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This is what’s happening May 15-21, 2018

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Here’s what’s taking place in the arts, indie films and community theater between May 15 and 21, 2018:

 

For actor-screenwriter-playwright Derek Lively, it’s all a matter of intentionality (05-21-18)

Southwest Florida theater-goers are still raving about Derek Lively’s portrayal of Walter Lee Younger in Theatre Conspiracy’s recent production of Lorraine Hanberry’s masterwork, A Raisin in the Sun. It was his best role to date, but not his first “tour d’force” performance. That appellation was employed by a theater critic nearly 20 years ago as well – then, to describe his performance in Dreamin’ in Church, a one-actor dramedy by playwright Robert O’Hara that was part of Worth Street Theater Company’s Snapshots 2000. In spite of a nearly 18-year hiatus, it would seem, the veteran actor has barely missed a step.

If you’re not familiar with Worth Street Theater, it produced shows at New York’s Joseph Papp Public Theater, Samuel Beckett Theatre and Tribeca Playhouse. By the turn of the century, Lively had been prominent in the Manhattan theater scene for more than 20 years, with over 40 productions to his credit over that span. He was regularly seen at regional and Off-Broadway venues. In addition to Public Theater and Samuel Beckett, he also took the boards at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club in the East Village, where emerging artists learn from established artists and where artists from around the globe share work and ideas.

Although his degree is in business management and economics, he went to acting school in New York. “I had some really well-known teachers,” teases Derek, who finally drops the name of Viennese actor-director Herbert Berghof, whose HB Studio is one of New York’s original acting ateliers, supporting vigorous, lifelong practice in theater based on a solid foundation of practical training.

Read the rest of this profile here.

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‘Thorn Among Roses’ on exhibit at Center for Visual Arts Bonita through June 16 (05-20-18)

A Thorn Among the Roses is on view at the Center for Visual Arts Bonita now through June 16. The exhibition showcases the newest work of artists Catherine Brown, Linda A. Fraine, Bill Kreutz, and Sandy Lawson and highlights their exceptional talent and creativity in a variety of mediums. The artwork on display ranges from pen and ink, aerosol, oil to mixed media ceramics. This eclectic and delightful mix also features the latest bodies of work by two of CFABS’ long-standing faculty members Bill Kreutz (painting/drawing) and Sandy Lawson (ceramics).

 

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Six artist show at Naples’ Thomas Riley Studio closes June 1 (05-20-18)

On view now through June 1 at Thomas Riley Studio in Naples is a group exhibition of new works by artists Matthew Shlian, Shizue Imae, Kim Keever, Josh Wojick, Jason Krugman and Jamie Harris. Thomas Riley Studio is located in the heart of the Naples Design District at 26 10th Street South, Naples, FL 34102. For more information, please telephone 239-529-2633.

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DAAS Co-Op showcasing art of Kellen Beck Mills during month of May (05-19-18)

During the month of May, DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts is showcasing the art of Kellen Beck Mills. The collection is inspired by the concept of art as visual poetry and found imagery. The opening reception coincides with the monthly SoCo Second Saturday Art Crawl that will be held in the SoCo Cultural District (Alliance for the Arts and Royal Palm Square block) between 6:00 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, 2018.

“Each composition for me is a small world where, as the artist Alice Neel said, ‘I can do as I want,’” comments Mills. “My character, Donna Quixote, stars in this series of collages as a feminine archetype, sometimes tilting at windmills while she goes about the adventure of exploring the soul and experience of being human. Her figure in a stance as a super hero remain constant while her costume, props and environment change in each staged presentation of figure and ground relationships.”

Mills uses a mixed media collage technique to produce her pieces. Her works are unique and very recognizable due to her unique style.

“When I was little I delighted in making my own paper dolls, so now that I’m a grown-up, I suppose I’ve returned to that delight with more experience and an expanded visual vocabulary,” adds Mills, who enjoys combining media to bring more interest to each piece. “In the process I hope that the personal somehow touches the universal and that others might get the symbolism and private in-jokes that emerge in the narratives.”

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery is conveniently located in the Royal Palm Square at 1400 Colonial Blvd, STE 84, in Fort Myers, FL. Off-season business hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., starting this month. For more information about the gallery, please visit daascoop.com or call 239-590-8645.

More information about the SoCo Second Saturday Art Crawl can be found at socoswfl.com.

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Beginning in June, SoCo will be every day each month all year long (05-19-18)

In October of 2016, roughly ten art and cultural businesses within the block of McGregor to Rarco Boulevard joined forces to start a monthly art crawl event called SoCo Second Saturday. The event brought attention to the area and helped unify the participating businesses through collaborations and cross-promotions. Now, these businesses hope to maintain the popularity of the SoCo Cultural District throughout the entire month by offering, beginning in June, a series of projects and events on different days of the month, every month and all year long.

“SoCo is every day now,” remarks David Acevedo, who created the original second Saturday event and helped incorporate the cultural district along with community leaders that include Alliance for the Arts Executive Director Lydia Black, Broadway Palm Dinner Theater Marketing Director Melissa Vogt and Chip Withrow from Yoga Bird.

“During these last nineteen months of SoCo [Second Saturday] many ups and downs happened, but we feel like it is time for the next step in this process,” adds Acevedo, who opened DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts in the Royal Palm Square a few months before the introduction of the first event. “I feel like the community knows we are here now and that there are amazing things happening here every day, not just one night a month.”

Acevedo is also the co-founder of the Union Artist Studios of Fort Myers and played an instrumental role in establishing Art Walk in the Fort Myers River District to attract art lovers and others downtown after the disruption and confusion created by the City’s four-year-long Streetscape project.

So what’s there to do at the SoCo Cultural District?

Within the SoCo Cultural District, there is a fantastic dinner theater which entertains over 170,000 guests annually with amazing productions, a center for arts and art education in a ten-acre campus that hosts significant art exhibitions and offers an arts curriculum that is second to none, an art loft with more than twelve artists and studios, a cooperative art gallery with more than twenty-five artists and monthly exhibition receptions for guest artists, a very popular yoga studio, a trendy barber shop, a Swedish goods store, a dance studio, three restaurants and much, much more.

The socoswfl.com website has been refurbished as a hub for all things SoCo, including a comprehensive calendar of events for all businesses within the district. The very popular SoCo map has been modified to be used as a cross-promoting tool, inviting patrons to stroll around the variety of venues and make the best of their visit. In addition, the map will include information and even coupons for discounts at various locations within the district.

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Brignoni and Brown creating a ‘Balancing Act’ at DAAS in June (05-19-18)

Concurrently with the SoCo Cultural District’s initiative to redefine itself as a center where art happens every day each month all year round, DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts will become an experience well beyond a simple exhibition beginning with the month of June. Consisting of a large collection of conceptual art pieces constructed within the realms of mixed mediums and forgotten techniques such as “decoupage,” The Balancing Act will become the central focus in DAAS’ main gallery space.

The Balancing Act is the brainchild of 2017 FACE award winner Xavier Brignoni, inspired by recent personal experiences in the artist’s life.

“I like to take my experiences in conceptual art and turn those life experiences in a conversation piece,” says Brignoni, whose love for the medium became almost an obsession once he started the first piece of the collection. “I practiced traditional decoupage – which is the art of cutting multiple levels of the same images and positioning them on top of each other, separated by a rubbery substance, to achieve a tridimensional effect – since I was very young and rediscovering now has been my greatest artistic revival.”

In the majority of Brignoni’s pieces, the focal point is black-and-white images of birds, brains, hearts and bodies. He also employs drips of paint in red and black to suggest tears and time spent during a healing process known only to those who have experienced situations similar to the artist’s. These are all elements that represent different aspects of human behavior, actions and reactions. The collection is displayed in a thought-provoking way, intending to deliver an experience to the viewer, with whom the imagery resonates.

In conjunction with The Balancing Act, Sarah Brown has designed an impactful protest art piece for the Window Room of the gallery. Named recently Best Florida Protest Artist by Florida Weekly, Brown gained renowned for her Collateral Damage conceptual pieces, which included the names of the hundreds of people killed in recent mass shootings.

The opening reception for The Balancing Act will take place from 6:00-9:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, 2018.

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery is conveniently located in Suite 84 in the Royal Palm Square at 1400 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL. Regular off-season business hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (starting this month). For more information about the gallery, please visit daascoop.com or call 239-590-8645.

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Monumental artist Albert Paley expands into discipline of rug making (05-19-18)

Monumental metal sculptor Albert Paley stays busy. He enjoys a significant presence here in Southwest Florida with Naiad in the entry to the St. Tropez condominiums in Fort Myers, Cross Currents on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University, the gates at the Baker Museum of Art and the door handles at Artis Naples.

Monumental sculptor Albert Paley has expanded his repertoire to include rug designs. In this capacity, he worked closely with Oriental Rug Mart owner Reza Nejad Sattari to transform a series of monoprints into high quality hand knotted rugs. Reza is passionate about the history, culture, and craftsmanship of the carpet industry and personally oversees every aspect of the process that transforms Albert’s designs into rugs. Paley’s rugs are constructed with hand carded, hand spun and naturally dyed wool, using unusually fine Tibetan weave at 144 knots/sq. inch on a cotton warp and weft foundation.

Read here for the rest of this article. [Scroll down until you find the correlative title.]

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Alliance’s ‘Along the Coast’ exhibition to feature work by Waller and Hull (05-18-18)

The Alliance for the Arts’ May exhibit explores Florida’s immense and varied coastline. Appropriately titled Along the Coast, the show will feature award-winning Tampa painters Laura Waller and Sarah Hull. Waller is known for large scale paintings that serve as metaphors and provide the narrative for her paintings. Hull’s use of perspective, angles and shadows conveys tension and mood.

Along the Coast runs through May 26. The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33919. For more information, visit ArtInlee.org/Coastal or call 239-939-2787.

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Sarah Hull’s aerial beach views more than just enchanting from a distance (05-18-18)

“Distance lends enchantment to the view,” Scottish poet Thomas Campbell wrote in “The Pleasures of Hope.” Nowhere is that truer than in the alluring aerial beach scenes of Tampa artist Sarah Hull that are on view now through May 26 in the main gallery at the Alliance for the Arts.

Hull’s beachy aerials are part of a two-artist exhibit titled Along the Coast that also features nautical abstracts by Laura Waller, also from Tampa. As the title intimates, the tandem show explores Florida’s immense and varied coastline.

Hull began exploring her aerial perspective several years ago.

“I started out doing stills of donuts and cupcakes viewed from above,” Sarah reflects. “From there I branched out into landscapes,” which she took to a whole new plane when her next-door neighbor, a retired Air Force pilot, invited her to go up in his small aircraft for a bird’s eye view of the Tampa coastline.

“I brought along a pad and did several sketches,” recalls Sarah, who also took a number of photographs that she could use in her studio once on the ground back home.

“I’ve always been interested in how perspective, angles and shadows convey tension and mood,” Sarah points out.

To pursue that interest in earnest, she purchased and taught herself how to fly a couple of small drones.

“I took a bunch of classes and found out that they’re actually pretty easy to use.”

Still, there were limitations she needed to observe. “I don’t fly them over crowded beaches or over people in their bathing suits. For legal purposes, you don’t really want to do that.”

