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Visual and Performing Artists and events in the news April 1-7, 2023


This is who and what’s creating news in Southwest Florida’s visual and performing arts community this week:


1     ACTORS


Emilie Baartman plays Lucinda for New Phoenix in ‘Into the Woods’

Emilie Baartman is a Naples, Florida actor, singer, dancer and costume and set designer. She appears in the role of Lucinda for New Phoenix Theatre in Into the Woods. Emilie’s stage credits include Kia in The Last Schwartz for New Phoenix Theatre, work in the ensemble of Head Over Heels for New Phoenix Theatre, flight attendant Gloria in Boeing Boeing for The Naples Players, Macbeth: The Murder Mystery for the CFABS Players, and Pam Lukowski in The Full Monty (New Phoenix Theatre, 2020). Go here for more of Emilie’s credits.



Robert Barner plays Moses for Lab Theater in ‘Pass Over’

Robert T. Barner Jr. appears in the role of Moses in Pass Over. His previous stage credits include the roles of Dayton Frasier in Fairview, Gary Coleman in Avenue Q, Adrian/Boatswain for Lab Theater in Shakespeare’s magical play, The Tempest, and Mister in the Southwest Florida premiere of Marsha Norman’s The Color Purple.



Gregg Birr is Bill in Hollywood Arms at Arts Center Theatre on Marco Island

Gregg Birr appears in the role of Bill in Hollywood Arms for Arts Center Theatre. Gregg’s previous credits include Beer for Breakfast for The Studio Players, the delivery man in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park (which he also stage managed), The Same Time Next Year, An Evening of Ten-Minute Plays, Emotional Baggage and High Noon in Boom and How They Talk in South BostonGo here for more of Gregg’s theatrical credits.



Wyatt TecoHikari Burton is the Baker in ‘Into the Woods’

Wyatt TecoHikari Burton appears in the role of The Baker in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Into the Woods. Previously, Wyatt played Pythio in Head Over Heels at New Phoenix Theatre, Jersey Shore the Musical @ Pipe Dreams Theatre, and Riff in West Side StoryGo here for more on their credits.



Paola Cifuentes plays Velma Kelly in ‘Chicago’ for Gypsy Playhouse

Paola Andrea Cifuentes stars as Velma Kelly for Gypsy Playhouse in its production of Chicago. She previously starred as Janet in The Rocky Horror Show, Morticia in The Addams Family Musical, a role that played to all of Cifuentes strengths. “Morticia was very elegant,” said Paola  at the time. “She is the matriarch and takes family very seriously. If anything, that’s something that I can relate to. Family is very important.”

Go here for the rest of Paola’s theatrical and related credits.



Chance Cintron is Norwayne Crumpler in ‘Doublewide, Texas’

Chance Cintron is a Fort Myers television and stage actor. He is appearing in the role of Norwayne Crumpler in Doublewide, Texas in the Off Broadway Palm through April 9. His stage credits include Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show at Off Broadway Palm (2022), Nick in Over the River and Through the Woods at Off Broadway Palm, Bo in Grumpy Old Men for Broadway Palm, Konstantin Treplyov in FSW Black Box Theatre’s production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, Mr. Wormwood in Florida Repertory Theatre Education’s conservancy production of Matilda and Georg in Florida Rep Education’s conservancy production of Spring Awakening. You’ll find more of Chance’s credits here.



Louise Cornetta plays alcoholic mom in ‘Hollywood Arms’

Louise K. Cornetta makes her Marco Island debut in the role of Louise in Hollywood Arms for Arts Center Theatre. The role is based on Carol Burnette’s real-life mother, who struggled with and eventually died from alcoholism. Although she graduated cum laude with a degree in theater from the University of Southern California, Louise did not initially go into acting but instead began a 27-year career ESPN that took her to every major sporting event. But Cornetta eventually found her way back to the stage seven years ago. View more of Louise’s credits here.



Nikki Hagel plays Little Red Riding Hood in Sondheim’s ‘Into the Woods’

Nikki Hagel appears in the role of Little Red Riding Hood for New Phoenix Theatre in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Previous roles include a prostitute by the name of Nelly in Jekyll & Hyde the Musical, Pamela in Head over Heels, Frederick Frankenstein fiancee Elizabeth Benning in Young Frankenstein, Georgie Buckatinsky in The Full Monty, the memorable role of sax-playing Magenta in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, all for New Phoenix Theatre. The rest of Nikki’s credits are here.



Patrick Huey is alcoholic father in ‘Hollywood Arms’

Patrick Huey plays the part of the alcoholic father in Hollywood Arms at Arts Center Theatre. This is his first performance with Marco Island Center for the Arts and his first foray on stage since his undergraduate years at the University of Pittsburgh, where he performed as Dan in excerpts from Sexual Perversity in ChicagoGo here for more on Patrick.



Todd Lyman portrays Steward in ‘Into the Woods’

Todd Lyman portrays The Steward in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Todd’s previous credits include multiple roles (Dick/Man/Clerk/Bird) in Lab Theater’s spoof of The Birds, Nicky in Avenue Q, Antonio in The Tempest, Dave in The Full Monty, Assemblyman Paul Gordon, Dr. Tim and Mr. Yarmowich in Topher Payne’s Let Nothing You Dismay, and Thomas Putnam in The Crucible. Go here for more on Todd’s theatrical credits.



