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Actors, artists, filmmakers and events in the news January 8-14, 2020


Grouped under headings that include art openings, film, outdoor art fairs and festivals and theater are advances, announcements and articles about the actors, artists, filmmakers and events making news in Southwest Florida this week:




Mesdaghi solo show ‘Love Cannot Alter It’ at Cape Coral Art Center through January 23

The Cape Coral Art Center is featuring Leila Mesdaghi in a solo exhibition that opens on Friday, January 11. This exhibition is an invitation to look into things we cannot change, words we cannot take back, and feelings that hold us back.

For Mesdaghi, making art is a combination of emotional experiences and social responsibilities. Leila seeks to connect with her viewers in a visceral, evocative, and emotional manner. Intentionally occupying uncomfortable ground, the Iranian-Columbian artist challenges how we observe, react and respond – easing  us into conversations that take us to vulnerable places that afford new insights and understanding.

In Love Cannot Alter It, a title inspired by a sentence from Anne Carson’s book Nox, Leila thinks about the “emotionscapes” of fear of abandonment – physically and psychologically. To her, sometimes the only choice we have is to sit with our pain, embrace ourselves, and experience aloneness. Facing what we fear and maneuvering through the narrow paths of not knowing leads us to deeper places that will become familiar.

The exhibit will be on display through January 23. A reception to view the exhibit and meet the artist will be held from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on January.

The Cape Coral Art Center will also feature the Vision 2020 exhibit to celebrate Cape Coral’s 50th anniversary as an incorporated city. Vision 2020 depicts this history through visual representation.

The art center is located at 4533 Coronado Parkway. For more information about the art center and its programs, call 239-574-0802 or visit



‘Archangels’ at the Davis Art Center through January 31

The January show in the main gallery of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is Archangels by Frank Henriquez. It is on display in the grand atrium through January 31.

Henriquez’s work is greatly influenced by Expressionism, a movement that originated in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century as a reaction to and departure from Impressionism and Naturalism. It inspired artists to present the world from a subjective perspective by drastically distorting it to provoke emotions and ideas. In this tradition, Henriquez’s approach to the deconstruction of images using acrylics and spray paint, coupled with his brush strokes, connote feelings, and his use of windows as a canvas show transparency in emotions, creating layers of abstraction when colliding with the images. All of this serves to bring out the Expressionistic style in his work.

Henriquez’s process also draws influence from the naturalistic style of Kathe Kollwitz, one of the most influential and respected female German artists of the early 20th century. Eschewing free form painting, Kollwitz increasingly gravitated toward the more exacting disciplines of drawing, etching, lithography and woodcuts. Moving from one technique to another, she increasingly simplified her visual language over time to depict socially-critical subject matter such as the stark reality of war and its victims, bereaved mothers, anguished parents, fatherless children and, more generally, suffering and death. Similarly, Henriquez’s use of glass, cargo palettes, plywood, windows, and doors invite the audience to step into his world by seeing his artwork as 3D installations, reinforcing the message of social consciousness regarding reusing and recycling waste materials.

Last but not least, Henriquez’s work reflects the motifs and concerns lovingly explored by street artists throughout the United States and abroad, including the use of human figures and distorted realities to provoke emotions and ideas.

Frank Henriquez’s exciting and provocative exhibition, Archangels, takes us for a stroll down an alley where urban expressionism and traditional painting meet. His use of unconventional materials such as stencil cutouts, and spray paint on recycled materials like glass, windows, doors, and plywood is an ode to urban street art. His choice of subject matter rooted firmly in social political issues, bringing awareness to these issues in his work also suggests the strong influences of street art.

“We are proud to offer you Archangels, an exhibition where we capture the essence of this celebrated style and bring it back to its origins, if only for a limited time,” says SBDAC curator Cesar Aguilera.



More on ‘Archangels’ artist Frank Henriquez

Visual artist Frank Henriquez  specializes in mixed medium expressionistic painting. His inspiration comes from a combination of street art, expressionism, and realistic tattoo art.

He is a native of Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. He began his art studies at the age of 14 at the Instituto de Instructores de Arte. At the age of 16, he was offered a scholarship and enrolled in an intensive course for gifted artists in Cuba sponsored by Juan Miguel Suarez, one of Cuba’s most recognized realist artists.

Henriquez immigrated to the United States at the age of 19 in search of better opportunities. Drawing on his experiences and formal training in Cuba, he began training as a tattoo artist. Nine years later, he began tattooing professionally and is today sought after and respected for his realistic figures and impeccable lines.

During this time, Henriquez also evolved as a visual artist, using street art as his outlet to create social consciousness and community awareness to subjects that ranged from urbanization and homelessness to animal cruelty. He presented his first exhibition at the Clio Art Center in New York, NY in 2015. He continues to work diligently on creating new and exciting pieces for upcoming exhibitions from his studio in Miami, FL.



Gerhard’s ‘Heat Stroke’ in SBDAC Capital Gallery through January 31

An exciting new show of work by Ehren Fritz Gerhard is  concurrently on view in the Capital Gallery at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center through January 31. It’s called Heat Stroke, and is comprised of mixed media monotypes and botanical paintings in oil and acrylic. The imagery includes decorative tropical plants, fruit trees and edible landscaping cultivated by the artist in his very own garden.

Working from life, Gerhard created a series of gesture drawings inspired by an immersive experience in his garden. The drawings develop and work their way into larger, more complex paintings or become an edition of experimental monotypes varying in color, approach and solutions. Placing emphasis on the expressive qualities of each medium to interpret the energies of the natural world, Gerhard renders each with an emotional range of colors, textures and mark-making that make a definitive statement.

For more information, please telephone 239-333-1933 or visit



More on ‘Heat Stroke’ artist Ehren Gerhard

His media include painting, graphite, printmaking and works in ceramics. His motifs and compositions reflect his extensive travels both within the United States and abroad. He describes his compositions as “wild, crazy, goofy, intense as possible, playful and psychedelic.” His name is Ehren Gerhard and in addition to having a solo show in the Capital Gallery at the Davis Art Center this month, he’s the new Exhibitions Director at the Alliance for the Arts. To learn more about his art, education and curatorial experience, go here.



Mariapia Malerba bringing ‘Shadopia’ to the Capital Gallery in February

Fashion designer, visual artist and filmmaker Mariapia Malerba is bringing new work to the Capital Gallery in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in February. Called Shodopia, the show is comprised of work she’s created with a technique inspired by Shodo.

Shodo is a form of calligraphy in which an ink-dipped brush is used to create Chinese kanji and Japanese kana characters. Practitioners are admired for the accuracy of the characters they create, the balance with which they arrange them on the paper, how they shade the ink and, especially, the way they handle the brush while performing the calligraphy.

The art of Shodo originated in China during the Han dynasty and came to Japan in the sixth century, along with methods for making brushes, ink and paper. In those days, calligraphy was an essential part of the education of members of noble families. But as time passed, the art spread among the common people. Today Shodo is not just a celebrated and revered art form, but a harmonious and philosophical process that fuses poetry, literature, and painting by possessing rhythm, emotion, aesthetic and spirituality in one unique art form. It’s such an important aspect of Japanese culture and ideals that it is even introduced to Japanese children as early as elementary school.

Mariapia has modified this ancient form (hence, Shodo-pia) by substituting a tool of common use for the bamboo brush traditionally employed in Shodo. To create her art, Mariapia employs a broom to create beautifully balanced, sweeping works of art through a fluid, spontaneous motion that codifies sacred value in each stroke and line.

To see the results of this unique, Zenlike technique, you’ll just have to see the exhibit. But at last Monday night’s TGIM, Mariapia brought a 2-minute short film titled The Dancing Shadow on the Rose to demonstrate her newfound art form. You can see that film here.



Update of Jansen’s studio in South Bronx

Marcus Jansen has opened a studio in the emerging Port Morris section in the South Bronx, not far from where his journey started 51 years ago as a child with his mother’s family from Jamaica. Jansen has joined the on E 132nd Street. While Jansen will continue to maintain his headquarters in his 7,500-sq-ft loft warehouse and studio in Fort Myers, he decided to return to his native Bronx to contribute artistically to the growth of the area.

Jansen started his art career in 1999, selling his canvas works on street corners in lower Manhattan to survive after his military discharge. Jansen’s subjects often revolve around questioning global concerns, surveillance, economics, military industrial complex and power structures.

Today Jansen is collected by the likes of Singer Nicole Scherzinger, NBA Superstar Carmelo Anthony, Hollywood Actor John Ortiz, Top 200 Collector List members Amy and John Phelan and Collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz. His commissions include corporations such as Absolut Vodka, Warner Brothers, Illuminum, FIFA World Cup and Ford Motor Company. His first U.S. solo museum exhibition will begin in 2020 at Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College and he will have a mid-career retrospective  at the Baker Museum in Naples, Florida later this year. And a documentary film about the artist titled Marcus Jansen Examine and Report just won Best Art TV Pilot Documentary at the East Hampton TV Festival and is now showing on Amazon Prime TV.



DAAS featuring unique watercolors of JoAnn LaPadula in February

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts will feature the work of award-winning artist JoAnn LaPadula in February. The exhibition is a collection of colorful pieces created within the year. The opening reception is scheduled for Friday, February 7, 2020 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. in conjunction with Art Walk.

Four years ago, JoAnn LaPadula moved from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State to Fort Myers. She is currently a member of the Alliance for the Arts, Florida Watercolor Society and Fort Myers Beach Art Association, where she also serves as director. Her work has been featured on the cover of the Sand Life Magazine, Gulfshore Life, and the Florida Watercolor Society online. Her work is collected in places as far as Guantanamo and California.

LaPadula obtained a B.A. in Arts from the Buffalo State University, after graduating from the Rockland Community College. She worked in the field of graphic design for 30 years. Now in retirement, she has embraced the opportunity to return to her interest in fine arts, particularly watercolor. However, she does not pursue the genre using traditional watercolor technique. Instead, after attending a workshop taught by nationally-known watercolor artist Lian Zhen, she developed her own  signature style, which features a blowing/spraying technique combined with negative painting.

“I was not interested so much in the traditional watercolor style, so I attended a few workshops to find my own style,” JoAnn remarks. “I do not consider myself a traditional watercolor artist but would say I am more of a colorful abstract/realist. Here [in SWFL] I am thrilled to find people who have been a great inspiration to me and found the support needed to begin my second career.”

LaPadula’s work will be on display through February 29, 2020.

DAAS CO-OP is located at 1815 Fowler Street, Unit 3, in Fort Myers, FL 33901. Business hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m on Sundays.

More information about gallery and/or how to become a member can be found at or by calling 239-590-8645.



Ripple-Gill’s ‘Reveries of a Tropical Heart’ opens at Alliance on January 10

The Alliance for the Arts invites the public to its opening reception for Reveries of A Tropical Heart on January 10. This two-artist exhibition features the luminous beauty of Jeff Ripple’s dramatically lit landscape paintings and the enchantment of Muffy Clark Gill’s colorful batik dreamscapes. Together, they combine to capture the warmth of the tropics as they transport viewers into a world they won’t want to leave.

The opening reception is 5:00-7:00 p.m. on Friday, January 10, and includes light refreshments. And you can meet and engage with the exhibiting artists during a free conversational tour through the gallery on January 11 at 10:00 a.m. during the Alliance for the Arts weekly GreenMarket.