The images provided by the drone-borne cameras inform her aerial paintings of sunbathers at the beach nonetheless. “They’ve really contributed to my understanding of how the Earth changes and moves.”

But the appeal of the aerial perspective from Hull’s standpoint is two-fold. First, she is enamored of the concept of looking at something in a whole new way.

“Having two teenagers at home, it’s really hard to understand their perspective about things at times,” says Sarah, chuckling. “You forget what it’s like to be 15, 16, 17 or 18. So there’s nothing like turning things around, getting out of your own shoes and your own space, and asking how things look from a different point of view.”

She’s gone to great lengths to look at sunbathers from this very different perspective or point of view. In addition to making sketches from small planes and operating drones to gather material, Sarah spends time in penthouses and the top floors of area hotels making sketches of the bathers sunning themselves on lounges, blankets and in the surf far below.

“A number of hotels let me sketch from their penthouse suites and top floor rooms between check-outs and check-ins.” One of her favs is the Legendary Pink Palace of St. Pete Beach, the Don Cesar Hotel that was opened in the heyday of the Great Gatsby Era in 1928. Designed by Henry H. Dupont and developed by Thomas Rowe, the hotel still serves as a popular retreat for the rich and famous.

But while looking down on the beachgoers from opulent perches such as that, Hull made an unexpected discovery.

“You see people lying on the beach in the middle of thousands of people, but they’re not connected to anybody. They’re all on their phones. The feeling of loneliness doesn’t always come through in my paintings, but my intent with this series is to evoke a sense of the isolation one might experience in a crowd; the juxtaposition of isolation and loneliness co-existing within a relaxed, leisurely recreational space, voyeuristically looking into, but not being part of the world below.”

The reason that objects viewed from a distance seem so enchanting is because their flaws do not stand out from that vantage. But as you get closer, the blemishes suddenly emerge, and so it is with the growing phenomenon of urban loneliness, a condition being experienced in increasing numbers by Millennials and Gen-Xers. In fact, urban loneliness can be experienced by people of any age in big cities across the planet, whether it’s Tampa, St. Pete,  New York, L.A., Tokyo or Calcutta.

“Loneliness doesn’t necessarily require physical solitude, but rather an absence or paucity of connection, closeness, kinship: an inability to find as much intimacy as is desired,” contends Olivia Laing in her book The Lonely City: Adventures in The Art of Being Alone. “Most people complaining of chronic loneliness are those who have moved to bigger cities from smaller places to realize their aspirations.”

Many factors contribute to feelings of isolation and alienation, including lack of meaningful relationships, break-ups, increasing workload, erratic schedules, long commuting hours and the pressure to prove one’s worth in a highly competitive work and social environment. It is further fueled by our growing dependency on our devices and social media platforms.

“If used as a tool to enrich and increase the frequency of face-to-face interactions, social media tends to be associated with lower levels of loneliness,” states University of Chicago Professor John T. Cacioppo. “But if you look at it as a replacement for the face-to-face, it can flood you with loneliness.”

Chronic loneliness exacts a toll not only on an individual’s mental health profile, but increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and sleep deprivation. Studies have also shown that loneliness can result in an increase in alcohol consumption and less exercise.

While she may not have suspected these outcomes while sketching in the air or from the top floor of area four and five star hotels, all it took for Hull to intuit that there was more to her pictorial surveys than a pretty aerial scene was coming down from the penthouse and sitting among the sun worshippers on the beach.

“I’ve sat on the beach in Tampa at Spring break in March in the middle of 50, 60 people with my hat, taking pictures and doing my sketches, and nobody notices me,” says Sarah, shaking her head incredulously.

“You’d think I’d be invading their privacy, but everybody’s is so engrossed in their own concerns., they pay me no mind.”

While there is plenty of visual and thematic content for viewers to ponder in each of Hull’s aerial perspective beach and pool scenes, Sarah derives yet another benefit from rendering new additions to the series.

“I’m drawn to water,” she effuses. “I grew up near the coast outside of Boston. My dad loved woodworking and he bought this old wooden sailboat when he was in his early 40s that he redid and learned to sail. So I have a lot of happy memories of bringing him tools and being around boats. That is another reason I’m drawn to water.”

You’ll be equally drawn to Hull’s aerial beach scenes. The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33919. For more information, visit ArtInlee.org/Coastal or call 239-939-2787.

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More on Tampa artist Sarah Hull (05-18-18)

The Alliance for the Arts’ May exhibit explores Florida’s immense and varied coastline. Appropriately titled Along the Coast, the show features award-winning Tampa painters Laura Waller and Sarah Hull.

A few years ago, Sarah began to paint objects, figures and landscapes as they appear from an elevated point of view. In 2015, Sarah began to focus specifically on beaches in Florida and New England. She first began to photo document beach scenes from the top floor of hotels, later in an airplane. She has also learned to use drones to capture references for this high-elevation, bird’s eye perspective. Her intent is to evoke a sense of isolation one might experience in a crowd; the juxtaposition of isolation and loneliness co-existing within a relaxed, leisurely recreational space, voyeuristically looking into, but not being part of the world below.

Along the Coast runs through May 26. For more information, visit ArtInlee.org/Coastal or call 239-939-2787.

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Waller’s ship at port combines abstract sensibility with representational view (05-18-18)

On view in the main gallery of the Alliance for the Arts is a two-artist show titled Along the Coast. Sarah Hull invites viewers to explore feelings of loneliness and isolation within the confines of surfside recreational spaces, while fellow Tampa artist Laura Waller cajoles viewers to join her on an abstract exploration of massive commercial vessels where they alone control the path and destination of the journey.

To appreciate what Waller has accomplished with the paintings in this series, it is helpful to harken back to some lessons taught roughly 150 years ago by the Impressionists. Then, painters such as Manet, Monet and Renoir operated from the premise that in real life, our eyes are only capable of focusing on a single spot at any given point in time. The rest of the picture is supplied not by our optic nerve, but our minds. We know what’s in the background or periphery of a scene, but we don’t actually see it in the depth or detail previously provided by realists and hyper-realists like DaVinci, Rubens and Vermeer.

Waller applies a similar concept to her paintings of massive cargo ships and commercial freighters. Except from a great distance, you simply cannot take in a 400 or 500 foot vessel all at once. Because of their size and scale, you can only experience a ship like this by focusing on some detail or component part.

“By focusing on some detail or portion of the vessel, I’m asking the viewer to join with me in an exploration,” Laura explains. “The vanishing point is well off canvas, so you know it’s a massive ship that goes way back. You know it’s there, but I’m asking you to experience it in a different way.”

But Waller’s compositions provide an even greater degree of immediacy. If you stand close to the linen support, you see a collection of one-dimensional shapes and colored planes. But as you stand back, an image emerges that depicts some part of the vessel that suggests or implies the existence of the entire ship in much the same way as viewing a tusk, trunk or tail connotes the presence of an elephant.

This result obtains because of the way in which Waller creates her compositions. “When I paint, I’m standing at the length of the brush from the support,” explains Laura. “It’s only when I stand back that the form emerges from the brushwork.”

Up close, there’s a very abstract quality to these paintings. The emphasis on flat color, geometrical shapes, parallel lines and other forms is vaguely reminiscent of Mondrian’s use of the pure geometric forms underlying all existence to convey absolute reality. But as you retreat from proximity to the canvas, the composition becomes representational. Even then, however, your mind has to finish the image because the actual subject extends hundreds of feet off canvas.

“I like to subject matter where if you made a viewfinder with your hands, you can go anywhere within the composition and find something interesting to look at,” Waller adds. “This lets viewers choose which part of the composition to connect with, and that enables them to have a different experience each time they look at the painting. If you do a representational painting of the entire ship, you’re telling the viewer what to see. But here, they get to choose the relationship they forge with the composition.”

Laura’s developed an interest in cargo ships, freighters and tugs after a friend suggested she visit the Port Tampa Bay for nontraditional Florida motifs.

“I didn’t really want to do cruise ships because the shapes are not that interesting compared to other ships, so when someone suggested the working port, I became intrigued.”

Of course, you just can’t go wandering about a commercial port handles more than 37 million tons of cargo annually, ranging from liquid and dry bulk to containers and automobiles.

“I got one of the big companies to sponsor me. They gave me a hard hat and an adorable security guard in a golf cart, and we rode around and took pictures, which I took them back to the studio to paint.” Painting on location was not an option because while the port was happy to assign a security guard to show her around, they couldn’t spare someone to sit with her all day as she painted.

Still, her time in the port was as exciting as it was novel. “I’ve always been intrigued by what I call ‘drop-ins’ – where you’re dropped into a new environment, someplace you’ve never been before. It’s a new world. There are very few women in the port. People can’t see the port when they drive by, so they don’t really know what’s in there.”

In addition to the time she spent being squired about the port by security, Laura also accessed the port aboard her son’s power boat, and she did have occasion to cop a ride on a 12,795 ton, 472-foot-long freighter named Clipper Newhaven that sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands.

“You cannot go in or out of the harbor without a harbor pilot taking over the ship. There are only two female harbor pilots in all of Florida, and I got to go with the one at the Port of Tampa when she took Clipper Newhaven out to sea,” Laura recounts. Although Laura did not identify her by name, that would have been Capt. Carolyn Kurtz. She is one of 23 harbor pilots working for the Tampa Bay Pilots Association. The rest are all males. (The only other female harbor pilot in Florida works in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Out of 1,200 harbor pilots nationally, just 30 are women.)

“When we got out in the Gulf, a pilot boat pulls up alongside the ship and [Capt. Kurtz] tells me we’re going down to get off the ship,” Laura continues, a wry smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “Well, I didn’t realize until that very moment that they don’t stop the ship. It’s going along at 12 knots, and [Carolyn] says, ‘Don’t get upset, Laura, and don’t look down, but we’re going to climb down that rope ladder hanging off the side of the ship. I’ll go first, and when it’s your turn, just take one step at a time and when you get to the bottom, reach back, and I’ll pull you onto the pilot boat.’ I didn’t look down, but I was thinking the whole time that if I die, I’m going to have the best obituary – crushed between two ships.”

Obviously, she did just fine and now has a Laura Croft moment to share at art exhibition opening receptions.

Laura found it interesting to not only learn all the different parts of the ships she painted, but their history, as well. When a collector acquires one of these nautical works, they not only get a nuanced, ever-changing painting, they become privy to the history of the vessel. And through a vessel tracker app, they can follow the ship’s whereabouts on their phone. In fact, the tracker even sends out notifications.

Laura has no plans to add to the series. In her mind, it is now complete. Instead, she is now painting commercial and residential buildings under construction, as well as industrial processing site. “After a private hardhat tour of an historic cement plant in Maine, I was inspired to explore similar industrial sites as part of my ongoing investigation into urban landscapes.”

As she did with ships at port, Waller feels equally compelled to uncover what lies beneath the surface of massive, imposing structures – buildings and industrial plants which are historic as well as others not yet complete. “It is their dynamic sense of scale that I seek to convey through tight, focused composition of color and form.”

And as with her ships at port, the new series of urban landscapes will be devoid of either animal or human figures. “I am primarily in what humans have built; the awe-inspiring powerful character and tension of interior or exterior spaces,” Laura explains. In her capable hands, each of these new constructions becomes an intimate personal portrait that reveals complex multi-layers, underpinnings and exoskeletons.

