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Actors, artists, filmmakers and events in the news July 22-31, 2019


These are the actors, artists, filmmakers and events who are in the news in Southwest Florida this week:


Charles Jackson teaching two workshops at Center for Performing Arts (07-31-19)

What makes a great character for the stage? That’s precisely what Charles Jackson will address on August 8 in Character Analysis for Theatre, a one night workshop that runs from 6:00-8:30 p.m. at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita in the Moe Auditorium. Discover how to make characters authentic and real. Dive into creating a character, how to research, making physical and vocal choices, and creating psychological profiles. Known for his unique solo plays and socially-conscious storytelling, Jackson will build your confidence levels and help guide you into creating believable and dynamic representations for your next role.

The workshop is open to all skill levels and costs $40. Please bring a preferred character, monologue or play. Wear comfortable clothing and be ready to have a great time while advancing yourself as a performance artist.

And in Self-Producing: Be Your Own Independent Theatre on August 10, Charles Jackson will delve into the ins and outs of self-producing those roles you’ve always dreamed of landing. Given the ever-changing market of theatre, avenues for self-production have grown and Charles Jackson can help you learn to open the doors for yourself. Whether you have an idea for a play to produce or are simply curious as to what goes on before the show can even start rehearsing, this class should be of interest to you. It, too, takes place in the Moe Auditorium on the Bonita Beach Road campus of the Center for Performing Arts from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on August 10. Tuition is $30.

Charles Jackson is an actor, director, playwright and producer residing in Fort Worth, Texas. Charles received two Bachelors of Arts (Theatre and Broadcasting) from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Film-Television Producing at Regent University. Charles has been a part of the performing arts community for over a decade ranging from playwriting, producing, acting and directing. Charles’s one-man show In Due Time, PANTOMIME premiered in Fort Worth, Texas in 2017 and was accepted into the 2018 Fort Worth Fringe Festival. Mr. Jackson is best known for his ability to independently produce socially conscious plays. Charles will be premiering his second one-man show The Floating Black Man at Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs in August.

Call 239-495-8989 for more information and to sign up!



Next Fort Myers Art Walk is August 2 and 3 (07-31-19)

The River District will come alive on August 2 when Art Walk returns to downtown Fort Myers. Now a two-day event, Art Walk will continue Saturday, August 3, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. With exciting new exhibits and live art demonstrations, rain or shine, this is a “must attend event.”

New exhibits include exceptional art in a variety of mediums done by a bevy of local artists and some national and international artists as well.  You can meet the artists and talk art at the self-guided Friday night event, which brings together art enthusiasts, collectors and community friends who celebrate the arts each month. The Friday night Art Walk sees First Street closed to traffic. Local artists set up in the street selling their art, and face painting is offered at several locations along First Street. And at the Broadway and First Street intersection, the Fort Myers Art League will be hosting a “Make It/Take It” table for children of all ages.

Saturday Art Walk is a quieter affair with most of the galleries open for examining the art at more leisurely pace. This new and improved version of Art Walk includes 14 galleries and art stops, including:

  • American Legion Veterans Gallery showing Art done by Veterans
  • Art League of Fort Myers – new exhibits each month
  • Arts for ACT Gallery – features three or more art exhibits every month plus co-op members art
  • Bootlegger Alley Gallery – outdoor gallery open only during Art Walk in The Patio de Leon
  • Grand Illusion Gallery – art, tee shirts and more
  • Marc Harris Wildlife Photography – on Jackson Street
  • Miville Art Gallery – art and photography in the Franklin Shops
  • Ollie Mack Gentry Photography – photography  at 2180 West First Street
  • Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center – Main Gallery Exhibit and Capitol Exhibit on the 3rd Floor
  • The Barrel Room – Jazz art – on Bay Street
  • Timeless Gallery – gallery and gift shop featuring steampunk art and more
  • Two Newts Gallery – co-op gallery located off West First Street at 2064 Bayside Parkway
  • Unit A – urban contemporary gallery of internationally-acclaimed artist Marcus Jansen located in Gardener’s Park

As this survey of participating galleries reveals, Fort Myers Art Walk spans the core of downtown Fort Myers and includes the Gardener’s Park area and West First Street. Most of the action is located on First Street, but you can obtain a Fort Myers Art Walk map at any of the galleries that will lead you to all the art venues and Art Walk partners.  “Enjoy cultural venues, restaurants, bars and businesses, plus live music,” touts the River District Alliance. “Watch live art demos on First Street, eat amazing food, shop the unique local boutiques or just enjoy the atmosphere.”

So whether you prefer the energy of night or the calm of day, there’s something for everyone during this new-and-improved weekend of art that Fort Myers still calls Art Walk. There is free street parking and $5.00 at any of the parking garages.  In season ride the free River District Trolley. Fort Myers Art Walk is a Pet and Family Friendly free event! Fort Myers Art Walk is hosted by The River District Alliance, a non-profit organization. For more information, please visit



ArtFest Fort Myers now accepting applications for 20th anniversary show (07-30-19)

ArtFest Fort Myers is now accepting applications from professional artists for participation in its 2020 juried show which, coincidentally, is its 20th anniversary show as well! Featuring the work of 200 artists, ArtFest Fort Myers will bring 90,000 art lovers and collectors to the largest outdoor gallery in Southwest Florida on the first weekend in February.

Why do so many artists vie for inclusion in the show? It’s simple. Because ArtFest’s year-round friendly and professional staff places the focus on the artist and the art-selling experience. Targeting art buyers throughout Southwest Florida and beyond – from Marco Island to Sarasota and east to West Palm Beach – ArtFest’s promotional campaign includes all forms of media. Judging from each year’s turn-out, they’re clearly doing something right. No other art festival in Florida comes close to pulling in the number of people or the concentration of collectors that ArtFest does.

The organizers also understand the importance of providing great artist amenities over festival weekend to ensure that its exhibitors are stress free and ready to share their work with the festival’s dedicated and enthusiastic attendees.

How are festival artists chosen?

Each October, ArtFest Fort Myers brings together a panel of professional artists who view submitted images and score each applying artist on a range of 1 – 7 points. The artists with the highest scores are then invited to participate in ArtFest.

“Our jury panel varies each year but always represents a broad base of expertise with regard to artistic mediums,” ArtFest points out in its press release announcing the opening of this year’s submission process. “Theirs is the difficult task of evaluating who is the ‘best-of–the-best’ from the hundreds of artists who wish to join ArtFest Fort Myers! Our jury process is open to artists and patrons – please contact us for more information.”

For Artist Application information, please contact ArtFest Fort Myers at 239-768-3602, email or visit



Boulderbrook accepting submissions for Southwest Florida art festivals (07-30-19)

Boulderbrook Productions hosts a number of boutique art festivals in Southwest Florida each season. It is currently accepting submissions for:

  • The Art Festival at Mercato (January 25 & 26, 2020);  application deadline now closed;
  • Bonita Springs Invitational Art Festival (November 23 & 24); application deadline now closed;
  • Sanibel Masters Art Festival (Novembe 29 & 30); application deadline now closed;
  • Art Festival at the Sanibel Shops (December 7 & 8); deadline: September 7;
  • The Sanibel SCA Art Festival (January 17 & 18, 2020); deadline: October 4;
  • Sarasota Masters Art Festival (February 1 & 2, 2020); deadline September 21;
  • Bonita Springs Invitational at The Promenade (February 15 & 16, 2020); October 1;
  • Boca Grande Art Festival (March 7 & 8, 2020); deadline: October 14;
  • Peace River National Art Festival (March 21 & 22, 2020); deadline October 1; and
  • Bonita Springs Masters Art Festival (March 28 & 29, 20209); deadline October 14.

You must apply online at



Hot Works accepting applications for Estero Fine Art Show (07-30-19)

Hot Works LLC is now accepting submissions for the 23rd Estero Fine Art Show. It will take place on Saturday and Sunday, January 4 & 5, 2020 at JetBlue Park. The show features original work in a wide array of disciplines, including painting, clay, glass, fiber, sculpture, wood, photography, jewelry and more.

Voted a top 100 art show four years running, the Estero Fine Art show is recognized as one of America’s highest quality and most respected art shows in the country. One of the show’s highlights is a Youth Art Competition for grades K-8 or ages 5-13.

Winter home of the Boston Red Sox, JetBlue Park affords both exhibitors and attendees with numerous benefits, including a location that draws from and is easily accessible from everywhere in Southwest Florida, as well as plenty of convenient, on-site parking.

The application deadline is September 17, 2019. Applications can be found online at For more information, please contact Executive Director Patty Narozny at or 248-684-2613.



Naples Art now accepting applications for Naples New Year’s Art Show 2020 (07-30-19)

East Entry 02The Naples Art Association is currently accepting applications for inclusion in its three outstanding outdoor art festivals, The Naples New Year’s Art Show 2020, Naples National Art Festival and The Downtown Naples Festival of the Arts.

Start your new year off in sunny Florida. New opportunities await you at the 24th Annual Naples New Year’s Art Show. This fine art festival draws professional artists from around the country and was ranked #20 in the nation in 2018 by Sunshine Artist Magazine and is included by in its “BLUE CHIP 100” Fine Art Events for 2019.

If you are interested in exhibiting at this show, here’s what you will need to know:

  • Dates: Saturday and Sunday, January 4-5, 2020
  • Festival Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Location: 5th Avenue South, Downtown Naples
  • Accept 250 artists max
  • Application fee: $35
  • Booth fee: $450 for 10×10
  • Cancellation refund policy: Full refund: 11/22/19; 50% refund: 12/06/19 (refunds subject to $25 processing fee)
  • Set up specifics: 4 a.m. early morning set up only: On street set up in quads; No electrical
  • Application deadline: 09/08/19
  • Jury Process begins: 09/13/19
  • Status Notification: 09/23/19
  • Booth Fee Due: 10/24/19
  • Artist Info Emailed: 11/25/19
  • Wait List Acceptance: 10/24/19
  • No Refund Deadline:  12/07/19
  • Application available online at ZAPP




Naples Art now accepting applications for Naples National Art Show (07-30-19)

Crowd Shot BestThe Naples Art Association is currently accepting applications for inclusion in its three outstanding outdoor art festivals, The Naples New Year’s Art Show 2020, Naples National Art Festival and The Downtown Naples Festival of the Arts.

Naples National is consistently voted among the top 25 art festivals in the country by Sunshine Artist Magazine and was ranked #24 last year. As one of the oldest festivals in Collier County, Naples National is counted by the local community as among its premiere, must–see events, thanks to the high quality of art, the engaging personalities of the artists and the festive atmosphere. The show is held in scenic Cambier Park and along 8th Street South, one block from downtown Naples’ premier shopping and dining district.

If you are interested in exhibiting in the 41st Naples National Art Festival, here’s what you will need to know:

  • Dates: Saturday & Sunday, February 22-23, 2020
  • Festival Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Accept 194 artists max
  • Application fee: $35
  • Booth fee: $625 for 10×10
  • Cancellation refund policy: Full refund: 01/10/20; 50% refund: 01/31/20 (subject to $25 processing fee)
  • Set up specifics: Friday set up on 2/21,
  • Park and street setting
  • Application deadline: 10/28/19
  • Jury Process begins: 11/01/19
  • Status Notification: 11/25/19
  • Booth Fee Due: 12/16/19
  • Artist Info Emailed: 01/20/19
  • Wait List Acceptance: 12/16/19
  • Application available online at beginning June 1, 2019

To improve the quality of the show and to provide more sales opportunities for our artists, NAA has reduced the number of booths available from 270 to 194. “This will allow artists greater exposure and less competition,” states NAA in its prospectus for the show. “Additionally, the park layout, will consist of one loop making it easier for customers to view all artist’s booths. However, there is a corresponding increase in booth fees.”

This is the only Naples Art Association show that offers cash awards for Best of Show, Best 2D, Best 3D and Awards of Distinction in 2D and 3D. The amounts are:

  • Best of Show – $2,000
  • Best 2D – $500
  • Best 3D – $500
  • Awards of Distinction 2D – 5 awards at $200 each
  • Awards of Distinction 3D – 5 awards at $200 each

Awards will be presented at the band shell in Cambier Park at 3:00 pm on Saturday. NAA staff or volunteers will notify an artist if they need to be present at the awards ceremony on Saturday. Awards are given based on the same criteria used for the jury process. The winning artists are invited to participate in the following year’s show and receive jury exempt status but must still pay his/her booth fee.

The mission of the Naples Art Association is to expand cultural opportunities, broaden education and enrich SWF through the visual arts. Proceeds from the Naples National Art Show support educational programming at The Naples Art Association.



Naples Art now accepting applications for Naples Downtown Art Show (07-30-18)

Crowd Shot 01 (4)The Naples Art Association is currently accepting applications for inclusion in its three outstanding outdoor art festivals, The Naples New Year’s Art Show, Naples National Art Festival and The Naples Downtown Art Show.

The 31st Annual Downtown Naples Festival of the Arts is one of the last major art festivals of the winter season and a favorite festival for artists, art enthusiasts and collectors. This festival was rated #34 by Sunshine Artist’s Magazine 2018 ARTIST 200 Best Shows in America.