Work by local artist Robert Allen will be on display in the Theatre Lobby Gallery. Displaying their latest works form the classroom, students and instructors at the Alliance for the Arts will be filling the Members Gallery with a variety of pieces from recent classes.

Receptions and gallery tours are open to the public and do not require tickets or reservations. While gallery admission is free, a $5 suggested donation keeps Alliance programming affordable and accessible.

For more information about this exhibit, visit or call 239-939-2787.



More on ‘Tropical Heart’ artist Jeff Ripple

Jeff Ripple is an award winning landscape artist. His oil paintings en plein air and in studio are denoted by intriguing compositions, mood and atmosphere. The treatment of light and atmosphere in his paintings are reminiscent of 19th century artists in the Luminist and Hudson River School traditions.

His work is in the permanent collections of the College of Central Florida and the University of Central Florida College of Arts & Humanities and past art exhibitions include the Thomas Center Galleries in Gainesville and the Dennos Museum in Michigan.



More on ‘Tropical Heart’ batik artist Muffy Clark Gill

Muffy Clark Gill uses the ancient wax and dye process known as batik and its sister Japanese process rozome along with mixed media, painting and photography to create her art. She creates images that convey feelings of dichotomy and combine her love of color with her life experiences.

Among the work she will exhibit at the Alliance for the Arts in Reveries of a Tropical Heart will be selections from her Wash Day series, which has been inspired by several visits to Cuba, including the town of Gibara, where it is believed that Christopher Columbus landed the first time he arrived in Cuba.

Gill described her process in a recent e-newsletter for Wash Day! Gibara Day. “The Mayor … was leading us on a walking tour of this pretty little city when I saw … laundry drying on several clotheslines. The breezes off the bay made drying laundry a quick and easy task.” And it also inspired the batik.

She started the work by drawing the scene on stretched habitae silk with a fine pencil. “All of the white areas—including the clotheslines – were waxed by drawing with an Indonesian style tool known as a tjanting ( or canting). Individual garments were then outlined.”

Then came the building, followed by the sky (with two separate layers of blue dye), the land in the background, the grass in the foreground and finally the bay.

“By the time I added all of my colors the whole painting was coated with wax.”

Gill then removed the wax from the painting with an iron and repeated changes of absorbing newsprint. “It was then wrapped in more newsprint into a jellyroll shape for steaming. A final wash was done to remove excess dye from the silk before mounting the painting to a canvas support for hanging. Another labor of love!”

The entire Wash Day! series is on display at the United Arts Council Gallery, 953 4 Ave. N., Naples, FL 34102 now through December 18. Gill also has a mixed media wall piece titled Shibuya on exhibit in Naples Art Association’s 53rd Founders Exhibit. Of the more than 900 works submitted to jurors John Loscuito, R.W. Lovejoy and Erin Palmer Szavuly, Gill’s was the only Naples artist to have work juried into the show.

Muffy Clark Gill’s award-winning work has been included in more than 80 regional, state and national juried and invitational exhibitions and festivals. Her art is in the permanent collection of numerous Florida museums and corporations including FGCU, the Florida Department of State, South Florida State College Museum of Art & Culture, Seminole Historical Society and Museum, Collier County Museum, Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, Marco Island Historical Museum , the Naples Art Association, Northern Trust, Physicians Regional Medical Center, Artis-Naples.



Alliance accepting submissions for 34th Annual All Florida Juried Exhibit

The Alliance’s annual All Florida Juried Exhibition features pieces created by artists working in a wide variety of media from all over the 65,000 square miles that make up Florida. The juried entries come together for an award-winning and exciting exhibition representing today’s contemporary Florida artists. The Alliance is accepting submissions online now through Monday, January 27, 2020. The show will exhibit March 6-28, with an opening reception from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 6. A conversational walk and talk through the gallery with the artists and juror will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 7. Please visit for a prospectus or telephone 239-939-2787 for more information.



Hillsborough Public Art Administrator 2020 All Florida Show judge

The Alliance for the Arts 34th Annual All Florida Juried Exhibition runs March 6 through 27, 2020. Amanda Poss has been tapped to serve as juror for the show. Poss currently holds the position of Gallery Director at Gallery221@Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry campus, where she also manages the Public Art Program, Grounds4Art@HCC, and oversees a growing Permanent Art Collection. She is the former Gallery Director at Blake High School, where she organized and curated exhibits from 2015–2017. Poss also has also held positions at the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at the University of Tampa as a Gallery Assistant, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tampa, and Adjunct Professor at Hillsborough Community College.

Amanda received her MA in Art History from the University of South Florida in 2015 specializing in Modern and Contemporary Art, and a BA from the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2011.



Watson MacRae’s ‘Art and Craft’ exhibit closes January 10

There is still time to see Art and Craft at Sanibel’s Watson MacRae Gallery. The exhibition is a lively combination of paintings, textiles and ceramics from returning favorites and artists new to the gallery:

  • Maia Tsinamdzgvrishvili, silk constructions
  • Jill Solomon, sagger-fired clay vessels
  • Ginnie Cappaert, oil/encaustic on paper
  • Lorraine Glessner, oil on plexiglas
  • Mark Knott, soda-fired ceramic pots

“It is a good exhibit for visiting family and friends with interesting artwork to delight everyone,” touts Maureen MacRae.” “This exhibit is up until Friday, January 10th.  Do stop by, as the first exhibit of 2020 is getting ready to open ….”

Watson MacRae Gallery is located at 2340 Periwinkle Way, B3, Sanibel, FL 33957.



Sanibel’s Watson MacRae planning Hollis Jeffcoat commemorative

Sanibel’s Watson MacRae Gallery will be hosting a special commemorative exhibition to honor the late Hollis Jeffcoat, an extraordinary abstract expressionist who passed on April 28, 2018. In addition to a montage of Hollis’ work, the show will feature two to three works from 13 of Hollis’ artist friends. One recent work from each artist has been inspired by and dedicated in remembrance of her.

Over the course of her lengthy career, Hollis made life-long friendships. The 13 artists featured in this exhibit are from the different segments of her life with one thing in common – they all shared a great love of art. Most of them acknowledge the significant influence that Hollis had on their art making. All felt she had an impact on their lives.  These accomplished artists continue to exhibit their work adding to the beauty and wonder of the world – something that would have pleased Hollis to no end.

“It was an unanimous and enthusiastic, ‘I’m In!”’ when I posed the idea for an exhibit to remember and celebrate Hollis for all she was as an artist, inspiration, teacher and friend,” says Watson MacRae gallerist and Hollis’ dear friend Maureen Watson.

  • During her Early Fort Myers period (1966), Hollis was befriended by painters Krista Johnson, Leo Johnson and Spencer Eldridge.
  • A decade later, Hollis influenced and was influenced by the NY Studio School, which is represented in the show by painters David Fratkin, Michael Goodwin (who Hollis met in NYC in 1991), printmaker/painter Patti Lipman and sculptor Deborah Masters.
  • 1980 saw Hollis in Montreal, and that venerable town and province is represented in the show by sculptor Michel Beaudry and printmaker Bonnie Baxter.
  • And from Hollis’ Late Fort Myers (post 1997) period, sculptor Jim Krieger, printmaker/painter Sherry Rohl, painter Darby Bannard and photographer Paul Rodino will also have work included in the commemorative exhibition.

All but four artists will be at the opening and happy to discuss their work – and reflect back on their interactions with Hollis. So please join Watson MacRae for this very special exhibition on Tuesday, January 9 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Watson MacRae Gallery is located at 2340 Periwinkle Way, B3, Sanibel, FL 33957.

N.B.: Photos:

  1. Exhibition announcement
  2. Rio, oil on canvas
  3. She, bronze
  4. Lupe and Hollis, photograph
  5. Diner/06, mixed media
  6. Three Wanderers 2016 by Hollis Jeffcoat

P.S. Save the Date: Next Opening Tuesday, February 11th for “In Love with This Earth” featuring 4 new artists from Santa Fe – painters, Rimi Yang, Diana Stetson and Kathleen McCloud and sculptors, Caroline Douglas and Kirsten Stingle.



A look back at the work and career of Abstract Expressionist Hollis Jeffcoat

Hollis Jeffcoat was a highly accomplished, well-regarded and critically acclaimed Abstract Expressionist. She lived, worked and taught in France, Canada, New York City and Southwest Florida. Over the course of her illustrious 41-year career, her paintings were the subject of more than 20 solo and nearly four dozen group exhibitions in the U.S., Canada and France. She died in Fort Myers on April 28, 2018.

During the final years of her life, Jeffcoat explored the relationship between color and sound. A chromesthetic, Hollis saw color every time she heard a sound. “It’s always been that way for me, and I thought that’s the way it was for everyone else too,” she once confided. “It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s [living in Paris] that I found out otherwise.”

Go here for more.



‘Beatriz Monteavaro: Vacation’ opens at Bob Rauschenberg Gallery on January 16

Florida Southwestern State College has announced the opening of Beatriz Monteavaro:  Vacation at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery on Thursday, January 16. The show presents a survey of more than two decades of drawings, designs for concert flyers and comics/zines, and large-scale art objects. The opening reception will take place from 6:00-8:00 p.m. and will feature a special performance.

This immersive installation takes its title from the 1982  Billboard Top 10-charting single and RIAA Gold-certified studio album of the same name by the seminal “all-female” Punk/New Wave group, The Go-Go’s.  The heroines of several adventurous and densely-drawn narratives included in the exhibition, The Go-Go’s are recurring characters in the work of Beatriz Monteavaro and provided early inspiration for the artist and four of her teenage friends to pay tribute to the band by dressing-up as the band for a Halloween show in the 1980s. Fulfilling a childhood dream and literally coaxing one frequent subject of Monteavaro’s art to life, the Rauschenberg Gallery is pleased to welcome The Go-Go’s co-founder Jane Wiedlin during the reception for this one-night-only “in-person” appearance.

Cuban-born, Beatriz Monteavaro received a BFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Her art has been influenced by monster movies, science fiction, Disneyworld (especially it’s themed Adventureland area, a midcentury representation of Africa, Asia, Polynesia, and The Caribbean), and music scenes including the 1970’s English punk and the Miami underground surrounding Churchill’s Pub, which she has been a part of since 1991. Her work has been exhibited in venues such as Annina Nosei Gallery, New York; Miami Art Museum, Miami; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; NFA Space, Chicago; The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C; Tent, Rotterdam; Galerie Edward Mitterrand, Geneva; Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris; The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum at FIU, Miami, among others.

She has had solo exhibitions at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles; Derek Eller Gallery, NYC; Galerie Sultana, Paris; Locust Projects, Miami; Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami; Emerson Dorsch Gallery, Miami; The University Galleries at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, The Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo, FL; and CUNSTHAUS, Tampa, FL.

Her work has been reviewed and featured in Flash Art, ArtUS, ArtNews and Art Papers.

Monteavaro plays drums for SAAVIK and is one half of the band Holly Hunt. She has a solo sound project called Ellen Ripley. Monteavaro works at a record store, which she considers part of her practice.  The artist lives and works in Miami.

For additional information, please telephone 239-489-9313 or visit The Bob Rauschenberg Gallery  is located on the Fort Myers campus of Florida SouthWestern State College at 8099 College Pkwy, Fort Myers, FL 33919.