Reuben Morgan is Kitch in ‘Pass Over’

Reuben Morgan plays the part of Kitch for Lab Theater in its production of Antoinette Nwandu’s surrealist drama Pass Over. His first play was By the Way, Meet Vera Stark in September 2022. His theatrical goals and aspirations are modest. “Connecting with the Lab is my next great step in becoming the greatest actor of all time,” he states with humility. A Fort Myers native, Reuben is the youngest of seven and credits his family (especially is brother Travis) and friends as his greatest influences.



Aimee Naughton is Cinderella in ‘Into the Woods’

Aimee Naughton appears in the role of Cinderella in Into the Woods at New Phoenix Theatre. Aimee’s previous roles include Chiffon in Belle Theatre’s production of Little Shop of Horrors, Lady Beaconsfield for New Phoenix Theatre in Jekyll & Hyde the Musical, Mickey in Odd Couple: Female Version for Belle Theatre, work in the ensemble of Head Over Heels the Musical for New Phoenix Theatre, Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Sister Mary Amnesia in both Nunsense and Nunsense II for Cultural Park Theater.



Up next for Parrish Danesh is the role of Billy Flynn in ‘Chicago’

Parrish Danesh plays Billy Flynn in Chicago for Gypsy Playhouse.  His previous credits include Brad Majors for Fort Myers Theatre in The Rocky Horror Show, director and choreographer Zack in A Chorus Line, Gomez Addams in The Addams Family musical, Teen Angel & Johnny Casino in Grease (March 2022), Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol the Musical (December 2021) and Reverend Shaw Moore in Footloose the Musical (September 2021). Go here for all of Parrish’s credits.



Vizcaya Phillips plays little sis Alice in ‘Hollywood Arms’

Vizcaya Phillips makes her Arts Center Theatre debut in the role of Helen’s little sister, Alice, in Hollywood Arms. Vizcaya is ten years old and attends Tommy Barfield Elementary. Vizcaya enjoys modeling and has been featured in several magazines and runway shows. She looks forward to modeling at New York Fashion Week in September 2023. In her free time, she likes participating in the youth programs at Marco Island Center for the Arts, honing her modeling craft, and attending dance and aerial silk classes.



Olivia Rodriguez is young Helen for Arts Center Theatre in ‘Hollywood Arms’

Olivia Rodriguez portrays a young Carol Burnette (Helen) for Arts Center Theatre in Hollywood Arms. The 14-year-old Marco Island resident (by way of Boston, Massachusetts) discovered her love for performing at a very young age through dance and theatre. In 2019, she played the role of Sir Robin in Monty Python’s Spamalot and in 2020 played the role of Katrina in The Ghost in the TypewriterThe rest of Olivia’s profile is here.



Cassie Sampson gets witchy for New Phoenix in Sondheim’s ‘Into the Woods’

local stage actor, Cassie Sampson has been involved in more than two dozen theater productions in Southwest Florida over the course of her career. She plays the Witch in Into the Woods for New Phoenix Theatre. She previously appeared as Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors, in the role of Cinderella’s stepmother in Into the Woods for Belle Theatre, and was a member of the ensemble of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical and Queen Gynecia in Heed over Heels the Musical for New Phoenix Theatre.

Go here to see all of Cassie’s theatrical credits.



Andrew Sarkozy is Mister and Ossifer in ‘Pass Over’ at Lab

Andrew Sarkozy plays the dual roles of Mister and Ossifer in Lab Theater’s production of Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s surreal dramedy Pass Over. Andrew’s credits include Caden in Larissa FastHorse’s satire The Thanksgiving Play and Chris/Inspector Carter in The Play That Goes Wrong, both for the Laboratory Theater of Florida.



Vanessa Schoof in ‘Doublewide, Texas’ at Off Broadway Palm

Vanessa Schoof made her professional acting debut at Theatre Conspiracy in the role of Susie Glenn in Selina Fillinger’s drama Faceless. Now she appears in Doublewide, Texas in the Off Broadway Palm Theatre. Born and raised in Fort Myers, she pursued theater at Lehigh Senior High School. Her most notable performances there included the roles of Addaperle in The Wiz, Violet in 9 to 5, and Donna Alternate in Mamma Mia! Go here for more on Vanessa.



Cindy Sepich plays Dixie in ‘Hollywood Arms’

Cindy Sepich is Dixie in Hollywood Arms at the Arts Center Theatre on Marco Island. Cindy previously appeared as Rose in the reading of Paradise and Mr. Prince at Arts Center Theater and Lila in Silver Alert at the former Marco Players She recently performed in 37 Postcards and Singin’ Broadway at the Island Theater Company. She also appeared in many community theater productions in suburban Chicago.



Stacy Stauffer plays Cinderella’s stepmother in ‘Into the Woods’

Stacy Stauffer is a talented character actor who lives and performs in Fort Myers. She stars in the role of Cinderella’s stepmother in Into the Woods at New Phoenix Theatre. Her previous stage credits include the role Logan for Lab Theater in The Thanksgiving Play, Renee in Odd Couple: Female Version for Belle Theatre, Marjorie Taub in Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife for New Phoenix Theatre (2022), Hall in Men on Boats for the Alliance for the Arts, and Sarah Goodwin in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Time Stands Still. You will find the balance of Stacy’s credits here.



