteer and learn what it's like to work with one of Miami's premier cultural institutions (Online)


🚮 Take part in a Trashy Tuesday sunset beach cleanup at Watson Island Marina(Midtown )

Wednesday, June 30

🚺 Visit the opening of WOMANISH, an exhibit experience by womxn for womxn, in Miami (Wynwood)

♻️ Get a general overview of Miami-Dade County's Climate Action Strategy and learn what your neighbors had to say about envisioning a green, carbon-free 305 (Online)

👋 That’s all for today

See you back here tomorrow for Thursday.


Zach at The New Tropic

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