Assemblage artist Ran Adler exerts ‘Presence’ in FGCU’s Wasmer Gallery January 30

Presence by Ran Adler opens in the Wasmer Art Gallery at Florida Gulf Coast University on January 30.

Ran Adler is a self-taught assemblage artist who employs various elements of nature as his medium which he wires, weaves and strings together into unique organic structures that serve as needed reminders of the staggering unpredictability and humbling power of nature lurking just outside. His horsetail reed, thorn and seedpod constructs don’t just shape the space in which they are exhibited. They open the mind the fragility, if not futility, of our pretentious efforts to control our physical environment. They underscore our overarching responsibility as stewards of the planet.

The harmonious transformation of chaos into ordered systems results from Adler’s meditative process. The often repetitive and rhythmic movements of threading, inscribing and assembling become a meditative or prayer-like state of mind from which remediation of external forces is understood and expressed in the work. That respectful, contemplative state transfers to those who have the good fortune to view his work.

Currently represented by Judith Liegeois Designs in Naples, Gardner Colby Gallery in Naples and Blackman Cruz in Los Angeles, Adler has exhibited widely in the United States in solo and group exhibitions. He is the artist in residence at Judith Liegeois in Naples and the guest artist at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Presence is sponsored by The Wasmer Family, Judith Liegeois Designs, Alice and Dean Fjelstul, Gene and Lee Seidler, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and WGCU Public Media.

The opening reception takes place from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 30 and will be accompanied by an Artist Talk and jazz combo recital.

The exhibition runs through February 27.

The Wasmer Gallery is located in the Arts Complex at Florida Gulf Coast University at 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. For more information, please telephone 239-590-1000 or visit



‘Black and White’ exhibition at Center for Visual Arts through January 23

The Center for Visual Arts’ Black and White Exhibition features artist’s works using the limited pallet of black and white in order to focus on the structural elements of line, shape, form, value, space and texture. The exhibition runs through January 23.

The Center for Visual Arts is located at 26100 Old 41 Rd.



Cheri Dunnigan exhibition in Tranovich Gallery through January 23

Evolution of a Process: New Works by Cheri Dunnigan is on view in the Tranovich Gallery at the Center for Visual Arts Bonita through January 23.

Dunnigan is a master goldsmith and nationally recognized landscape painter. Born with a creative drive, and being blessed with parents who recognized and fostered both her artistic interests and ambitions, she was able to begin to develop her artistic talents and an early age.

Cheri made her first piece of jewelry at the age of 15. This experience lit a passion and set the course for her studies over the next 7 years, leading her inevitably to the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she studied with John Paul Miller and earned a 5-year Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1978 in Silversmithing.

Dunnigan put her degree to use working as a designer craftsman for many years, maintaining a retail studio and showroom in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. But about 20  years ago, she has turned her talents toward pastel painting.

Over the past two decades, Cheri has exhibited her work nationally and has won numerous awards. In particular, her excellence as a pastelist earned her the prestigious stature as a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America (PSA). Always involved and interested in the betterment of her community, it is not surprising that Dunnigan is also a charter member of the Pastel Society of Southwest Florida.

Dunnigan presently teaches ongoing classes in pastel painting at the Center for the Visual Arts Bonita Springs in Bonita Springs, FL  in Naples, FL. and enjoys being an honorary juror for several regional art fairs.



CFABS Members’ Only show runs January 31-February 27 

The Annual Members’ Only Exhibition takes place at the Center for Visual Arts Bonita Springs January 31-February 27. A campus-wide open house will be held concurrently with the opening 6:00-8:00 p.m. reception on January 31. This dynamic exhibition will contain awe-inspiring artwork in a wide array of media by CFABS’ talented members. Each year just gets better and better. Help CFABS celebrate 29 years of great member art.



Shaw Gallery displaying newly-received Andre Kohn figurative paintings

Shaw Gallery of Fine Art on Naples’ Fifth Avenue South has new work by impressionist artist Andre Kohn, who is among the most collected figurative painters on the American art scene today.

Kohn refers to his painting style as “contemporary figurative expressionism.” He counts among his artistic influences Russian painters Nicolai Fechin, Valentin Serov and Filipp Malyavin, along with John Singer Sargent, Eugène Carrière and Edgar Degas.

“Propelled by dynamic, gestural brushwork and lush coloration, his compositions harness the energy of a singular, often quiet, moment in time,” notes art critic Elizabeth L. Delaney, writing for Southwest Art in 2016. “Heady textures and layers of pigment combine to create a tactility that pervades each canvas. In fact, one of Kohn’s signature structural elements is his preparation of each surface. He layers modeling paste onto the blank canvas before he ever makes a mark, thereby creating an intrinsically dimensional composition. Such a process makes the texture part of the painting itself, not simply a visual overlay.”

Kohn’s overarching objective is to find the extraordinary within the ordinary – those moments in life that typically go unnoticed. Two of his most popular motifs are couples (which he incorporates into his “Just the Two of Us” Naples Series) and statuesque young women scurrying in the rain to unknown destinations under the protection of an umbrella.

“At the same time, Kohn’s paintings conjure elements of curiosity and wonder,” Delaney continues in her Southwest Art piece. “A woman seen from behind walking in the rain, a man with a cane paused on the sidewalk, or a couple gliding across the dance floor all evoke a sense of comfortable intrigue—their stories are ambiguous, yet most viewers can relate. Kohn often hides his subjects’ faces, and when visible, they remain obscured, allowing the artist to retain that sense of mystery. He leaves their stories open-ended—full of the potential energy he loves and primed to begin a visual conversation between viewer and painting.”

In fact, the people depicted in his figurative series such as Just the Two of Us and umbrella women are pictured with their backs to the viewer.

It’s only fitting that intrigue lays at the foundation of Kohn’s oeuvre of work. Intrigue is the keynote of his personal life and origins as an oil painter.

Andre was raised by an artistically gifted family near the Caspian Sea in southern Russia. His mother was a symphony violinist; his father, a noted linguist and writer. The family had had few material possessions, but paintings, sculpture and books filled the family’s tiny, one-bedroom home. It was here that Kohn learned that the creative arts are the only true wealth.

Kohn’s professional art education began at 15 when he was chosen to apprentice in the studios of Moscow’s most esteemed Impressionist and Social Realist artists. His art education corresponded with an eruption of cultural progress in all the arts in Russia, including ballet, literature, music and painting.

Andre followed his apprenticeships with a classical art education at the University of Moscow where he studied with members of the last great generation of Russian Impressionists. He fondly remembers the majesty of the University. “The experience was totally unique,” he says. “The atmosphere was one of huge columns, marble floors and masterworks on the walls. Legends of the Russian art world walked the halls and discussed your work. It was a privilege to be there, and it laid the foundation for my entire career.”

At that point, fate intervened. A colonel in the Russian Army, his father was chosen to participate in the post-Cold War officer exchange program at the U.S. Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1993, his father announced his intention to defect to the United States. In that instant, Andre discovered the need to reinvent himself as an American artist.

Kohn wasted no time embracing his new life. He enrolled in the art program at Auburn University at Montgomery after becoming the first recipient of the International Peace Scholarship there, and went on to earn his bachelor of fine arts degree three years later. To make ends meet while building his art portfolio, he worked as a house cleaner, picture framer and even a car salesman. Settling in Arizona, he finally embraced his current brand of figurative painting.

It took little time for American art audiences and media to discover Kohn’s mature, fresh figurative painting style. His first one-man show created instant interest in his work and helped introduce Kohn to audiences in his adopted country.

Today, Kohn is a preeminent leader of Figurative Impressionism which seeks to capture the complexity and simplicity of the human form.

“I’m seeking my own unique, poetic interpretation of the moment,” he says. “I’m striving to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

Despite Kohn’s unrepeatable pallet, personally developed style, and unique interpretation of form, his art education is enduring. From his home in Arizona, Kohn travels the world for inspiration and periodically returns to France to continue his formal, classical studies. Due to his travels, his widely popular style has a European influence with a Modern impressionist flare.

Kohn’s work is now represented by premier galleries in the United States and he is a regular contributor to invitational exhibitions. Some of his most recent solo shows include:

  • 2019 Shaw Gallery, Naples, Florida
  • 2018 Jones & Terwilliger Gallery, Carmel, CA
  • Andrew Hillier Gallery, London, UK
  • Fountainside Gallery, Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Heritage Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona

He is a frequent subject of highly regarded art publications, and his unique ability to communicate the expressiveness of the human form has kept him a mainstay in private, corporate and permanent museum collections worldwide.

Andre currently resides and paints at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he owns his own gallery, Andre Kohn Fine Art.



‘Masters of Modern Glass’ opens at Shaw Gallery January 23

Masters of Modern Glass opens at Shaw Gallery on Naples Fifth Avenue South on January 23, 2020. The opening presents a rare opportunity to meet and view the latest works of the most important glass artists in the world. Richard Royal, Toland Sand, Rick Eggert, Tom Marosz and Hiroshi Yamano will all be in attendance. The reception takes place from 6:00-9:00 p.m.  Shaw Gallery is located at 761 5th Avenue South. For more information, please telephone (239) 261-7828, visit or view Shaw Gallery’s digital catalog for the show.



Sheldon Fine Art’s featured artist of the week starting January 13 is Michel Brosseau

Michel Brosseau is this week’s featured artist at Sheldon Fine Art in Naples.

Born in Nantes, France in 1954, Michel Brosseau lives and works in Brussels and Cape Ferret. After obtaining degrees in law and science, he practiced journalism for a few years until returning to what had always been a fascination for him – painting.

Brosseau’s passionate works don’t get lost in a multitude of styles, but each time explores new techniques and themes. He is devoted to creating works, which represent contemporary maritime themes. His works are a beautiful addition to your art collection.

Sheldon Fine Art is located at 460 5th Ave S. For more information, please telephone 239-649-6255 or email



Sheldon Fine Art’s featured artist of the week is Zu Sheng Yu

Sheldon Fine Art in Naples is featuring the contemporary water-themed sea and landscapes of Chinese artist Zu Sheng Yu this week.

Born in Hu Bei, China, Zu Sheng Yu received his Bachelor’s degree from the Guang Zhou Academy of Fine Arts. He earned his Professorship of Art at Zhong Kai University. Recognized by his colleagues as one of China’s leading contemporary artists, he was recently featured in a Chinese television special, “Zu Sheng Yu: Diverse Art Interests.”

Since his arrival in the United States nearly a decade ago, Zu Sheng has won numerous awards. His talents were recognized by the New York Art Exposition on four occasions. He was the featured artist all three times.

Zu Sheng is also invented and has a patent for: “Method for Representing Musical Compositions Using Variable Colors and Shades Thereof.”



53rd Founders Juried Awards Exhibition on exhibit through January 9

The 53rd Founders Juried Awards Exhibition is on display in the Naples Art Association’s ground floor galleries through January 9, 2020. The show was judged by FGCU Gallery Director John Loscuito, American University Professor R.W. Lovejoy and Associate Professor and Lourdes University Art Department Chair Erin Palmer Szavuly.



African/African American art exhibition opening at Naples Art on January 17

Opening January 17 is The Human Spirit:  African and African American Art. This curated exhibition celebrates people in African and African American art with paintings, drawings, carved wood and additive sculpture. The show runs through February 23. Gallery hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday. The Naples Art Association is located at 585 Park Street, Naples.