Kieran Strosser plays Granny and Cinderella’s mother in ‘Into the Woods’

Kieran Lawless Strosser plays the parts of Granny and Cinderella’s mom for New Phoenix Theatre in Into the Woods. Recent credits include Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music at Cultural Park Theatre, one of the prostitutes in Jekyll & Hyde the Musical at New Phoenix Theatre, Whitney in A Piece of My Heart for Cultural Park Theatre and Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Ernest for Cultural Park Theatre. Go here for the rest of Kieran’s credits.




Ty Szumigala plays cops in ‘Hollywood Arms’ at Arts Center Theatre

Ty Szumigala plays two police officers, Cop 1 & 2, for Arts Center Theatre in Hollywood Arms. Ty made previous appearances with The Marco Players in Rehearsal for Murder, Old Ringers, The Farce Day of Christmas and Silver Alert. Ty’s other credits include Golden Charm for Shark Eye Theater Company, and Funny Shorts at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs. The rest of Ty’s profile is here.



Cassy Terwilliger is the baker’s wife in ‘Into the Woods’

Cassy Terwilliger appears as the baker’s wife in Into the Woods at New Phoenix Theatre. Recent credits include Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors at Belle Theatre in Cape Coral, Emma Carew in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical, and her New Phoenix debut in Head Over Heels. Terwilliger majored in vocal performance and theater at Emporia State University, where she performed in numerous operas and musical productions. Go here for more on Terwilliger’s theatrical credits.



Cristine Villarreal makes theatrical debut in role of Helen in ‘Hollywood Arms’

Cristina Villarreal makes her theater debut in the role of Older Helen in Hollywood Arms at Arts Center Theatre. Like the aspirational Carol Burnett character that she plays in the dramedy, Cristina chases many rainbows in real life. After working in corporate America for a while, she traveled to explore and live in New Zealand for two years, where she developed a love for living and working unconventionally.

The rest of Cristine’s profile is here.






Marilee Warner directs ‘Hollywood Arms’ for Arts Center Theatre

Marilee Warner directs Hollywood Arms for Arts Center Theatre. In 2022, she directed Love or Money for the Marco Players. Her theatrical credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway and Regional Theatre productions, with roles that include Jenny Katz in The Mystery of Anna O, Lela Rogers in Ginger & Me, Mary in Sharing a Life, Gabby in Naked By the River, Jane in Maternal Spirits, Meredith in Bat Boy, Truvy in Steel Magnolias, Babe in Queen of Bingo, Mary in Vanities, Mae in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Many of these productions were world or regional premieres. You can view the rest of Marilee’s theatrical credits here.



Sonya McCarter directs ‘Pass Over’ for Lab Theater

Sonya McCarter is an actor, director and instructor. She is directing Pass Over for Lab Theater in April. Sonya’s other directing credits include Dorothy Marcic’s SISTAS: the MusicalFairviewThe Color Purple, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, August Wilson’s King Hedley IISeven Guitars and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Lydia Diamond’s The Bluest Eye and George C. Wolff’s The Colored Museum. McCarter studied theater and the language of Shakespeare at Pensacola Christian College 1990-1995. She holds two Master’s Degrees in Oral Interpretation of Speech and Theatre Arts.

You’ll find the rest of Sonya’s theatrical credits here.



Tijuanna Clemons assistant directs ‘Pass Over’

Tijuanna Clemons is assistant directing Lab Theater’s production of Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s surrealist dramedy Pass Over. However, most know Tijuanna as an actor. On that side of the footlights, she starred as Beverly Frasier in the Southwest Florida premiere of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning play Fairview and played Doris (and in the ensemble) in The Color Purple at Lab Theater, multiple roles in George Wolfe’s The Colored Museum and Ruby in August Wilson’s King Hedley II. The rest of Tijuanna’s credits are here.






Spotlight on River Basin muralist Rod Acosta

Local artist Rodney Acosta has painted two panels for the Fort Myers River Basin Mural Project. The first is the actual fort’s guardhouse and a survey map that was drawn to scale by a major who came in 1856 to find out why so much money was being spent to build the fort. The second is a rendering of Fort Myers’ colorful sheriff, Frank Tippins, in a boat on the Caloosahatchee River with three other men.

The rest of Rodney’s bio is here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Lorrie Bennett

Lorrie Bennett is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Lorrie has painted two River Basin murals – one of Seminole Chief and feared warrior Billy Bowlegs and the other of Uncle Marion Hendry’s Grocery Store at the northeast corner of Hendry and Front Streets. Lorrie describes herself as a self-taught intuitive, contemporary, and expressive mixed media artist and illustrator who, from an early age, had an affinity for drawing and painting. For Lorrie, creating has always been a journey of experimentation and exploration. The rest of Lorrie’s credits can be read here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Sherry Lynn Diaz

Sherry Lynn Diaz is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Sherry has contributed two murals to the project, the first being this one of the great Seminole chief and warrior Billy Bowlegs. Sherry has exhibited her art in juried local, state and national shows, earning awards on all three levels. She has enjoyed two well-received one-woman shows. Her art can be found in private and corporate collections in the Dominican Republic as well as many places throughout the United States. Please go here to see Sherry Lynn’s full profile.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Ruben Dimas