Along the Coast runs through May 26 at the Alliance for the Arts. For more information, please visit artinlee.org or telephone 239-939-2787.

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More on Tampa artist Laura Waller (05-18-18)

The Alliance for the Arts’ May exhibit explores Florida’s immense and varied coastline. Appropriately titled Along the Coast, the show features award-winning Tampa painters Laura Waller and Sarah Hull.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Laura Waller received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Newcomb College and Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. Concurrent with studies in sociology, psychology and social work, she developed a passion for art and art history.

After an eleven-year career as a professional therapist, Laura became a certified financial planner and founder of the successful Waller & Wax Advisors firm in Tampa, FL. Throughout her thirty-year career in finance, she continued to paint and study independently with prestigious artists in Arizona, Florida, and Maine. Waller was selected in 2013, 2014, 2015, and again for 2018, for artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center.

As a full-time artist, Waller works out of her studios in Maine and Florida. Her Working Waterfront: Port Tampa Bay paintings were featured in a winter 2015 solo exhibition at the Clayton Galleries in Tampa. Her Working Waterfront: New Work paintings were featured in a summer 2016 solo exhibition at Elizabeth Moss Galleries in Falmouth, ME. New paintings from her Port Side series were featured in a solo exhibition open from January 27 to March 11, 2017 at Clayton Galleries in Tampa, FL.

Alliance members and area art lovers may remember Laura from the 27 Annual All Florida Juried Exhibition in 2013. At that show, Baker Museum of Art Director and Curator Frank Verpoorten chose Laura’s painting, Owl’s Head, as the exhibition’s Best of Show.

Waller was awarded the Arts Council of Hillsborough County Individual Artist Grant in 2016. Laura’s paintings are collected by individuals and corporations nationwide.

Along the Coast runs through May 26. The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33919.

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Alliance’s June show will be a case of ‘Augmented Reality’ (05-18-18)

The Alliance for the Arts’ June exhibition will bring computer-generated objects into the real world. Titled Augmented Reality (or AR, for short), the work in this exhibit superimposes computer-generated images over a user’s view of the real-world, thereby enhancing the viewer’s current perception of reality.

But viewers won’t find the exhibit’s 12 digital works hanging on the gallery walls! Rather, they will be produced via a free Alliance app that viewers will download on their phone or tablet. Through a series of marker-based targets, the AR app will bring to life megalithic creatures, asteroids, board games and more.

Virtually interactive, this digital exhibition has been designed and curated by August Taylor. A sophomore at Florida Polytechnic University majoring in Computer Science with a focus in Cyber Security, Taylor has over 20 industry certifications, most achieved while at Dunbar High School’s Microsoft Academy.

“From improving education to bringing art to life, augmented reality will no doubt be part of our future,” Taylor predicts. “My hope is that this exhibition will display some of the possible augmented reality implementations that we may see in our day-to-day lives in a future that is not so far off.”

Augmented Reality will exhibit from June 1 through June 23 with an opening reception from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on June 1. Meet and engage with August during a conversational tour through the gallery at 6:00 p.m. on June 9. The discussion will break down the complicated mechanics of augmented reality as well as educate patrons on how augmented reality will transform how we work, play, learn and connect with the world around us.

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

The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd. For more information, call 239-939-2787 or visit www.ArtInLee.org.

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Alliance bringing back ‘Arts on Tap’ fundraiser (05-18-18)

The Alliance for the Arts is bringing back its annual fundraiser Arts On Tap. The event is scheduled for 7:00-10:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 20 on the Alliance campus at 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33919.

The announcement comes alongside the nationwide celebration of American Craft Beer Week. Now in its second year, Arts On Tap is a taste of creativity in the Alliance gallery featuring the craft of local brewers benefiting the Alliance for the Arts. For one night only, guests can delight their senses with locally-handcrafted beers and spirits, hand-selected wines and culinary creations against a vibrant backdrop of local art.

Participating crafters include Big Blue Brewing, Bury Me Brewing, Eight Foot Brewing, Fort Myers Brewing Company, Momentum Brewhouse, Palm City Brewing, Point Ybel Brewing Company and Scotty’s Bierwerks, with more participants to be announced. The event is sponsored by Briers CPA, Custom Packaging and Products , EnSite, HBKS Wealth Advisors, Priority Business Solutions and Sanibel Captiva Community Bank. Sponsorships and visibility opportunities are also available at ArtInLee.org/OnTap.

Last year, Arts On Tap attracted 200 guests. Tickets are $75 and include unlimited tastings from participating breweries and distilleries, culinary creations, pub snacks, gallery admission, music and games. The first 75 guests to purchase a ticket will receive an exclusive Support Local pint glass.

“The Alliance for the Arts is all about supporting small, independent makers who have a story,” says development and marketing director Jessica Wisdom. “We’re excited to celebrate the art of craft beer for the second year in a row. In our never-ending quest to outdo ourselves, this year’s event will be bigger and better with more art, more food, more fun and of course more beer!”

Arts On Tap is a fundraising event for the Alliance for the Arts, a nonprofit visual and performing arts center located in the heart of Fort Myers. Since 1975, the Alliance has been transforming lives and improving community through the arts. Event proceeds support a creative hub that spurs self-expression, imagination and individuality.

Arts On Tap is for ages 21 and older. A state-issued form of I.D. is required.

For more information, call 239-939-2787 or visit ArtInLee.org/OnTap.

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Naples Art Ass’n to celebrate 65 years of service with champagne social today (05-18-18)

The Naples Art Association will celebrate 65 years of supporting the arts, arts education and local artists with a champagne social today. “We have had the privilege of helping so many on their arts journey through classes, exhibitions, or events,” states NAA Executive Director Aimee Schlerh. “While we are planning some fabulous celebrations throughout the year to commemorate this momentous anniversary, we are also renewing our commitment to serving as the home for the arts for years to come.”

There will actually be two Birthday Socials, the first from 2:30-4:00 p.m. and the second from 5:00-6:30. Please R.S.V.P. to Elle Young at 239.262.6517 x 107 or Elle.Young@NaplesArt.org.

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Save the date for Camera USA® 2018: National Photography Exhibition (05-18-18)

The Naples Art Association started the Camera USA® photography program in 2011. As a nationwide program, it serves as a platform for local photographers to share the spotlight with their peers at the national level. For photographers from other states, Camera USA® provides an opportunity to demonstrate success, exhibit in Southwest Florida and compete for the $5,000 National Photography Award. Open to photographs taken in the United States after January 1, 2014 by photographers residing in the USA, you can see the top 50 images selected by this year’s jurors, Christopher Jones (Associate Curator of Photography at The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida), Mark Sloan (Director and Chief Curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston in South Carolina) and Paula Tognarelli (Executive Director and Curator of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Massachusetts on Friday, June 1 during the 5:30-7:30 p.m. opening reception. The exhibition will be on view in the Frederick O. Watson, Elizabeth & William Barrick, Millicent & Charles Marshall and the Minnesota Lobby Galleries June 4 – August 3, 2018.

For more information, please visit http://www.naplesart.org or telephone 239-262-6517.

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Juror Christopher Jones to give photography lecture in conjunction with Camera USA 2018 (05-18-18)

In conjunction with Camera USA 2018, the Naples Art Association is hosting a photography lecture by Museum Curator and Camera USA® Juror Christopher Jones on Thursday, May 31. Titled “Rethinking Photography: Analogue Experience in the Digital Age,” the lecture will start at 6:00 p.m. and be preceded by a wine and cheese reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. The lecture is free to Naples Art Association contributors and $10 per person for the general public.

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Val Wright ‘Landscape Transfigured’ closes tomorrow (05-18-18)

Val Wright: The Landscape Transfigured is on view in the Frederick O. Watson Gallery at the Naples Art Association, but it closes tomorrow, May 19.

Artist Val Wright paints on-site in the open air. She views the landscape with an inward eye, reinterpreting what she sees and feels in watercolor on paper. Her exaggerated sense of scale, vivid color and brush patterns transform our sense of place by connecting memory with a present moment. “To be a storyteller you have to know where the story begins and ends,” says Wright of her work. “I open the door to the undisturbed beauty in nature to find reflections of the familiar and pull shape from confusion.”

The Naples Art Association is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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‘Monochromatic – One Color’ also closes tomorrow (05-18-18)

On view now in the Elizabeth & William Barrick, Millicent & Charles Marshall and the Minnesota Lobby Galleries at the Naples Art Association is Monochromatic – One Color presented by the Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild. It also closes tomorrow.

The Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild is the only area organization dedicated solely to fine crafts. Over the past 40 years, the Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild has become a well-known dynamic and evolving organization of local artisans and craftspeople. Their members combine old world craftsmanship with contemporary techniques to produce unique works of art.

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Naples Art issues call to members for ‘Your Choice 2018’ exhibit (05-18-18)

The Naples Art Association is accepting applications from member artists interested in exhibiting work in Your Choice 2018. Artists are invited to register one artwork before the July 11 deadline (deadline to register early and provide an image for possible pre-exhibition publicity is June 14).

Your Choice is the Naples Art Association’s annual non-juried exhibition. It provides an unparalleled opportunity for Naples Art Association contributors to present their artwork to a large audience with no jury process requirement. The exhibition is called “Your Choice” because artists and viewers make the choices. Artists decide which artwork they will exhibit while viewers attending the reception decide who will receive the awards (of which there are five with a total cash value of $1,000).

Everyone attending the 5:30-7:30 August 10 reception may cast one vote for a favorite artist. Voting is overseen by the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office and the award winners will be announced on the Naples Art Association’s Facebook page.

Your Choice 2018 will be on display August 13 – September 19, 2018. The exhibition will be on view on the first and second floors in all of the Naples Art Association’s galleries. Located at 585 Park Street, Naples, the Naples Art Association is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, please telephone 239-262-6517 or visit NaplesArt.org.

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Naples Art soliciting artists for ‘Dinner with Artists’ (05-18-18)

Each year the Naples Art Association affords artists with opportunities to demonstrate or sample their work in front of a live audience through a variety of events. One of them is Dinner with Artists, which pairs a visual artist with a renowned local chef. The NAA is seeking fine artists and craftsmen in a wide variety of media who would like to participate in the event.

Artists must be able to demonstrate and/or sample their work within a 45-minute time frame. They must not only be affable and outgoing, but capable of openly demonstrating their skills and discussing their techniques. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to Mary.Visgilio@Naplesart.org with the following information:

  • A description of your demonstration and images of your demonstration process.
  • The materials you intend use.
  • What you will need in connection with your demonstration, such as electricity, water, table, etc.
  • How much space will your demonstration require?
  • A description of any hands-on opportunities that attendees may enjoy.
  • Whether your demonstration require assistants and, if so, how many.
  • Whether your demonstration is better performed indoors or outside.

Applications are juried by noted artists, curators, and others in the visual arts.

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Banyan Gallery holding reception to welcome two new artists tonight (05-17-18)

Banyan Arts Gallery is now representing abstract artist Mary Parkman and plein air artist Shawn Escott. Mary is from Naples; Shawn hails from Boca Raton. Both have been featured by the gallery in recent shows. Because of the overwhelming enthusiasm that met the display of their work, the gallery moved to add them to their permanent stable of artists, which includes Paul Arsenault, James P. Kerr and photographer Clyde Butcher.