If you would like to exhibit in this show, here’s what you will need to know:

  • Dates: Saturday and Sunday, March 21-224, 2020
  • Festival Hours: Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Location: 5th Avenue South, Downtown Naples
  • Accept 250 artists max
  • Application fee: $35
  • Booth fee: $450 for 10×10
  • Cancellation refund policy: Full refund: 02/07/20; 50% refund: 02/21/20 (subject to $25 processing fee)
  • Set up specifics: 4 a.m., early morning set up only;
  • On street set up in quads: No electrical
  • Application deadline: 12/08/19
  • Jury Process begins: 12/13/19
  • Status Notification: 12/27/19
  • Booth Fee Due: 01/18/20
  • Artist Info Emailed: 02/26/20
  • Wait List Acceptance: 01/18/20
  • Application available online at beginning June 1, 2018



Naples Art accepting submissions for next season’s Art in the Park (07-30-19)

Art in the Park LogoAre you ready for the 2019-2020 season of Art in the Park? The Naples Art Association (NAA) proudly connects artists with art shoppers in another terrific season of Art in the Park.

Since 1957, Art in the Park has showcased paintings in oil and acrylics, watercolors, mixed Art in the Park 01media, photography, sculpture, ceramics, glass art, jewelry and wood-working created by members in good standing of the Naples Art Association. For art lovers, it’s a casual, fun-filled venue for meeting local artists and becoming acquainted with their work. It is believed to be the first outdoor art show held in Naples. And the tradition continues for the 2019-2020 art fair and festival season.

Art in the Park 04Art in the Park is held between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month from November through April. Because of its long tradition, prestige and the interest and number of people who routinely turn out for the show, many NAA members seek admission to the show. Applicants go through a jury process.

“Art in the Park is a membership opportunity, providing artists a venue to sell and market their Art in the Park 05work while broadening their customer base,” notes the Naples Art Association in its call to artists for the 2019-2020 season. “It also provides a setting for artists to interact with other artists sharing ideas, industry changes and the camaraderie of creative people. It is an opportunity for both artists and the public to engage in enlightening conversations about art.”

Make and Take Art 01The one-day fair takes place on Park Street adjacent to The Naples Art Association in the northwest corner of Cambier Park. Located just a block and a half from historic Fifth Avenue South, Art in the Park is within walking distance of trendy European boutiques, sidewalk cafes and iconic art galleries such as Sheldon Fine Art, Call of Africa’s Native Visions Gallery and Shaw Gallery of Fine Art Demo Booth 01Art. The show is also just three minutes by car from fabled Gallery Row and the Third Street South Gallery District. The January show is also held in conjunction with the Downtown Naples New Year’s Art Fair, which will be held next season on Saturday and Sunday, January 4 & 5, 2020.



Statue of carmaker Henry Ford celebrates 12th anniversary (07-29-19)

Standing Ford Outside The Mangoes 1Twelve years ago, North Fort Myers sculptor Don Wilkins cast a standing statue of Henry Ford for the Edison Ford Winter Estates. The 7 foot 4 inch cold cast aluminum sculpture is located outside the car manufacturer’s American bungalow-style Fort Myers retreat, The Mangoes, which he purchased in 1916 for $20,000. Donated by Orvall McCleary, the statue was dedicated on July 29, 2007, the day prior to the 144th anniversary of the inventor’s birth.

Standing Ford Outside The Mangoes 2“Unlike Edison whose clothing was often worn and crumpled, Henry Ford had a reputation as a sharp dressed man,” Wilkins relates. “All the reference photos I consulted show that he paid meticulous attention to his clothing, so all the lines in his suit are crisp and tailored to the hilt.”

Wilkins did not, however, depict Ford in his famous soybean suit. As that story goes, Ford became concerned in the 1930s that his farming customers could no longer afford to buy his cars Standing Ford Outside The Mangoes 3because they were not getting the prices they needed for their crops due to the Great Depression. So Ford began developing crops that could serve as ingredients for fuels, plastics and textiles in a “cars growing from the ground” project. Hemp and soybeans seemed especially suited to this purpose. He adapted his Model T to run on ethanol, built a car that contained plastic parts and upholstery of vegetable origin, and even invented a suit made of soybean protein fiber that he called “soybean wool.” Always a great promoter of his inventions, he took to wearing the soybean suit everywhere he went.

Hoover, Ford and EdisonUnfortunately, the soy fibres were itchy and it was not long before less expensive, petroleum-based synthetics like rayon took over the market place. Nevertheless, Ford’s interest helped foster the fledging soy industry and scholars speculate that had Ford lived longer, he would have been active in promoting soy foods, which would have greatly accelerated their introduction into American diets.

The Mangoes (2)Ford first met Edison at a convention held in 1896 by the Edison Illuminating Company, for whom Ford worked as an engineer. However, he did not make his first trip to Fort Myers until 1914, when Edison invited him to come along on a camping trip into the Florida Everglades. Calling themselves “the Vagabonds,” Ford and Edison, along with Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs, Edison Ford Camping Tripwould make many more camping trips over the next decade and a half, building bonds of friendship that are memorialized today by another D.J. Wilkins sculpture, Uncommon Friends.

Ford returned to The Mangoes only sporadically after Thomas Edison’s death in 1931. He sold his estate to Thomas and Gladys Biggar in 1945. In 1988, the City of Fort Myers purchased Henry Edison_AerialFord’s estate for $1.5 million, restored it to its historic appearance and opened it to the public in 1989. The property is now managed by Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates, Inc., a local non-profit organization.

Today, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is a world-class cultural and educational resource Edison Machineryhonoring the innovation and creativity of these two inventors, industrialists and “uncommon friends.” A National Register Historic Site, the Estates includes the display of permanent art collections as well as temporary exhibits of art as an interpretation of site and a reflection of the 1920s historic landscape.

Intended to enhance the experience of visitors to its museum, grounds and related botanical site, the Estates’ sculpture collection is primarily figurative and includes a standing Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, seated Mina Edison, and pedestaled busts of all three.



Look back at Marylyn Dintenfass’ ‘Parallel Park’ (07-29-19)

South Facade 2013Art Southwest Florida has profiled Marylyn Dintenfass’ Parallel Park, a site-specific 30,000 square foot outdoor art installation located on the 5-story Lee County Justice Center Parking Garage in downtown Fort Myers. Dedicated on December 9, 2010, the public artwork consists of 23 open-weave Kevlar and fiberglass fabric panels that stand 33 feet tall by 22 feet wide. If you haven’t checked out this award-winning public art masterwork yet or in a while, do so now. Just click here

The fabric onto which the artwork was printed were designed to last in the rain, heat and humidity that characterizes Southwest Florida’s harsh summers. To ensure that the panels would have a useful life of a decade or more, the printer used a combination of fade-resistant archival ink and ultraviolet screening, but the panels failed to retain their vibrancy and today the color is nearly completely washed out. Discussions are under way about whether to reprint the panels or issue a call to artists for a new public artwork that will draw attention to Fort Myers and Lee County for another decade or more to come.



Revisiting Fort Myers’ 1880 Italian marble sculpture, Lorelei (07-29-19)

Lorelei Beyond the Pink Hibiscus 01SArt Southwest Florida has profiled Fort Myers’ 1880 Italian marble sculpture, Lorelei, which resides in the Hibiscus Garden at the Fort Myers Lee County Garden Council on Virginia Street in downtown Fort Myers. When Lorelei arrived at the Garden Council, she was in dire need of significant conservation. The surface of the sculpture was covered with dirt, grime, mold, mildew, fungus and lichen, largely because the sculpture had been Post-Conservation Lorelei Front View 03Ssurrounded for more than 50 years by firebrush hedge, which served to hold moisture against the surface of the stone. The marble had suffered spalling in several areas, most notably on the siren’s right elbow, and “portions of the surface were slightly friable to the touch, particularly areas that were exposed to constant direct sunlight.”

In furtherance of its agreement with the City of Fort Myers Public Art Committee, the Garden Council engaged Rosa Lowinger & Associates to perform the work necessary to clean and stabilize the stone. A full-service conservation firm specializing in the preservation of sculpture, architectural elements, three-dimensional artwork and contemporary art, RLA is considered a national leader in preservation and Lorelei Beyond the Bird of Paradise 01Sconservation of art in the public sector.

The first step in the sculpture’s conservation consisted of washing the marble with filtered water and a conservation grade detergent to remove dirt, grime and soluable salts. Poultices were applied to remove staining, and a fungicide was used to mitigate discoloration from mold and fungus and provide residual protection to the surface. But the Post-Conservation Lorelei Left View 03Smost intricate and important part of the process involved injecting epoxy into the marble to stabilize and repair the spalling that had occurred over time.

The difference in Lorelei’s outward appearance following these measures is stunning. Today, the marble virtually gleams in the sunlight, showing off Emma Elisabeth’s Phinney’s intricate and well-executed craftsmanship. Details that had been lost in the grime and mold, like the comb at the siren’s right hand and the flowers carved into the stacked shale plinth, jump out and, from a distance, the Post-Conservation Lorelei Garden Shot 08Sbody and flowing shift are infused with a fluid, languid movement.

The foregoing work was performed on January 6 and 7, 2015 at a cost of more than $6,000. But Lorelei is not out of danger yet.

Please click here to see the sculpture’s full profile.



Revisiting ARTSWFL’s profile of Bonita Springs’ ‘Away’ and ‘Rusty’ (07-29-19)

Away 2AArt Southwest Florida maintains profiles of Away and Rusty, The American Dog, two Bonita Springs’ public artworks created by Massachusetts metal sculptor Dale Rogers.

Away is a 12 foot tall, 800 pound, stainless steel sculpture that resides in Riverside Park, just south of the Liles Hotel. The piece features two stainless steel arms stretching skyward. Between the arms is a large red ball which makes its own strong statement. A flock of black birds has been cut into the side of one of the arms to reinforce the free-flying feel that Massachusetts sculptor Dale Rogers wanted to convey with the piece.

Big Dog 3AAmerican Dog is a 8-foot-tall by 10-foot long 500-pound Cor-Ten steel sculpture that resides today in Depot Park in historic downtown Bonita Springs. Local residents have affectionately named the sculpture Rusty because of his rust-colored patina. “He was supposed to go into the City’s new dog park,” notes Bonita Springs City Councilwoman Janet Martin, “but the residents out there [who have come to regard him as a Away2member of the community] have insisted that he stay in Depot Park.” Their collective feeling demonstrates the power of public art when it comes to place making and engendering community identity and civic pride.

Rogers’ career as a monumental artist spans more than a decade. Rogers works primarily with stainless and Cor-Ten steel. “Stainless steel is beautiful and versatile,” Rogers remarks. “The surface of it can be done in many different finishes, with the variations adding dimension and depth.” He favors Cor-Ten because of its “long life/low maintenance” reputation. “It is what cities and the federal government use to make bridges out of. It oxidizes My Beautiful Town Mural May 22 2014 Fover time and then seals itself. It offers an organic and simple element to the sculptures while the stainless steel brings in a little more pizzazz and punch.”

The City of Bonita Springs has embraced public art in a personal, grassroots sort of way. Like dozens of other Florida municipalities and 13 counties, it has an ordinance that sets aside money for art every time it constructs a new building or conducts a major renovation. But recognizing that capital improvement projects aren’t initiated every year, the city also allocates a modest stipend for public art in its annual operating budget. And by forging unconventional relationships with public artists and business property owners, the town has been able to parlay those funds into a collection of sculpture and murals that inspires pride of ownership in residents and a sense of wonderment in first-time and seasonal visitors. Please click here for more information about Bonita Springs’ public art program and collection.



Grandma Johnson included in profile of Imperial River public artwork (07-29-19)

Grandma JohnsonImperial River History is a 12 foot long by 6 foot tall by 18 inch deep mural that resides in the lobby of the Bonita Springs City Hall. Created by local clay sculptor David Kellum, it contains a background consisting of a map of the Imperial River. Across the map’s topography Kellum has embedded plates depicting scenes of local historical significance. Mounted in front of the plates are sculptures of local people of historical note. One of those folks is the First Lady of Bonita Springs, Grandma “Mollie” Johnson.

Mollie Johnson and her husband, Frank, appear to be GrandmaJohnson2Mound Key’s first white settlers. President Benjamin Harrison issued a patent (certificate 9353) recognizing their homestead on November 9, 1891. But  the Johnsons are believed to have moved onto the island some time in 1875. “By her deeds of kindness, ‘Grandma Johnson,’ as she was called, became a legendary figure to rich and poor alike,” wrote Allene Smith Murphy in Recollections – Mound Key, Schools & Early Settlers, a series of short stores she wrote as part of a memoirs writing class that has been preserved and published by her great-niece, Marci Townley Burns. “No history is complete without some reference to her. She endured her hardships as a way of life and lived in poverty all her life.”

Please click here to read more.



FGCU’s ‘Human Race’ profiled on Art Southwest Florida (07-29-19)

Human Race 04Situated at the front door of the campus’ academic core, Raymond L. Lutgert’s imposing geometric sculpture, Human Race, greets faculty, students and visitors to Florida Gulf Coast University. The minimalist piece consists of two 24-foot-tall curved stainless steel columns set in a reflecting pool. When the sun hits the textured columns just right, the water sparkles with patterns. “The work symbolizes the competition of individuals whether in business or in other aspects of life,” noted Lutgert, who died May 28, 2010. Allegorically, the columns can be regarded as two figures competing, the one curving forward in victory, with the other folding back on itself in defeat.

Please click here to read the full review.



