Art Talk: Jonathan Brooks, Photographer and Visual Artist

Jonathan Brooks is an award-winning photographer/visual artist, who was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Brooks graduated magna cum laude with a BS degree, double majoring in Advertising and Fine Art Photography with a minor in Marketing from the University of Miami. His studies in graphic design and architecture, and extensive backgrounds in the fashion industry and music industry have also helped to influence his work. He attended one of the Division of Cultural Affairs’ workshops given as part of the Professional Development for Artists program, presented by Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc. in partnership with the Creative Capital Foundation.

Brooks worked for Eastman Kodak during their transition from analog to digital. His photographs have been published in numerous anthologies and periodicals. His Fine Art Photographs have been featured in major movies (Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates, and Uncle Drew), the Emmy nominated short film series celebrating the 50th anniversary of National Endowment For The Arts- United States Of Art, and television shows (David Makes Man, Southern Charm, The Vampire Diaries, and Germany’s Only Love Counts).

His work has been exhibited in Miami, New York City, Amsterdam, France, Germany, Greece, and the United Kingdom. This includes Art Basel, the Louvre, and the biggest billboard in Times Square.


Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Tell us a little about you and your history. What are you currently working on?

Silver Palm Trees by Jonathan Brooks

Jonathan: I’ve always been artistic and it shows in all I do. I was very much into performing arts in grade school through high school, and totally involved in drama and chorus. I grew up with Twilight Zone and Creature Feature, movie stars and rock idols, the photographs of Time, Life and Vogue magazines, LP records and mixed tapes, and MTV videos. I was always a doodler, until taking two and half years of Architecture at community college, in which I found its rigors ruined drawing for me. I later changed my major to advertising and fine art photography at the University of Miami, where I graduated Magna Cum Laude.

I started out entirely into portraiture and was obsessed with the work of my photography idol Herb Ritts. I continued to enjoy shooting fashion and portraits, but it seemed my photography was slowly becoming a hobby due to circumstances beyond my control.  In 2013, after deeply feeling the effects of the recession, and assisting with my father’s five-year long battle with cancer, his death found me refocusing my efforts on my art photography. I found death, mortality, and our journey as my main topics of interest. I suddenly began using skulls in my portraiture and images. 

Winning Photo Of The Year 2014 during Miami’s prestigious art week at the inaugural Miami Photo Salon, and having my skull series used as the work of a photographer character on the CW Network’s hit series The Vampire Diaries, really helped to boost my confidence and encouraged me to continue to pursue my art.

Blue Coconuts by Jonathan Brooks

As of late, I have found a new interest and appreciation for simple still life photography, in contrast to today’s trend of issue based photography (ie. Feminism, climate change,…). I believe the focus on the mastery of photography becomes more important than the underlying reasons behind the photographs. Today, everyone is a photographer and has access to a camera via their cell phone. The rules and techniques of great photography is what ultimately sets the average ones apart from the great ones.

I’m currently working on finding the right place to exhibit my Blue Palms series. I’ve been surrounded by palms for over half a century, and like the great Cuban poet and national hero Jose Marti, I find them inspirational symbols of my birth place and ancestry. It is important to me to find the right venue for this work because I believe it deserves and commands it.

I’m continuing to enjoy botanicals and still life, and want to focus on my ongoing interest in the Everglades, but I am missing my days of portraiture. While enjoying some recent work involving live humans, I’ve begun to play around with masks as identities on individuals, and want to begin a series I have been wanting to start for a while regarding our use of old vs new technology. 

DCA: Why did you choose a career in the arts?

Jonathan: It is innate in me and I really feel that because of that it chose me. I’ve found that my artistic abilities influence everything I do. Whether it be the renovation of my condo in 2000 that was featured in a national publication or in the contents of my Kickstarter funded book The True Cuba that I self-published in 2014. Aside from my photography work, I’ve always gravitated towards all things artistic. In every kind of work I do or have done, I find that there is some level of artistic prowess involved.

A Bubble Bath & A Glass of Wine by Jonathan Brooks

I firmly believe that a true artist expresses themselves in all that they do. Because of that, I would say a career in the arts is much more of a calling, rather than a choice. I know there is a bit of “the artist” in all of us, but I think a few take it to another level, and even fewer take it to another place all together. 

DCA: What is the best part about your job?

Jonathan: The best part about being a photographer is that I am able to find beauty in all that surrounds me and share it with others. It is a great outlet for my creativity and my preferred way of creating art. Every image captured is documenting history, freezing time, and capturing a memory. Finding beauty in the day to day and sharing your vision with the world is an amazing way to connect with others. Showing others how to look at things from a different direction or angle, or helping them see the beauty in themselves is a powerful and rewarding tool.