Paul and Eileen Arsenault will formally welcome the artists at a “Meet the Artists” reception from 5:30-7:00 p.m. tonight. 

The gallery is located at 1199 Third Street South in Naples. To RSVP or for more information, please telephone 239-263-1214.

New work by Paul Arsenault and James Kerr will also be on display.

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Paintings by Paul Arsenault at Ave Maria University in ‘Heritage & Harvest’ exhibit (05-17-18)

Heritage & Harvest is on exhibit now through June 24 in the Canizaro Gallery at Ave Maria University. The show includes paintings and stories of Southwest Florida rendered by Naples artist Paul Arsenault.

Over the 44 years Paul Arsenault has devoted to painting in Collier, Lee, and Hendry Counties, he has recorded places and events that visually tell a story of the region’s prehistory and history. The painted stories in this exhibition include the thousand-year-old era of the Calusa Indians, but mainly concentrate on Southwest Florida’s evolution over the last 150 years from a raw wilderness inhabited by Seminole Indians and extremely hardy pioneers into a manicured metropolis of international renown.

Heritage & Harvest depicts not only the bountiful natural resources that attracted and helped sustain early Native Americans and 19th-century settlers, but also the architectural expressions of that bounty, including early homes, stores, and schools, and particularly the waterfronts. The exhibit ranges geographically from the Everglades to Naples to Boca Grande and Pine Island Sound and inland to Immokalee, LaBelle, and the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation.

For more information and directions, please call 239-263-1214.

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‘Parallel Harmonies’ art/nature exhibit opens at Rookery Bay on May 22 (05-17-18)

Parallel Harmonies: Art and Nature will open at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center on May 22. The exhibition features a collection of work by Cesar Aguilera, Paul Arsenault, Juan Diaz, Ehren Fritz Gerhard and Katia Miranda that celebrates the relationship between the artist and the natural world that inspires him or her.

This relationship has evolved over the millennia and is still a central focus of contemporary practice for many artists today. Relationships are symbiotic, one taking care of the other. In a time of global climate change, artists are using the inspiration of nature and its current health to bring light and change to human patterns of behavior. They aim to protect this relationship and care for what inspires them.

The opening reception takes place from 5:30-7:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Wine and light bites will be served. The exhibition will be on view May 22-October 31, 2018.

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Alliance Youth Theatre to perform ‘Calvin Berger’ in June (05-16-18)

The Alliance Youth Theatre will produce three performances of Calvin Berger by Barry Wyner in June. Based loosely on Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac, Calvin Berger is the hip and hilarious story of unrequited feelings, love notes, and physical insecurity among four high school seniors.

Calvin is smitten by the beautiful Rosanna, but he feels insecure because of the size of his nose. Rosanna, in turn, is attracted to the good-looking newcomer, Matt, who is painfully shy and inarticulate around her, although the attraction is mutual. Hoping to get closer to Rosanna through his eloquent love notes, Calvin offers to be Matt’s “speech writer, all the while ignoring the signals of attraction from another girl, his best friend, Bret. When the deception unravels, everybody’s friendship is seriously jeopardized, but Calvin eventually realizes that his preoccupation with his appearance had led him astray, and his eyes are opened to Bret, who’d been there all along.

Shows are at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday June 16 and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday June 17.

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‘My Fair Lady’ closes at Broadway Palm on May 19 (05-16-18)

My Fair Lady closes at Broadway Palm on May 19. This Lerner and Loewe classic is based on George Bernard Shaw’s witty comedy Pygmalion. My Fair Lady tells the unlikely love story between a professor and a cockney flower seller. The Professor, Henry Higgins, wagers a bet that he can transform the flower seller, Eliza Doolittle, into a high society lady. As Eliza becomes more refined and less reliant upon him, Professor Higgins realizes that he can’t live without her. The unforgettable score includes “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” “I’m Getting Married in the Morning,” “On the Street Where You Live” and “Wouldn’t it be Loverly.”

Ticket prices range from $45 to $70 with discounts for children and parties of 20 or more.

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‘Ring of Fire’ comes to Broadway Palm May 23 through June 23 (05-16-18)

Even after his passing, Johnny Cash is still one of the most popular entertainers of all-time. Ring of Fire tells his remarkable life story of passion, redemption, humor and salvation. Performed by a multi-talented cast, this production paints a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a foot-stompin’, crowd-pleasin’ salute to this remarkable legend! Featuring over 30 Johnny Cash hits including “I Walk the Line,” “I’ve Been Everywhere,” “A Boy Named Sue” and the title track “Ring of Fire.” Ring of Fire will be on the boards at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre May 23 through June 23, 2018 with matinee, twilight and evening performances. For tickets or more information, please telephone 239-278-4422 or visit http://broadwaypalm.com.

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CFABS Youth Players to perform ‘Mary Poppins JR’ in May (05-16-18)

The CFABS Youth Players will present Mary Poppins Jr. May 18-20 in the Hinman Auditorium at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs. The most beloved and practically perfect nanny Mary Poppins takes center stage in this Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious adventure based on the award-winning Broadway musical and classic Walt Disney film.

Bert, a man of many trades, introduces the audience to the unhappy Banks family. The family is shocked when Katie Nanna quits as the family nanny. While Father George muses about what he expects from the new nanny, children Jane and Michael insist upon their own requirements for their caregiver. As if summoned, Mary Poppins appears, offering her services. She leads the children on a series of adventures during the play, including bringing statues to life, a delightful vocabulary lesson and the delights of flying a kite. As Mary continues to teach the children important life lessons, the Banks home becomes filled with love, and Mary whisks away to find the next home that desperately needs her.

Tickets are $15 General Admission and $20 Reserved Seating. Performances are at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19, with 2:00 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20.

For more information, please telephone 239-495-8989 or visit http://www.artcenterbonita.org.

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Florida Rep names nine shows included in its 2018-2019 season (05-16-18)

Florida Repertory Theatre will begin its third decade of producing nationally-recognized, professional theater in the Fort Myers River District with its 2018-2018 season. Set to open September 21 and run to May 5 in the Historic Arcade Theatre and ArtStage Studio Theatre, the nine-show season includes two musicals, multiple comedies, a modern American classic, a southeastern United States premiere, and a world-premiere adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

The 2018-2019 season features five productions in the 393-seat Historic Arcade Theatre and four in the intimate 120-seat ArtStage Studio Theatre. It kicks off with the one-woman tour-de-force, Becoming Dr. Ruth, by Mark St. Germain – whose farce, George Washington’s Teeth, closed the current season on May 13.

Also featured in the season is Million Dollar Quartet, Broadway’s rock ‘n’ roll sensation; Native Gardens, one of the hottest new comedies in the country right now; Tenderly, a salute to jazz icon Rosemary Clooney; August Wilson’s Fences, the Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Award-winning modern American classic fresh from a Broadway revival and Academy Award-winning film adaptation, and more!

Florida Repertory Theatre’s 21st season also includes two brand-new plays as part of its ongoing efforts to develop new works and nurture playwrights. Opening November 9 in the ArtStage Studio is Damascus by Bennett Fisher, an electrifying psychological thriller that was read as part of Florida Rep’s 2017 PlayLab. Opening November 30 in the Historic Arcade is a new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by Mark Shanahan, whose play The Dingdong had its regional premiere to critical acclaim at Florida Rep in 2016. Shanahan is a Broadway actor, regional theatre veteran, and a familiar guest director at Florida Rep, who most recently helmed How the Other Half Loves earlier this year.

“We are delighted to be celebrating the beginning of our third decade with this very exciting season,” said Interim Artistic Director Jason Parrish. “This diverse line-up of plays and musicals, both classic and contemporary, will break new ground for the theatre, introduce many new faces, and of course, showcase our ensemble of artists in a variety of roles. It is particularly exciting to be taking on one of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle plays that will introduce Florida Rep audiences to one of the great 20th century American playwrights. Our 21st will be a season of new beginnings, and we hope you’ll join us.”

Florida Rep’s weeknight performances (Tuesday-Thursday) in both venues will continue at the earlier 7:00 p.m. curtain time instituted last season. Friday and Saturday evening performances will begin at 8:00 p.m., with matinee performances on Wednesday (Arcade), Thursday (ArtStage), selected Saturdays, and Sunday continuing at the popular 2:00 p.m. curtain time.

Subscriptions start as low as $150 for 6 plays and offer the best seats and the biggest savings. Packages for 9, 8, 7, and 6 shows are on sale for both new and renewing season ticket holders through the box office at 239-332-4488. Single tickets are priced at $55/$45 for regular performances and $35/$25 for previews, and will go on sale July 17 through the box office and online at www.FloridaRep.org.

Florida Repertory Theatre performs in the Historic Arcade Theatre and the ArtStage Studio Theatre on Bay St. between Jackson & Hendry with limited free parking in the Fort Myers River District. Visit Florida Rep online at FloridaRep.org, and by following the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.

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Here are the plays in Florida Rep’s 2018-2019 season (05-16-18)

Here are the plays included in Florida Rep’s 2018-2019 season:

 

Becoming Doctor Ruth by Mark St. Germain in the Artstage Theatre

This play tells the heartfelt, hilarious, and triumphant story of the girl who became Dr. Ruth! Based on the life of Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, Becoming Doctor Ruth is a one-woman tour-de-force from the author of George Washington’s Teeth and Best of Enemies! Show dates are September 21 through October 21, with previews on September 18-20.

 

Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling in the Historic Arcade Theatre

Make an appointment at Truvy’s Beauty Salon to see the play that inspired the classic 1989 film. ”A skillfully crafted picture of eccentricity in the small-town South,” states Drama-Logue. Performances are October 19 through November 7, with previews on October 16-18.

 

Damascus, A Southeastern Premiere, by Bennett Fisher in the ArtStage Studio Theatre

Nothing is what it seems in this dangerous psychological thriller that challenges all we think we know. Gripping and electrifying, this new play was chosen from the 2017 PlayLab. Performance dates are November 9 through December 9, with previews on November 6-8.

 

Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL in the Historic Arcade Theatre

Southwest Florida audiences are in for a holiday treat with a brand-new adaptation of the beloved holiday classic by Mark Shanahan. Join Ebenezer Scrooge on a thrilling journey of discovery and redemption that is perfect for the whole family. Performances are November 30-December 19, with previews on November 27-29. Shanahan’s play The Dingdong had its regional premiere to critical acclaim at Florida Rep in 2016. Shanahan is a Broadway actor, regional theatre veteran, and a familiar guest director at Florida Rep, who most recently helmed How the Other Half Loves earlier this year.

 

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical by Janet Vogt & Mark Friedman

This new musical is a salute to the beloved radio, television and film icon! Featuring over 20 amazing tunes like “Come on-a My House,” “Hey There,”‘ “Sisters,” and “Mambo Italiano,” Tenderly will be performed in the ArtStage Studio Theatre December 21 through February 24, with previews December 18-20.

 

Fences by August Wilson in the Historic Arcade Theatre

The Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning American Classic! Hot off a Broadway revival and Academy Award-winning film adaptation, August Wilson’s universal story will strike a chord in every heart. The Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning American classic will be performed January 11-30, with previews January 8-10.