Revisiting FGCU’s ‘Verve’ by Massachusetts glass sculptor Michele Gutlove (07-29-19)

Verve Viewed from Mezzanine 1Verve is a hanging fused glass sculpture that graces the lobby atrium of Marieb Hall, FGCU’s health sciences building. The artwork consists of more than 400 pieces of handmade sculptural glass suspended on stainless steel cables and a custom crafted aluminum truss that is, in turn, attached to the trusses that support the building’s third floor.

Taken together, the sculptural glass represents the nuclei and dendrites of three neurons. Neurons are essentially the brain’s messengers, relaying messages electrically throughout the human brain and spinal chord. Many intricate trees of highly branched extensions called dendrites extend from the surface of each cell Nuclei and Dendrites Against Window Panesbody. They serve as receptors to collect signals from other neurons. After light enters your eye, for example, it is turned into signals that are picked up by dendrites. Neurons carry these signals almost instantaneously to various parts of the brain, prompting your eyelids to squint, the muscles in your hand and arm to catch a ball, or more neurons to create new signals that send inklings of thought darting through your brain.

The glass that Gutlove used to create her nuclei and rangy dendrites appears to be both clear and colorful as it scatters the light which floods Marieb Hall’s atrium and casts dynamic, Nucleus in Sea of Dendritescolorful reflections and refractions on the walls, floor and ceiling. That’s because each piece has a dichroic coating (see below) which causes certain wavelengths of light to either pass through or be reflected, producing an array of color which shifts depending on the angle of view and the location of the sun or artificial light source.

Verve as Backdrop for Student at WorkVerve is site-specific as the focus of study in Marieb Hall not only relates to medical health, but social work as well. “Although human brain cells are the seeds of my inspiration for this piece, viewers will discover other imagery as they view the sculpture over time,” Gutlove adds. “My concept is that students will make their own connections, and the art will inspire curiosity, exploration and education.”

Verve Catches Morning LightWhile public art delivers myriad benefits, one of its chief functions is to engender a deeper interaction with a place by the people who visit, work and study there. Public art creates human scaling of open areas by framing the space, draws people together by inducing strangers to talk to one another, engages the faculty and student body, and adds to their visual quality of life. But good public art does more than stimulate conversation and make a space seem more welcoming. It relates to the environment in which it is located. Verve not only represents the connections that occur within the human brain, it illuminates the university’s mission by celebrating and inspiring connections students are making with each other and with their own potential.

Michele 1The commission cost $61,000 and was funded by the Florida Art in Public Buildings program, an initiative started in 1979 pursuant to section 255.043 of the Florida Statutes that earmarks one-half of one percent of the amount the legislature appropriates for the construction of state buildings for the acquisition of public artworks.

Please click here to read the full profile and anthology of installation articles.



FGCU’s ‘Dream to Connect’ underscores university’s multifaceted mission (07-29-19)

Dream to Conquer 02On the east wall of the Arts Complex is a highly symbolic acrylic and stainless steel sculpture titled Dream to Connect. The focal point of the installation is the Greek god Apollo standing in a chariot that is borne by a wheel in the form of a metal gear. In Apollo’s hands are reins that are tied Orals 3to a Silver Dollar orchid, an endangered epiphytic orchid found in the salt marshes and mangrove forests of Everglades National Park. Above and to the right of the orchid is a honey bee preparing to alight on a compass, and above and to the left of that is a stainless steel film reel.

Dream to Conquer 01Apollo is the god of the arts and patron of intellectual pursuits. The dollar orchid represents Florida’s native beauty and references FGCU’s ecological mission. The gear in Apollo’s chariot symbolizes industrialization and advancement, while the film reel marries technology and art. The compass is a tool universally used by artists and scientists, and the honey bee represents the goal of all artists to facilitate and foster the cross-pollination of ideas.

The work was forged by contemporary sculptor, artist, curator and FGCU art educator Mary Sullivan Voytek. To read more about Voytek’s work, please click here.



Atlanta sculptor Phil Proctor’s ‘Bud’ profiled on Art Southwest Florida (07-29-19)

Bud 3Bud is a 14’ high by 10’ wide by 10’ deep single-axis aluminum and steel kinetic sculpture created by Atlanta metal sculptor Phil Proctor that is located next to the Kapnick Research & Education Center to the right of the entrance of the Naples Botanical Garden. It was purchased by Florida Gulf Coast University in 2011 with funds provided by Florida’s Art in State Buildings Program (Fla. Stat. 255.043).

The top of Bud rotates in the wind. By including one or more moving components, kinetic sculptures like Bud define the relationship between matter and energy. They express a relationship between objects and forces in our physical environment. Built from materials of structural purpose but with organic form, shape and motion, Bud Bud 2illustrates man’s desire to organize and define the chaos of the natural world, thus making it a good and logical fit for its inclusion in the Naples Botanical Garden.

Proctor works with found and recycled objects. He prefers  “solid” materials like metal and stone, using them in a manner that accommodates their natural tendencies. His approach is interpretive. Proctor explores their materiality to find their “voice.” In essence, the materials tell him what they are, what they were or what they desire to be. This intuitive approach gives Proctor a way to analyze his own interactions with culture, life and physical existence.

Please click here to read the full profile.



FGCU public art collection includes three Josef Albers embossings (07-29-19)

Albers 03Florida Gulf Coast University holds within its permanent public art collection three white embossings created by German modernist Josef Albers. Gray V (1971) and Gray VII (1971) can be found in the main lobby of the Campus Support Complex, while Gray VI (1971) hangs in the North-South Corridor.

Please click here to read more.



FGCU public art collection includes three Rosenquist works (07-29-19)

Rosenquist 11Florida Gulf Coast University’s permanent art collection includes three works by pop artist James Rosenquist. Located in the North-South Corridor of the Campus Support Complex, one is a 1972 trial proof titled Pulling Out and the other two are 1974 embossed prints titled Time Flowers and Spikes.

To read more, please click here.



FGCU permanent collection has black & white Pamela Daum infrared photos (07-29-19)

daum 04Included in Florida Gulf Coast University’s permanent art collection are four black-and-white infrared photographs by Ohio artist Pamela Z. Daum. They are Wooden Gate, Brick Wall (2008), Reborn in Florida #1 (2009) and Cypress Knees (2009) hanging in the 2nd Floor Corridor of Academic Building – 5, and De Leone Tree (2009) located in the 3rd Floor Corridor.

Please click here for more on Pamela Z. Daum.



Latest on ‘#SLUT’ and filmmaker Sophia Watson (07-27-19)

#SLUT took Audience Favorite honors at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival. Exploring the central themes of cyberbullying, slut shaming and sexual predation, the film resonated with the Millennial/Gen X cineastes who saw the film. That’s not surprising when you discover that the film’s writer is just 19 and was forced to put up with bullying first hand as a high school junior and senior.

#SLUT is the 2019 NYLA International Film Festival (LA) Best Student Film winner, 2019 Papaya Films Bursary winner, and the D Lacy Jr. Social Justice Award winner at the 2018 Studio City Int’l Film Festival. In addition, #SLUT was a Best Drama nominee at the 19th Annual FirstGlance Film Festival in Los Angeles and semi-finalist in the Content Creators of Atlanta Awards. Sophia individually received nominations for Breakout Performance and Best Young Actor at FirstGlance, with Director Jenna Kanell garnering a Best Director Award at the 15 Minutes of Fame Film Festival in Cocoa Beach earlier this year.

Go here for more news and links to related articles.



Latest on ‘AKA’ and filmmaker Julia Mann (07-27-19)

AKA was one of the short films juried into this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival. It’s a homegrown affair, having been adapted for the screen by Sanibel filmmaker Julia Mann from a 1981 novel by Tristan Jones and filmed by a local production crew that included videographer Rusty Farst of Sanibel, visual and sound editor Dave Beaty of Dreamtime Entertainment, and Captains Bill Cromie and Billy Kirkland.

To find out where AKA has screened and the awards it has won, go here.



Latest on ‘Bird’s Eye’ and filmmaker Erin Beute (07-27-19)

Bird’s Eye was among a host of exceptional short films that screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival. Written by and starring Erin Beute, this Skyra Studios’ indie short has won a considerable number of awards both pre and post FMff, including Best Florida Film at Tally Shorts, Best Short Narrative at Bonita Springs International Film Festival, Best Florida Made Film at Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival, and the Enzian Femmeslam 2019. Bird’s Eye will also screen this fall at the Central Florida Film Festival (Cenflo 2019).

Given the popular and critical acclaim the film has received, screenwriter Erin Beute has converted the script from a short into a feature, although the plotline and characterizations lend themselves to a television series as well.

Go here for more news.



Latest on ‘On the Way to Lovetown’ and filmmaker Mariya Pyter (07-27-19)

Among the short films juried into this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is On the Way to Lovetown, a 15-minute love story/action film from Magic Hour Productions, an independent production company dedicated to producing character-driven narrative films and documentaries. In addition to FMff, the short has screened at WMMIntl (We Make Movies International) Film Festival on July 13 and the 2019 Artemis Women in Action Film Festival and ArtLaemmle Monica Film Festival in April. On the Way to Lovetown was a finalist at the Independent Film Awards London 2019. The film will be digitally available on all online platforms in September.

Go here for the rest of the Lovetown news.



Latest on ‘Patrik’ and filmmaker Evgeniya Radilova (07-27-19)

Evigeniya Radilova’s short film Patrik screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival. The film has gone on to receive six awards in ten screenings, including Best Narrative Short at the Olympus Film Festival, Best Comedy at the 2109 Florence Film Awards, Best Original Story and a Best Actor for Patrik Baldauff at the 2019 Cannes Global Short Film Awards (which recognizes excellence in short films under 15 minutes in length written and produced by both amateur and professional filmmakers from around the world) along with an Honorable Mention for Radilova by the Top Shorts Film Festival on March 29. The film was also screened at The People’s Film Festival in Harlem in May and the Lighthouse International Film Festival in New Jersey in June.

Go here for more updates.



Latest on ‘Roaring Tide’ and filmmaker Aly Mang (07-27-19)

Roaring Tides was one of the short films juried into this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival. It stars and was written and directed by Aly Mang, who was named Best New Director 2018 by NYC Chain Film Festival. In addition to FMff and NYC Chain, Roaring Tides was an official selection of the Chelsea Film Festival, Hoboken International Film Festival, Long Beach International Film Festival, NY Latin Film Festival and New Filmmakers NY Festival. Roaring Tides is Mang’s directorial debut.

For more, go here.



FMff accepting submissions; T.G.I.M. returns to Davis Art Center in September (07-26-19)

Thank God for Indie Monday resumes in September. Join the Fort Myers Film Festival every first Monday from September through March, and help decide which of the short indie films submitted to the Fort Myers Film Festival will make it into next year’s film festival … and which do not. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the films starting at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students.

So mark your calendars. The relevant first Mondays are:

  • September 2, 2019
  • October 7, 2019
  • November 4, 2019
  • December 2, 2019
  • January 6, 2020
  • February 3, 2020

And if you’re a filmmaker, FMff is now accepting submissions for the 10th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival. Yes, you read that right. Next year will be FMff’s 10th anniversary!

Submissions are being accepted in six categories: full-length features, documentaries, shorts, short shorts, strictly local and student films.



Spotlight on filmmaker John Scoular (07-26-19)

John Scoular is an Emmy-winning filmmaker known for documentaries such as Paradise Reef and Marcus Jansen: Examine & Report.

Three years in the making, Paradise Reef follows a visionary’s quest to secure BP disaster funds, rally community support, and deploy 18,000 tons of concrete to create 36 artificial reefs along Florida’s Paradise Coast. Through captivating aerial footage and in-depth interviews, the film also highlights the symbiotic relationship between the Florida Everglades, the Ten Thousand Islands, the Gulf of Mexico and Collier County, Florida.

Go here for the rest of John’s profile.



With EHTVF win, filmmaker John Scoular comes full circle (07-26-19)

Marcus Jansen: Examine & Report made its New York premiere on July at the inaugural East Hampton TV Festival. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Marcus Jansen, Richard Beavers and Brooke Lynn McGowan. The evening concluded with an Award Ceremony during which Examine & Report won the Best Art TV Pilot Documentary award.

The documentary was shot by Emmy-winning filmmaker John Scoular and the win in East Hampton brings some symmetry to his illustrious career. You see, Scoular’s first film ever screened back in the ‘90s in the Hamptons – at The Hamptons International Film Festival.

At the time, John was an actor/writer living and working in Los Angeles.

“Struggling to make something happen, I wrote a short film which I starred in with my cousin Neal Matarazzo,” John recounts. Hugh Ross directed. 

They submitted the film to The Hamptons International Film Festival, which made it an official selction.

And for the rest of this story, go here.



Center for Performing Arts to hold staged reading on August 9 (07-25-19)

The Center for Performing Arts is holding a staged reading in the Moe Auditorium of local playwright Marc Simon’s play Departures on Friday, August 9. Special guest artist Charles Jackson will also be performing the world premiere of The Floating Black Man. Tickets are $20 (with 10% off for current CFABS members).



Center for Visual Arts ‘Being Human’ beginning August 2 (07-25-19) 

Being Human opens at the Center for Visual Arts Bonita Springs on August 2. For this show, artists have been asked to look into the nature of portraiture and the human experience to reveal truths about what it means to “be human” – both the amazing capacity of people for compassion, humility and empathy as well as our foibles and limitations. The opening reception is from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Center for Visual Arts at 26100 Old 41 Road. The exhibition will be on display through August 15.