On the Hendry Street side of the detention basin next to Luminary Hotel three stanchions south of Edwards Drive is a mural of Henry Ford sitting in a Model T. It’s the car that Ford had the local dealer deliver to his friend and neighbor Thomas Edison on the occasion of the latter’s birthday in 1916. The mural was rendered by Fort Myers Mural Society member Ruben Dimas, an automotive artist born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida. He specializes in automotive illustrations, graphic design, and product design for the auto industry. Go here to see the rest of Ruben’s credits.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Claudia Goode

Mural 8 in the Fort Myers River Basin Mural Project depicts the town’s namesake, Colonel Abraham C. Myers. But what you probably don’t know is how the fort that the Army built here came to be named for the Colonel – or why the artist who painted his portrait placed a pile of skulls at his feet. Once you do, it will come as no surprise that the artist who rendered this mural is none other than Claudia Goode.

Please go here to read Claudia’s bio.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Michelle J. McDonald

As you walk around the basin next to Luminary Hotel, you’ll come across a mural depicting the arrival of colorfully attired guests on the pier at Thomas Edison’s home downriver on McGregor Boulevard. It was rendered by Michelle J. McDonald, who currently works primarily in acrylics and pastels. She is also known for her “Beautiful Bookmarks,” which are comprised of scraps of paper that create a collage. Michelle’s story is like that of many other later-in-life Florida artists. Go here to find out how.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Lesley Morrow

Lesley Morrow is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Lesley painted the portrait of John Alexander Weatherford that appears on one of the stanchions across from Ella Mae’s Diner at the Luminary Hotel. Morrow is locally known for expressive oil, acrylic, airbrush and mixed media paintings that express the feminine experience and mystique. Featuring vibrant brushstrokes and a distinctive palette, Morrow’s paintings are bold, raw and eye-appealing. You can read Lesley’s full biography here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Eric Riemenschneider

Eric Riemenschneider is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Eric’s contribution to the project is a portrait of a Miccosukee warrior named Billy Fuel who fought alongside Seminole Chief Billy Bowlegs and Miccosukee Chief Sam Jones during the Seminole wars.Eric is a portrait artist who also reimagines commercial spaces to match the theme of the business through murals and collections of paintings.  Go here to read Eric’s full bio.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Roland Ruocco

Muralist Roland Ruocco has contributed four compositions to the Fort Myers River Basin Mural Project, a homage to iconic Fort Myers banker, businessman and real estate developer Harvie Heitman that will be installed on one of the four obelisks on Edwards Drive and panels to be installed on the stanchions surrounding the basin that depict the shuffleboard courts that were located at one time next to the Hall of 50 States, the fire that claimed the Lee County Packing House on Memorial Day in 1953, and drovers unloading cattle from a barge, on which he collaborated with his artist wife, Wendy White. Go here to view Roland’s education, training and more on his body of work.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Samantha Taylor

Samantha Taylor is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. She has painted two of the murals included in the project, the first being the Father of Fort Myers, Captain Francis Asbury Hendry and the second being The King, Elvis Pressley, who performed twice during the 1950s at our City Auditorium.

A native Floridian, Samantha is known for her portrait paintings, local murals and tattoo artistry. As an avid painter specializing in oils and fluid mediums, Sam is inspired by the human form and surrealism. Go here for the rest of Samantha’s bio.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Erik Schlake

Fort Myers Mural Society muralist Erik Schlake is one of 39 artists participating in the Fort Myers River Basin Mural Project. Not only is he contributing a mural panel for the obelisks that flank either side of Edwards Drive, he is leading the team that is installing the mural panels on the stanchions and obelisks that encircle the detention basin. Schlake has been influenced over the years by traditional decorative art as well as contemporary street art. He combines various styles in his work, infusing classic painting with elements of trompe l’oeil, grisaille, and other traditional decorative art in an effort to engage and interact with the viewer a less formal mode of communication. It’s a style he often refers to as “modern traditionalist.” The rest of this post is here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Brian Weaver

The Florida alligator fascinates out-of-state visitors. This was true of the sportsmen who patronized the Tarpon House on Punta Rassa between 1885 and 1913 and of the tourists who stayed at Hugh O’Neill’s Royal Palm Hotel in downtown Fort Myers beginning in 1897. Back then, many steamship companies through the state touted the opportunity to shoot alligators from the upper decks of their boats. Still, it surprises many that Fort Myers advertised itself to northern and Midwestern visitors by means of postcards like the one that local artist Brian Weaver painted in this mural, titled Gator Hunt, which can be found near the entrance to the river basin at the intersection of Bay and Hendry Streets in downtown Fort Myers.

Read the rest of his post here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Dawn Webb

Dawn Webb is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Dawn painted a mural of Fort Myers first African-American settlor, Nellis Tillis, who, with his wife, Ellen, were also the town’s first interracial couple.