Naples Art has issued a call to artists for ‘Let Freedom Ring’

From ancient times to the present, women throughout the world have participated in the visual arts in diverse and stimulating ways as creators and innovators, patrons and collectors or significant contributors. Let FREEDOM Ring! will shine a bright light on the contributions of women in the visual arts. The exhibition will show April 3-23, 2020 in the Frederick O. Watson Gallery, and the deadline for applying is 5:00 p.m. on February 6.

You will find the full prospectus here.



‘Little Things’ will be in Gallery 104 at Naples Art January 14 through February 16

Each year, Naples Art holds a small works show. Called Little Things: An Exhibition Celebrating Small Works, the show celebrates works of art 60 inches and below.

Miniature art has been made for thousands of years. In many of the world’s civilizations there was a fascination with creating in small scale. Ancient Greeks adorned their walls with small murals while coins and rings often bore engraved portraits. In Persia, the shahs maintained the best artists of the day to paint the court and illustrate copies of the Koran and other great books, both religious and secular.

Monks in the Middle Ages embellished manuscripts with delicate illuminations and bordered them with a red lead pigment called ‘minium’ from which the word ‘miniature’ later evolved.

The Elizabethan era was noted for its exquisite miniature portraits on vellum and later, ivory and evokes memories of masters such as Holbein, Hilliard, Oliver and others. Many Dutch and Flemish artists painted small-scale works in order to do focused studies on specific painting techniques and subjects. Frans Hals’ striking 6 ½” by 5” Portrait of Samuel Ampzing, for example, was used as a study for a noted reproductive print. Often, Dutch and Flemish painters created small self-portraits that they could use as “calling cards” with potential patrons.

Among some of the most famous and valuable small scale paintings from this period are two by Rembrandt (Self-Portrait at 26 and Portrait of Old Man with Beard), two by Vermeer (Girl in Red Hat and Young Woman Seated at a Virginal) and Anthony van Dyck (Portrait of Nicholas Rockox).

Miniature art fell out of vogue with the advent of photography more than a hundred years ago. But it has experienced a resurgence in the past twenty years among artists, collectors, curators and art museums around the globe.

The White House, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Astolat Dollhouse Castle and museums around the world have collections of miniature paintings, drawings, original prints and etchings, and sculpture. Perhaps the most intriguing miniature exhibition of renowned American artists sits today on the lunar surface. Fifty years ago this past November 19, astronauts Alan L. Bean and Richard F. Gordon left behind a ceramic wafer

Southwest Florida has seen numerous exhibitions of miniature artworks, including ELEVEN: The John Erickson Museum of Art Retrospective at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery in 2014 (featuring galleries only slightly larger than a shoebox conceived in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp’s Boite en Valise) and the upcoming small scale art show at DAAS CO-OP Gallery in Fort Myers’ Gardner Park.

The exhibition will be on display January 14 – February 16, 2020 in Gallery 104.



Naples Art will be ‘Daydream’ing in April and May

Daydreams: Fantastical Wanderings of the Brain will be exhibited by Naples Art in Gallery 104 between April 7 and May 26, 2020. The possibilities are endless when artists use daydreams as their inspiration. Mind wandering, fantasy and spontaneous thoughts all lend themselves to some very creative artwork. If you’d like to participate in this show, then please deliver one exhibit-ready artwork on March 30, 2020 between 12 noon and 4:00 p.m.



Kincaide exhibition opens January 22 at Naples’ Gardner Colby Gallery

A solo show of work by artist Anna Kincaide opens January 22 at Naples’ Gardner Colby Gallery. Kincaide’s collection of stylized paintings are dedicated to her love of design and couture fashion.

“My strongest inspirations are fashion and design, so this led to my idea of creating portraits of stylized women disguised by avant-garde, floral-inspired hats. I don’t rely on facial expression (her portraits are indeed anonymous… one does not see the eyes), to convey emotion like most figurative artists do. Instead I rely on gesture, clothing, and color and body language.”

Anna’s figurative replicas of faceless characters solicit a plethora of emotional responses as her work depicts experiences and emotions that are felt universally, regardless of who her viewers are.

Kincaide graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2006. Since then, she has been a part of numerous shows in the U.S. and has been featured many times in American Art Collector magazine. Her sophisticated figurative paintings have found their way into collections nationwide.






Naples Art District’s 1st Wednesday Studio & Gallery Tour is January 8

On Wednesday, January 8, the three dozen plus galleries and artist studios that comprise the Naples Art District open their doors to the public from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Called 1st Wednesday Studio & Gallery Tour, the event is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of the studios of more than 60 emerging and mid-career artists working in a broad cross-section of genres and media. Just look for the magenta flags.



Naples Artcrafters Fine Art & Craft Show invades Cambier Park on January 11

On SaturdayJanuary 11 the Naples Artcrafters Fine Art & Craft Show returns to Cambier Park. The Artcrafters have been committed for more than 45 years to promoting excellence in arts and crafts and to supporting established artists, craftspersons and students by providing a venue for the display and sale of their work in a beautiful setting. At their shows, they present a wide array of artistic genres, styles and media, including paintings in oils, acrylics and watercolors, drawings in pen and ink and pencil, pastels, scissors art, multi-media and collage, photography, ceramics, jewelry (including metalsmithing, metal clays, lapidary and beading), sculptures, pottery, clay, stained glass and fused glass, wood turning and carving, basket weaving, and more. The show features work by 90 juried artists.



Bonita Springs National is January 11 and 12 in Riverside Park

The Bonita Springs National Art Festival invades Riverside Park on Old 41 in historic downtown Bonita Springs again this year, and its first of three fine art festivals takes place on Saturday, January 11 and Sunday, January 12. In 2011, Bonita Springs National was ranked the #10 art festival in the nation by The Art Fair SourceBook and #11 by Sunshine Artist Magazine, and in 2017 it received a #2 national ranking. This festival stresses quality and originality, with the 211 artists juried into the show from across the United States, Canada, and even Europe exhibiting and selling original paintings, drawings, pastels, photography, handcrafted jewelry, clay works and ceramics, glass art, metal sculpture and more. Riverside Park is located at 10450 Reynolds Street or 27000 Old 41 Road in central Bonita Springs, Florida 34135.



Cape Coral Arts & Music Festival expects 300 artists and 110,000 attendees

Also taking place on the weekend of January 11 and 12 is the 35th Annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts. The show takes place on the Cape Coral Parkway and includes arts and crafts by more than 300 artists in genres that include fine crafts, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, and sculpture. Last year, the event was ranked the 24th best festival in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine. An music festival has been added to the event and features a variety of live musical genres at various indoor venues along the Cape Coral Parkway between 3 and 9 p.m. See why more than 110,000 people pack the parkway in the Cape on the second weekend in January of each year. For more information, please telephone 239-699-7942.



Crayton Cove’s Art After Dark is on Sunday (January 12) this month

Just steps away in Crayton Cove on Sunday, January 12 is Art After Dark, an Art-Walk-type evening that gives art enthusiasts and collectors an exceptional opportunity to combine fine art with fine dining alongside picturesque Naples Bay. From 5:00-8:00 p.m., Phil Fisher Gallery will host a reception for the opening of The Real Florida, with new works by artists Jan Ellen Atkielski, Phil Fisher, Kevin Barton, Jeff Fessenden, Nolen Fisher, Janet Kirby and Natalie Guess. Meet the artists and enjoy live music by Acoustic Road. For more information, please telephone 239-403-8393.



The Sanibel Community Ass’n Fine Art & Craft show is Friday & Saturday, Jan 17 & 18

The Sanibel Community Association Fine Art and Craft Festival takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, January 17 and Saturday, January 18 on the  grounds of the Sanibel Community House at 2173 Periwinkle Way. This tw0-day boutique art show is a partnership betweeen The Sanibel Community Association and Boulderbrook Productions. It features gourmet food booths, live entertainment and 77 carefully-vetted fine artists showcasing high-quality original works in oil, acrylic and watercolor, drawings and pastels, 2D and 3D mixed media and collages, photography and digital art, woodworking, sculpture, ceramics, glass, fiber art, and jewelry. Proceeds from the event benefit The Sanibel Community House and The SCA. For more information, please telephone 239-293-9448.



3rd Saturday Studio & Gallery Tour is January 18

Also taking place on January 18 is 3rd Saturday Naples Art District Studio and Gallery Tours. This event features more than 60 artists, who will be showcasing their recent works of art and demonstrating their medium. The Naples Art District is located north of Pine Ridge Road and west of Airport Road. Participating galleries and studios are open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Just look for the magenta flags.



Fleischmann Park will be site of Art Fest Naples on January 18 & 19

Art Fest Naples at Fleischmann Park will be held January 18 & 19 in Naples’ Fleischmann Park, which is located just south of the Coastland Center Mall on Fleischmann Boulevard at Goodlette-Frank Road. Now in its 21st year, the show is consistently ranked in the top 100 shows in the country by Sunshine Artist Magazine last year. Art Fest Naples takes place along the sidewalks that bisect the park, connecting the tennis courts on the east with the picnic pavilion, playgrounds and one of the baseball/softball fields. Because of the festival’s size and configuration, Art Fest Naples represents an opportunity for artists and collectors to exchange ideas and information while supporting the Additional Needs, Inc., whose mission is to provide a user-friendly and time-saving website with current and comprehensive information of available resources to assist children and adults with additional needs and their families in finding appropriate services.



Rest of the January art fair and festival schedule is on ARTSWFL

January is a busy month for outdoor art fairs and festivals in Southwest Florida, with a total of 14 events scheduled over the four weekends, including Bonita Springs National, the 35th Annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, the Sanibel Community Association Fine Art and Craft Festival, Art Fest Naples and the Art Festival at Mercato. To see the entire schedule for January, visit Art Southwest Florida’s art fair and festival calendar here.





Roland and Cummings pairing for NAA’s ‘Dinner with Artists’ at Venue Naples

Executive Chef Brian Roland and visual artist Denise Cummings are pairing up with the Naples Art Association for the next edition of Dinner with Artists will delight your senses. Together, this dynamic duo will present passion-filled original works of art and culinary masterpieces at Venue Naples. Dinner with Artists is an interactive artistic experience in an intimate and engaging setting. Each event includes a multi-course gourmet meal and wine.

Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Chef Roland graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He is a Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC) through the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and a member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs. He has worked for several well-known chefs and served as executive chef in top kitchens locally. As executive chef and owner of Crave Culinaire, Roland introduces an ultramodern take on catering, offering services spanning from full event planning and catering special events to artistic private meals. Roland’s most recent endeavor, Venue Naples, is a new fully customizable event venue.

Denise Cummings expresses human sexuality and human behavior as powerful, beautiful, and passionate in her mixed media floral abstractions. A former Ford’s model and certified horticulturist, her art is a culmination of stylized beauty as she plays with paper. A paper expert, she had designed and founded a line of handmade paper which was sold in Barneys, Fred Segal and The Museum of Natural History. Denise Cummings resides in Hawaii and New York City.