‘Your Choice’ returns to Naples Art Association on August 19 (07-25-19)

Your Choice is the Naples Art Association’s annual non-juried exhibition. It provides an opportunity for local artists to present their artwork to a large audience with no jury process requirement. The exhibition is called “Your Choice” because the artists and spectators make the choices. Artists decide which artwork they will exhibit while gallery viewers attending the reception decide who will receive the awards. It opens August 19 and runs through September 25.



Touchable art exhibit returning to Naples Art Association in October (07-25-19)

Art is generally considered to be a visual experience, but our appreciation of art does not need to come purely from sight. Touching is a basic instinct and a way to experience objects, gather information and build awareness. The Touch Me exhibition will feature artwork by sighted, visually impaired and blind artists. Shaking off the traditional gallery-goer behavior, visitors are encouraged to use their sense of touch to explore the exhibition. The show opens October 4 and runs through October 17 at the Naples Art Association, which is located at 585 Park Street in Naples.



‘Visions of Clean Water’ photography show closes tomorrow (07-25-19)

Tomorrow is the last day to see Visions of Clean Water at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. This group photography exhibit offers a compelling mix of imagery, from the natural world to nightscapes and underwater scenes. A portion of any art sales from Visions of Clean Water will benefit Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation and Captains for Clean Water.



‘Covers by John ‘Crusher’ Healy’ closes in Capitol Gallery tomorrow (07-25-19)

Just as a local band covers songs of their music heroes, John “Crusher” Healy’s work covers artists’ album covers of days past: enlarging them, making them three dimensional, and taking artistic liberties. But “COVERS by John “Crusher” Healy closes tomorrow after three weeks on view in the Capitol Gallery at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.



‘John Cage & Other Works’ at Bob Rauschenberg Gallery closes July 27 (07-25-19)

Florida SouthWestern State College is continuing its celebration of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery’s 40th anniversary with JOHN CAGE: STEPS & Other Works from the Mountain Lake Workshop. The exhibition closes July 27.

The exhibition features the world premiere of New River Rocks & Washes, one of the last two paintings Cage completed two years prior to his death in 1992. The painting was sold before it was ever exhibited to a private collector with a large and prestigious inventory of artworks. As it happened, the painting arrived, it was placed in storage still in its crate without being assigned an acquisition number. To make matters worse, the crate was mislabeled and, over the ensuing 27 years, the crate containing the 8.5 foot tall by 28 foot long painting was moved from one storage facility to another before coming to rest in Deer Park, New York.

And that’s where it was when Ray Kass and Bob Rauschenberg Gallery Director Jade Dellinger started working on a planned exhibit of Cage’s collaborations with Kass, who had been present when Cage and a team of assistants created it at the Mountain Lake Workshop in 1990. Kass and Dellinger contacted the collector’s chief curator hoping to include the painting in the show. The curator ultimately found the mislabeled crate only a few weeks prior to opening of the Rauschenberg Gallery opening.

Cage was a renowned composer, music theorist, author and artist revered as a pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments. He was also a leading voice of the post-war avant-garde. Bob Rauschenberg referred to Cage as his “spiritual and philosophical soul-mate.”

One of the most influential American composers of the 20th century, Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition “4’33”, a piece instructing the performer not to play their instrument during three timed movements over four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Cage proposed the revolutionary concepts that any sound may constitute music and that there is no such thing as silence.

A close collaborator through the 1950’s and ‘60’s while working with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Bob Rauschenberg later wrote, “John Cage [and] his work in every medium is a reward to all [and] will be for centuries.” The innocence and challenging audacity of his unique attitude, according to Rauschenberg, “created a labyrinth with no exit.”

Often applying chance-based aleatoric operations to his compositional process in an effort to eliminate aesthetic decisions, John Cage’s forays into visual art practice – perhaps best represented by his experimentation at the Mountain Lake Workshop – employed many of the same techniques. As collaborator, friend and Mountain Lake Workshop founder Ray Kass reflects, “Cage didn’t adhere to accepted aesthetic rules and patterns for the construction of works of art; he deliberately eschewed the idea that art is created solely through personal taste manipulating elements of visual form.”

As Executive Director of the John Cage Trust at Bard College Dr. Laura Kuhn succinctly notes, “One cannot overstate the importance of John Cage and his work, and its impact on 20th century music, art, and culture.”

This exhibition is made possible through a partnership with the Longwood Center for Visual Art at Longwood University and presents excerpts from “Rural Avant-Garde: The Mountain Lake Experience” (an exhibition funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts).



Public Art Committee expanding free phone app that explains public artworks (07-24-19)

Art professionals and urban planners have identified nearly four dozen benefits that flow from the presence of public artworks in outdoor spaces. However, these advantages can only be maximized to the extent that the public fully appreciates the stories they tell. And it is exactly for this reason that the City of Fort Myers has installed a free phone app that informs local residents, vacationers and other visitors about the murals, sculpture and other art installations they encounter as they work, shop, dine and walk around downtown Fort Myers and parks located in other regions within our city limits.

Go here for the rest of this tutorial.



SWFHS President Glenn Miller records Otocast audio on Wes Nott Statue (07-24-19)

In 2018, the City of Fort Myers launched a free mobile app that enables resident, vacationers and other cultural tourists to learn all about the public artworks that are interspersed throughout town. Called Otocast, the app contains text and historic photos for each covered artwork. But the app’s centerpiece is an audio recording made by the artist who created the piece or someone who is intimately familiar with the artwork and the stories it recounts. By virtue of this audio component, Otocast is like having your very own tour guide who knows the coolest facts and behind-the-scenes stories about the art pieces you see all around you.

One of those artworks is the Wes Nott Statue. It’s located in the northeast corner of the campus of Lee Memorial Hospital in (where else?) Wes Nott Park, which appropriately sits on the site of what was once the Wes Nott swimming pool. Today, Coach Nott presides over the space, standing against a railing that abuts the southbound lanes of Cleveland Avenue (U.S. 41). It was cast by North Fort Myers sculptor Don “D.J.” Wilkins for the Fort Myers Beautification Board in the year 2000.

Go here for the rest of this article.



Activist Reginald Billups records USCT 2d Regiment Monument Otocast audio (07-24-19)

In 2018, the City of Fort Myers launched a free mobile app that enables resident, vacationers and other cultural tourists to learn all about the public artworks that are interspersed throughout town. Called Otocast, the app contains text and historic photos for each covered artwork. But the app’s centerpiece is an audio recording made by the artist who created the piece or someone who is intimately familiar with the artwork and the stories it recounts. By virtue of this audio component, Otocast is like having your very own tour guide who knows the coolest facts and behind-the-scenes stories about the art pieces you see all around you.

One of those artworks is the USCT 2nd Regiment Monument in Centennial Park. The memorial features a larger-than-life “bronze” of a fictional sergeant in the United States Colored Troops 2nd Regiment. He is standing before a gate within a wall. The wall represents slavery; the gate symbolizes the freedom provided by emancipation. The soldier memorializes the 179,000 African American men who served in the Union Army and the 19,000 who served in the Union Navy during the Civil War.

Closer to home, the fictional soldier also represents the 168 men of Companies D and I of the USCT 2nd Regiment who were stationed in Fort Myers in 1865 and defended the Union outpost from Confederate attack during the Battle of Fort Myers on February 20, 1865.

You will find the rest of this article here.



Recalling other luminaries and artists who’ve provided Otocast audios (07-24-19)

The Public Art Committee recently added audios on the free mobile phone app Otocast for the USCT 2nd Regiment Monument and the Wes Nott Statue by civil rights activist and music instructor Reginald Billups and freelance writer, author and Southwest Florida Historical Society president Glenn Miller, respectively. They join an illustrious group of other luminaries and artists who’ve provided Otocast audios in the past.

River District Alliance Director Jared Beck provided the audio for Fort Myers’ first public artwork, the Tootie McGregor Fountain. Beck is a past chair of the City’s Public Art Committee, and in that capacity, he played an instrumental role in persuading the City to subscribe for Otocast in order to better provide information to the public about Fort Myers’ public artworks. Beck has long held the opinion that more needs to be done to acquaint people with the accomplishments of Tootie McGregor Terry, who was perhaps the town’s greatest benefactor during its early history. Jared is also the co-author of River & Road, a visual and narrative history of the architectural evolution and urban development of Southwest Florida as shown in Fort Myers, Florida. Written with Pamela Miner, River & Road won the 2017 Richard E. Rice Gold Medal Award for Visual Arts.

The audio for the phone app that informs the public about the Buckingham & Page Army Air Field Monument in Centennial Park was provided by the Executive Director of Fort Myers’ IMAG History & Science Center, Matt Johnson. Matt has a special connection to the two army air fields. He and journalist Chris Wadsworth co-authored a book on the Buckingham Army Air Field and knows more about the Buckingham & Page Army Air Fields than just about anyone living in Southwest Florida. In the audio, Matt shares interesting, little known facts about the air fields and describes the impact that they had on the growth and development of Fort Myers in the post-war years. Go here for more on Matt.

Gerri Reaves provides the audio for The Spirit of Fort Myers, which is popularly known as Rachel at the Well. She wrote a dispositive article on the artwork for The River Weekly in May of 2015, and contacted von Zengen’s family for information on the sculptor and his work incident to that story. To this day, she remains in touch with the von Zengen family. In her Otocast audio, Gerri shares historical information, fun facts and fascinating anecdotes about Rachel and the circumstances surrounding her creation, dedication and ongoing conservation. Many downtown residents, workers and visitors know Gerri Reaves from her weekly column appearing in The River Weekly News. But Gerri’s credentials are considerably more far-ranging. Her books include Legendary Locals of Fort Myers (Arcadia Press, 2013), Fort Myers: Then and Now (Arcadia Press, 2008) and Mapping the Private Geography: Autobiography, Identity and America (2000), all of which are available on Amazon and in select area bookstores.

One of Fort Myers’ most important artworks is the mural on the federal courthouse known as Fort Myers: An Alternative History, and artist Barbara Jo Revelle recorded the audio for her ceramic tile mural herself. The audio is filled with interesting facts and little known anecdotes culled by the artist from disparate source materials during the intensive research she conducted between 1997 and 1999. Revelle gained national notoriety in 1991 when she completed a photo-based, computer-generated tile mural on the Denver Convention Center that is two city blocks long. Titled A People’s History of Colorado, it is still one of the largest outdoor public art murals in the world. Between 1991 and 1997, Ms. Revelle went on to render murals on the new public library in Lafayette, Colorado, the clock tower that is part of the Safety and Justice Building in Longmont, Colorado, and a documentary photo-mural for the Hancock Center, IBM Building and Uptown Hull House Gallery in Chicago that was sponsored by the Chicago Council of Fine Arts.

Sitting in the entrance to the Riviera-St. Tropez Condominiums is a modernist sculpture known as Naiad, and its maker is renowned monumental metal sculptor Albert Paley from Rochester, New York. Like Revelle, Paley himself recorded the audio that describes Naiad. Paley is a phenom in the world of public art, so having an example of his work in downtown Fort Myers is quite a coup. Over the past four decades, he has created monumental site-specific metal assemblages that place him not only in the forefront of contemporary sculpture, but in the vanguard of artists working in the cutting-edge genre-defying field of “Archisculpture.” In fact, the American Institute of Architects took note of Paley’s work in the Archisculpture several years ago, naming him the first metal sculptor to ever receive its coveted Institute Honors Award, the highest award conferred by AIA on a non-architect.

More recordings are in the offing, so check back periodically for updates as the City’s Public Art Committee expands Otocast in the days, weeks and months ahead.



ARTSWFL updates profile of Caloosahatchee Manuscripts light sculpture (07-24-19)

At night, the tapered Ionic columns and limestone steps of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center glow with the images of thousands of letters like a phosphorous alphabet soup. The source of this bedazzling light show are two large bronze cylinders that sit on the sidewalk at the foot of SBDAC’s stairs. They are a dual point light sculpture called Caloosahatchee Manuscripts, a gift to the City of Fort Myers made in 2001 by Florida Power & Light Co.

FPL commissioned the work to commemorate the conversion of its power plant on the south bank of the Caloosahatchee River from oil to natural gas. A national call to artists was issued and Maryland sculptor Jim Sanborn was ultimately selected. By 2001, Sanborn had built a formidable reputation for heady light sculptures, and he didn’t disappoint with the light sculptures he designed for the sidewalks in front of the Davis Art Center. One (the western drum) is a homage to the experiments Thomas Edison conducted downriver, testing between 13,000 and 17,000 plants in an attempt to find a local source of latex that might supplant the country’s dependence on South American rubber. The other light cylinder (the eastern drum) incorporates text from an ancient Creek migration legend that explains how the Creek migrated to the southeastern United States and eventually made their way into Florida, where they joined with the Seminole Nation.

When Sanborn did his research, he discovered a translation of the migration tale told to James Oglethorpe by the Creeks’ great king Tchiilli. The text had been translated from Creek into English and then German. When the English translation turned up missing, the German text was retranslated into English and that’s the version Sanborn used for the eastern light cylinder. But then, in 2015, Prince Charles Assistant Personal Secretary found the original English translation in a wooden crate somewhere in storage in a palace that’s home to the Archbishop of Canterbury. And wouldn’t you know it, the translation from the German turns out not to be all that accurate or complete.

