Wednesday

Opening night of American Black Film Festival at Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; 5:15 and 8:30 p.m.; various ticket prices per film and event; 305/674-1040 or abff.com

Now in its 17th year, the American Black Film Festival provides South Florida audiences an otherwise unprecedented opportunity to experience under one roof the best new work by and about African-Americans, addressing themes central to black communities as well as universal to the world at large. Many of these films are star-studded, and may receive theatrical runs later in the year: Tonight’s gala opening-night film, “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” stars Jennifer Hudson and Jeffrey Wright in a coming-of-age story about inner-city youth. And on Friday, check out “Fruitville Station,” a drama starring Forest Whitaker taking place on the last day of 2008. Visit the festival’s website for all films, parties, workshops and special guest presentations.

Thursday

Opening night of “Printed Matters” at ActivistArtistA Gallery, 422 W. Industrial Ave., Boynton Beach; 7 to 10 p.m.; free; 786/521-1199 or activistartista.blogspot.com

ActivistArtistA, the signature gallery of the Boynton Beach Arts District, is playing it by the book for its latest exhibition. An art show for the literati among us, “Printed Matters” will feature both short stories and photographs from Cary Polkovitz, a former graphic artist, painter and now multimedia renaissance man. He’ll share stories and sign copies of his new book “Often Overlooked,” and tonight’s opening event also will feature readings and signings from local authors Billy Hitz (author of the self-depracatingly titled “Pathetic Poetry”) and Monique Wegmueller, who will perform from “Mahalo Sunrise.” The exhibit runs through July 10.

Friday

Opening day of “Block by Block: Building Amazing Architecture” at Norton Museum, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $5 students, $12 adults; 561/832-5196 or www.norton.org

Dan Parker is a bricklayer, the kind that requires little heavy lifting. The Tacoma-based Parker’s bricks are often 1 inch by 1 inch, 1.6 millimeter-thick plastic toys in all the colors of the rainbow—aka Lego, the medium of choice for a number of artistic kids-at-heart. Joining such established Lego art masters as Nathan Sawaya and Ryan McNaught, Parker says he “rediscovered” Lego at age 29, and he’s found his niche in ambitious re-creations of monumental edifices. The Norton’s exhibit, which opens today, showcases 10 of Parker’s models, ranging from 4 feet to 9 feet in height, including One World Trade Center, Seattle’s Space Needle and Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The exhibition runs through Oct. 20.

 

Opening night of InFocus Member’s Juried Exhibition at Palm Beach Photographic Centre, 415 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; free; 561/253-2600 or www.workshop.org

Dozens of photographers who are members the Palm Beach Photo Centre’s InFocus photography club will be competing for a $950 cash award in this variety-filled, 17th annual competition. From iconic New York City landmarks to insects in extreme close-up to birds in majestic flight and impressionistic nude portraits, the exhibition offers a broad swath of photographic ingenuity. With a full array of mammals in action and elegant still-lifes, black-and-white abstractions and full-color fantasias, this year’s InFocus should satisfy all tastes. The show runs through Aug. 17.

 

A. Wayne Gill at Avalon Gallery, 425 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 6 to 8 p.m.; free; 561/272-9155 or www.avalononatlantic.com

Like many authors, A. Wayne Gill first made a name for himself as a lawyer, building his Gill Law Firm across two states (Florida and Georgia), representing significant corporate clients like SunTrust Bank and AT&T, and speaking at seminars from the Ford Motor Credit Company to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach County. He’s also penned a couple of nonfiction books, but it’s his debut fiction entree, “The Runner,” that he’ll be promoting at tonight’s signing. The first novel in an intended seven-part series about the journey of a preacher’s son through the corridors of wealth and power, “The Runner” has been celebrated as an example of a quality Christian thriller, anchored by its relatable themes and characters, ratcheting suspense and the main character’s spiritual awakening.

 

Opening night of “The Wedding Singer” at Slow Burn Theatre Company at West Boca Performing Arts Theatre, 12811 W. Glades Road, Boca Raton; 8 p.m.; $20 to $35; 954/323-7884 or www.slowburntheatre.org

Premiering on Broadway around the time every third Hollywood comedy was being adapted for the stage, “The Wedding Singer” has become one of the most enduring celluloid-to-footlights translations, and it’s easy to see why: The film itself is so heavily reliant on pop music that it’s practically a musical itself. It has a pulse and a sense of infectious nostalgia that easily transfers to the stage, with the ’80s New Wave chestnuts of the movie giving way to Broadway eclecticism. The musical hews closely to the plot of the film – a bitter wedding singer, jilted at the altar himself, proceeds to ruin every nuptial in which he’s contracted, until he becomes enamored by a lovely waitress engaged to a Wall Street shark. When done well, this show is pure escapist fun, and this production from West Boca’s Slow Burn marks its regional-theater debut. Rubbery local comic talent Clay Cartland will play the coveted protagonist role popularized on film by Adam Sandler. The show runs through June 30.

Sunday

Neil Gaiman at Temple Judea, 5500 Granada Blvd., Coral Gables; 2 p.m.; $25.99 book purchase provides one ticket; 305/442-4408 or www.booksandbooks.com

Where to start with a one-paragraph summary of Neil Gaiman? In a New Yorker profile on Gaiman, his film agent “says he recognized his client’s popularity only when he took him to a meeting at Warner Bros. and all the secretaries got up from their desks to ask for autographs. Someone said, ‘That never happens when Tom Cruise is here.’” Gaiman may be an unknown name to half the country, but for comic-book geeks, he’s a god – the Stan Lee of grown-up graphic novels whose “Sandman” series is a touchstone of the form. But Gaiman is also a onetime journalist and avid reader of literature, from Shakespeare and Poe to Lovecraft and Gene Wolf, and his eclectic tastes come across in his novels and screenplays as much as his comics. Today, Gaiman will speak and sign copies of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” his first adult novel in eight years, about a boy who discovers a neighboring family’s supernatural secret.

Monday, June 24

The Mountain Goats at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 7:30 p.m.; $20; www.ticketmaster.com

I won’t feign a dispassioned objectivity when writing about The Mountain Goats: The group, founded in 1991 by eccentric singer-songwriter John Darnielle, is my favorite band, to the point of obsession. I’ve driven as far as Georgia and New York to see them perform more than a dozen times. And this marks the very first time that the hard-touring group has stopped in South Florida. I believe that Darnielle is pretty much the best songwriter in America, if not the globe, having spun witty, emotional, simile-driven narratives about desperate people looking for comfort around the world for 14 albums and counting, along with numerous EPs and singles. For the past several years, Darnielle, who started the Mountain Goats as primarily a solo project, has been touring with a roof-shaking rock band; tonight’s show will return him to his mid-period performance model, in a duo arrangement with longtime bassist Peter Hughes. The Baptist Generals, an indie band from Texas, will open the concert.