 

Hay Fever by Noël Coward in the Historic Arcade Theatre

Razor-sharp and dry as a martini, Hay Fever is a delightfully madcap comedy of bad manners. Watch a weekend getaway spiral into mayhem as tempers flare and eccentricities reign supreme. “An evening of intoxicating escape,” says The New York Times. Performances will be February 15 through March 6, 2019, with previews on February 12-14.

 

Dollar Quartet in the Historic Arcade Theatre

Sit in on the Memphis jam session that changed music forever! One of Broadway’s hottest tickets, Million Dollar Quarter was inspired by the true story of the famed recording session where icons Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley got together for one unforgettable night. The book for this Tony-winning Broadway rock ‘n’ roll sensation is by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, who also provided the original concept and direction. Performances are March 22 through April 10, 2019, with previews March 19-21.

 

Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías in the ArtStage Studio Theatre

It is neighbor against neighbor in this hilarious new hot-button comedy. Cultures and gardens clash as well-intentioned neighbors become arch-enemies. Native Gardens is one of the hottest new comedies in America. Performances are April 5- May 5, 2019, with previews on April 2-4.

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‘Heathers’ musical opens in Arcade Theatre on May 23 (05-16-18)

The long-awaited Florida Rep Education Conservatory production of Heathers: The Musical officially opens May 23 at the Historic Arcade Theatre. Even after three decades running, Heathers continues to electrify audiences and critics alike with its smart and compelling story about navigating a high school dystopia paired with rocking musical numbers that have carved their way into the upper echelons of musical theatre hits.

This hilarious, heartfelt, and homicidal rock musical tells the story of Westerberg High and the rule of a shoulder-padded, scrunchie-wearing trio: Heather, Heather, and Heather, the most popular but cruelest girls of the school. But misfit Veronica Sawyer rejects their evil regime for a new boyfriend, the dark and mysterious new kid, JD, who plans to put the Heathers in their place – six feet under.  With its moving love story, laugh-out-loud comedy, and unflinching look at the joys and anguish of high school, Heathers puts perspective on the high-school experience and what’s really important in life.

Nominated for several accolades, including the 2014 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and the 2014 Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Musical, the show features book, music, and lyrics by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe based on the hit 1988 film written by Daniel Walters. Conservatory audiences will hear songs such as “Candy Store,” “Dead Girl Walking,” and “Beautiful” sung once again on stage by the familiar student faces of Westerberg High.

The production features an all-star line-up of Florida Rep Education Conservatory veterans and familiar faces. The cast is led by Nayda Baez (School of Rock, Florida Premiere) as the intelligent misfit Veronica Sawyer, Brice Kingsley (Conservatory debut) as the dark and brooding JD, Athena Kelley (Metamorphoses) as Heather Chandler, Chloe Tsai (Metamorphoses) as Heather Duke, and Cat Westley (Metamorphosis) as Heather McNamara.

Education Director Kody C. Jones directs the production. Rosalind Metcalf (Curious George: The Golden Meatball, Florida Rep Education TYA Tour) music directs with choreography by Megan Leonard (Conservatory debut). Rosalind Metcalf joins this production from New Jersey after many years of music directing for numerous colleges and theatre companies while Megan Leonard’s extensive background in dance includes working with the Radio City Rockettes and touring The Addams Family. Emma Woods (School of Rock, Florida Premiere) serves as assistant director and Christina DeCarlo (School of Rock, Florida Premiere) is the assistant choreographer.

Florida Rep Education’s Conservatory program is designed for young artists who want to pursue theatre. It offers young artists an introduction to the professional world with a real-life regional theatre experience providing a creative outlet that culminates with a short run of public performances.

Florida Repertory Theatre Education performs on tour and in the Historic Arcade Theatre on Bay St. between Jackson and Hendry with limited free parking in the Fort Myers River District. Visit Florida Rep Education online at FloridaRepEducation.org, and by following the Education Department on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

The production runs May 23 through May 27 with matinee performances on May 26-27. Priced at $10 with a valid student ID and $20 for adults, general admission tickets are available at www.FloridaRepEducation.org and through the box office at 239-332-4488.

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Florida Rep Education’s 2018-19 season focuses on ‘the journey’ (05-16-18)

Florida Rep Education’s 2018-2019 season will be filled with classic stories brought to the stage, electrifying Broadway musicals, a world premiere, and brand new competitive programming adjudicated by the industry’s leading professionals.

“This year’s education season places a thematic focus on journey and the struggles and joys one faces when overcoming the challenges of that journey,” said Education Director Kody C. Jones. “Everyone’s journey leaves a mark on us as a human as well as a mark on the world around us. With this season we challenge our students and patrons to reflect on their own journey as we navigate the trials and tribulations every young person faces in life as they mature in to adulthood.”

New this season, Florida Rep Education will be participating in the 2019 Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta, GA. The Junior Theatre Festival is the world’s largest celebration of young people performing musical theatre. Florida Rep Education will bring 30 students from the Southwest Florida area to Atlanta to gather with peers from across 40 states and 6 countries. The Festival is a mix of adjudications, workshops for students and teachers, and special events like the “New Works Showcase” and “Direct From Broadway,” where Broadway’s best share their talents.

“Our Education Associate, Christina DeCarlo, has initiated a groundbreaking idea that will lead to a career-changing opportunity for our young actors,” Jones said. Past attendees and performers of JTF included Tony, Golden Globe, and Academy Award-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; Emmy nominee Darren Criss; 11-time Grammy Award-winning musical theatre and film score composer Alan Menken; and critically acclaimed, Tony Award-winning songwriting duo Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.

Education programs have grown exponentially in the past few seasons, and reach upwards of 35,000 young people and families each year. Overseen by Education Director Kody C. Jones, the department continues to educate, excite, and enlighten Southwest Florida audiences as our popular programs thrive and new ones take shape.

Florida Rep Education performs in several venues on tour and in the Historic Arcade Theatre on Bay Street between Jackson and Hendry with limited free parking in the Fort Myers River District. Visit Florida Rep Education online at FloridaRepEducation.org, and by following the Education Department on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

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Here are Florida Rep Education’s 2018-2019 shows (05-16-18)

Here are the shows that Florida Rep Education will produce during its 2018-2019 season:

 

The Cat in the Hat

Originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain, The Cat in the Hat was adapted from the book by Dr. Seuss and originally directed by Katie Mitchell. A beloved classic, watch the troublemaking Cat in the Hat perform incredible tricks and produce wondrous items to entertain Sally, her brother, and the frustrated little pet fish during one rainy day. The Cat in the Hat is available as either a touring show or field trip for area schools.

Refugee

A world premiere, Refugee follows three kids from different eras with a common mission: escape. Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. Isabel is a Cuban girl in riotous 1994. Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end. Refugee is based on the New York Times Bestselling book written by Alan Gratz as adapted by Eric Coble. Like Cat in the Hat, Refugee is available as either a touring show or field trip for area schools.

 

Romeo and Juliet

Adapted by Bill Kincaid from the William Shakespeare classic, Romeo & Juliet retells the ancient tale of star-crossed lovers whose struggling passion for each other brings fatal consequences that ultimately reconcile their feuding families. Romeo & Juliet is available as a touring show .

 

Disney’s Newsies: The Musical

Inspired by real events, this high-energy Tony Award-Winning musical tells the plight of young newspaper sellers to make ends meet in 1899 New York City. When newspaper owners start to exploit their labor beyond reason, Jack Kelly and his band of newsies rise up and face the ruthless Joseph Pulitzer. Based on the 1992 eponymous film, music for Newsies is by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein. This production will take to the Arcade Theatre stage in the spring.

 

Spring Awakening

The winner of eight Tony Awards (including Best Musical), Spring Awakening explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood with a poignancy and passion that is illuminating and unforgettable. Told by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater through what Entertainment Weekly called “the most gorgeous Broadway score this decade,” this landmark musical is an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and rock and roll that is exhilarating audiences across the nation like no other musical in years. With book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, Spring Awakening comes to the Arcade Theatre stage during the summer of 2019.

 

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins JR.

Based on one of the most popular Disney movies of all time and the Broadway musical that played for over 2,500 performances and received multiple Olivier and Tony Awards nominations, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins JR. is an enchanting mixture of irresistible story, unforgettable songs and breathtaking dance numbers. For ages 8-15, this program focuses on touring performances and collaborative competition! The music and lyrics for Mary Poppins JR comes from Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, with book by Julian Fellowes and new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

The 2018-2019 season will also feature the 2019 Junior Theatre Festival entry Show on the Go.

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Lab Theater receives Chrysalis award in category of education (05-16-18)

Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce presented Chrysalis awards earlier this month to organizations that have demonstrated outstanding collaboration between the tourism and hospitality industry and the broader business community over the previous year. The Laboratory Theater of Florida was one of those organizations, receiving a Chrysalis in the category of education.

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Lab’s ‘Hush Up Sweet Charlotte’ drag-tastic parody of Davis-deHavilland film (05-15-18)

The Laboratory Theater of Florida is building something of a reputation for campy, drag-tastic productions. Last year, the Chrysalis Award winner produced the runaway hit Whatever Happened to Baby Jane: A Parody of the Horror with Randall Kenneth Jones and Rob Green in the roles made famous by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. This June, it’s Hush Up, Sweet Charlotte, a riotous parody of the 1964 suspense/horror Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte that teamed Bette Davis with the venerable Olivia de Havilland.

The setting is a woefully run-down antebellum plantation in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. The once-proud mansion is now occupied by just two sad residentsOne is Charlotte Hollis, a southern belle who has been ostracized for decades by the surrounding community on the popular belief that she murdered her lover (a neighbor’s husband) for ending their affair. The other is her disheveled, trailer trash maid Velma.

As the play opens, Charlotte finds herself in dire straits. Condemned, the mansion is about to be torn down and neither Charlotte nor her loyal companion know what to do. So Charlotte calls her cousin for help, but when Miriam shows up, she brings along the family physician so that he can have her committed. As the situation spirals out of control, Charlotte must not only fight to save the family homestead, but her sanity and freedom as well.

Fort Myers resident Brian Linthicum portrays Charlotte Hollis.

“Step aside Bette Davis, there’s a new girl in town,” Linthicum declares, taking up the gauntlet of challenge presented by the role.

Read here for the rest of this advance.

RELATED POSTS.

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A look at Lab Theater’s 2018-2019 season (05-16-18)

Lab Theater’s 2018-2019 season will include the following shows:

 

Hush Up, Sweet Charlotte – June 1-July 1

If you loved last season’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, you’ll love this campy parody of the movie Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte! We journey to a plantation in the Old South and meet Charlotte Hollis, a southern belle whose only companion is her maid. She has been shunned by her community since the long-ago mysterious murder of her lover. Now the family home is about to be torn down, so she calls upon her cousin, Miriam, for help. It’s sure to be a drag-tastic time with these divas! Laughter is the only way to make sense of it all.

Written by Matthew Martin and Steve Murray, this tour de force of great gay camp acting is directed by Lab Theater Artistic Director Annette Trossbach, with 8:00 p.m. performances on June 1,2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 and 2:00 p.m. matinees on June 10, 17 and 24 as well as July 1.