That in no way undermines the story that Sanborn tells through Caloosahatchee Manuscripts, which is simply that the Seminoles played an important role in our early history and, derivatively, their ancestors, the Creek. But to set the record straight, ARTSWFL has updated its Caloosahatchee Manuscripts profile to include the latest information on the migration legend. And in the process, dozens of new photographs have been added to the narrative.

So check it out here.



‘Uncontained’ on view in Alliance main gallery through August 3 (07-23-19)

Uncontained: A Juried Exhibition is on view in the main gallery at the Alliance for the Arts through August 3. The exhibition includes 55 spectacular artworks which, in the words of juror Dale Weber, “speak with a loud voice.”

Uncontained draws a broad spectrum of creative possibilities in repurposing discarded materials,” Dale expounds. “From the mathematically precise to the wildly imaginative, from the functional to the whimsical, this show truly has something for all tastes.”

And from the 55 he juried into the show, Weber chose five award winners:

  • 1st Place: Katherine Boren for Switched On.
  • 2nd Place: Africa Valdez for Music Muse.
  • 3rd Place: Michael Danley for Type A.
  • Juror’s Choice: Patricia Esposito for Tree Zero 2.
  • Juror’s Choice: Julie Markytan for Pendant Brass Rings.

Incorporating found objects into collage and other mixed media artworks gained acceptance in the previously high-brow world of art with dada and surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp’s readymade assemblages. But beginning in 1912, Picasso also entered the discipline when he began incorporating newspapers, matchboxes and other items into his cubist collages and making many cubist constructions from scavenged materials. Later, artists such as Carl Andre, Tony Cragg, Bill Woodrow, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Michael Landy famously joined in, but one need venture no farther than Captiva and the Baker Museum of Art for local connections to artworks composed of found objects. Captiva, of course, was home to Robert Rauschenberg, and the Baker Museum holds one of Louise Nevelson’s largest and most complex work, Dawn’s Forest, in which she recycled and re-collaged parts of her previous work.

By converging creativity with sustainability, the work included in Uncontained explores what it means to repurpose, reclaim, and redefine recycled materials. It also encourages viewers to reimagine the potential of discarded products.

“May it inspire us all to continue the search for beauty hidden within the refuse of our times,” Weber encourages.

The exhibition runs through August 3.



A look at the textural abstracts and found object assemblages of Katherine Boren (07-23-19)

Katherine Boren received first place honors in the Alliance for the Arts’ Uncontained juried exhibition. Her work always evolving, Katherine is now embracing the use of found objects more and more in her abstract work.  For example, in her piece Switched On, she employs a series of discarded electrical switch guards in her familiar geometric pattern, but has scattered a number of switches along the side and bottom of the composition to underscore that because they no longer work, they’ve been “tossed to the wayside” in much the same way that retired and disabled people often are.

Go here to read up on Katherine’s entire body of work.



Africa Valdez’ ‘Music Muse’ makes moving metaphorical statement (07-23-19)

Juror Dale Weber awarded Africa Valdez second place in the Alliance for the Art’s Uncontained juried exhibition for her kinetic sculpture, Music Muse. The piece consists of a turntable that her husband was going to throw out, parts from an accordion she found at a garage sale, strings and tuning nuts from a guitar, part of a trumpet her nephew no longer needed when he got a new one to take its place, and a hunk of wood from the branch of a tree in her yard that blew over.

Go here for the rest of this story.



Mike Danley’s ‘Type A’ is ‘Re-Psycho’d’ (07-23-19)

Juror Dale Weber awarded third place in the Uncontained juried exhibition on view currently at the Alliance for the Arts to Kansas City transplant Mike Danley for his Fobot (Found Object Robot) named Type A. While Danley’s robot is definitely hardwired, he also has quite the sense of humor. Just look at his broad, toothy smile.

“I always start by deciding whether my Fobot is going to be a male, female or a robot,” Danley says.

That decided, he starts with the Fobot’s body. Here, he chose a black vintage Stanley thermos. Durable, rugged and 100% badass, it’s the perfect component to support Type A’s antique head – a toy typewriter.

“They’re pretty scarce,” Mike acknowledges. “I’d been looking for toy typewriters for a couple of years, but hadn’t found one. Then I stopped into an antique shop on Sanibel on my way to Tower Gallery and there it was.”

He bought it on the spot.

Vintage typewriters are making something of a comeback with Millennials, in much the same way as many young people have fallen in love with vinyl records and old, once-obsolete turntables. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia or just a longing for simpler, slower-paced times that has people from Tom Hanks to Danielle Steel (who has used a 1946 Olympia manual typewriter to bang out more than 100 romance novels during her famous 20-hour writing stints). But the child’s manual typewriter Danley found antiquing wasn’t for typing.

“I knew the instant I saw it that it would one day become a Fobot’s head.”

With head on body, it was now time for Danley to rummage around for the remaining parts he needed to bring Type A to life. “I began collecting parts five years ago,” Mike divulges. “I collected parts for more than a year and a half before I made my first Fobot.”

You just can’t rush the process of recycling, upcycling and salvaging found objects. In this discipline, as in others, patience is most definitely a virtue.

“I have thousands of parts now from which to choose,” Mike goes on. While antique stores, thrift shops and garage sales provide a continual stream of old discarded material, Danley’s favorite source for one-of-a-kind “stuff” is a woman he works with who conducts estate sales.

“That gives me access to a lot of vintage stuff – stuff that would otherwise get thrown away.”

In addition to the Stanley thermos and child’s typewriter, Type A features a coil from a Model T, a small battery charger and some wire.

“I figured that Type A personalities are wired differently than the rest of us are, so I included these wires that run from the charge to my Fobot’s brain.”

So far, Danley has not entered his Fobots in many shows. In fact, his first and only previous show was the Upcycle outdoor art festival that Ding Darling put on four years ago. He received second place honors there, so he’s two for two when it comes to medaling. And perhaps that will encourage him to enter more shows.

For now, though, you’ll have to travel to Tower Gallery is you wish to see more of Danley’s work … that is, other than on Tower’s website or Pinterest.

But there’s also more than Fobots to Danley’s oeuvre of work.

“My artistic side has taken many forms,” Danley notes.

While living in Kansas City and working as a dental hygienist, he apprenticed with two professional puppeteers, formed a puppet troupe (The Kansas City Critters) and made a number of his own puppets. In 2004, he created a retail business called Dental Poster Art, “where I restore and print art posters that relate to dentistry.” During this period, he also created a dental comic strip which has appeared in dental journals.

He moved to Florida in 2009 “after the crash.”

Having previously done some freelance photography, he dabbled for a while doing scenic photography that he sold in shops, fairs, and galleries. But he grew increasingly frustrated by the preponderance of photographers he found exhibiting at area art fairs and festivals. So he decided to employ his experience and skill in making puppets and props to creating something totally unique and invaluable.

“I call this venture ‘Re-Psycho’d’ – as I am recycling into man-made life-forms that often look like they could use some counseling. And that’s my story. Each Found Object Robot has a name or saying that matches its personality. Naming them is half the fun.”

Uncontained is on exhibit in the main gallery at the Alliance for the Arts through August 3.



Spotlight on ‘Uncontained’ juror Dale Weber (07-23-19)

Dale Weber characterizes himself as an assemblage artist. He creates three-dimensional works made from objects he finds at Goodwill, on the side of the road or even in his own backyard. But he did not start out following in the footsteps of Captiva icon Robert Rauschenberg or any of the other artists who pioneered the field of found objects such as, for example, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso or Damien Hirst.

Weber began his artistic journey in the early 1970s pursuing the more traditional/conventional discipline of painting. As a painter, he evolved from oil to acrylic to pastel. But, inevitably, his journey of artistic expression led Weber to the world of mixed media collage and finally to found object assemblage, and he has traveled this path now for more than a dozen years, recycling a variety of discarded materials.

Here’s the rest of Dale’s profile.



‘The Eyes Have It’ during Alliance’s August members show (07-23-19)

The Alliance for the Arts has issued a call to artists for its August members show, The Eyes Have It. Harkening back to Henry David Thoreau, the show reminds us that “it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Artists are asked to give voice to their mind and unique perspective by turning to brush, ink, paper, sculpture or photo for this year’s Members Exhibit: The Eyes Have It. The show will be on display August 9 – 31, 2019 . You may become a member to showcase. Memberships are available onsite, by calling 239-939-278 or visiting



‘Dia de los Muertos: A Juried Exhibit’ returning to Alliance in October (07-23-19)

Dia de los Muertos: A Juried Exhibit is returning by popular demand to the Alliance for the Arts in October. It’s a show that will feature traditional Mexican sugar skulls in a variety of media ranging from painting in oil, acrylic, watercolor and collage to photography, prints, drawing and sculpture. Artists interesting in participating in the show may submit up to 3 artworks for consideration online no later than September 20. To download the prospectus or submit artwork, please visit

What exactly is Day of the Dead? In many parts of Mexico, South America and the United States, Dia de los Muertos is a time to remember and celebrate the lives of family and friends. More about reveling in life than remembering death, this unique day encourages us to connect with loved ones while reflecting on the ties that bind the past to present.

“Community participation is a powerful part of this holiday,” says exhibitions coordinator Krista Johnson. “That’s why we’re calling on local artists to contribute to this lively and fun exhibit.”

The show’s opening reception is scheduled for 5:00-7:00 p.m. on October 4, with awards being announced at 6:00. There will be a $250 prize for Best in Show, $125 for 2nd place and $75 for 3rd place.

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



Alliance announces dates for ‘Off the Wall’ holiday exhibit (07-23-19)

Each year, the Alliance for the Arts invites 100 members to submit two original 2D or 3D artworks for exhibition in the gallery beginning with the onset of the holiday shopping season. Called Off the Wall, this non-traditional art show features works in all mediums priced at $200 or less. All sales are “cash and carry,” meaning purchasers will get to take the piece with them when they buy it, rather than waiting until the end of the exhibit.

Make supporting local arts tops on your list this year by giving a gift that gives back. Make plans to do your Christmas shopping at the Alliance for the Arts this year. Betcha there’s 100 member-artists who would be delighted to have their art under your tree.

This year’s show runs from December 6 through December 28. The opening reception is scheduled for 5:00-7:00 p.m. on Friday, December 6. For more information, please visit or telephone 239-939-2787.



‘Examine & Report’ being shown at East Hampton TV Festival tomorrow night (07-22-19)

Marcus Jansen: Examine and Report will be making its New York premiere tomorrow evening in Guild Hall at the East Hampton TV Festival. The red carpet event starts at 6:00 p.m.

The two-day event will be denoted by a group art exhibit featuring works by Jansen, Susan J. Barron, Robert Cenedella and Xiandong Chen.

Created by Emmy-winning filmmaker John Scoular, the documentary made its world premiere during the red carpet opening night gala at the 2016 Fort Myers Film Festival. The film went on to receive honors as the FMff Best Local Film.

The East Hamptons TV Festival (EHTVF) is an annual event dedicated to bringing the best TV shows, series, animated films, cooking shows, documentaries and feature films to the Hamptons. The festival highlights and is regularly attended by celebrated filmmakers as well as rising new talent from around the world.

Examine & Report explores Jansen’s motives for painting and gives historic insight into his socio-politically charged works, which have roots in Graffiti, Street Art and German and American Expressionism. The film was shot on locations in New York, Miami, London and Fort Myers and was shown at venues around the world during Jansen’s two-year museum and DECADE book tour, which opened in Milan, Italy in 2016.

Not only does the documentary provide insight into Jansen’s life and art, it provides an introduction into the larger world of contemporary art by means of a series of interviews with art world luminaries including the street artist BANKSY’s first agent, Steve Lazarides, Robert Rauschenberg protégé and decades-long gallery director, Lawrence Voytek, West Rubinstein, Noah Becker, Dieter Rampl and Brooke Lynn Mcgowan. An art historian, curator and writer, Mcgowan is recognized worldwide as the leading expert on Jansen’s works.

The film not only played a pivotal role in familiarizing art lovers, collectors and professionals around the globe with Jansen and his art, it built upon the reputation that the legendary Robert Rauschenberg began when he made Captiva the site of his international headquarters and working studio and the loci of the Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange Scoular G(ROCI), an initiative that Rauschenberg launched in 1982 for purposes of forging communication with other nations through the language of art by providing carefully-selected venues where artists, sculptors, poets and authors from around the world could meet and exchange creative ideas in the spirit of collaboration.



Youth Alliance Theatre holding auditions for ‘Pippin’ and ‘Children of Eden’ (07-22-19)

The Alliance for the Arts Youth Theatre is holding auditions for Pippin and Children of Eden Jr. from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on August 17, 2019. Pre-registration is required.

Pippen is a hip, tongue-in-check fairy tale that captivates diverse audiences. With an infectiously unforgettable score from four-time Grammy winner, three-time Oscar winner and musical theatre giant Stephen Schwartz, Pippin is the story of one young man’s journey to be extraordinary. There’s magic to do in this iconic musical masterpiece when a prince learns the true meaning of glory, love and war

Pippin is open to performers in 10th through 12th grade. Callbacks for Pippin are August 19 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Rehearsals will be most Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Pippin tech week is November 11th, and shows are November 16-24, 2019.

Children of Eden JR. is based on the story of Genesis. Adam, Eve, Noah and the “Father” who created them deal with the headstrong, cataclysmic actions of their respective children. As generations pass, faith and loyalty are tested, but the bonds of family and love remain strong. A new adaptation of Stephen Schwartz’s epic and heartfelt musical, Children of Eden JR. retells the age-old conflict of parents and children.