Dawn is a proud born-and-raised Southwest Florida native. Born in Fort Myers, she has watched the city develop and grow since the 1970s. On the fine arts side, Dawn works in the medium of acrylic painting. But she is also a gifted tattoo artist. Go here for the rest of Dawn’s bio.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Wendy White

Based on a vintage 1930s-era postcard, this mural depicts the many activities that visitors can enjoy during a fun-filled trip to Fort Myers. Titled Florida Fun, it was rendered Wendy White who is an accomplished artist, curator, director, playwright, screenwriter and teacher. Born in Rockaway Beach, New York, Wendy’s palette and writings are strongly influenced by her early environment of living by the sea. Her father was a painter and while she was growing up, she and her twin brother would frequently model for him as muses. Go here to view Wendy’s impressiver resume.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Alex Wilkinson

One of the murals you’ll see when you walk around the river basin adjoining Luminary Hotel is a painting of a steamboat named the St. Lucie. It’s the steamship where Andrew and George Kinzie got their start as seafarers and that eventually inspired them to form a steamship line that served Fort Myers into the 1960s. The mural was painted by Alex Wilkinson. Alex is a self-educated mixed media artist who works in acrylics, traditional pen and ink, colored pencils, pastels, markers, paper and found objects. A former needle arts designer and instructor, Alex’s oeuvre influences her present-day mixed media “Zen tangle inspired art.” Her designs often include small, stitch-like, black-and-white line patterns in the ancient Zen Tangle-inspired art style.

Read about Alex here.






Art Walks the Runway a glitzy star-studded art-centric fashion extravaganza

The Art Walks the Runway fashion show is back March 31 & April 1, 2023. Art & fashion collide in the downtown Fort Myers River District on March 31 and April 1 as the 11th annual Art Walks the Runway fashion show returns to the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. This glitzy, star-studded event features local, national, and international designers, top notch local entertainment and some of the boldest, edgiest, fiercest and sexiest runway models you’ll see this side of New York, London and Paris Fashion Week.

Read the rest of this announcement here.



On April 1st, haute couture dominates at Art Walks the Runway

Art Walks the Runway has established itself as Southwest Florida’s premier fashion show. This year, the show comes to the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center on March 31 and April 1st. And on Saturday, April 1, Haute Couture dominates the runway with designers Asta Razma, Kenneth Barlis and Diana Couture providing awe-inspiring looks.

Go here for more.



Focus on Art Walks the Runway host Brittany Gonzalez

Brittany Gonzalez will host both nights of fashion during this year’s Art Walks the Runway at the historic Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. The hilarious Freakshow co-host and iHeart Radio celeb is like that best friend that will have you in the know about everything from pop culture and fashion to music, nightlife, things to do in SWFL and more! As her thirst for knowledge is never quenched, Brittany is always learning something new and aware that there’s always room for improvement in anything she does, she’s committed to getting better at everything she attempts. Go here for the rest of this spotlight.





Hear on WGCU how art and fashion collide at the 11th Annual Art Walks the Runway

According to organizer Melissa DeHaven, from designers and models to hair and make-up artists, everyone wants to be part of the 11th Annual Arts Walks the Runway at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in downtown Fort Myers. WGCU’s Tom Hall takes you behind the scenes to reveal just how the designers, performers and models are getting ready for this year’s two-night fashion show. Listen (or read) here.



Centers for the Arts Bonita celebrates five female artists in April

The Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs is celebrating five women artists during the month of April with two exceptional exhibitions: Female Focus and The Art of Betty Harper. These shows spotlight the creativity, talent, and artistic contributions of women in the visual arts with vibrant, expressive, and colorful paintings adeptly rendered in oil, acrylic, and watercolor.

Female Focus in the Main Gallery presents four women who share a life-long passion for the visual arts with emotive abstract paintings by Shirley Blake, vibrant and colorful realism by Ruth Epstein, dramatic landscapes by B. Deborah Vahab, and expressive watercolor and acrylic paintings by Julie Siler Olander.

Betty Harper has always been inclined to work abstractly. On view in the Tranovich Gallery, Harper’s paintings incorporate bold strokes of color, texture, and layering—her goal is to create an illusion of energy, movement, and space.

The Visual Arts Center on Old 41 will host a free reception for Female Focus and The Art of Betty Harper on Friday, April 14 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

There will also be a Campus-Wide Open House featuring live music, artists demonstrations, lite bites and beverages.

Founded in 1959, the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs (CFABS) is committed to enriching the lives of the community by providing opportunities for artistic expression, education, and appreciation.



25th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition on view in Wasmer Gallery through April 6

The 25th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition is on display through April 6, 2023 in the Wasmer Art Gallery in the Arts Complex on the Florida Gulf Coast University campus. Students working in sculpture, drawing, printmaking, painting and ceramics submitted their finest works for the exhibition. Many of the works are for sale and all proceeds go directly to the artist, so the exhibition not only showcases their experiments and accomplishments, but presents a great opportunity to support the next generation of Southwest Florida’s professional artists.

The 25th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition is sponsored by Alice and Dean Fjelstul, The Layden Family Foundation, The Smith Family Foundation of Estero, Method & Concept, the State of Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

The FGCU Art Galleries are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and by special appointment. Please contact 239-590-7199 for further information or go to

Image: Ash Cohen, Eyes of Mars, 2022, Soft pastel on paper, 20 x 24 in.