I’ve always loved the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  I believe photography is probably the strongest means of communication there is and a universal language that anyone can understand.  As children, we learned through picture books before we learned to read. The power of an image to deliver a message is something that is worldwide and transcends limits and boundaries. 

Another great thing about being a photographer is that you can apply your skills to an array of different subject matter.  You are never bored or need to deal with the pains of monotony. One day you can aim your camera at fashion and portraits, another at nature or architecture, and another at street or documentary. As a photographer, the world is your oyster.

DCA: In your opinion, what is the greatest contribution that you and your art have made to your community?

Jonathan: In my opinion, exhibiting, displaying, and selling my art has a great effect on one’s community, and enriches the lives of all of us. It helps economic development and increases business, improves social well-being, and it brings people together to help celebrate the community. It also encourages interaction in public spaces, engagement in community activity, promotes diversity of culture, builds personal and professional relationships, and educates and entertains. The impact is felt not just in museums or galleries, but all around us.

2 Pink Flamingos & A Thunderbird by Jonathan Brooks as exhibition promotional poster in Athens, Greece. Photo courtesy of Blank Wall Gallery

I think my greatest contribution to my community has been garnering attention and recognition for my art outside of my community. Whether it be other cities and states in the nation or other countries paying attention to my work, this contributes to the positive image of our community when it comes to tourists and foreigners. I take great pride in having my work displayed at the Louvre in France, Amsterdam, Germany, Greece, the United Kingdom, and New York City’s Time Square. I also believe having my art used in major movies and television shows adds a credibility to my work and makes it a part of pop culture.

I feel that probably my greatest contribution to my community is having my work in the Emmy nominated short film series United States of Art, celebrating the 50th anniversary of National Endowment For The Arts.  Inclusion in such a historical, meaningful, and recognized piece of work truly makes me proud for being able to represent my community, Miami, and Florida in such a manner.

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida”? Why are the arts and culture important to our state?

No Vacancy by Jonathan Brooks in Shep Rose’s bedroom on Bravo’s Southern Charm. Photo courtesy of Margaret Wright for Parachute Home

Jonathan: I hear that a state without culture would be pretty boring and uninviting. I think Florida is lucky to be extremely rich in art and culture, and because of this many are drawn here. The abundance of art and culture available in Florida through our many and diverse communities has always established Florida among the most cultural places to be. Some of the hottest destinations for tourists from all over the world are in Florida. Orlando, Miami, and the Florida Keys are prime examples of the excellence in art and culture that the state offers. 

Florida locations are also widely used and sought after in television and movies because of our art and culture. From the vintage Flipper series to Miami Vice to the Golden Girls. I am extremely proud to be one of the Florida artists who will have their work featured in the upcoming Oprah Network’s original drama series David Makes Man. The coming-of-age story from Oscar-winning Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney and starring The Cosby Show’s Phylicia Rashad is set in the Florida projects.


The Division thanks Jonathan Brooks for his participation in this interview. To learn more about him and his work, visit his website: http://www.jonathanbrooks.net

Interested in being featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/3sMwuJWA3bM1orPl2 (Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion.)

Culture in Florida: July 2019

Culture in Florida is a monthly news roundup to showcase our state’s wonderful diversity, spotlight the organizations and artists that contribute so much to our communities, and stress the comprehensive benefits of arts and culture to Florida’s economy and quality of life.

Here’s a sample of arts and culture around the state for the month of July:


SPECIAL EVENTS

On Saturday, July 13th, the Matheson History Museum teamed up with the Gainesville Sun and Piedmont Publishing for a unique partnership called the “Gainesville Memories Community Project.” This project utilizes images from the Matheson’s collection to create a book focused on the city’s history prior to 1940, tentatively entitled “Gainesville Memories: The Early Years.” Community members were invited to bring in their historic photos dating back to 1940 or earlier.

The Pensacola Orchestra performed a free concert in the Happiness Is exhibition at the Artel Gallery on July 25th. The musicians, a string quartet with oboe, performed works by Mozart, Elgar, and others.

Florida Secretary of State, Laurel M. Lee, visited Tampa and St. Petersburg on July 18th and 19th. While in Tampa, she toured the Straz Center and met with a group of young actors from the cast of Annie with the Patel Conservatory. In St. Petersburg, she alongside Senator Darryl Rouson met with staff from the Morean Arts Center to discuss their community engagement programs, and ended the day by exploring the spectacular Chihuly Collection with her family. Photographs below are from her Twitter page.


OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

The Ringling Museum in partnership with the Circus Arts Conservatory opened their Summer Circus Spectacular this month, which will run through August 3rd. This hour-long show, housed in the Historic Asolo Theatre, showcases breath-taking circus acts such as the Rolla Bolla, Hand Balancing, Aerial Lyra, Hula Hoop and Interactive Comedy. This summer special is perfect for the entire family!

The 31st Annual Arts in Gadsden exhibition opened at the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum in Quincy on July 25th, and will run through August 6th. This celebration of the region’s creative work presents 101 works by 82 artists. Exhibited works span the mediums of watercolor, egg tempera, acrylic, oil, photography, clay, encaustic, wood, metal, glass, papier maché, and serigraph.

The Venice Theatre opened their performance of Urinetown on July 26th, and it will run until August 11th. The production is described as “a side splitting sendup of greed, love, revolution (and musicals!), in a time when water is worth its weight in gold.”


APOLLO 11 ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS

July 20th, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Moon Landing by spaceflight Apollo 11. Several arts organizations around the state took an opportunity to celebrate this event with special programming outside of their regular season!

The Gulf Coast Symphony celebrated the event with a concert of “moon music” and footage from the historic flight. The program included iconic fare such as Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” made famous by the film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” themes from the popular TV show “Star Trek,” and two segments from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.”

On July 31st and August 1st, the Melbourne Municipal Band will celebrate the moon landing anniversary with a picnic concert featuring various jazz hits.


UPCOMING IN AUGUST

On Thursday, August 15th, the Naples Players will present “Laugh for a Change!” in collaboration with the United Arts Council of Collier County. This fun-filled night of improvisational comedy will allow the Southwest Florida to unite for a great cause: to help provide access to the arts for at-risk children in their community. There will be two separate performances, at 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM.

In collaboration with the Museum of Discovery and Science in Ft. Lauderdale, the South Florida Symphony will present their “Preserve the Coral Reef” concert on August 4th. The performance will feature their music educator, Donna Wissinger, and admission is free with the purchase of a museum ticket.


Have an event you’d like to see featured as part of this blog series? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/rNFpweK1euL3y9YH2Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion. 

Grantee Feature: Dance Alive National Ballet Welcomes New Resident Choreographer

Provided by Dance Alive National Ballet. All photos by Johnston Photography.

About Dance Alive National Ballet

Founded in 1966 in the ‘Gator Nation’ of Gainesville, FL, Dance Alive National Ballet features an international roster of award winning dancers. Elegant and exciting, they are at the heart of the company’s undeniable success. DANB’s repertoire ranges from the quintessential classic Nutcracker to the cutting-edge movement of contemporary ballet. Throughout this choreographic tapestry are woven the ballets of Executive Artistic Director Kim Tuttle and Choreographer-in-Residence Judy Skinner whose distinctive artistic styles brand the company.  Entertaining and insightful, provocative and joyous, this creative aesthetic is at the heart of the Company. From dancing on a basketball court where lights were hung on hoops to being sponsored in state of the art theatres, to performing by invitation for HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, DANB has been on a mission to bring dance to the people.

New Resident Choreographer

Dance Alive National Ballet is proud to announce the appointment of Brian Carey Chung (choreographer, poet and nurse) as Resident Choreographer for the 2019-20 season. Mr. Chung brings to the table an extraordinary wealth of experience in both classical ballet and contemporary dance. He was founder and artistic director of Collective Body Dance Lab, performed with LINES Ballet for 7 years before joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Armitage Gone! Dance where he was principal dancer, rehearsal director and assistant choreographer. His first ballet for DANB, premiered in February 2019, ‘Touch Me Closer’, was a work of deep beauty, using highly trained classical dancers in a new and original way. This was so successful that Kim Tuttle, Executive Artistic Director of Dance Alive National Ballet asked him to create a full length ballet for the spring of 2020. His title of choice is ‘Athletes of God’, inspired by a quote from iconic modern dancer Martha Graham and set to music by Bach. His respect for dancers is boundless, and we look forward to moving Dance Alive National Ballet forward with grace and enthusiasm. 


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Culture in Florida: June 2019

Culture in Florida is a monthly news roundup to showcase our state’s wonderful diversity, spotlight the organizations and artists that contribute so much to our communities, and stress the comprehensive benefits of arts and culture to Florida’s economy and quality of life.

Here’s a sample of arts and culture around the state for the month of June:


FEATURED FESTIVALS

The Festival of New Musicals took place at The Winter Park Playhouse from June 20th – 23rd. The four day festival showcased six brand new musicals from around the world. One act of each musical was fully read and sung concert-style, without staging, by various casts of professional actors and musicians.