Children of Eden, Jr. is open to performers 4th through 9th grade. Callbacks for Children of Eden, Jr. will take place from 2:00-4:00 p.m. on August 24. Rehearsals will be most Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Children of Eden, Jr. tech week begins December 1st, and shows are December 6-8, 2019.




Alliance’s CHANGE playwriting class drawing to a close (07-22-19)

The  CHANGE Program’s 8-week playwriting course at the Alliance for the Arts is drawing to a close. The class introduces the fundamentals of playwriting to aspiring minority writers and equip them with the tools to create rich characters, explore their own histories and develop stories that are relevant, inspirational and reflective of their own unique voices. The course culminates on Saturday, July 27 with each student utilizing their newfound playwriting tools to write a 10 minute play and work with actors to see their creations come to life in a staged reading that will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Alliance for the Arts.

Derek Lively is teaching the class. A proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, Derek has appeared in productions ranging from Shakespeare to Eugene O’Neill and has worked in regional theaters and Off-Broadway, including The Public Theater and LaMama E.T.C. His solo show, Welcome To My Soul, which he wrote and performed, led to a first-look development deal with NBC (Universal).

The CHANGE Program (Communities Harnessing the Arts to Nurture and Grow Equity) provides performance opportunities and a platform to convene dialogue on social issues that challenge our community through creative, artistic expression. This project is supported in part by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the Florida Humanities Council. For more information on this program, visit



Spotlight on CHANGE ‘Playwriting’ instructor Derek Lively (07-22-19)

Derek Lively is an actor, playwright and screenwriter. Since relocating to Fort Myers from New York City in 2015, Lively has starred as Frederick Douglass in The Agitators, Walter Lee Younger in Theatre Conspiracy’s production of Lorraine Hanberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Canewell in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars. He’s a member in good standing in both the Actor’s Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, and you can access all of Derek’s credits by viewing his profile here. You can also read a fascinating interview that Derek gave Art Southwest Florida in May of 2018 that will provide even more and deeper insights than his Art Southwest Florida profile.



Theatre Conspiracy at Alliance opening season with American classic ‘Harvey’ (07-22-19)

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts is kicking off its 2019-2020 season with the Pulitzer-Prize winning American classic Harvey by Mary Chase.

You know the story. It is a spring afternoon at the Dowd family home, and a tea for the high-society ladies of the Wednesday Forum is in full swing. The hostess, Veta Louise Simmons, is hoping that the event will allow her daughter, Myrtle Mae, now in her twenties and still unmarried, to mingle with the mothers and grandmothers of some of the town’s most eligible bachelors. However, to Veta’s horror, her brother, Elwood, arrives home unexpectedly and in the company of his closest friend, Harvey, a six foot one-and-a-half inch tall white rabbit—a friend nobody else can see. Veta and Myrtle Mae are mortified as Elwood who, ever pleasant and polite, begins introducing his companion to the ladies of the Wednesday Forum. The embarrassing family secret is now exposed, and all that Veta and Myrtle Mae can do is watch helplessly as their guests flee the house.

Go here for the rest of this advance.



Spotlight on ‘Harvey’ actor Brendan Powers (07-22-19)

Brendan Powers is a professional Equity Actor who resides in Fort Myers. He performs frequently at Florida Repertory and other area community theater companies. He’ll play Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey.

For the past eight seasons, Powers has been a mainstay at Florida Rep. Select Florida Rep credits over this timeframe include Outside Mullingar, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The House of Blue Leaves, The Mousetrap, The Cocktail Hour, A Christmas Story, The Unexpected Guest, Dividing the Estate, Around the World in 80 Days, The Fantasticks, Doubt, Opus, Boeing-Boeing, and The Glass Menagerie.

Go here for the rest of Brendan’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘Harvey’ actor Rachel Burttram (07-22-19)

Rachel Burttram is one of Southwest Florida’s best actors. Whether comedic or dramatic, theater, film or television, she has the chops to handle any role that comes her way. She’ll be Veta Louise in Harvey.

Rachel has been working in regional theater for more than 20 years. She has shared the boards with the legendary Carol Lawrence and Tony-nominated Daniel Sunjata. Her stage work has been seen across the country – in venues ranging from the Actors’ Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky, Penobscot Theatre Company in Bangor, Maine (where she received rave reviews for her fierce, feisty, angry and determined portrayal of a shattered Afghan war vet in Ugly Lies the Bone), Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, New York (where she appeared in Mark St. Germaine’s romantic comedy Dancing Lessons), The Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville, Florida, Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida, Gloucester Stage in Massachusetts, Barnstormers’ Theatre in New Hampshire, City Equity in Alabama, Geva Theatre, and various stages in New York City, including the prestigious Actors’ Studio.

Go here for the rest of Rachel’s prodigious profile.



Spotlight on ‘Harvey’ actor Lauren Drexler (07-22-19)

Lauren Drexler is a gifted Fort Myers actor known for stellar performances as melancholy teacher Heather Clark in Johnna Adams’ Gidion’s Knot, terminally-ill Dr. Katherine Brandt in Moises Kaufman’s 33 Variations and Annie Iversen in Jordan Hall’s Kayak. Lauren has long created memorable roles in Theatre Conspiracy’s new plays and world premieres, including Repossessed, Becoming Eleanor, The Dunes, Here Lie the Demons, and Virgin Tears on Wyoming Avenue. She’ll play Mrs. Chumley in Harvey.

Go here to view the rest of Lauren’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘Harvey’ actor Dena Galyean (07-22-19)

Dena Galyean is one of the hardest working thespians in all of Southwest Florida. And she always seems to land fascinating roles. Among her most recent – and memorable – are Susan B. Anthony in Theatre Conspiracy’s production of The Agitators, Nora Helmer in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House (also for Theatre Conspiracy) and Stella Kowalski in The Studio Players’ production of Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire at the Golden Gate Community Center. She plays Nurse Kelly in Harvey.

Bet you’d like to know more about Dena. If so, go here.

And go here to read how acting feeds Dena’s soul.



Spotlight on Rumors actor Stella Zuri, who plays Cassie Cooper (07-22-19)

Stella Ruiz will be playing the part of Myrtle Mae in Theatre Conspiracy’s upcoming production of Mary Chase’s American classic Harvey. Ruiz has a reputation for playing smart, surly and somewhat mercurial female characters and is a perfect choice to play the part of Myrtle Mae.

One of her most memorable was that of the acerbic Daphna in Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews (for Lab Theater). Another was the brutally judgmental Eva in Robert Caisley’s Happy (also for Lab). Zuri’s other acting credits include Cassie Cooper in Neil Simon’s Rumors, Lucy in Mr. Marmalade, Amelia, Helen, Waitress 3 and Kim in Bob: A Life in Five Acts, Patsy in The Rimers of Eldrich, Desdemona in Othello, Candy Starr in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ophelia in Hamlet, Belinda Cratchit and the Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol, Nina and Hildy in Relatively Speaking, Katherine in Taming of the Shrew and Hecate in Macbeth. Stella also portrayed serial killer Monique Avril in the 2012 indie film Redemption.

Go here for the rest of Stella’s credits and profile.



Broadway Palm’s production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ closes August 10 (07-22-19)

Step into the enchanted world of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. The classic “tale as old as time” tells of Belle, a young woman in a small town, and a Beast, who is really a young prince under a spell. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed into his former self. But time is running out and if the Beast doesn’t learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed forever. The spirited, headstrong Belle enters the Beast’s castle after he imprisons her father and with the help of his enchanted servants, Belle begins to draw the cold-hearted Beast out of his isolation.

Starring James Arthur Douglas as the Beast, Beauty and the Beast runs through August 10, 2019. Performances are Wednesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Tickets are $45 to $70 with group rates available and can be reserved by calling 239-278-4422, visiting or coming to the box office at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.



James Arthur Douglas is the Beast in Broadway Palm’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (07-22-19)

James Arthur Douglas is the Beast in Broadway Palm’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, on stage now through August 10. The NYC-based tenor most recently performed as Count Almaviva with The Atlanta Opera in a bilingual version of Rossini’s delightful and energetic The Barber of Seville. Created by stage director Kristine McIntyre, the 45-minute adaptation was performed in Spanish and English and is being presented to over 19,000 elementary-aged children.

James also performed with The Atlanta Opera in Verdi’s La Traviata as a member of the chorus, and earlier this year, he was awarded 2nd Prize at the 2019 Pro Mozart Society of Atlanta Scholarship Competition.

Joined by accompanist Julie Bearden Carver, James was kind enough to perform a tune from Beauty and the Beast at a benefit at Lab Theater on June 10th for theater student and performer Danica Murray, who is recovering from transplant surgery necessitated by her lifelong battle with Cystic Fibrosis.



‘Once’ kicking off national tour at Broadway Palm in August (07-22-19)

Once, the musical that broke new ground on Broadway, will begin rehearsals in Fort Myers on August 6, 2019. Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, Once is a truly original Broadway experience.

The musical is based on the 2007 Academy Award-winning film of the same name which was written and directed by John Carney, and starred Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, with original music and lyrics by Mr. Hansard and Ms. Irglová. Featuring an impressive ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, Once tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who’s about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights – but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than your everyday romance. Emotionally captivating and theatrically breathtaking, Once draws you in from the very first note. It is an unforgettable story about going for your dreams… not living in fear… and the power of music to connect all of us.

This tour will include the pre-show onstage bar atmosphere where the performers play random selections each night, and the audience can be on stage with their drinks and interact with the musicians.

Michael Zygo, who performed in the Broadway production as the Emcee, will be recreating the original staging and movement by John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett, respectively. As an original Broadway and Off-Broadway cast member, he feels a special attachment to the incredible work realized by the original cast and creative team. Mr. Zygo’s recent credits include Director of Once at Pittsburgh CLO, Music Director / Associate Choreographer of Once at The Fulton Theatre / Virginia Repertory Theatre. He was also featured on the Grammy Award winning cast album of Once. Other acting credits include Broadway: School Of Rock; Off-Broadway: Once (NYTW); Tours: Rock Of Ages – first National, The Wedding Singer, Bridges of Madison County – first National, Annie – 30th Anniversary tour, and Oklahoma! – first National.

The cast is led by Jack Gerhard as Guy and Mariah Lotz as Girl. Jack is a recent graduate of Rider University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Previous regional credits include Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater, Michigan.

Mariah is also a graduate of Rider University and has premiered numerous new shows in New York and was part of the Rising Star program at Fifth Avenue Theatre.

The ensemble includes Todd Aulwurm (Bank Manager/Cello/Guitar), Carrie Lyn Brandon (Swing), Carlos Castillo (Andrej/Guitar/Bass Guitar/Ukulele), Trevor Craft (Svec/Mandolin/Guitar/Drums/Banjo), Richard Daniel (Da/Mandolin), Elleon Dobias (Ex Girlfriend/ Violin), Emily Gregonis (Reza/Violin), Caleb Hartsfield (Emcee/Guitar), Jody Alan Lee (Swing), Sam Saint Ours (Swing), Jon Patrick Penick (Billy/Guitar), Marta Rymer (Swing), Matthew Staley (Eamon/Guitar/Piano/Cajon) and Tracy Thomas (Baruska/Accordian).

The production features scenic and costume design by Tony Award winner Bob Crowley (Aida, An American in Paris, Carousel, Mary Poppins) with additional designs by Southwest Florida BroadwayWorld winner Evan Adamson (Mamma Mia), lighting design by Russell A. Thompson (international tour of The Wizard of Oz, US tours Million Dollar Quartet, Fiddler on the Roof) and sound design by David Temby (Clearwing Productions/national tour of Memphis).

The tour will open at the Broadway Palm in Fort Myers, FL playing August 22- Sept 28, 2019 and then begins the traveling portion of the tour at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center in Fort Myers.

Once is produced by APEX Touring.

For more tour and cast information, please visit



‘Madagascar Jr.’ coming to Center for Performing Arts Bonita (07-22-19)

Madagascar, A Musical Adventure Jr. is coming to the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs for a limited engagement of just four performances on August 16-18.

“This show is a hilarious journey the whole family can enjoy,” says Director, Brian Seagraves.

Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and, of course, those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto the stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime. Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar – A Musical Adventure JR. follows all of your favorite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.

This production is directed by CFABS Youth Theater Director, Brian Seagraves, but is a work of heart by various professionals from Southwest Florida. Rounding out the Creative Team are Music Director Lindsay Warren; Choreographer Lauren Barnhart Perry; and Assistant Director/Stage Manager Ashley Loubier, along with Technical Direction from CFABS’s own Dominic Vigliotti.

CFABS Youth Theater productions are always comprised of an assortment of amazingly talented and motivated local youth of all ages, and this show is no exception – with 39 performers from ages 9 to 16 from both Lee and Collier Counties (plus a special appearance by Mrs. Perry’s 4-year-old daughter as Mort the Lemur). Parents are also involved with all Youth Players productions in the area of sets, costumes, props, and backstage crew—making every show an experience for the whole family.

Each Youth Theater production at CFABS leads the cast on a journey that begins with open auditions and spans several weeks (or months) of rehearsing diligently two to three times a week after school, concluding in a fully realized performance for friends, family, and the entire community.