Marco Island Center for the Arts’ focus on community engagement

Now in its 53rd year of service, the Marco Island Center for the Arts brings a wide variety of arts to the island through exhibitions, engaging educational programs for adults and children, and a diverse assortment of events. But more, the Center has worked hard to become an integral part of the vibrant and engaging Marco community. Since taking over the reins in February of 2014, Executive Director Hyla Crane has worked assiduously to transform the Center into a catalyst for economic development, cultural diversity and community cohesion. At the same time, she and her staff and volunteers exert every effort to make members, guests and patrons feel welcome, comfortable and genuinely appreciated. Read or listen to the rest of this story on WGCU.



DAAS’ April show features art of group of local artists

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts is showcasing the artwork of a group of local artists in April. Each participating artist was invited to submit one piece representative of their work and creativity.

One of the artists who accepted DAAS’ invitation is Sonia Rose, a member of the Union Artist Studios on Fort Myers. Her work explores a variety of mediums, evoking spiritualism and mysticism.

Rosa has collaborated with multiple artists as a professional figure model and is very well known in the art scene of our city.

Visual artist and graphic designer Julia Da Rocha is another participant. She brings a vibrant, feminine and intuitive approach to the mix. Da Rocha, also a member of the Union Artist Studios, exemplifies freedom in her work, rejecting limitations on her medium and process. Her work, as well as several other participating artists, will help create an atmosphere of wonder and an introduction into the artistic world of each exhibiting artist.

“Our gallery enjoys these invitational exhibitions because they support a number of artists and challenge them to create something special for the exhibition,” remarks DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery co-owner and curator David Acevedo. “When you put a group of highly creative individuals to work together, wonderful and unexpected things happen and that is essentially what our [cooperative] gallery concept is.”

Acevedo also founded the Union Artist Studios and most recently, the Arts & Eats Café, located in the campus of the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers.

The opening reception is scheduled for Friday, April 7, 2023, from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m., in conjunction with the monthly Fort Myers Art Walk event. The exhibition will be on display through April 30, 2023.

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts is located at 1815 Fowler Street, in the Butterfly Estates complex in Fort Myers, FL. The gallery’s business hours are Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. More information about the venue and/or how to become a member can be found at or by calling 239-590-8645.



Davis Art Center hosts International Baccalaureate Visual Arts Exhibit in April

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center will host The Fort Myers High School International Baccalaureate Visual Arts Exhibition in the Grand Atrium in April. The exhibition showcases work by 38 students in a wide range of visual media including traditional and digital photography, acrylic and oil painting, pen and ink, printmaking, fiber arts, sculpture, ceramics and more.

During the past two years, the students have explored the works of historical and contemporary artists, investigated critical theories in art, and created extensive documentation of their art-making processes in a series of sketchbook entries that fulfill the requirements of the International Baccalaureate Visual Arts program.

The exhibition’s opening takes place during Art Walk from 6:00-10:00 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2023. Sidney’s Rooftop Sculpture Garden will be open during the opening, with live music provided by 3HR Tour under the stars from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m.

The show will remain on display through April 28.


  • Brooke Pocklington
  • Katie Welborn
  • Antonia Orbe Coka
  • Victoria Borton



Davis Art Center hosts Maria Collier’s ‘Sounds & Color’ in Capital Gallery in April

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center will host Sounds & Color by artist Maria Collier in the second floor Capital Gallery in April. An intuitive artist, Maria’s muse and inspiration is music and dance, which she uses as a guide in choosing her vibrant and lively color palette. Her pieces are poured and scraped, and go from the floor to the easel and back again. She builds layer upon layer, relying on the interaction of each to create an unanticipated relationship of color and texture. While music plays in her studio, Maria employs door stops, trowels, foam brushes and both floor and window squeegees to bring her work to life, allowing the surprise of small moments and unexpected detail to come through.

Maria is a Colombian-born artist who has lived on the Southwest Florida coast for over 40 years. She began painting on canvas after being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. The healing that occurred from being aligned with her true passion comes across in the joyful colors she uses in her work.

The exhibition’s opening takes place during Art Walk from 6:00-10:00 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2023. Sidney’s Rooftop Sculpture Garden will be open during the opening, with live music provided by 3HR Tour under the stars from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m.

Sounds & Color will remain on display through April 28.

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is located at 2301 First Street in the historic downtown Fort Myers River District.

For more information call 239.333.1933 or visit the website at



IMAG celebrates 100th anniversary of discovery of Tut’s tomb with ‘Return of the King’

November 4th marked the 100th anniversary of British archeologist Howard Carter’s discovery the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Because Tut’s successors tried to obliterate his name from the annals of Egyptian history, the pharaoh had been buried in an out-of-the-way place that had prevented robbers from finding and plundering the tomb. So when Carter opened it, the tomb still held the bulk of its treasures. The IMAG History and Science Center in Fort Myes is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the tomb’s discovery with an exciting exhibition containing reproductions of scores of the artifacts found in Tut’s tomb that’s been extended to May 14, 2023. Listen on WGCU for the details:…/imag-history-science-center…



SWFL arts organizations conducting survey to quantify economic impact of the arts

The Alliance for the Arts and dozens of local arts organizations are surveying audiences attending their events in an effort to quantify the economic impact of the arts here in Southwest Florida. In fact, it’s part of a nationwide study by Americans for the Arts of the contribution made by arts organizations to their local economies.