 

Evil Dead, The Musical (High School Version) – July 19-22

What do you get when you combine cult classic zombie movies with stereotypical teen movies and put it all to music? You get this crazy, cheesy, hilarious, fun-filled show that appeals to horror and non-horror fans alike! Get ready for blood, chainsaws, limbs, and demons…along with laughter and singing! “If you think Sweeney Todd is for sissies, you need to see this show!” NYTheater.com. “Bloody Awesome!” The Globe and Mail.

Evil Dead, The Musical is written by George Reinblatt and is an Education Camp Teen Show. Performances are at 8:00 p.m. on July 19, 20 and 21, with two 2:00 p.m. matinees on July 21 and 22, 2018.

 

It’s Only A Play – August 3-26

Set in the townhome of a Broadway producer, we meet the team behind The Golden Egg as they are waiting for their opening night reviews. There’s the producer herself, the terrified playwright, his best friend, the has-been female lead, the British director,, and a theater critic (wait, why is he there?). Filled with one-liners about the entertainment world that will make you laugh and cringe, this show will remind you that there truly is no business like show business!

Written by Terrence McNally and directed by Scott Carpenter, the Southwest Florida premiere of this razor-toothed parody (Hollywood Reporter) will be performed at 8:00 p.m. on August 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25, with three 2:00 p.m. matinees on August 12, 19 and 26.

 

Anna In The Tropics – September 14-30

Picture it: Ybor City, Tampa in 1929. Its hot and humid inside a small cigar factory. Workers are hand-rolling tobacco leaves, while a lector reads anything from newspapers to poetry to novels to entertain them. But when the new hire reads from the novel Anna Karenina , it sets in motion the major events of the story. Themes in this Pulitzer Prize-winning play range from love, lust and infidelity to violence and debt. And they turn the lives of these Cuban-American families into the very story to which they’ve been listening. “The passions of love and lust are delicately observed….The characters are sympathetic and true,” says TheaterMania.com.

Directed by Artistic Director Annette Trossbach and celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, performances are 8:00 p.m. on September 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29, with 2:00 p.m. matinee performances on September 23, 29 and 3 and a special preview performance at 8:00 p.m. on September 13.

 

Hand To God October 19-November 4 Sponsored By Art Zupko

Admit it. You’ve had certain…impulses, right? Ones you’ve thought about, but would never actually say out loud or act upon? It’s human nature. And that darkest human nature is exposed when a Texas church youth-group assignment to create original hand puppets goes strangely awry. Chosen the Best New Play in 2014 by Off-Broadway Alliance, Hand to God is described as “darkly delightful … filthy hilarity” by The New York Times and “ribald and wickedly funny … Sesame Street meets The Exorcist” by the Wall Street Journal. Written by Robert Askins and directed by Nykkie Rizley, the Southwest Florida premiere of Hand to God will be performed at 8:00 p.m. on October 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 and November 1, 2 and 3, with 2:00 p.m. matinees on October 21 and 28 and November 3 and 4, with a preview performance at 8:00 p.m. on October 18.

 

24-Hour Playwriting Project – November 17 Sponsored By Stacy Lee-Williams

Playwrights will bring their sleeping bags and coffee mugs to Lab Theater, where they will be assigned a theme, a director, and actors. Within just twenty-four hours, you will see the fruits of their labor when we stage all of their 20-minute one-act plays! Judged by a panel of area theater and arts professionals, the 24-Hour Playwriting Project is a hugely popular event! The actors take the stage at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 17.

 

Every Christmas Story Ever Told – November 30 – December 22 Sponsored By The Patterson Family

It’s the holidays! Time for the classics – Rudolph, Frosty, Ebenezer Scrooge, the Nutcracker and many more! But maybe not the way we’re accustomed to hearing them. In what can best be called a holiday mash-up, actors take beloved stories and traditions from around the world and turn them upside-down and sideways! Says Orlando Weekly, “The play accomplishes the small miracle of making all Christmas myths seem both utterly ridiculous and absolutely essential. Yes, Virginia, you can have your fruitcake and eat it, too.” Written by James FitzGerald, John K. Alvarez, Michael Carleton & Will Knapp, Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some) will be performed at 8:00 p.m. on December 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22, with 2:00 p.m. matinees on December 9, 16 and 22. There will also be an 8:00 p.m. preview performance on November 29.

 

A Guy, A Girl, A Piano (Cabaret Act) January 4-6, 2019

Theresa Quinn and Randy Kramer will join The Lab with their 4-hands-1-piano cabaret. Enjoy an evening of virtuosic 4-hand piano arrangements, vocal solos and duets, featuring the music of Gershwin, Sondheim, the Beatles, Beethoven, Joplin, Bernstein, Fats Waller, and others. There are just three performances: two at 8:00 p.m. on January 4 and 5, and a 2:00 p.m. matinee on January 6.

 

Hedwig And The Angry Inch January 18-February 3, 2019 Sponsored By The Bireley Family Foundation

Meet Hedwig, one of the most unique characters to hit the stage in this wickedly funny, innovative, and heartbreaking rock musical sensation. Winner of four 2014 Tony Awards, Entertainment Weekly calls the show groundbreaking and undoubtedly ahead of its time. “Foulmouthed, electrically tuneful, and furiously funny,” adds The New York Times. “Smart lyrics and beautiful melodies,” says the New York Daily News. Written by Stephen Trask and John Cameron Mitchell and directed by Paul Graffy, Hedwig and the Angry Inch will be performed at 8:00 p.m. on January 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 and 31 as well as on February 1 and 2, with 2:00 p.m. matinees on January 20 and 27 and February 2 and 3. There will also be an 8:00 p.m. preview performance on January 17.

 

And The Winner Is… February 22 – March 16, 2010 Sponsored By Arlene Foreman

Tyler Johnes just wants to make it to the Oscars to accept his award for Best Supporting Actor. There’s just one problem – he seems to be stuck in a bar where things are not quite…normal. Seamus the bartender isn’t helping matters, either. While Tyler continues to try to make it onto the red carpet, he is interrupted by unusual visitors. Filled with humor and emotion, this play will win your heart. Performances are at 8:00 p.m. on February 22, 23 and 28 and March 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 and 2:00 p.m. on February 24 and March 3, 10 and 16, with a preview performance at 8:00 p.m. on February 21.

 

Andorra – March 29-April 14 Sponsored By Ella Nayor & Jeffrey Cull

One of the most oft-produced plays in Europe, this parable about racism and prejudice is a great example of epic-theater. Set in fictionalized Andorra, Andri is adopted by a teacher and raised as a Jew. Throughout the play, Andri is faced with outright prejudice and complicit silence from his fellow townspeople. Playwright Max Frisch’s message is loud and clear: prejudice happens in every country, both in the past and the present, and we must learn to accept everyone’s differences if we are to lead happy, productive lives. “The guilty are sitting in the stalls … They are to be frightened: they should, when they have seen the play, lie awake at night,” says Time Magazine. The Southwest Florida premiere of Andorra will be performed at 8:00 p.m. on March 29 and 30 and April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20; at 2:00 p.m. on March 31 and April 7, 14 and 20; with a special 8:00 p.m. preview performance on March 28.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for students at the door. However, discounts are available for season ticket and snowbird ticket holders. You can purchase tickets here.

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Lab holding Season 10 open auditions on May 27 (05-16-18)

The Laboratory Theater of Florida will be holding open auditions for its 2018-2019 10th anniversary season on Sunday, May 27. Actors will be seen on a first-come, first-seen basis. They should bring a resume with them and will be required to fill out an audition form. Actors should prepare a 1-2 minute comedic or dramatic monologue. Actors who are unable to attend auditions may send in a video audition to director@laboratorytheaterflorida.com or send a resume and headshot to The Laboratory Theater of Florida, attn: Casting, PO Box 334, Fort Myers, FL 33902. Call-backs will be held in the first two weeks of June and will be by invitation only. Stipends will be offered to performers.

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Lab Theater’s new seating will provide better line of sight for viewers (05-16-18)

Lab Theater’s 2018-2019 season opens June 1 with the campy parody Hush Up, Sweet Charlotte, but a highlight of the new season will be the addition of risers in The Lab’s proscenium that will elevate seats in the fourth row and beyond in order to provide better viewing.

Starting with Anna In The Tropics in September, Rows A, B, And C will be on the floor, with Rows D through I on risers. Each row of risers will be six inches higher than the row in front of it.

In addition, a special seating arrangement is being employed in conjunction with The Lab’s production of Hedwig And The Angry Inch January 18 through February 3, 2019.

Lab Theater has been conducting extensive renovations and improvements of both the theater and its lighting and sound systems since it purchased the facility in which it stages its productions. If you haven’t been lately, The Lab is all new, all business, all fun.

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Theatre Conspiracy’s 25th season marked by earlier curtain time, audio described shows and more talk-backs (05-16-18)

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance will celebrate its 25th consecutive season with beloved classics, comedic favorites and award-winning new plays from fresh voices.

“We’re celebrating the past, present and future of Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts this season,” says founder and producing artistic director Bill Taylor. “Our productions will reflect on the incredible work that has shaped the Southwest Florida theater community, as well as welcome the journey of our next 25 years.”

New this year will be a 7:30 curtain time for evening performances, audio described shows and even more talk-backs.

Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturdays with a new 7:30 p.m. start time. Sunday matinees will remain at 2:00 p.m.

For theatregoers who are blind or have moderate to severe vision loss, the Alliance will provide a specially-trained describer who verbalizes what’s happening on stage during pauses in dialogue. The “audio describer” uses a headset microphone, while individuals using the service listen through a receiver with a single earpiece. Reservation of headsets is required prior to the show by calling 239-939-2787.

To widen the post-show conversation and discuss what the art onstage means to us as individuals and as a society, the Alliance will facilitate a community conversation through talkbacks on selected dates. Talkbacks allow the audience to ask questions and express their thoughts and ideas on issues revealed in the play through the form of meaningful discussion with the cast or panel guests. The opportunity is included with ticket purchase.

Theater lovers can save up to $42 with a season subscription. Season subscriptions range from $115 per person for 5 shows to $140 per person for all 7 shows. Individual tickets to each show are $26, $11 for students or $22 for Alliance members. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the box office at 239-939-2787, visit 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL or go online at www.ArtInLee.org/Theatre.

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Here’s a look at Theatre Conspiracy’s 2018-19 season (05-16-18)

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance will celebrate its 25th consecutive season with these shows:

 

Repossessed (A World Premiere Play) by Greg Lam and directed by Steve Hooper

What would happen to our world if anyone could choose to remix and rewrite their memories and personalities? Rich and Gretchen seem to have the ideal marriage, until they learn that it was manufactured by a mysterious biotech company which installed it into their brains. Because they can no longer afford this service, the company must repossess their improvements. Repossessed explores questions of identity, morality, and authenticity amidst a world of rapidly changing technology and the ethics that come with it. The play the winner of the annual Janet and Bruce Bunch New Play Contest Award, presented by Theatre Conspiracy. Performances are August 16-18 and 23-25 at 7:30 p.m., with 2:00 p.m. matinees on August 19 and 26. The August 26 date is an Audio Descriptor Performance. There will be a talk-back with playwright Greg Lam following the August 18 show.