This program provides youth with a structured, theatrical outlet with compassionate guidance, while getting them to practice responsibility, teamwork, and commitment, as well as giving them opportunities to explore their talents and build their confidence.

“I am a big fan of approaching a production as ‘education through process’ which includes not only teaching youth how to better their performance and put on a show, but also how to think on your feet, work together, be responsible, exude confidence, and celebrate diversity,” says Seagraves.

Performances are Friday & Saturday, August 16 & 17, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday, August 17 & 18 at 2:00 p.m.  Tickets are $15 General Admission | $20 Reserved Seating (with 10% off for current CFABS Members).



Florida Rep Ed bringing Broadway hit ‘Spring Awakening’ to Arcade Theatre (07-22-19)

Florida Rep Education will present the Broadway smash hit Spring Awakening live in the Historic Arcade Theatre August 9-11 and 15-17. The eight-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical is the next offering in the theatre’s popular Conservatory Program.

Spring Awakening explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood with a poignancy and passion that is illuminating and unforgettable. The landmark musical is an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality, and rock and roll that has been exhilarating audiences across the nation since it took Broadway by storm in 2006. The coming-of-age story for a group of teens is told through music that Entertainment Weekly called “the most gorgeous Broadway score this decade!”

Spring Awakening is based on the play of the same name and is well over 100 years old,” observes Education Director Kody C Jones. “The reason that this piece has stayed so universally reverent, topical, and imperative is that it deals with the same taboo subjects that we are still challenged within 2019. Using this show as a vehicle for artistic interpretation and self-enlightenment, the cast is able to channel these deep themes and struggles in every adolescent life and bring that poignancy to the stage in a way that resonates with both teens and adults.”

Set in Germany, 1891, Spring Awakening follows a group of teens as they begin to navigate the murky waters of adolescence, puberty, and self-discovery. The teens fall in and out of love, rebel against the adults in their lives, and discover the joy and the pain adulthood brings. The musical deals very frankly with issues that face teens today, and does so with a one-of-a-kind score, fresh choreography, fully-developed characters, and a timeless story.

“It’s a vivid, intense piece of dramatic literature that addresses head-on many of the challenges that young people faced then and now,” says Florida Rep Artistic Director Greg Longenhagen. “While the main characters that inhabit the world of the play are teenagers, the themes are quite adult in nature. In an effort to prepare audiences, we’ve included a Parental Advisory for Explicit Content label on the production. I am proud that Kody and our Education Department continue to raise the bar by exploring timely topics that concern our children’s safety, well-being, and happiness. As a father, I can’t think of anything more precious or important than our children.”

Spring Awakening is generously sponsored by Mary Denison and Ben Simmons.

Spring Awakening plays in the Historic Arcade Theatre over two weekends August 9 through 11 and 15 through 17. Tickets are $10 for students with a valid ID and $25//$20 for adults. Tickets can be purchased online. More information is available online at or by calling the box office at 239.332.4488 or toll-free at 877-787-8053.



Cultural Affairs grant enables playwright to bring in artists/performers for ‘3’ (07-22-19)

James Brock has received a 2019-20 Individual Artist Grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs to have his new play, 3, produced by Ghostbird Theatre Company. 3 will run August 2-10 at Koreshan State Park in Estero.

The matching $25,000 grant will be used to pay other contributing artists and performers and to offset some of the production costs. Ghostbird is hiring co-founder Brittney Brady (photo 2) to serve as guest resident director for the play. Brady has just completed her second year in the prestigious MFA in Directing Program at CalArts in Los Angeles. She was Ghostbird’s Producing Artistic Director for five years before leaving for the West Coast to pursue her MFA.

Go here for the rest of this advance.



Spotlight on ‘3’ playwright Jim Brock (07-22-19)

Jim Brock is a founding member and Producing Director of Ghostbird Theatre Company. He is an actor, playwright, poet and Professor of English at Florida Gulf Coast University. His new play, 3, will be performed by Ghostbird in Art Hall at Koreshan State Park August 2-10, 2019.

His acting credits include The Shadow Box for New Phoenix Theatre (2019), Everyone on this Train (2019), Windowstories (2018), Samuel Beckett’s Catastrophe (2018), Barry Cavin’s Beckett-inspired Ibb (2018), Dr. Cyrus Teed in ORBS! (2018) and The Perfect Island of Dr. Teed (2017), Father and Old Man in No. 27 (2017), Tereisias in Antigonick (2016), Meigs in The Guardsman (which he also translated (2015)), Father in Because Beauty Must Be Broken Daily (which he also wrote (2014)), Old Man in Fool for Love (2013), the Doctor in Woyzeck (2013), Henry in Mud (2012), Lucifer in Faustus Burns Brightly (2012), Venus in The Pumpkin Grower (which he also wrote (2012)), Old Man of Argos in Agamemnon (2011),  Mr. Scratch in Wooden Mouth (2010),  Nagg in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and Kerch in Apocalypse: The Living Blog (2008).

Go here for the rest of Jim’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘3’ director and Ghostbird co-founder Brittney Brady (07-22-19)

Brittney Brady is returning from Southern California to direct 3, a new play by James Brock that dramatizes three women prisoners struggling to maintain their grace, humor, and autonomy while incarcerated.

When Brittney was last seen in Southwest Florida, she was directing The Chicken Play for Ghostbird at the Happehatchee Center in Estero. A co-founder of the avant garde theater company, Brittney also served as Producing Artistic Director for the first five years of Ghostbird’s existence.

For more on Brittney, read here.



Spotlight on ‘3’ actor Katelyn Gravel (07-22-19)

Katelyn Gravel is an actor, singer, songwriter, poet, make-up artist, costume designer and stage manager. She’ll be starring in 3, a new play by Jim Brock that Ghostbird Theatre Company will perform on August 2, 3, 9 & 10 in Art Hall at Koreshan State Park.

Katelyn credits her mom for inculcating her love of theater. Not only did Katelyn’s mother encourage her daughter’s involvement in theater from an early age, she took her frequently to Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. One instance was seminal in Katelyn’s decision to make theater part of her adult life.

Go here for the rest of Katelyn’s profile.



Ghostbird releases 2019-2020 production schedule (07-22-19)

Ghostbird Theatre Partners has released its schedule of productions for its 2019-2020 season. They include:

  • 3 by James Brock to be performed August  2, 3, 9 and 10 in Art Hall at Koreshan State Park;
  • October House to be performed October 31 and November 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at the historic Langford-Kingston Home;
  • Thistletoe Cabaret, a one-night performance scheduled for December 17 in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center;
  • the 24-Hour Festival on March 1 in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center; and
  • Ori by Barry Cavin in April of 2020 to be performed at the Calusa Nature Center Planetarium in Fort Myers.

For the rest of this advance, go here.



DMV’s world premiere opens August 9 at Lab Theater (07-22-19)

The world premiere of D.M.V. opens August 9 at The Laboratory Theater of Florida.

After 30 years of working at the Fort Myers Department of Motor Vehicles, Bernice has one last day of work before retiring with a full pension. She’s already sold her home, packed her belongings, and celebrated, rather heavily, with her co-workers the night before. Unfortunately, things go slightly awry. What follows is a laugh riot of what happens every day at virtually every D.M.V.

Go here for the remainder of this advance.



Spotlight on ‘DMV’ star Gerrie Benzing (07-22-19)

Gerrie Benzing is a local stage and film actor, director, musical theatre instructor and the owner and creative director of

She has appeared in more than 14 productions at Cultural Park Theater and three shows at Lab Theater. Among her CPT acting credits are Harvey (for which she won a Cultural Park Theatre Best Actress Marquee Award for her portrayal of Veta), The Glass Menagerie (in which she was cast as Amanda), Dixie Swim Club (Sharee), Bella Manningham in Angel Street (Gaslight) (where Charles Runnells applauded the hysterical froth she worked up in the role of a “borderline bonkers housewife … driven to the brink by a husband with sinister ulterior motives”) and Jack Neary’s The Porch. For The Lab, she appeared in Rick Abbot’s Play On! (where she depicted a maddeningly meddlesome playwright), The Best Man (in which she played Mabel Cantwell) and Miss Witherspoon (where she played the part of Maryamma). She last appeared as Lucy and Tommy of No Consequence in Theatre Conspiracy’s production of Adam Szymkowics’ Marian, or the True Story of Robin Hood).

Go here for the rest of Gerrie’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘DMV’ actor Sam Bostic (07-22-19)

Sam Bostic is a local actor. Acting credits include Lenny in Neil Simon’s Rumors (New Phoenix Theatre), Pippin in Pippin, Lucas in The Addams Family, Elegba in In the Red and Brown Water, Naychem in In Flight: The Story of Sabine Van Dam (for Gulfshore Playhouse), Adam in Miss Nelson is Missing, Fakir in The Secret Garden and a policeman in The House of Blue Leaves (for Florida Rep). Sam attended Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, where he received his BFA in Acting.



Spotlight on ‘DMV’ actor Todd Lyman (07-22-19)

Todd Lyman is an actor whose credits include the agent in Mitch Albom’s And the Winner Is, theater critic Ira Drew in Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play (which marked Todd’s Lab Theater debut), Bud Frump in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Enoch Snow in Carousel, Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Ivan in Anton Chekhov’s The Marriage Proposal.



Spotlight on ‘DMV’ actor Stacey Stauffer (07-22-19)

Stacy Stauffer is a talented character actor who lives and performs in Fort Myers. Her credits include The Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940s, Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss, Laura Lorusso’s Scrooge TV: A Modern Christmas Carol, Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays (Stacy was Hannah in “This Flight Tonight” and Cate in “A Traditional Wedding”), Rumors and the Vagina Monologues. Stacy also hones her skills doing staged readings (such as The 48th Parallel) and participating in Lab Theater’s 24-Hour Playwriting Challenge (she was in the cast of Candice Sanzari’s 2018 Critics’ Choice winner, “Thanksgiving is for Nutters”).



Improv returns to The Lab August 3 with Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab (07-22-19)

They are back and funnier than ever! Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab returns to the Laboratory Theater of Florida on August 3 at 7:00 p.m. for a night of hilarious antics, musical comedy, and spot-on on-the-spot jokes, and they are bring Bradenton improv master Charles Patrick Gooch with them for this one performance. Every facet of the uproariously improvised show is based on audience suggestions. With years of experience performing, Scared Scriptless Comedy Lab delivers a side-splitting, one-of-a-kind show every time.

Formerly Bonita City Improv, this troupe of talented performers 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!

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

Individual Tickets 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 (07-22-19)

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 (07-22-19)

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 (07-22-19)

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 (07-22-19)

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 (07-22-19)

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 (07-22-19)

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.



Time running out to see TNP’s production of ‘Mamma Mia!’ (07-22-19)

The Naples Players’ production of the ABBA Broadway musical hit Mamma Mia! closes July 28.

Over 60 million people worldwide have fallen in love with the characters, the story, and the music that make Mamma Mia! the ultimate feel-good show. ABBA’s music tells the uplifting tale of a young woman seeking the identity of her father for her wedding and brings the three potential men from her mother’s past back to the Grecian island they visited 20 years ago.

The story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter, friendship, and sisterhood, creating an unforgettable show. Hit songs include: “Mamma Mia,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Voulez-Vous” among others.

The cast for the musical includes (in alphabetical order): Jacqueline Blanche as Lisa, Eric Bohus as Sam, Kristin Cassidy as Rosie, Adam Fasano as Sky, Jeremy Giovinazzo as Pepper, Debi Guthery as Tanya, Anthony Henerson as Eddie, James Little as Harry, John McKerrow as Bill, MaryAnne McKerrow as Donna, Erica Sample as Sophie and Lindsey Walsh as Ali. The musical ensemble includes Mackenzie Black, Elizabeth Marcantonio, Maggie Boswell, Sydney Mixon, Kelsey Browne, Tina Moroni, Jack Norkeliunas, Lawrence Cherestal, Thomas Richardson, Frankie Federico, Logan Szittai, Sawyer True, Mark Vanagas, Alexandra Igoe, Dominic Young, and Elyse Yun.

Tickets for Mamma Mia! are $45 and on sale now through the TNP Box Office at (239) 263-7990 or

Naples’ oldest and most venerable theater group, The Naples Players (TNP) Sugden Community Theatre is a vital part of the exciting experience of Downtown Naples. TNP offers a variety of plays and musicals in three intimate spaces, Blackburn Hall, the Tobye Studio Theatre and outside Baker Stage – all located in one building on Fifth Avenue South.



TNP producing four performances of ‘Mamma Mia Teen’ August 2-4 (07-22-19)

The Naples Players (TNP) will present the KidzAct Summer production of Mamma Mia! Teen in Blackburn Hall at The Naples Players Sugden Community Theatre August 2 – 4. Sponsored by Alterations by Charles and Neapolitan Family Magazine, Mamma Mia! Teen shares the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs “Mamma Mia,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Voulez-Vous” among others.

The KidzAct production of Mamma Mia! Teen is directed/choreographed by Dawn Lebrecht Fornara with Musical Direction by Charles Fornara (the same artistic team who led the Mamma Mia! cast to artistic sold-out performances in the Naples Players’ 66th season opener.

In alphabetical order, the cast includes Brian Boland as Father Alexandrios, Luke Danni as Bill, Christian Dinsmore as Sky, Frankie Federico as Pepper, Riley Hart as Eddie, Naphtailda Jean-Charles as Rosie, Katelyn Leslie as Lisa, Katie Pierce as Tanya, Alex Portaro as Sophie, Lila Prince as Donna, Thomas Richardson as Harry, Dominic Young as Sam, and Elyse Yun as Ali.