Dinner with Artists takes place from 5:30-8:30 on Wednesday, January 15. Tickets are $130 per person or $250 per couple. Tickets are available at



Kyra Belan receives Artivist of the Year award 

Art Tour International Magazine in collaboration with Artists for a Green Planet and Manhattan Neighborhood Network has conferred its Artivist of the Year Award on Cape Coral artist, author and climate change advocate Kyra Belan. The Artivist of the Year Award Ceremony celebrates world-renowned artists from around the word who have joined the global conversation about climate change by creating works of art that convey their views of humanity’s impact on the environment. Created by Art Tour International’s editor-in-chief Viviana Puello, the award affords an opportunity to celebrate and create change through the gift and influence of art.

Kyra has been creating art that draws attention to social and ecological issues for four decades.

“My art celebrates the beauty and harmony of Mother Earth and her ecosystems, while evoking her symbols and myths from prehistoric to current time, her matriarchal cultures and the contributions of women to our civilization,” Kyra explains.

Her artwork, a painting titled ERA Now, was an official artwork for the postcards that helped the ERA in Virginia (which will be ratified in January, 2020).

Go here and scroll down to read the rest of this announcement.



Spotlight on ‘Caloosahatchee Manuscripts’ light sculptor Jim Sanborn

Jim Sanborn has installed works all over the world. Among the more than 125 prestigious institutions who proudly include his work among their collections are:

  • The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC
  • The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
  • Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Republic of China.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, MD
  • The Central Intelligence Agency, Langley, VA (GSA)
  • The National Endowment For The Arts, Washington, DC
  • Kawasaki International Peace Park, Kawasaki, Japan
  • Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL
  • Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL
  • Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV
  • Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA
  • US Embassy, Dublin, Ireland
  • Progressive Insurance, Cleveland, OH
  • University Of Houston, Houston, TX
  • University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
  • University of California SF, San Francisco, CA

His most famous work is Kryptos, a light sculpture installed at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia that contains four puzzles intended to challenge the Agency’s top cryptographers. Although they quickly solved the first three puzzles, neither they nor anyone else has ever deciphered the fourth encryption (much to their frustration and embarrassment).

Like Kryptos, all of Sanborn’s work documents either hidden or invisible natural forces (such as the Earth’s magnetic field) or textual and linguistic content.

“For most of my life both of my parents worked at the Library of Congress, my father as the Director of Exhibitions and my mother as a photo researcher,” Sanborn relates. “This privileged access to the historic record was tremendously enabling. The texts I chose for my public projects were heavily researched at the L.C. and in these works, in particular the international, classical, and Native American texts were used to encourage collaboration among cultures to fully decipher. Like Kryptos, the other public works are designed to exude their information slowly.”

Sanborn was Washington D. C. on November 14, 1945. He spent his childhood in Alexandria, Virginia, attending JEB Stuart High School in Fairfax. His career began to take shape as he studied archaeology at Oxford University and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in art history and sociology from Randolph-Macon College in 1968. In 1971 he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He was a teacher at Montgomery College in Rockville and at Glen Echo Park.



Spotlight on ‘Sculptor of Fort Myers’ D.J. Wilkins

Prior to relocating to Southwest Florida in 1975, Don “D.J.” Wilkins worked in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning in Breckinridge, Kentucky, where he also taught welding to Job Corps students. But shortly after moving to Fort Myers, he was inspired to try his hand at sculpture after seeing a show on Fort Myers Beach with a friend.

Wilkins got his big break in 1983 when the Fort Myers’ Beautification Advisory Board hired him to conserve The Spirit of Fort Myers (popularly known as Rachel at the Well) and reassemble the Tootie McGregor Fountain at its current location in the parking lot of the Fort Myers Country Club. In the ensuing two decades, the Beautification Advisory Board and other benefactors commissioned him to create 23 original sculptural installations throughout the city of Fort Myers, including chronologically:

  • The Florida Panthers (1988);
  • Uncommon Friends (1988);
  • The Great Turtle Chase (1990);
  • The Harborside Collection (consisting of busts of Chief Billy Bowlegs, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Thomas Alva Edison, Capt. Francis Asbury Hendry, Connie Mack Sr., James D. Newton and Tootie McGregor Terry)(1990);
  • The USCT 2nd Regiment Monument (nicknamed Clayton) (1998);
  • Wes Nott Memorial (2000);
  • Standing Thomas Edison at the entry to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates (2005);
  • Seated Mina Edison at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates (2009); and
  • Standing Henry Ford at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates (2009)

Wilkins also played an instrumental role in restoring the Iwo Jima Memorial in Eco Park on Veteran’s Parkway in Cape Coral.

Because the Beautification Advisory Board did not have the budget for actual bronze statues, Wilkins pioneered the development of a less-costly cold casting process that combines aluminum or bronze alloys with a resin binder (in a 70/30 ratio) over fence pipe and self-leveling grout foam. Without this innovative process, it is doubtful that Fort Myers would have any of the pieces that dot the landscape of the downtown Fort Myers River District.

Recognizing both his inventive process and prodigious results, Former Mayor Art Hammel proclaimed Wilkins to be “The Sculptor of Fort Myers,” an honor he enjoys to this day.


4.      FILM

5th Annual Bonita Springs Int’l Film Festival set for February 27-March 1

moe-0444The Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs introduced the inaugural Bonita Springs International Film Festival in  February of 2015. It will return February 27-March 1, 2020 with over 70 carefully curated narrative, documentary, animation and short films from around the world, complemented by a wide variety of workshops, demonstrations, and Q & A sessions with filmmakers, writers, directors, producers and actors.

The unique and entertaining special events begin with Thursday’s over-the-top ‘Opening Night’ and culminates with a spectacular Awards Night and Filmmakers rachel-albanese-2Party on Sunday evening. Each event is unique, featuring delicious catered food, refreshing beverages, quality entertainment and, of course, ample opportunities for film lovers to mix and mingle with a coterie of filmmakers, directors, writers and actors, who similarly enjoy the chance to share ideas and explore future opportunities. Films are shown in both the 400-seat CFABS Hinman Auditorium and the renovated 200-seat Moe Auditorium & Film Center.

Last year, BIFF accepted films in 12 categories including youth- and teen-produced films, animated films, shorts and Florida films, as well as standard fiction/narrative and documentary works, and awarded cash prizes ranging from $250 to $1,000.

the-songbird-and-the-cinematographer-04The film festival is an expression of CFABS’ longstanding appreciation of film as an art form. The Centers launched their Film for Film Lovers series in 2008, offering one film per month for three months. Over time, Film for Film Lovers was expanded and now features films every Monday. The Centers launched their Foreign Film Series in 2012, and added the impressive Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers in early 2015, with showings on the first Tuesday of each month. Today, thousands of Southwest Florida residents and visitors attend these screenings, so it was only logical to add a multi-day film festival to the equation.

The mission of the Bonita Springs International Film Festival is to charlie-masi-06create experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world, recognizing that it is through the art of cinema that a community becomes more informed, aware and alive.

“The big point that ultimately surfaced in our discussions about having a film festival was that we, as an organization, are all about the arts, all the arts,” says Susan Bridges, President of the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs, who is also Co-Chair for the festival. “So, we began looking at the idea that our Bonita Springs International Film Festival might see the majority of our films showcasing an artistic connection of some kind, beyond the fact that film is an art form in henrikas-genutis-06itself.”

BIFF is so much more than just watching films. Festival-goers enjoy fascinating and rewarding experiences, right alongside the discovery of each film’s unique details, inspiration, meaning and challenges.

CFABS has yet to release a schedule, so check back for details as they emerge.



5      THEATER

Here’s the line-up for the inaugural Fringe Fort Myers Festival

The Alliance for the Arts and Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, will present the first ever Fringe Fort Myers Festival April 22 – 26, 2020. The fest will feature 48 genre-defying performances on four different stages. Festival tickets go on sale January 2020.

Fringe Fort Myers is the newest Fringe theater festival in the United States and maintains long-standing Fringe traditions of being 100 percent uncensored, 100 percent unjuried and 100 percent inclusive. Even better, 100 percent of ticket sales go directly to the artists.

Out of 32 entries, 16 artists were selected at random, with 6 local performers, 6 state performers and 4 national and international performers winning berths.

Fringe Fort Myers kicks off on April 22, 2020 with the fun and frenetic Teaser Show. The teaser show is a great opportunity for audiences to learn what the shows in the festival are about. Each performance group gets 3 minutes to sell their show to the audience, and how they do it is up to them.

Go here for the rest of this announcement.



A note on the history of fringe

In partnership with the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, the Alliance for the Arts will present the first ever Fringe Fort Myers festival April 22–26, 2020. But what, exactly, is fringe?

Well the term traces it origins to Edinburgh, Scotland. At the 1947 Edinburgh International Festival, actors, musicians and the like who were not invited to participate in the festival performed at various alternative venues in and about Edinburgh. The following year, local journalist Robert Kemp wrote that “round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before…” The term caught on and thus fringe was born.

Fringe performing arts festivals can now be found all over the world. Dozens thrive in the United States. Among the most notable are the Tampa Fringe, Orlando International Fringe, Atlanta Fringe Festival, Capital Fringe, Minnesota Fringe Festival, PortFringe, Hollywood Fringe and the San Diego Fringe Festival.

“Fringe offers an incredible diversity of high quality work with the goal of being as affordable and accessible as possible to all members of the community,” says Bill Taylor, the Producing Artistic Director of Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance. “This event will enhance our area both culturally and economically.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available at or by contacting Jessica Wisdom at For more information, call 239-939-2787 or visit



‘Vampire Lesbians of Sodom’ to be performed as Fringe Fort Myers fundraiser

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts will be producing Vampire Lesbians of Sodom as a fundraiser for Fringe Fort Myers. Vampire Lesbians of Sodom is one of the longest running Off-Broadway shows ever. The show tells the saga of two fatally seductive vampires whose paths first collide in ancient Sodom. Their bitter rivalry as bloodsuckers but more importantly, as actresses, endures for two thousand years with stops along the way in 1920s’ silent movie Hollywood and contemporary Las Vegas.

The characters in this saucy play include:

  • Hujar, a hunky guard on the make for pretty much anything.
  • Zack, a big guy on the chorus line, and the bitch’s bitchy nemesis.
  • Etienne, a really high-strung butler.
  • Danny, the bitchiest boy at the chorus call.
  • King Carslile, a big-time (and don’t you damn well forget it) movie star with an equally big-time secret.
  • Madeleine Astarte, a male in drag in the role that made Charles Busch famous (but equally dazzling when taken over by other actors); she begins as a naïve (but growing wiser by the second) virgin sacrifice.
  • Oatsie Carewe, a Hollywood gossip columnist who turns out to be Van Helsing/Otto Preminger in drag to destroy “the ladies.”
  • Ali, a hunky, but naive, slave guard.
  • PJ,the “new kid chorus boy.”
  • La Condesa, a cold yet likable succubus.
  • Renee Vein/Tracy, the ingénue, a starlet who longs for success and fortune at any cost.

The show will run February 21 – March 1 at the Alliance for the Arts, with performances taking place at 7:30 p.m. on February 21, 22, 27, 28 & 29 and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 1.



‘The Mountaintop’ fictionalizes Dr. Martin Luther King’s last night

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts presents The Mountaintop  by Katori Hall January 16 through 26. Directed by Rick Sebastian, the production stars local powerhouses Derek Lively and Sonya McCarter and is presented in conjunction with the 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Weekend hosted by the Dunbar Festival Committee.

What thoughts and emotions might have pulsed through the mind and heart of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 3, 1968, his last night alive?