 

Murderers – A Killer Comedy by Jeffrey Hatcher and directed by June Koc

Gerald, Lucy and Minka look like everyday people, and each relates to us as they would to a trusted friend. But they have one dark secret in common: they’re murderers! Homicide has never been so hilarious as in this quirky whodunit show! Except you know whodunit; the fun is finding out how they dunit and why. Set in Riddle Key Retirement Center in Riddle, Florida, these three unlikely killers justify their crimes in the most outrageous ways. Performances are September 27-29 and October 4-6 at 7:30 p.m., with 2:00 p.m. matinees on September 30 and October 7. The October 7 date is an Audio Descriptor Performance.

 

The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance and directed by Rick Sebastian

The Elephant Man is based on the life of John Merrick who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century. A horribly deformed young man – victim of rare skin and bone diseases – he becomes the star freak attraction in traveling sideshows. Found abandoned and helpless, he is admitted to London’s prestigious Whitechapel Hospital. Under the care of celebrated young physician Frederick Treves, Merrick is introduced to London society and slowly evolves from an object of pity to an urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati, only to be denied his ultimate dream – to become a man like any other. Performances are November 8-10 and 15-17 at 7:30 p.m., with 2:00 p.m. matinees on November 11 and 18. The November 18 date is an Audio Descriptor Show. There will be a talk-back following the November 18 performance. The Elephant Man is sponsored by Noreen Raney.

 

The Agitators by Mat Smart and directed by Bill Taylor

The Agitators is inspired by the enduring but tempestuous four-decade-long friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. As they grew to become the cultural icons we know today, their movements collided and their friendship was severely tested. This series of powerful vignettes tells their story, from their meeting in Rochester, through the Civil War and to the highest halls of government. They agitated the nation, they agitated each other and, in doing so, they helped shape the Constitution and the course of American history. Performances are January 17-19 and 24-26 at 7:30 p.m., with 2:00 p.m. matinees on January 20 and 27. The January 27 date is an Audio Descriptor Show, which will also be followed by a talk-back. This show is sponsored by Janet and Bruce Bunch.

 

Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood by Adam Szymkowicz and directed by Rachael Endrizzi

A gender-bending, patriarchy-smashing and hilarious new take on the classic tale. Robin Hood is and has always been Maid Marian in disguise. Robin/Marian leads a motley group of Merry Men (many of whom are not men) against the greedy Prince John. As the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, who will stand for the vulnerable if not Robin? Modern concerns and romantic entanglements clash on the battlefield and on the ramparts of Nottingham Castle in this play about selfishness, selflessness, and the cost of revealing your true self in a time of trouble. Performances will be February 7-9 and 14-16 at 7:30 p.m., with 2:00 p.m. matinees on February 10 and 17. The February 17 date is an Audio Descriptor Show, which will also be followed by a talk-Back. This production is sponsored by Susan Ion Hogan, DDS.

 

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson and directed by Sonya McCarter

Set in a Pittsburgh boarding house in 1911, owners Seth and Bertha Holly play host to a makeshift family of people who come to stay – some for days, some longer – seeking new jobs, new lives and new beginnings. This eccentric group of wanderers includes proprietors, an eccentric clairvoyant with a penchant for old country voodoo, a young homeboy from the South and a mysterious stranger searching for his wife. Each denizen of the boarding house has a different relationship to a past of slavery as well as to the urban present. Performances are March 1-2, 7-9 and 14-16 at 7:30 p.m., with 2:00 matinees on March 10 and 17. The March 17 date is an Audio Descriptor Show, which will also be followed by a talk-back. This production is also sponsored by Noreen Raney.

 

Rancho Mirage by Steven Dietz and directed by Anne Dodd

Acclaimed playwright Steven Dietz’ comedy looks at affluent suburban couples whose truths finally catch up with them. At an ill-fated dinner party, these long-time friends are awakened to the secrets of their past with hilarious and farcical results. Written by one of America’s most widely produced playwrights, this comedy asks what remains between us when youth and dreams have faded and the last bottle of wine is gone? Performances are May 9-11 and 16-18 at 7:30 p.m., with 2:00 p.m. matinees on May 12 and 19. The latter date is an Audio Descriptor Show. Rancho Mirage is sponsored by: Stephen Hooper & Ellen Poage.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call the box office at 239-939-2787, visit 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL or go online at www.ArtInLee.org/Theatre.

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Naples Players’ production of ‘Ripcord’ closes May 20 (05-16-18)

On stage in Blackburn Hall at the Sugden Community Theatre now through May 20 is The Naples Players’ production of Ripcord by David Lindsay-Abaire.

The action in this hilarious comedy takes place in a sunny room on an upper floor in the Bristol Place Senior Living Facility. When a cantankerous resident by the name of Abby is forced to share her quarters with new arrival Marilyn, she has no choice but to get rid of the infuriatingly chipper woman by any means necessary. A seemingly harmless bet between the old women quickly escalates into a dangerous game of one-upmanship that reveals not just the tenacity of these worthy opponents, but also deeper truths that each of them would rather remain hidden.

Tickets cost $40 for adults, $35 for subscribers, and $10 for students/educators, and may be purchased at www.naplesplayers.org or by telephoning the box office at (239) 263-7990. The Naples Players at the Sugden Community Theatre /Blackburn Hall are located at 701 5th Ave. S, Naples FL 34102.

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In ‘Ripcord,’ playwright David Lindsay-Abaire makes one-upwomanship a new art form (05-16-18)

The Naples Players 2017-2018 season ends on a high-note with David Lindsay-Abaire’s award-winning comedy Ripcord. But time is running out to catch this outrageous comedy. The show closes May 20 in Blackburn Hall at Sugden Community Theatre.

In this comedy, a seemingly harmless bet between two old women quickly escalates into a hilarious game of one-upmanship with the prize being the sunny upper floor room of the Bristol Place Senior Living Facility. Janina Birtolo plays the incessantly chipper but sly Marilyn Dunne to the foil of Bonnie Knapp in the role of the cantankerous but likeable Abby Binder. When the two are required to share a room in the retirement home, their dramatically different personalities immediately rub each other the wrong way. Within moments of Marilyn’s arrival as Abby’s possible new roommate, Abby pleads with an orderly, “If I have to have someone in here, why can’t it be someone quiet? What about that woman without the voicebox? She seems nice.”

Instantaneously understanding that this odd couple roommate situation will not work, the two make a bet. Marilyn insists that nothing makes her angry, while Abby says that she is never, ever scared. If Abby can make Marilyn lose her temper, Marilyn will move out. That is, unless Marilyn frightens Abby first. In that case, Abby gets to have Marilyn’s bed, which is right next to the window and has a lovely view of a park.

For fans of the 1980’s sitcom The Golden Girls it’s easy to imagine the set-up for Ripcord. Picture Rose and Dorothy making a bet to push each other to break from their respectively brave and cheerful personalities. Now picture throwing the boundaries of 1980’s television out the window and you have Ripcord, David Lindsay-Abaire’s expertly engineered situation comedy. The plot quickly escalates from funny to hilarious as Marilyn and Abby’s attempts at one-upmanship accelerate to increasingly disastrous outcomes in ways that are funny and unexpectedly relatable and heartwarming.

Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire had made a name for himself with more dramatic works including Good People and his Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit Hole. Before those more serious plays, Lindsay-Abaire was known for writing comedies including the hit Fuddy Meers about a day in the life of an amnesiac abducted by a mysterious stranger.

“Lindsay-Abaire is a master of the set-up and punch line,” said Bryce Alexander Executive Artistic Director of The Naples Players. “You might be able to imagine where the plot is heading, but when the worst case scenarios actually occur, you still find yourself laughing in disbelief.”

Performances of Ripcord are April 25-May 20, 2018. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for subscribers and $10 for students and educators. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. For tickets and more information, please visit www.naplesplayers.org or call (239) 263-7990.

Subscriptions for TNP’s exciting 65th Anniversary Season which include Chicago The Musical, White Christmas and Guys & Dolls are now on sale. For a limited time, those who subscribe to TNP’s 65th Anniversary Season receive $35 subscriber pricing for Ripcord. Free valet and adjacent covered tower parking is available to all patrons.

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65th anniversary season illustrates why The Naples Players one of leading theatres of its kind in country (05-16-18)

The Naples Players (TNP) has announced the line-up for its 65th anniversary season, and it is packed with dazzling musicals (including Chicago, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and Guys & Dolls), heartfelt comedies, magical adventures and a world premiere show.

“Our 65th Anniversary season showcases the reasons that The Naples Players has become one of the leading theatres of its kind in the country,” says The Naples Players’ Artistic Director Bryce Alexander. “Presenting three classic American musicals – with full orchestras to accompany the casts – the season celebrates the styles of music and dance that have defined the best of Broadway. The season also features a world premiere play written by a local playwright, as well as classic works that articulate the funny, thought-provoking, and touching ideals that represent our community. We are thrilled that this diverse offering will provide Southwest Florida with the high-quality, fully realized artistic productions that our seasoned and novice theatre-lovers will be able to enjoy together. A season about dreams, and the way we achieve our dreams together – we could think of no better way to celebrate the last 65 years while looking forward to the next.”

There will be not only a fabulous celebration of the 65th anniversary of Naples Players, but also the 20th anniversary of the Naples Players at Sugden Theatre on Fifth Avenue. “And Naples Art Association, our sister organization across the street, is also celebrating its 20th anniversary on Fifth Avenue (in the district), so I can assure you there’s going to be a lot to celebrate this year,” Alexander adds.

The event is planned for early 2019.

Here are the shows that The Naples Players will produce during its 2018-2019 anniversary season:

 

Chicago (Musical Comedy)

Set in the roaring twenties, with its universal tale of fame, fortune and “All That Jazz,” Chicago is packed with show-stopping songs and spectacular Fosse-style choreography. Earning 6 Tony Awards, a Grammy® and the record for the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, Chicago sets the bar for entertainment. With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, book by Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse, and script adaptation by David Thompson, Chicago is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. Dazzling and enduring, Chicago will be performed in Blackburn Hall June 28-July 29, 2018.

 

Peter and the Starcatcher (Family Friendly Comedy)

Tony-winning Peter and the Starcatcher up-ends the century old story of how a miserable orphan comes to be The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (a.k.a. Peter Pan). From marauding pirates and jungle tyrants to unwilling comrades and unlikely heroes, Peter and the Starcatcher playfully explores the depths of greed and despair… and the bonds of friendship, duty and love. Written by Rick Elice, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and with music by Wayne Barker, this imaginative and magical story will be performed in Blackburn Hall October 3-28, 2018.

 

June & Jason’s Survival Guide to Divorce (TNP’s First World-Premiere Comedy)

Reminiscent of great sitcom humor, this quick-witted comedy introduces an unforgettable collection of zany neighbors and friends who try to save June and Jason from a looming divorce. Fun and fresh, June & Jason’s Survival Guide to Divorce comes from the wild and creative mind of local playwright and actor Laura Lorusso. It will be performed in Tobye Studio Exclusive October 24-November 18, 2018.

 

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Holiday Musical)

Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former army commander. The dazzling score features 17 well-known Irving Berlin standards including “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and the perennial favorite, “White Christmas.” Based on the beloved and timeless Paramount Pictures film of the same name, this heartwarming musical adaptation features a book by David Ives and Paul Blake. It will be performed in Blackburn Hall November 28-December 23, 2018.

