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Art Basel is back, FAU sports’ big move, and what happens when a fly lands on our food

Al Diaz
Design Miami/ 2020 took place at the Design District’s Moore Building. But this year it’s returning to its tent across from the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Art Basel returns to Miami bringing art, money, and hope. Florida Atlantic University is making a big move in the coming years to a new sports conference. Plus, a closer look at what flies are doing when they land on your lunch.

On this Monday, Nov. 29, edition of Sundial:

Art Basel is back

We’ve got a rundown of what to expect during Miami Art Week 2021.

After losing a year to COVID, many of the events are returning. That's thanks, in part, to the lifting of bans on international travel. Now artists and travelers are moving at full speed to make this year a success.

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"You can't have an international art fair without international people there to buy the artwork. Otherwise, it's just a much smaller ordeal. When the Biden administration announced that they were going to be lifting that travel ban in November, it was like a starting gun went off," said Brett Sokol, a contributing arts writer for The New York Times, and co-founder of the nonprofit publishing house Letter16 Press.

With a new variant of the coronavirus worrying health officials, Sokol said the art world is watching and taking notice before the events this year. There are limits to the events:

"Even before [the omicron variant] was announced, the main Art Basel fair made it very, very clear that they were going to be taking serious safety protocols, putting them in place," Sokol said. "So, for example, proof of vaccination or a recent test result is required to enter. And they also have a mask mandate in place. It's a requirement, it's not optional, it's not recommended. And they're going to enforce it."

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are also big this year. The original or unique digital assets will be featured in shows all over Miami during art week this year. But Sokol said they are still divided from the rest of the art world.

"There's still something of a moat between them right now. That could change, but they're still two separate worlds, so it's important to keep that in mind that if you, as someone just being introduced to NFTs, seem a little skeptical about, first of all, the appeal of it and why would I want to pay all this money for something that I can just look at on my screen? Well, there is a huge chunk of the art world that agrees with you, even if they don't necessarily want to come out and be that blunt about it," he said.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what fresh round of insanity takes off this year," said Sokol about Basel. "That's part of the fun."

To hear Sokol's full list of artists and shows that he's looking forward to this year, you can listen to the full segment:

Art Basel is back
Art Basel Miami Beach.jpg

FAU sports’ big move

Florida Atlantic University is moving sports conferences, according to a recent announcement.

The university is currently in Conference USA with other teams like Florida International University.

In a few years, it will move to American Athletic Conference (the AAC) with teams like Cincinnati, which is fighting for a position in the college football playoffs.

“It's a chance for us to affiliate ourselves with some really great credible brands within college athletics,” said Brian White, the director of athletics at FAU.

The move could bring a significant amount of money into the university. The AAC is one of the wealthiest conferences in major college football and its deal with ESPN pays the conference’s schools between $7 million and $8 million per year, according to the Associated Press.

FAU sports’ big move

What happens when a fly lands on our food

South Florida is prime real estate for all kinds of visitors — including flies.

For many flies, the Everglades is their home. And the humid climate attracts them. That means bug bites and sometimes having the six-legged creatures land on our food.

“Most flies don't have the apparatus to just take a bite,” said Jamie Theobald, an associate professor of biological sciences at Florida International University. “Liquids they can drink, usually without trouble. But if it's a solid food, they need to start digesting it before they bring it into their body. And so, often they'll put a little bit of spit on it in order to bring to start the digestion outside of their body and then slurp in what they get from that.”

But it’s not all bad. Ecologically, they are one of the largest groups of pollinators, helping flowering plants reproduce. Plus, medical advances and other research.

“The maggots of these blowflies are used in treating infected wounds and ulcers. So scientists have been studying the antimicrobial properties of the enzymes that these maggots release. So you can design therapeutics around wound healing,” said Ravindra Palavalli-Nettimi, who is a postdoctoral research associate at FIU.

They answered some of these questions on flies for a series called "Curious Kids" from the news site The Conversation.

What happens when a fly lands on our food
Now we know why we'll never see a common fruit fly (<em>Drosophila melanogaster</em>) sitting on a beet.

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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, produces WLRN's midday public affairs program, Sundial weekdays at 1 and 8 p.m. Prior to transitioning to production, Caitie covered news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News for four years.