This is the sixth such study and involves 387 participating communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In Lee County, the Alliance for the Arts is spearheading the effort to collect the data needed for the study. Go here to hear why you should participate in the study if you are asked to complete a survey.





Mural Society installing America Connects National Mural in Cornog Plaza on April 1

This Saturday, the Fort Myers Mural Society will install the America Connects National Mural in Cornog Plaza at the Fort Myers Regional Library in downtown Fort Myers.

The America Connects National Mural is an initiative of Mural Mosaic, which has been connecting schools, businesses and communities since 2003 with murals that consist of individually painted tiles that are then combined to form a mosaic mural. In this case, Mural Mosaic Art Director and world-renowned artist Lewis Lavoie chose the Tree as a symbol of connection for its Global Roots Project.

More than 1,500 participants from across the United States painted the tiles used to make the mural that is being installed in Cornog Plaza on Saturday, which was selected as the location for the United States SE Region Mural. With its beautiful outdoor space and amphitheater, Cornog Plaza on the Fort Myers Regional Library campus is a natural fit for viewers to experience the art and connection conveyed by the American Connects Mural Mosaic.

Mural Mosaic’s Global Roots Project was launched in April 2021 during a global health crisis that left many people feeling isolated and disconnected. Fort Myers Mural Society shares Mural Mosaic’s message of unity, building community through creativity and arts education and it goal of sparking creativity and inspiration through collaborative projects. Most recently, the Mural Society collaborated with the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency and the City’s Public Art Committee to create both the Buck’s Backyard Mural Project at historic McCollum Hall and the 57-panel River Basin Mural Project that encircles the detention basin adjacent to Luminary Hotel.

The unveiling and ribbon cutting will take place at 10 a.m. and be followed by live music, artist vendors and art demonstrations. Attendees will also enjoy “Chalking With the Pro’s”  and “Kids Tag Art” with the Lee County Tax Collector’s office. The event concludes at 2 p.m.



River basin mural project creates walkable outdoor art and history museum

In collaboration with the CRA, the Fort Myers Mural Society and Public Art Committee have installed 57 murals on the stanchions and obelisks that encircle a 1.8 acre detention basin adjoining the new Luminary Hotel. Each mural features people and scenes from the days when Fort Myers was a port dominated by 7 long pierces jutting into the Caloosahatchee River. Augmented by Otocast, this walkable outdoor art and history museum is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the downtown Fort Myers River District and enhance the visitor experience of both residents and vacationers alike. Listen to some of the artists who worked on the project sound off about their experiences – and what you can expect when you tour the murals.



Identifying river basin murals and muralists

Work is underway at the river basin adjoining Luminary Hotel on an ambitious new outdoor art and history museum. When it is completed, the walkable gallery will feature 57 murals – four on the obelisks on Edwards Drive and 53 on the concrete stanchions which anchor the decorative fence that circumscribes the basin.

The project is a collaboration between the City of Fort Myers Public Art Committee and Community Redevelopment Agency and the Fort Myers Mural Society. The Mural Society has engaged 38 local artists to render the murals which, in turn, tell stories about Fort Myers’ early existence as a port town on the river that many once called the most picturesque waterway in all of Florida.

The artists are painting the murals on special, high-grade cloth that is being glued to the concrete in a way that converts them into scratch-resistant tiles that prevent fading and resist damage from moisture and other elements. So far, Fort Myers Mural Society artists Erik Schlake and Roland Ruocco have installed about 14 of the mural panels, and their efforts are attracting crowds.  Their recurring question:  What will the other murals depict? Here’s the answer.



Update on installation of the river basin murals and audios that tell their stories

As February draws to a close, work continues on the Fort Myers River Basin Mural Project. That’s a collaboration between the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and the Fort Myers Mural Society to create an outdoor, walkable art and history museum that features 57 murals which tell the tale of Fort Myers’ early existence as a port on the Caloosahatchee River. Painted on specially-manufactured mural cloth by 38 area artists, the panels are being installed on the concrete pillars or stanchions and four obelisks that encircle the detention basin adjacent to Luminary Hotel.

Proposed last May, the artists were given 100 historic photographs, postcards and related images in September, and in spite of the damage and losses that many of the artists suffered during Hurricane Ian, most completed work before Thanksgiving.

Go here for the rest of this update.



Audios for four more River Basin murals go live on Otocast

Four more River Basin mural audios are now live on Otocast:

Mural # 26 depicts the Coca Cola Bottling Plant that was located on the City Pier in 1914. While it’s almost impossible to fathom now, back then the water in the river was so clean and pure that the plant mixed it with the patented syrup to bottle and distribute the soft drink locally.

The rest of this update is here.





‘Hollywood Arms’ a dramedy about shattered hopes and realized dreams

Arts Center Theatre presents Hollywood Arms March 15 through April 2. Based on Carol Burnett’s memoir One More Time and filled with wry humor and true-life grit, Hollywood Arms is a story about shattered hopes and realized dreams. A period piece, the story is set in California in 1941 and 1951 in a dingy one-room apartment called the Hollywood Arms that’s located one block north of Hollywood Boulevard. There, three generations of women on welfare attempt to eke out a hardscrabble existence in pre and post war California during the wane of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The rest of this advance is here.