The musical and dance ensemble includes Nikki Attanasio, Kaitlyn Baker, Jenny Belandres, Sarah Bussard, Alexis Camina, Lisa Castro, Emily Corniola, Jillian Cossetta, Maxine Danni, Breanna Hart, Lila Mastro, Kristen Noble, Rylee Price, Frankie Prince, Lila Prince, Ciaran Welch, Christina Young with Carrie Drigotas and Danaia Ivanov as the ABBA Booth Chorus Singers.

Over the past couple of months, the cast and ensemble have been drilled by Dawn and Charles Fornara in rigorous daily music and dance rehearsals. To learn their parts and understudy roles, they’ve also attended The Naples Players Mamma Mia! rehearsals and performances. Now they’re ready and primed to turn in spectacular performances of their own. The KidzAct production runs Friday, August 2 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 3 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, August 4 at 2:00 p.m. in Blackburn Hall at The Naples Players at The Sugden Community Theatre at 701 5th Avenue South in Naples. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and are available for purchase online at or by contacting the Box Office at (239) 263-7990.



Time running out to submit for Readers Theatre new play competition (07-22-19)

Time is running out to submit your original one-act script to The Naples Players for its 16th Annual “An Evening of New Plays” contest for Southwest Florida playwrights. The deadline is July 31.

Winners will have the opportunity for their plays to be cast, directed, and staged at one of the most highly-rated theatres in the country.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for talented playwrights to get their work in front of an audience,” observes Jessica Walck, Associate Artistic Director.

In addition to having their play cast and performed at TNP’s “An Evening of New Plays” on Sunday, January 19, 2020, finalists will each receive a performance royalty, memorial plaque and tickets to TNP’s “An Evening of New Plays.”

Readers Theatre is devoted to developing playwrights, directors and actors through staged readings of original works as well as fresh and inventive one-acts. The Readers Theatre program allows The Naples Players to test new plays before producing them and provides critical feedback to playwrights, along with access to performance and directing opportunities through flexible and shortened rehearsal processes and augmented performance demands. Both veteran and novice actors, directors, and playwrights can call Readers Theatre home, and this flexibility helps Readers Theatre remain as one of the foundational programs of The Naples Players.

Only non-musical one-acts are accepted. Only one play per writer can be submitted. Each play must:

  • be the writer’s own original work, not an adaptation;
  • not commercially published or produced, though it may have been work-shopped or presented in staged readings;
  • should not exceed 20 minutes in length;
  • may have been entered in an earlier contest, so long as it was not an earlier finalist.

Once the play is submitted, no script changes can be made for purposes of this competition.

To submit a play, playwrights must submit three copies of their script in standard stage play format to: “An Evening of New Plays 2018,” The Naples Players, 701 5th Avenue South, Naples, FL 34102. Plays may also be submitted electronically to:

A title page with the name of the play, synopsis, and list of characters must be attached to each script. Include a separate page, unattached to the script, with the name of the play, playwright and contact information. This is to help assure anonymity during the judging process. For scripts to be returned, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

The judging panel may recommend up to four finalists to the Readers Theatre Committee for review and final approval by Associate Artistic Director Jessica Walck. Authors retain all rights and give performance rights to The Naples Players for “An Evening of New Plays” and limited readings in other venues, including possible outreach and electronic media.

Winners will be notified by October 31, 2019.

Readers Theatre is The Naples Players’ affiliate theatre group, led by TNP’s Associate Artistic Director Jessica Walck. Performances are held throughout the year in the intimate 100-seat Tobye Studio Theatre at the Sugden Community Theatre in the center of 5th Avenue South, Naples. Readers Theatre perform a series of one-act plays and full-length works with scripts in hand and without props or costumes. Readers Theatre performances focus on the written word.

The Naples Players (TNP) Sugden Community Theatre is Naples’ oldest and premier theatre group and a vital part of the exciting experience of Downtown Naples. Celebrating its 66th season, and as one of the top theatres in the country, they offer a variety of plays and musicals in three intimate spaces, Blackburn Hall, the Tobye Studio Theatre and outside BakerStage – all located in one building on Fifth Avenue South.



TNP audition notice for ‘Great Gatsby’ and ‘Escanaba in Da Moonlight (07-22-19)

The Naples Players will be holding auditions for The Great Gatsby and Escanaba in Da Moonlight on Saturday, August 10, 2019 from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at The Sugden Community Theatre located at 5th Avenue South, Naples, FL 34102. Both shows are auditioning on the same day and you may audition for one show or both. Auditions are free and walk-ins are always welcome.

Final Casting Calls will be made starting Wednesday, August 14.

The Great Gatsby is casting 4 Women (20’s-60’s), 5 Men (20’s-60’s), with additional ensemble roles available. It will be directed by TNP Executive Artistic Director Bryce Alexander and sponsored by Lake Michigan Credit Union. The Great Gatsby is a contemporary stage adaptation of the classic Jazz-Era American novel penned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Adapted for the stage by Simon Levy, the play was first presented at the Guthrie Theatre in 2006. It features much of Fitzgerald’s language with the decadence of the 1920s. Rehearsal begins August 19 @ 7:00 p.m. Performances will be Wednesdays-Sundays, October 3–27 in Blackburn Hall.

Escanaba In Da Moonlight is casting 1 Woman (1 30’s) and 5 Men (2 30’s, 1 40’s, 1 60’s, 1 ageless). Associate Artistic Director Jessica Walck directs. It is a hunting story to beat all hunting stories. Written by Tony-nominated actor Jeff Daniels, this zany comedy follows the Soady family tale of the opening day of deer season at the family’s Upper Peninsula camp. Rehearsal begins September 9 @ 7:00 p.m. Performances will take place Wednesdays-Sundays, October 23–November 17 (possible extension from November 20th–24th).

To register to audition and for audition sides, a full list of rehearsals, techs, and performances, please visit For further questions or inquiries, please contact Cole Butcher, TNP Production Stage Manager, at (239) 434-7340 ext. 125 or



TNP KidzAct holding auditions for ‘Frozen Jr.’ (07-22-19)

The Naples Players (TNP) KidzAct is holding open auditions for the Disney musical sensation Frozen Jr. on Saturday, September 7, 2019 from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at The Naples Players at The Sugden Community Theatre located at 701 5th Avenue South in Naples.

Frozen Jr. is a story of true love and acceptance between sisters, Princesses Anna and Elsa. When faced with danger, the two discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. With a cast of beloved characters and loaded with magic, adventure, and plenty of humor, Frozen Jr. is sure to thaw even the coldest heart!

The Naples Players KidzAct production is seeking to cast 16 principal roles (8 male, 8 female) and a large singing/dancing ensemble with multiple featured roles. Rehearsals for Frozen Jr. begin on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and performances run Saturday, December 7th (two performances at 12 noon and 4:00 p.m.), Sunday, December 8th at 6:30 p.m., and Monday, December 9th at 6:30 p.m. Cast members must be available for all four performances.

Auditions for Frozen Jr. are open to students of all abilities ages 9 – 18 years old who are currently enrolled in 3rd – 12th grades. Auditions are by appointment only and students can register online. If all slots fill up, the time of auditions will be extended later. Auditions are free and walk-ins are always welcome.

Students need to prepare 32 bars (about a minute in length) of a song with sheet music or a non-vocal CD/track. Singing will be followed by learning a dance combination. For a full rehearsal and performance schedule, and to register to audition for the Frozen Jr. auditions: For further questions about auditions, please contact Cole Butcher, Production Stage Manager, 239-434-7340 ext. 125 or

There is an Audition Prep Class offered on Saturday, August 10, 2019, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. TNP KidzAct Director/Choreographer, Erica Sample will be teaching the Audition Prep Class to introduce auditionees to the style of dance in the show prior to the audition. Students are encouraged to take this class to best prepare for the audition process. To register for the Frozen Jr. Audition Prep Class call (239) 434-7340 ext. 103 or

Frozen Jr. performs December 7th at 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., December 8th and 9th at 6:30 p.m. in Blackburn Hall at The Naples Players at The Sugden Community Theatre at 701 5th Avenue South in Naples. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and are available for purchase online at or by contacting the Box Office at (239) 263-7990.



‘Venus in Furs’ pairs Steven Coe, Maddy Hayes in cerebrally carnal erotic drama (07-22-19)

Coming to The Studio Players in Golden Gate on August 23 is Venus in Fur directed by Anna Segreto.

The play stars Maddy Hayes and Steven Coe.

Desperate to find an actress to play the female lead in his adaptation of the classic tale of sadomasochism, Venus in Fur, a beleaguered playwright/director auditions a vulgar and equally desperate actress. Though utterly wrong for the sophisticated part, Vanda piques the playwright’s interest with her seductive talents and secretive manner. As the two work through the script, they blur the line between play and reality, entering into an increasingly serious game of submission and domination that only one of them can win.

Go here for the rest of this advance.



Spotlight on ‘Venus in Furs’ actor Steven Coe (07-22-19)

Coming to The Studio Players in Golden Gate on August 23 is Venus in Fur directed by Anna Segreto. The play stars Maddy Hayes and Steven Coe.

Coe is one of Southwest Florida’s hardest working actors. He has a reputation for placing himself in challenging roles and situations that build confidence. For example, while he was playing The Boy in Veronica’s Room for Lab Theater, he was also on the Murder Mystery Dinner Train over at the Seminole Gulf Railway.

Go here for the rest of Steven’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘Venus in Furs’ actor Maddy Hayes (07-22-19)

Coming to The Studio Players in Golden Gate on August 23 is Venus in Fur directed by Anna Segreto. The play stars Steven Coe and Maddy Hayes.

Madelaine “Maddy” Hayes is a local actor and director. Her acting credits include 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, The Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940s and Stage Kiss, as well as a number of staged readings at the Laboratory Theater of Florida. Maddy has headed the Lab’s winter camp and co-directed the Lab’s summer camp shows, The Wolves and Evil Dead: The Musical. She also had the distinction of directing the Audience Choice winner in Lab Theater’s 2018 24-Hour Playwriting Challenge, Sunny with a Chance of Social Anxiety by Dave Matthew Chesebro.



‘Church & State’ fast-paced dramedy about faith, politics and ‘The Twitter’ (07-22-19)

It is three days before Charles Whitmore’s Senate re-election and he’s decided to finally tell the public exactly what’s on his mind, no filter. What could possibly go wrong? Church & State is a fast-paced dramedy about faith, politics and “The Twitter.” Directed by Brett Marston, it will be performed by The Studio Players October 4-20.

Keith Gahagan plays Senator Charles Whitmore, with Suzanne Sole portraying his wife, Sara Whitmore. Sharon Isern is Alex Klein and Danny Cancio tackles multiple roles, playing Tom/Marshall/Security Guy/News Anchor.

Church & State playwright Jason Odell Williams is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer (Brain Games). He has also received an Ovation Award nomination.

Church & State is his latest play and was originally produced as a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere at The Skylight Theatre in L.A. and JCC CenterStage in Rochester, NY.

Please go here for the remainder of this advance.



Spotlight on actor Keith Gahagan (07-22-19)

Keith Gahagan will play the role of Senator Charles Whitmore in The Studio Players’ upcoming production of Jason Odell Williams’ dramedy Church & State. Keith has performed in community theater productions in Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Fort Myers since 2007. Among his stage credits are Curt in Don’t Talk to the Actors (The Studio Players) Eddie the bar owner in The Legend of Georgia McBride (Lab Theater, June 2019), Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire (The Studio Players, January 2018), August Osage County, Things Being What They Are and A Clockwork Orange a decade ago. Most recently, Keith took part in Stage It Playwrights Festival in Bonita Springs, which followed his performance in  the Waverly Gallery at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita.

Go here for the rest of Keith’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘Church & State’ actor Sharon Isern (07-22-19)

Sharon Isern will be playing the part of Alex Klein in The Studio Players’ October production of Jason Odell Williams’ dramedy Church & State. Sharon Isern is an actor, artist ( and recovering academic (@profpathogen) who spends her days teaching and doing virus research with undergraduate students as a Professor of Biology at FGCU. Although new to acting, Sharon has made a mark already in the Southwest Florida theater community. She made her debut in January 0f 2019 in Ghostbird Theatre’s production of Everyone on this Train, excelling in the role of a mother fleeing the Chechen war with her daughter. And she recently turned in a tearfully painful portrayal of a doting daughter caring for her terminally ill mother who is also afflicted with dementia in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of The Shadow Box. For more on Sharon’s acting accomplishments and chops, read here.



Spotlight on ‘Church & State’ cast member Daniel Cancio (07-22-19)

Daniel Cancio plays multiple roles (Tom/Marshall/Security Guy/News Anchor) in The Studio Players’ upcoming production of Church & State. An FGCU theatre grad, Daniel is an emerging talent in the local theater scene. While at FGCU, he appeared in productions of The Tempest, Mr. Perfect, 12 Angry Men and The Zoo. His credits also include Jerry in The Studio Players’ production of Don’t Talk to the Actors, Bear in Ghostbird Theatre Company’s production of Orbs! and Laboratory Theater of Florida’s 2016 production of Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews. He additionally took part in a staged reading of Robert Caisley’s The Open Hand. 


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