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket info.



‘Mountaintop’ drama set in Lorraine Hotel night before Dr. King’s assassination

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts is bringing The Mountaintop to the Foulds Theatre boards January 16-26. Written by Katori Hall and directed by Rick Sebastian, The Mountaintop is a two-person drama about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last night. The entire play is set in the Lorraine Hotel room, the evening before his assassination. King is alone, trying to create yet another powerful speech. When he orders a cup of coffee from room service, a mysterious woman arrives, bringing much more than a late-night beverage. What follows is a reflective, often funny, often touching conversation in which Dr. King examines his achievements, his failures and his unfinished dreams.



‘Mountaintop’ will feature two post-show talk-backs

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts presents The Mountaintop  by Katori Hall January 16 through 26. Directed by Rick Sebastian, the production stars local powerhouses Derek Lively and Sonya McCarter and is being presented in conjunction with the 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Weekend hosted by the Dunbar Festival Committee.

To widen the post-show conversation and discuss what the art onstage means to us as individuals and as a society, the Alliance will facilitate a community conversation through talk-backs after the January 19 and January 26 matinees. Talk-backs allow the audience to ask questions and express their thoughts, ideas on issues revealed in the play through the form of meaningful discussion.

Go here for all the details.



Derek Lively will portray Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in ‘Mountaintop’

Since relocating to Fort Myers from New York City in 2015, Lively has starred as Walter Lee Younger in Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance’s production of Lorraine Hanberry’s A Raisin in the Sun following a strong performance as Canewell in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars. But perhaps his most memorable role was that of Frederick Douglass in The Agitators. Now he will portray Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Mountaintop, a loving, touching humorous portrayal of the man behind the legend.

For more on Derek’s staged credits, go here. And to learn more about Derek’s process and intentionality, read Derek’s May, 2018 interview.



Sonya McCarter to play Camae opposite Derek Lively in ‘Mountaintop’

Sonya McCarter is an actor, director, an instructor in the Alliance for the Arts’ CHANGE (Communities Harnessing the Arts to Nurture and Grow Equity) program, and the Alliance’s Community Engagement Coordinator. Her acting credits include the part of Corryn Fell in Gideon’s Knot, Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, appearances in two episodes of the television show Burn Notice and the film The Florida Project. And in her next role, she’ll play Camae opposite Derek Lively in Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop.

For more on Sonya’s theatrical credits, read here.



Five actors will play 45 characters in Theatre Conspiracy’s ‘Baskerville’

Get your deerstalker cap on — the play’s afoot when Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts presents Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery by Ken (Lend Me a Tenor) Ludwig February 13-23.

Sherlock Holmes is on the case. The male heirs of the Baskerville line are being dispatched one by one. To find their ingenious killer, Holmes and Watson must brave the desolate moors before a family curse dooms its newest heir. Watch as our intrepid investigators try to escape a dizzying web of clues, silly accents, disguises, and deceit as five actors deftly portray more than forty characters without ever confusing one accent for another as they present this Arthur Conan Doyle work that almost everyone knows by heart in a new and funny way.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



Spotlight on ‘Baskerville’ director Rachael Endrizzi

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance has entrusted Rachael Endrizzi with the direction of its upcoming production of Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery by Ken Ludwig. So the show’s in good hands. Rachael has directed numerous shows, including Pinkalicious, the Musical (The Legacy Theatre), Always … Patsy Cline (The Legacy Theatre), Lend Me a Tenor (The Legacy Theatre), Marian: The True Story of Robin Hood (Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), Gideon’s Knot (Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), 33 Variations (Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), The Nerd (Off Broadway Palm), Moonlight & MagnoliasCamping with Henry & Tom (BIG ARTS Strauss Theater), Mr. Burns: a Post-Electric Play (Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), Freud’s Last Session (BIG ARTS Strauss Theater), The Bible: Complete Word of God (abridged)(Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), Social Security (Florida Rep, Asst. Director), The Odyssey Experience (Spark Theatre Company; Florida Rep Touring Show), The Fisherman & His Wife (Spark Theatre Company); Harriet Tubman: An American Moses (Spark Theatre Company); The New Kid (Spark Theatre Company); Baskerville (Ashland University), Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Lorain Co. Comm. College), Thomas Edison: Fire of Genius (Florida Rep Touring Show), And Then They Came for Me (Florida Rep Touring Show, 2010-11), And Then They Came for Me (Florida Rep Touring Show, 2009-10), Cinderella Confidential (Florida Rep Touring Show), Red Herring (Theatre Conspiracy), Shipwrecked! (Theatre Conspiracy), All the Great Books (abridged)(Theatre Conspiracy) and The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged)(The Legacy Theatre; Theatre Conspiracy).

But that’s not all. Go here to see Rachael’s extensive acting and film credits, as well as her accomplishments as an acting instructor.



Spotlight on ‘Baskerville’ actor Rob Green

Following Katori Hall’s Mountaintop, Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance will be producing Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery by Ken Ludwig, and included in Director Rachael Endrizzi’s cast is Rob Green. Since returning to the boards following a three-year hiatus, Rob Green has appeared in numerous roles, including Dr. Sanderson in Harvey, Nick Dahner in Rancho Mirage, The Teacher, Cam, in Max Frisch’s Andorra, Gerald Halverson in Jeffrey Hatcher’s Murderers, the Archangel Gabriel in David Javerbaum’s An Act of God, the wheelchair-confined Queen of the Hollywood Melodrama Blanche Hudson in the outrageous Lab Theater summer spoof Whatever Happened to Baby Jane: A Parody of the Horror and Burton in in Burn This, as well as a supporting role in The Elephant Man.

Want more? Go here for the rest of Rob’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘Baskerville’ actor Thomas Marsh

Following Katori Hall’s Mountaintop, Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance will be producing Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery by Ken Ludwig, and included in Director Rachael Endrizzi’s cast is Thomas Marsh. Tom is a local thespian who is building an impressive resume of work as a character actor. He has played Joseph Carey Merrick in Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man, a priest battling Satan in 2017 New Play Contest winner Noli Timeri, Squeamish in The Country WifeToys in the Attic, the evil Mr. Burns in Mr. Burns: The Post-Electric Play, a Victorian dandy by the name of Woodnut in The Nether, and 2014’s A Position of Relative Importance.



Spotlight on ‘Baskerville’ actor Shelley Sanders

Following Katori Hall’s Mountaintop, Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance will be producing Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery by Ken Ludwig, and included in Director Rachael Endrizzi’s cast is Shelley Sanders. Shelley is a Fort Myers actor, singer and dancer. Her acting credits include both dramatic, comedic and musical theater roles, including Columbia in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show (New Phoenix Theatre), the lead in Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood (Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), Minka Lupino in Murderers, Marjorie in Hand to God (Lab Theater), Marjorie Pinchwife in The Country Wife (Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance) and Bitsy Mae Harling in Sordid Lives (Lab Theater), among others.

Go here for Shelley’s full resume.

And go here



Spotlight on ‘Baskerville’ actor Madelaine Weymouth

Following Katori Hall’s Mountaintop, Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance will be producing Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery by Ken Ludwig, and included in Director Rachael Endrizzi’s cast is Madelaine Weymouth. Maddy’s previous acting credits include Robyn in Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, Vandy Jordan in Venus in Fur (for The Studio Players), Forgive Me; I Put You in a Play, Boberg’s Timer and Dash in the Middle in Lab Theater’s inaugural Festival of Tens, Serenity in And the Winner Is, Jessica in Hand to GodThe Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940s and two staged readings at the Laboratory Theater of Florida, the titular role in Julia and Callie in Stop Kiss.

Go here for Madelaine’s full resume.



Spotlight on ‘Baskerville’ actor Jordan Wilson

Following Katori Hall’s Mountaintop, Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance will be producing Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery by Ken Ludwig, and included in Director Rachael Endrizzi’s cast is Jordan Wilson. Born and raised in Southwest Florida, Wilson has performed in a number of other Theatre Conspiracy productions, including The Cave, The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged), Deadman’s Cell Phone, The Nerd, Becky’s New Car, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and Swell Party.



‘Grumpy Old Men: The Musical’ at Broadway Palm through February 8

On stage through February 8 at Broadway Palm is Grumpy Old Men: The Musical. In addition to a bouncy musical score, Grumpy Old Men features lovable characters, crisp production numbers, relentless zingers, biting insults, rapid-fire one-liners and delectable double entendres.

Like the movie on which it is based, Grump Old Men: The Musical is set in Wabasha, Minnesota, where retired neighbors Max Goldman and John Gustafson continue a feud that dates back to their high school days. Rather than let bygones be bygones, these two grumpy old men continue their verbal, sometimes physical altercations with the gusto of a couple of mixed martial arts competitors. Their uncensored epithets and one-upmanship reach their pinnacle when a charmingly eccentric beauty by the name of Ariel moves in across the street. As Max and John compete for Ariel’s attention and affection, their rivalry descends to new levels. But through a combination of love and compassion, she ultimately finds a way to re-unite the duo in friendship.

Starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and Ann-Margret, the 1993 film by Mark Steven Johnson (Grumpier Old Men, Daredevil, Simon Birch, Ghostrider) proved popular enough to warrant a sequel, Grumpier Old Men (1995), which added Sophia Loren to the celebrated cast.

Dan Remmes adapted the movie for the stage, with Neil Berg and Nick Meglin combining to provide the music and lyrics. They tested the show initially in Winnipeg in 2011 before debuting the work in the summer of 2018 at The Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. The musical enjoyed its West Coast premiere in September of 2019 at La Mirada Theater in Los Angeles, and a national tour is in the works for 2020.

Luther Chakurian plays the role of John, Rob Summers is Max and Miranda Jane is Ariel, with Bob Marcus playing the part of Grandpa Guftafson.



‘Weekend Comedy’ coming to Off Broadway Palm

Opening in the Off Broadway Palm on January 9 is Weekend Comedy. The frothy comedy follows two couples who are accidentally booked into the same vacation cabin for a 3-day weekend.

Peggy and Frank are a middle-aged couple who have fallen into a marital rut. Peggy is hoping that a change of pace will rekindle their stale romance. For his part, Frank seems content to just placate his wife of 33 years.

In their 20s, Jill and Tony live together. Madly in love, they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other. But like Peggy, Jill has a hidden agenda. She secretly hopes that the retreat will inspire Tony to make their arrangement legal and permanent.

Although the two men take an instant and palpable dislike for one another, they inexplicably decide to share the cabin rather than finding alternative accommodations, thereby setting in motion a comedic clash of the generations denoted by edgy wordplay and rapier exchanges.

Weekend Comedy runs through February 22. Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees.

Ticket prices range from $42 to $62 with discounts available for children and 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.



Center for Performing Arts performing staged readings on January 10 

The Center for Performing Arts will conduct its next set of staged readings in the Moe Auditorium & Film Center on January 10 beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Featuring poignant selections of written works carefully selected to enthrall and amuse, Staged Readings come from short stories, essays, plays, speeches, the inside of fortune cookies, or anywhere else we feel the written word might be made more impactful as read by local thespians. Each staged reading will be unique, powerful, funny and thought provoking evening of entertainment as actors take on different roles.