 

Don’t Dress for Dinner (Comedy)

With a gourmet caterer and an alibi courtesy of his friend, Robert, Bernard’s plans for a romantic rendezvous with his mistress are complete. But when Bernard’s wife learns that Robert will be visiting for the weekend, she decides to stay in town for a surprise tryst of her own… setting the stage for a collision course of assumed identities and outrageous infidelities. The cook is Suzette, the lover is Suzanne, the friend is bewildered, the wife is suspicious, the husband is losing his mind, and everyone is guaranteed a good time at this hilarious romp through the French countryside. Penned by Marc Camoletti and adapted by Robin Hawdon, this clever and rollicking comedy centers will be performed in Blackburn Hall January 16-February 10, 2019.

 

Marjorie Prime (Pulitzer Prize Finalist)

In the future, the inevitable pain of losing a loved one is mitigated through artificial intelligence. As 85-year-old Marjorie loses the ability to recall memories at will, her daughter and son-in-law provide her with a “prime,” an A.I. hologram of her late husband Walter. The vaporous and shifting nature of memory and the power it holds in relationships is illuminated as Walter Prime begins to assimilate the stories of Marjorie’s memories as his own. Written by Jordan Harrison, this insightful and visionary story will be performed in Tobye Studio Exclusive February 6-March 3, 2019.

 

Guys & Dolls (Musical Comedy)

Considered one of the greatest musicals of all time, Guys and Dolls is filled with some of the most wonderful show tunes ever written, including “Luck Be a Lady,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” and the irrepressible anthem “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” Guys and Dolls will put a spring in your step and a smile on your face and remind you how much fun it is to see a revival of a classic American musical! With book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and based on The Idyll of Sarah Brown and characters by Damon Runyon, this masterful and unforgettable musical will be performed in Blackburn Hall March 6-April 7, 2019.

 

Always a Bridesmaid (Comedy)

In this hilarious comedic romp, four friends have sworn to keep the promise they made on the night of their Senior Prom: to be in each other’s weddings…no matter what. More than thirty years later, these Southern friends-for-life are still making “the long walk” for each other, determined to honor that vow. Written by Jamie Wooten, Jessie Jones & Nicholas Hope, look for this quirky and loveable play to be performed in Tobye Studio Exclusive March 27-April 20, 2019.

 

Lost in Yonkers (Comedy)

During the 1940s, two young brothers find their lives turned upside down when their father moves south for work, leaving them with their no-nonsense grandmother, their loving but absent-minded spinster Aunt Bella, and her small-time hoodlum brother in a strange new world called Yonkers. This heartfelt and nostalgic Neil Simon comedy will be performed in Blackburn Hall May 1-26, 2019.

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‘Metal Muse: Juxtapositions in Disarray’ on view at Davis Art Center (05-15-18)

On view at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center through May 22 is In Search for the Metal Muse: Juxtapositions in Disarray. This partnered show features sculptures by Jay Lana and Patricia Esposito that deal with issues of urbanization, war, and the environment. Through metal works, experience the depth of these artists’ understanding of the modern world. For more information, please telephone 239-333-1933 or visit www.sbdac.com.

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More about ‘Metal Muse’ sculptor Jay Lana (05-15-18)

Opening during Art Walk tonight is In Search for the Metal Muse: Juxtapositions in Disarray. This partnered show features sculptures from Jay Lana and Patricia Esposito that deal with issues of urbanization, war, and the environment.

Lana is a self-taught Southwest Florida sculptor. His artistic process began as a child when he used to dismantle various devices and then adding the components to his toys. As Jay grew up, other interests captured his attention. He took on pencil drawing in his teenage years, but he always kept those drawings to himself. It wasn’t until three years ago that he felt the urge to become a sculptor full time and create functional and decorative sculptures using reclaimed objects.

His primary source of inspiration comes from post-apocalyptic stories and other retro-futuristic art movements. His process is intuitive and his art is characterized by a heavy patina and worn-out look, often symmetric shapes, and bold compositions.

He has exhibited his artwork in several art exhibitions and he is the recipient of several awards; once juror David Acevedo stated about Jay Lana’s work, “Wonderful, and outstanding. I love the punk culture process, putting disjointed things together…”

His work has also been featured in local, national and international magazines and blogs.

His artwork is in many private residences throughout the U.S. and overseas. Recently, he worked in a public installation in a renowned restaurant in Sanibel Island, Florida and in another restaurant in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

He is currently a member of the SWFFCG and the Alliance for the Arts; he is currently a full time exhibiting artist at The Tower Gallery on Sanibel Island, Florida.

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More about abstract multi-media sculptor Patricia Esposito (05-15-18)

In Search for the Metal Muse: Juxtapositions in Disarray is on view through May 22 in the grand atrium of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. This partnered show features sculptures from Jay Lana and Patricia Esposito that deal with issues of urbanization, war, and the environment.

Esposito is an abstract artist whose multimedia sculpture explores the natural decay of objects, whether occurring in the wilderness or urban industrial areas. Toward this end, her sculptural expressions typically juxtapose wood, metal, photographs and electric light, which metaphorically represent the synergy of earth, wind, fire and water in nature, and all of life.

Patricia credits hiking in the woods in New Jersey and exploring the streets of New York City as a child with contributing to the themes she expresses in her work. In fact, there’s something more primordial at play.

“Working with the abstract and with scrap metal comes from my soul and subconscious,” Esposito notes. “I call it spirit or my ancestors coming through, giving my art a voice.”

Recycled materials that reflect their past is an ongoing component of Patricia’s work.

“Rust fascinates me,” she amplifies. “Metal goes through a metamorphosis, not unlike the colors and textures of the seasons. Corrosion of multiple layers, colors and textures can take years to achieve, resulting in the beautiful patina of an object’s current life. The contrast of earth and rust, with the harshness and coldness of steel, can live harmoniously as in some of my two and three dimensional works.”

It frequently takes Esposito months, even years, to locate the proper scrap metal to complete a particular work of art. Patricia is currently engaging in expeditions through the Florida Everglades to uncover material for her ongoing exploration of natural decay.

Esposito’s embrace of the material she utilizes imbues her with a cognizance of the impact human acts have on our environment. “The ongoing crisis of urbanization, of what is left of our wilderness, is always on my mind,” Patricia says wistfully.

“Some of my art pieces reflect my concerns about the environment and how it affects our life – as in my Tree Zero series and in my Water, Oppenheimer’s Tears, and Hiroshima art. The pitchforks are becoming harder and harder to find, as in my Politics piece. So are organic farms and farmers vanishing from our planet to make room for GMO’s (Geneticically Modified Organisms) in our food, the main cause for many diseases.”

In this imperfect world, Esposito’s art can be seen as “perfectly imperfect.”

Patricia was one of 50 artists in 50 years of Photography at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, a show celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. She also exhibited at Westbeth Gallery in NYC and both Sona Gallery and Eros Gallery in Naples.

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Esposito’s ‘Oppenheimer’s Tears’ an installation capable of fascinatingly disparate interpretations (05-15-18)

On view now through May 22 in the grand atrium of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is a two-artist exhibit titled In Search of the Metal Muse: Juxtapositions in Disarray. The show features three-dimensional work by Jay Lana and Patricia Esposito that deal with issues of urbanization, war, and the environment. One is an installation titled Oppenheimer’s Tears, and it is particularly salient given the United States’ recent abrogation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action a/k/a the Iran nuclear deal and a possible summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12.

Robert Oppenheimer is remembered as the father of the atomic bomb. He gained that appellation as wartime head of the Los Alamos Laboratory and the director of science of the Manhattan Project. In these capacities, he was present when mankind detonated the first nuclear weapon in the valley of the Journey of the Dead Man near Alamogordo, New Mexico at 5:30 on the morning of July 16, 1945.

“The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun,” Manhattan Project Deputy Commander General Thomas Farrell wrote immediately following the blast. “It was golden, purple, violet, gray, and blue. It lighted every peak, crevasse, and ridge of the nearby mountain range with a clarity and beauty that cannot be described but must be seen to be imagined. It was that beauty the great poets dream about,but describe most poorly and inadequately.”

Harvard University President James Conant was less eloquent but more chilling. “The whole sky [was] suddenly full of white light like the end of the world,” he wrote after viewing the detonation from a V.I.P. viewing area about ten miles from the tower that housed “the gadget.”

“We knew the world would not be the same,” Oppenheimer would say later. “A few people laughed, a few people cried, most were silent.”

But Oppenheimer himself had a rather strange reaction as he eyed the fireball emanating from the Trinity nuclear test. He mentally recited a line from the Bhagavad-Gita as he let the import of the moment sink in: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

It is Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu who speaks this line. Vishnu is part of the Hindu Trinity – along with Brahma (the creator) and Shiva (the destroyer). The phrase signifies that the Tridevi occupies different forms and functions, and that the creator will also destroy the object of his creation at the appropriate moment in time.

Krishna speaks the line to a prince by the name of Arjuna who is conflicted about destroying an opposing army that includes many of his own family and friends. In essence, Krishna tells Arjuna not to worry about who lives and dies; as a soldier, his only concern is to carry out his holy duty.

Stated somewhat differently, duty is to be undertaken in life for duty’s sake, without regard or attachment to any potential outcome, and this is apparently how Oppenheimer reconciled his role in developing a weapon that could one day lead to mankind’s complete and utter destruction. As a warrior-scientist, Oppenheimer identified with Arjuna. And while, like Arjuna, he may have felt awe and trepidation in the face of the spectacle of death that he had unleashed that fateful morning in 1945 outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico, he was nonetheless justified by his blind devotion to duty.

While she quotes Oppenheimer’s reference to the Bhagavad-Gita in her installation Oppenheimer’s Tears, Esposito avoids offering an opinion on the significance of the quotation.

Is it her intention to suggest that Oppenheimer later regretted (shed tears) over the loss of life his device occasioned at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and mankind’s ensuing loss of innocence in the decades following as world leaders continue to threaten to annihilate each other and the planet with increasingly stronger nuclear weaponry?

Is it Esposito’s intent to draw attention to man’s ability to justify rote and wanton destruction as a moral imperative sanctioned not only by the religious world view of Hinduism or Islam, but Western thought (here, reference is made to the argument advanced by philosophers and theologians that actions are moral only when performed as “duty for duty’s sake” as postulated by Immanuel Kant in his 1785 polemic Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals)?

Or is Esposito’s installation to be regarded by viewers as an invitation to call into question the continuing morality of devotion to duty regardless of the consequences to man, to life as we know it, and to the viability of our planet?

Draw your own conclusions when you view Oppenheimer’s Tears and Esposito’s other thought-provoking sculptural works. But as you eye the stainless steel atom beneath the forlorn projected gaze of the father of the atom bomb, notice the crystalline glass in the wooden bowl beneath the atom. It shows that the artist really did her homework in conceiving and creating the art piece.

Because the gadget exploded so close to the ground, dirt and debris were sucked into the resulting fireball. Some of it melted and settled back to earth, cooling into a radioactive green glass that was dubbed Trinitite. And Esposito’s crystals are light green, evidencing the raw power of a nuclear blast to convert the soil that gives life to plants and animals into inert but seductively alluring radioactive matter incapable of supporting living organisms.

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is located at 2301 First Street in the heart of the downtown Fort Myers River District. For more information, please telephone 239-333-1933 or visit http://www.sbdac.com.

 

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