And go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



Hear about ‘Hollywood Arms’ on WGCU

Carol Burnett is one of America’s most beloved entertainers. The Arts Center Theatre on Marco Island is producing a play that Burnett wrote with her daughter, Carrie Hamilton. Based on Burnett’s memoir, One More Time, the family drama delves into Burnett’s early life and the influences that enabled her to develop the wry wit and insightful humor that earned her variety show eight Golden Globes and 25 Emmy Awards over the course of its 11-season run. Go here for more.



‘Jersey Boys’ on Broadway Palm mainstage through April 9

On the mainstage of Broadway Palm through April 9 is the regional premier of Jersey Boys, winner of Best Musical at both the Tony Awards® and Olivier Awards.

Discover the secret of a 40-year friendship as four blue-collar kids work their way from the streets of New Jersey to become one of pop-music history’s greatest triumphs. Audiences will be thrilled with electrifying performances of chart-topping hits including Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Dawn, My Eyes Adored You, and many more! Don’t miss this musical phenomenon that has made the Jersey Boys an international sensation all over again.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Tickets are $65 to $95 with children and group prices available. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, by visiting or by stopping by the box office at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

Please note: this musical does use strong language not typically used on the Broadway Palm stage. The show also contains smoking, gun shots, drug references, and sexual situations not suitable for younger audience members.



‘Footloose’ comes to Center for Performing Arts April 14-16

Footloose comes to The Center for Performing Arts April 14-16. With dynamic new songs augmenting the powerhouse hits from its bestselling Oscar and Tony-nominated score, Footloose celebrates the exhilaration of youth, the wisdom of listening to one another, and the power of forgiveness.

The rest of this advance is here.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



Gulfshore Ballet performs ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Tribby on April 15

Gulfshore Ballet will be recreating the enchanted land of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Tribby Arts Center on Saturday, April 15. Set in a lush forest awash with magic, Shakespeare’s beloved comedy tells the tale of four lost lovers and a contest of wills between Fairy Queen Titania and King Oberon, who is aided in his devious machinations by his dutifully mischievous sprite, Puck.

In European folklore, midsummer night is the one time each year when supernatural beings like fairies and woodland creatures are able to inhabit and interact with the real world. The rest of this advance is here.



‘Chicago’ opens for four shows at Gypsy Playhouse on April 28 

Chicago comes to Gypsy Playhouse for four shows April 28-3o, and few shows come with more anticipation or fanfare. With still-timely songs and libretto, groundbreaking choreography that pays homage to the great Bob Fosse, and a couple of powerful female leads who can both sing and dance, the musical has it all. It’s no wonder that the six-time Emmy winner is the longest running American musical in Broadway history. Go here for the rest of this advance.

And go here for play dates, times and a cast list.



‘Pass Over’ thrilling, poetical and unflinching

From March 31 through April 16, The Laboratory Theater of Florida will present the southwest Florida premiere of Antionette Chinonye Nwandu’s acclaimed play Pass Over, which the Chicago Tribune describes as “thrilling, poetical and unflinching.”

The rest of this advance is here.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



Antoinette Nwandu’s ‘Pass Over’ not about race

On stage at the Laboratory Theater of Florida through April 16 is Antoinette Chinoye Nwandu’s drama Pass Over.

Pass Over is a troubling 3-actor play set on a bleak inner city street under a solitary lamppost that functions as a stark reminder of the one in downtown Omaha where a packinghouse worker by the name of Will Brown was lynched in 1935 – if not the local lynching trees that populated many southern towns during our not-too-distant past.

On a granular level, Pass Over is a poignant portrayal of two young black men who are trapped by circumstance and concomitant lack of economic opportunity in a bleak, desperate existence.

You can read the rest of this review here.



New Phoenix’s ‘Into the Woods’ mash-up of history’s fav fairy tales

New Phoenix Theatre brings Into the Woods to the stage April 13-30. on September 16. Into the Woods is a mash-up of history’s favorite Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales with a major dose of reality injected by James Lapine (book) and Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) to underscore that our lives rarely take the path we anticipated, our actions impact others in often-unexpected ways and, more often than not, what we think we want most in life isn’t nearly as satisfying or fulfilling as we envision. You will find the rest of this advance here.



‘Doublewide, Texas’ in Off Broadway Palm through April 9

On stage in the Off Broadway Palm Theatre through April 9 is Doublewide, Texas. This laugh-out-loud comedy comes from the writers of The Savannah Sipping Society and The Dixie Swim Club.

This hilarious, fast-paced Southern-fried comedy follows the inhabitants of one of the smallest trailer parks in Texas as they scheme to save their little community after finding out that the nearby town of Tugaloo is determined to annex them. In Doublewide, Texas, life is double the fun, double the joy, and double the laughter.

Off Broadway Palm Artistic Director Paul Bernier directs Chance Cintron (Norwayne Crumpler), Kay Francis (Big Ethel Satterwhite), ML Graham (Georgia Dean Rudd), Jim Heffernan, Rachel Lord (Larken Barken), Ken Quiricone (Lomax Tanner), Vanessa Schoof, Donna Schulte (Caprice Crumpler) and Jenny Smith.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings, with selected matinees. Ticket prices range from $50 to $70 with discounts available for groups of 20 or more. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

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