Watch the transformative power of acting as directors and actors introduce all of us to works that may illuminate our mainstage work or introduce us to future programming possibilities. After readings, you’re invited to meet the cast and discuss the play with director and actors. This lively and informative discussion brings new insight to the art of theater.




‘Nunsense’ coming to Cultural Park Theatre January 10

Sometimes life makes no sense. And sometimes it makes Nunsense – as in the musical comedy that Cultural Park Theatre is bringing to the stage for two weekends beginning January 10.

The play focuses on five nuns from the Little Sisters of Hoboken, a one-time missionary order that ran a leper colony on an island south of France. They are part of 19 survivors who are chagrined to discover that their cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, accidentally killed the other fifty-two residents of the convent with botulism-tainted vichyssoise while they were off playing bingo with a group of Maryknolls.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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



Spotlight on ‘Nunsense’ playwright Dan Goggin 

Cultural Park Theatre is bringing Nunsense to the stage for two weekends beginning January 10. The musical was one of the biggest commercial successes in the history of Off Broadway. But Dan Goggin’s inspiration for the show came from an unlikely series of events that began when a friend of his gave him a mannequin dressed as a traditional Dominican nun.

“He called her a ‘terrific conversation piece,’” Goggin recounts. “At some point, a photographer I knew said we should make a nun greeting card of her.” The tongue-in-cheek suggestion struck a responsive chord. Goggin had been taught by Marywood Dominican Sisters in grade school and had also been a seminarian. So he employed these experiences to create a line of greeting cards that feature a nun offering tart quips.

The cards caught on so quickly that Goggin decided to expand the concept into a cabaret show called The Nunsense Story. It opened in 1983 for a four-day run at Manhattan’s Duplex Playhouse.

“We were scheduled to play at the original Duplex on Grove Street in Greenwich Village for four weekends,” Goggin laughs. “We ended up staying for 38 weeks. From there, it was literally audience enthusiasm that led to a producer taking an option.”

After numerous rewrites and a change to an all-nun cast, the musical was workshopped at the Baldwin School on West 74th Street.

“It then moved to the Cherry Lane in 1985 where, as they say, ‘the rest is history.’”

The five-woman production received four 1986 Outer Critics’ Circle Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Music.

Go here for the rest of this profile.



‘Alabaster’ in Florida Rep ArtStage Studio through January 26 

The opening part of a 10-theater National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, Audrey Cefaly’s (photo 2) Alabaster plays through January 26 in Florida Rep’s ArtStage Studio Theatre. Chosen from Florida Rep’s 2018 PlayLab Festival of New Works, this darkly comic Southern drama about love, art and the power of women won the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize.

“Florida Rep’s is committed to developing new works and nurturing playwrights,” said Artistic Director Greg Longenhagen, “and Audrey Cefaly’s new play is one of the most exciting new works to cross my desk in a while. This play is both hopeful and heartbreaking and features some of your favorite Florida Rep ensemble members. We are honored to give this play its first of ten Rolling World Premiere productions and to welcome the playwright into the creative process. Alabaster is not a play to miss this season.”

Only June and her pet goat Weezy live to tell the tale when a tornado sweeps through town leaving a wake of death and destruction. In the aftermath of the storm, a prominent photographer visits to take pictures of the reclusive folk artist’s scars. Both are forced to reconcile the pain of loss and recovery. This all-female drama explores the meaning and purpose of art and the struggle of the lost and tortured souls that seek to create it.

“National New Play Network is delighted to be supporting this play through a record-breaking ten Rolling World Premiere productions in the 12 months following the opening in Fort Myers,” said Nan Barnett, who is the National New Play Network Executive Director. “Florida Rep led the creation of this partnership, and their advocacy for the play and playwright will be celebrated not only in Fort Myers and the other nine cities but also during the many other productions that we are sure will follow.”

Alabaster features ensemble members Rachel Burttram and Sara Morsey alongside Dana Brooke and Carolyn Messina, both making their Florida Rep debuts.

Burttram returns to the ArtStage after her recent work filming The Right Stuff for National Geographic which airs in early 2020. Her recent Florida Rep credits include Steel Magnolias, Hay Fever, and Disgraced, as well as the PlayLab reading of Alabaster in 2018.

Sara Morsey returns after recent appearances in Steel Magnolias and Shear Madness. A folk artist herself, Morsey will create over sixty pieces of original outsider art for the production. They’ll be on display at the Arts for ACT Gallery across the hall from the ArtStage Studio during January.

Alabama native Carolyn Messina makes her Florida Rep debut on the production but has a long history working with the playwright in many capacities. She’s appeared in Cefaly’s works before Alabaster, and as a dramaturg she has collaborated with Cefaly on multiple projects, including Alabaster.

Dana Brooke is a New York actress making her Florida Rep debut in the production, and is a Company Member at B Street Theatre in Sacramento, where she appeared in the National New Play Network Showcase reading of the play in 2018.

Florida Rep ensemble member and Associate Artistic Director Jason Parrish directs.

Alabaster features an expert creative team, including ensemble set designer Richard Crowell (Fences), costume designer Charlene Gross (Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical), lighting and projections designer Rob Siler (Damascus), sound designer Katie Lowe (Damascus), and stage manager Ruth Kramer (Florida Rep debut).

Alabaster by Audrey Cefaly is generously sponsored by Emily Eason and media sponsor, Florida Weekly.

Tickets start at $55/$49 for regular performances and $35/$29 for previews. Tickets are available online at and through the box office at 239-332-4488. Box office hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Again this season, Florida Rep’s parking lot will open 2 hours before each performance and offers guests FREE PARKING across the street from the Arcade Theatre.

N.B.: Alabaster contains strong language and brief nudity.



Improv returns to The Lab on January 11 with Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab

After back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back sold-out performances, Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab returns to The Laboratory Theater of Florida on January 11 for a night of hilarious antics, musical comedy, and on-the-spot jokes. Every facet of the uproarious improvised show is based on audience suggestions. With years of performance experience, Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab delivers a side-splitting, one-of-a-kind show every time.

Scared Scriptless is composed of Leigh Shein, Nick Hernandez, Kea McElfresh, Bill Owens, Andrew Florance and Steve Cobb.

Scared Scriptless offers a unique mixture of both short- and long-form improv, creating an entertaining evening of family-friendly laughter that is fast-paced, musical, and completely improvised. While no two shows are the same, they are always packed with hysterically funny songs, sketches, and jokes created instantaneously based on your suggestions. For the more adventurous, there are occasional opportunities to join the cast on stage.

Individual tickets for the 7:00 p.m. performance on Saturday, January 11 are $15 per person and are available at or by calling (239)218-0481. The theater is located in the River District of Fort Myers at 1634 Woodford Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33901.



Spotlight on Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab tech Leigh Shein

Chicagoan, Leigh Shein took his first improv class with Second City in 1979 and has since studied and worked all over the world. He was a founding member of Bay Area Improv Theater and currently directs and hosts Harry’s Senior Moment. In addition to Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab, Leigh is also a member of Gene Pool Party, an improv group of dads and their daughters. He teaches improv to all ages including kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders.



Spotlight on Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab tech Nick Hernandez

Nick Hernandez has been doing improv for 4 years. He has been in many productions in various theaters. He is currently in college studying to be a sound engineer for theater and artist performances. He is glad to now be a part of this improv group.



Spotlight on Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab tech Kea ‘Mac’ McElfresh

Kea “Mac” McElfresh has been with Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab for nearly two years. As a Miami Improv Member of “Impromedy”, she was glad to finally find an improv family in Fort Myers. Mac is currently teaching theatre at Estero High School and serves the community as District VI Jr. Thespian Chair. She brings a wealth of knowledge and crazy characters to the stage.



Spotlight on Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab tech Bill Owens 

Bill Owens has the privilege of performing with fellow cast members, Steve Cobb, Leigh Shein and Kea McElfresh in the local improv troupes Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab and Gene Pool Party. He was also a member of Harry’s Senior Moment and Dueling Swords. Bill’s passion for improvisation began only three years ago when his determined kids persuaded him to get out of his comfort zone and take an improv class. When not making a fool of himself on the improv stage, Bill practices law as a business and real estate attorney.



Spotlight on Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab tech Andrew Florance

Andrew Florance was born in Tucson, AZ in the back of the O.K. Corral. After escaping from his crib for the 6th time he started traveling with a comedy troupe of babies. They traveled through Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, before ending up in Florida. When he grew too old for the Crying Laughing baby troupe he traveled the U.S. and Europe to perfect his comedic skills in the corporate world, making jokes at the office level until he found Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab. He’s been performing with Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab happily ever after.



Spotlight on Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab tech Steve Cobb

Steve Cobb has been professionally doing improv for over 6 years. Steve currently is the creative director, show runner and cast member for the following improv groups: Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab, Gene Pool Party Improv (dads and their daughters), and Musical Swords Improv. Gene Pool Party Improv has performed locally in Southwest Florida, at the 2017 Palm Beach Improv Festival, the 2018 Palm Beach Improv Festival, and at the 2018 Miami Improv Festival, among several recognized national and international troupes. Musical Swords Improv debuted in the 2018 Palm Beach Improv Festival.

Steve coaches and trains the youth improv troupe Foot Milk Experience Improv. He is the former coach and director of Mission Improvable Youth Improv, and New and Improv’d Youth Improv.

Steve has hosted improv shows throughout the state of Florida, including at the Naples Players Sugden Theatre and the Bonita Springs Center for the Arts. Steve has taught workshops throughout the state, including at the 2018 Palm Beach Improv Festival and for the FGCU Improv Club. He has worked extensively with the FGCU Improv Club. Steve was a judge in Sarasota for the Regional College Improv Tournament in 2017. Steve has performed with many local and national improvisors all around the state, including with “Stacked- All Female Musical Revue” in Sarasota, Florida, as part of an instructor show at the Palm Beach Improv Festival, and with other troupes throughout the state as a guest featured player.

Steve is also a stage actor. His credits include Moon Over Buffalo for the CFABS Players.



‘Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody opens January 17

The first licensed production of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody opens January 17 at The Laboratory Theater of Florida.

A mysterious invitation finds Blanche Dubois on a train to New Orleans. She shares the train with hard-drinking couple George and Martha who seem intent on depleting the entire bar car while delivering scathing advice on life and marriage before the train arrives at its destination. Upon arriving in New Orleans, Blanche runs into the smoldering Stanley Kowalski and the hapless Willie Loman.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket info.



Spotlight on ‘Death of a Streetcar’ director Scott Carpenter

Scott Carpenter is directing Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody. His other directing credits include RumorsSame Time, Next Year, Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical, South Pacific, Mame, and Steel Magnolias. In 2018, Carpenter was honored with the Cape Coral Community Foundation ENPY award for Nonprofit Volunteer of the Year Award for his work with Lab Theater.



Spotlight on ‘Death of a Streetcar’ actor Sue Schaffel

Included in the cast of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody is Sue Schaffel.

Schaffel is an accomplished EMC actor who is based in Southwest Florida each year. Her stage credits include Hush Up Sweet Charlotte (Velma) for Lab Theater. She has also worked in film and television. Her movie credits include I Like Me (for which she was awarded Best Actress/Feature by the 2018 Sunnyside Up Film Festival), The Waiting Room, The Summer Before, Ricardo and Hopping Through Hoops.

Go here for the rest of Sue’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘Death of a Streetcar’ actor Michael Hennessey

Included in the cast of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody is Michael Hennessey. The Naples resident is a stage, film and television actor whose career spans more than 50 years. Born in West Virginia, Hennessey grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before going on to study theater at Wayne State University in Detroit. He thereafter performed on and off Broadway, becoming friends with many great actors, including Academy Award winner George C. Scott (Patton) and Roy Walston (best known for My Favorite Martian). Since relocating to Naples, he has been seen locally in numerous theatrical productions. To see which ones and where they were performed, go here.



Spotlight on ‘Death of a Streetcar’ actor Joann Haley

Included in the cast of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody is Joann Haley. Haley is an actor known for interesting character roles over the course of her 20-plus year career in local community theater. Her credits include the role of Beverly in The Shadow Box for New Phoenix Theatre, seductive Lady Shirley in Marian, or The True Tale of Robin Hood, Mrs. Kendal in The Elephant Man, Dr. Gertrude Ladenberger in 33 Variations, cheesy Sister Elizabeth Donderstock in The Book of LizArcadia, Time and Ina Meyerhoff, Sylvia, and more.

Go here for the rest of her stage credits.



Lab announces special Community Holocaust Remembrance event for January 27

The Laboratory Theater of Florida is hosting a Community Holocaust Remembrance at 7:00 p.m. on January 27. In announcing the event, The Lab references “recent events,” a clear allusion to the knife attack that took place last month at a Hanukah part in a New York suburb in which five people were stabbed.

“This is a solidarity-focused event to unite residents and visitors to remember the Holocaust and reflect on atrocities committed based on fear, hatred, and ignorance,” The Lab states in its press release for the event.

Sadly, the New York knife attack isn’t an isolated incident. Earlier in December a couple went on a rampage at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City that left three people dead inside the store. Part of a hate group, the pair had posted anti-Semitic and anti-police screeds online.

Anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise around the country, leaving members of the Jewish community feeling frightened and unsafe.

In New York City, anti-Semitic crimes have jumped 21 percent in the past year. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 1,879 incidents of anti-Semitism in the United States in 2018, including more than 1,000 instances of harassment.

Philosopher George Santayana once remarked that “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And so on the 27th, Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and laypeople will join a Holocaust survivor to share their thoughts and experiences with patrons who will have the opportunity to not only remember, but learn and connect with others of similar and varying faiths. Lab Theater board member Ella Nayor will moderate the discussion. Ella is a noted author and freelance journalist dedicated to inspiring change and raising awareness of just how connected we truly are in the universe.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to light an LED candle in remembrance of those whose lives were lost or forever altered by the Holocaust.

This is a free event, with collected donations benefiting the Florida Holocaust Museum. The Laboratory Theater of Florida has earned a rare endorsement from the Florida Holocaust Museum for its efforts to ensure that the stories of those who’ve survived and died during Shoah are told and retold in a manner that encourages unity and not discord.

Reserve a seat by calling the box office at 239-218-0481.



Lab offering Meisner taster workshop and certification class by Steven Ditmyer

New York director, acting coach, and Sanford Meisner-alum Steven Ditmyer will offer both a workshop and a Meisner Level One certification course at The Laboratory Theater of Florida. The 3-hour Meisner taster workshop will be January 25th from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the theater. The 20-hour certification course will be held over 4 days, February 1, 2, 8 and 9 from noon until 5:00 p.m. each day.

As an actor, Steven has worked with the likes of Al Pacino, Arthur Miller, Tony Randall, Ron Rifkin, Sam Waterson, Dianne Wiest, and more. As a director, he has worked with Alec Baldwin, Charles Durning, Jack Klugman, and many more. This spring he will be directing Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage at The Laboratory Theater of Florida.

“Acting is the ability to live truthfully under given imaginary circumstances,” Sanford Meisner once said,  and today the Meisner Technique is a foundational part of acting. One of the most systemic and complete acting techniques in the western world, this technique not only changes the way the actor responds to other actors on stage but in every aspect of character development.

The 3-hour Meisner taster workshop will give actors 18 and up an in-depth glimpse into the Meisner method, which espouses living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.

Thanks to the support of generous sponsors and as part of the Lab’s community outreach program, The Lab is able to offer this workshop for $10. Seating is limited.

To receive certification, participants in the 4-day, 20-hour Meisner Level One certification course must attend all sessions. This course is open to actors of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, ages 18 and up. The course is $325 for non-members, $250 for Lab members.

Tickets are available to purchase by calling the box office at 239-218-0481. For additional savings, guests may purchase an annual membership.



‘Dining Room’ comic, touching homage to slice of vanishing Americana

Players Circle Theatre at the Shell Factory will present A.R. Gurney’s The Dining Room January 7 through February 2.

The play is set in the dining room of a well-to-do household – the place where the family assembles for breakfast, for dinner and for sundry special occasions. But this dining room is anything but typical. That’s because Gurney’s living room “exists in a void” compliments of a minimalist set; a cast called upon to portray multiple characters in the tradition of Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery and Let Nothing You Dismay; and a non-linear timeline where nothing matters that occurred before each of the play’s 18 distinct vignettes, or which follows. In other words, The Dining Room is vintage Gurney.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



New Phoenix’s ‘Time Stands Still’ features complex characters, crackling wit

Next up, New Phoenix Theatre will tackle Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still, an insightful play that focuses on two Brooklyn couples who must come to terms with the shifting dynamics of their relationships in the wake of crisis.

Sarah Goodwin is a war photographer who has returned to her Williamsburg loft from Iraq after being injured by an IED that killed her translator and left her face scarred and her body and spirit broken. Her partner, James Dodd, is a journalist, suffered a nervous breakdown and left Iraq before Sarah was injured in the explosion. Now he feels responsible for what happened to Sarah in his absence.

The other couple consists of Richard and Mandy.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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



Spotlight on ‘Time Stands Still’ actor Stacy Stauffer

New Phoenix Theatre is tackling Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still, an insightful play that focuses on two Brooklyn couples who must come to terms with the shifting dynamics of their relationships in the wake of crisis. And playing the part of Sarah Goodwin is Stacy Stauffer, a talented character actor who lives and performs in Fort Myers. Her credits include Sheila in Joe Simonelli’s The Ghost in the Meadow (Cultural Park Theatre), Lab Theater’s world premiere production of Zalman Velvel’s DMV (various roles, including the mayor), The Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940s, Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss, Laura Lorusso’s Scrooge TV: A Modern Christmas CarolStanding on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays (Stacy was Hannah in “This Flight Tonight” and Cate in “A Traditional Wedding”), Rumors and the Vagina Monologues.

Want to see Stacy’s full profile? Go here.



Ten time Tony nominee ‘The Full Monty’ coming to New Phoenix Theatre

Coming to New Phoenix Theatre on February 27 for four full weekends is Terrence McNally and David Yazbek’s The Full Monty. Based on the cult hit film of the same name, this ten-time Tony Award nominee is filled with honest affection, engaging melodies and the most highly anticipated closing number of any show.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket info.



TNP holding auditions for ‘Becky’s New Car’ & ‘Calendar Girls’ on January 25

The Naples Players is holding open auditions for Becky’s New Car and Calendar Girls from noon to 4:00 p.m. on January 25. You may audition for one or both shows. Final casting calls will be made starting Wednesday, January 29. For questions please contact Cole Butcher, Production Stage Manager, by calling 239.434.7340 Ext. 125 or email at



The Naples Players will be ‘Making God Laugh’ January 15 through February 9

Making God Laugh comes to Blackburn Hall at The Naples Players  January 15 through February 9.

Making God Laugh follows one typical American family over the course of thirty years’ worth of holidays. Starting in 1980, Ruthie and Bill’s grown children — a priest, an aspiring actress, and a former football star — all return home, where we learn of their plans and dreams as they embark on their adult lives. The empty-nester parents contend with their own changes, too, as old family rituals are trotted out and ancient tensions flare-up. As time passes, the family discovers that, despite what we may have in mind, we often arrive at unexpected destinations.

Written by Sean Grennan, this nostalgic family play is meaningful, poignant, funny and heartwarming and underscores one simple fact: if you want to make God laugh, just tell her your plans. Showtimes are Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00. Tickets are $30 for subscribers, $40 for individual tickets. To reserve your seats, telephone  239.263.7990 or visit



TNP Readers Theatre presenting ‘Evening of New Plays” on January 19

The Naples Players Readers Theatre will present An Evening of New Plays at 7:00 p.m. on January 19 in their intimate Tobye Studio Theater. Since the focus is on the written word, the evening consists of a series of one-act plays, dramas and classic works performed with scripts in hand and without props or costumes. Each reading is directed and cast by the volunteer readers theatre committee. Tickets are $20. Telephone 239-263-7990 or visit to reserve your seats.



Studio Players holding ‘Diamond in the Rough’ fundraiser on January 25

The Studio Players is holding its Diamond in the Rough Fundraiser from 7:00-10:00 p.m. on January 25. It will include a disco party, silent auction, and live performances by jazz vocalist Suzanne Sole with Craig Davis on keyboard and Kevin Hendricks and Vic Caroli in a scene from The Studio Players’ next show, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The Studio Players is working hard to secure a new home, and the funds it raises will go a long way toward helping the theater actualize its ambitious New Year’s resolution. Order your tickets online at or telephone 239-398-9192 to avoid the processing fee.



Studio Players producing Pulitzer-winning ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ 

The Studio Players will present Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof February 7 through March 1.

The iconic play takes place is a plantation house, where a family is celebrating the sixty-fifth birthday of Big Daddy, as they sentimentally dub him. The mood is somber, despite the festivities, because a number of evils poison the gaiety. Greed, sins of the past and desperate, clawing hopes for the future spar with one another as the knowledge that Big Daddy is dying slowly makes the rounds.

You’ll find the rest of this advance here.

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



Spotlight on ‘Hot Tin Roof’ actor Rachel Borwein

Rachel Borwein is a Naples actor. She will be appearing in the lead as Maggie in The Studio Players’ production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Her other credits include the roles of Suzette in Don’t Dress for Dinner for The Naples Players, Martha Livingstone in Agnes of God for The Studio Players and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew.



Spotlight on ‘Hot Tin Roof’ actor Kevin Hendricks

Kevin Hendricks will be playing the part of Brick in The Studio Players’ production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Kevin is a local actor who was born, raised and educated right here in Naples (at Golden Gate Middle School and Naples High). Kevin’s first love was golf, and in addition to giving lessons and working in area pro shops, he even played on one of the mini-tours for a few years. One day, he decided to join a plant club at Golden Gate Community Center. Arriving early and looking for a way to kill some time, he stumbled into the auditorium where The Studio Players were rehearsing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? As luck would have it, the actor playing Nick had just dropped out and Kevin jumped at the opportunity to take his place. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Go here for Kevin’s full profile.



Spotlight on ‘Hot Tin Roof’ actor Danielle Channell

Danielle Channell is a talented comedic actor living and working in Naples, Florida. She will be appearing next as Mae in The Studio Players’ production of the Pulitzer-winning Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by legendary Tennessee Williams. Past credits include trophy wife Kaitlyn Gordon, brainiac neurosurgeon Angela Saperstein-Koplan and caustic Bohemian author Brianna in Let Nothing You Dismay and Beatrice Pomeroy in Don’t Talk to the Actors for The Studio Players in Naples. Go here for the rest of Danielle’s stage credits.

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