Produced by Community Arts & Culture, the 21st Annual Afro Roots Fest wrapped up in Key largo on Saturday, June 29th at the Murray Nelson Center. This event has historically celebrated the widespread influence that Africa continues to have on music, and furthers the mission of Community Arts and Culture, which is to foster an appreciation of the arts and culture through education. The festival was named as “Best Music Festival” in the “Best of Miami” 2019 issue.


SPECIAL EVENTS

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science celebrated World Ocean Day on June 8th with a day full of events and activities! The events included informational sessions on the impacts of plastic pollution, coral reef ecology and conservation, and scuba diving essentials. Museum goers also got to experience virtual swimming with sharks and dolphins!


OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

The Ann Norton Sculpture Garden’s exhibit The Art of Sherlock Holmes closed on June 2nd after opening on May 10th. The Art of Sherlock Holmes, curated by author Phil Growick brought 14 pieces of art that were interpretations of different short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, all created by West Palm Beach artists. The artistic styles include abstract, contemporary, digital, realist, minimalist, symbolism, or an amalgam of various forms.

The Moon Bay exhibit opened this month at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. This unique 2,000-gallon habitat has two separate areas where the jellies can be touched by visitors. This experience–to gently interact with jellies–is only the fourth of its kind in the United States. 

The Museum of Discovery and Science opened their new exhibit, Hall of Heroes, this month. This exhibit brings guests into the world of superheroes, crime-­getters, gadgets and spies through an immersive experience. Guests can expect their journey through this exhibit to include movie prop-quality photo opportunities, including an authentic George Barris-built 1966 Batmobile, and challenging, highly engaging interactives, intriguing, informative displays with props, costumes and more. This exhibit will run through September 2nd, 2019.

The Monticello Opera House programmed a production of A Chorus Line at the end of the month as their special summer event. The premise of this show captures the spirit and tension of a Broadway chorus audition.


HONORS

Congratulations are in order for the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which was chosen this month to become a Smithsonian Affiliate. From the Sarasota Magazine:

“Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has been designated a Smithsonian Affiliate, joining a national network of museums, educational and cultural organizations in sharing the resources of the Smithsonian Institution. There are currently 213 affiliates in 45 states, Puerto Rico and Panama; Selby Gardens is the only garden in Florida that is part of the Smithsonian Affiliate network.”


UPCOMING IN JULY

Arts4All Florida will present their new exhibition, “Transformations: Building a World of Access and Inclusion” on July 26th, which run through September 15th, 2019. “Transformations” is a unique exhibit celebrating personal and societal transformations. The artwork in this exhibition will celebrate the 29th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its influence on creating a world in which the arts are universally accessible. 

The Downtown Cultural Series in Gainesville will continue their free concerts on Friday nights this month for the Gainesville150 anniversary celebrations. This series is the region’s longest-running and largest free outdoor concert series features local and regional musical talent at the newly renovated Bo Diddley Plaza. The Free Fridays Concert Series will continue every week through the month of October.

The Bay Arts Alliance is presenting the Art of Florida Cartoonists Exhibition from June 8th to July 20th at the Panama City Center for the ARTS. This exhibit will showcase a wide variety of visual treasures created by cartoonists, illustrators, and storyboard artists who have lived or worked in the Sunshine State.


Have an event you’d like to see featured as part of this blog series? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/rNFpweK1euL3y9YH2Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion. 

Special Feature: Artist Amy Gross

AmyGrossEach year, the regional arts agency South Arts awards a State Fellowship to an artist in each of its nine member states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Southern Prize is awarded to one of these nine artists and South Arts also awards one finalist. This year’s finalist is Florida’s Fellow, Amy Gross, a mixed media artist living in Delray Beach. We asked Amy to tell us a bit about her journey and why Culture Builds Florida.


Amy Gross:

5_AmyGross_IrisMushroomBiotope

Iris Mushroom Biotope by Amy Gross

One thing I have discovered is that a path only seems to make sense when you turn around and look back at it. As a teenager, one of my favorite songs featured the line “How did I get here?” suggesting a randomness that was very appealing at the time. But now, when I ask myself that kind of question, much of it can be answered by this one fact: I moved to the state of Florida.

I was born and grew up on Long Island, New York, halfway between the ocean and New York City. My father was a painter and a textile designer, my Mom a lover of books and music. I never had to argue a case for being an artist, and because my dad was raising a family of four as an art director, it was proven fact that you could make a life for yourself as a creative person. I majored in Fine Art at Cooper Union in Manhattan and studied everything I could get my hands on there: graphic design and painting, printmaking, calligraphy, sculpture. I graduated into the terrifying New York City art world of the late eighties and early nineties, and being a shy person, wilted immediately.  And realized that surviving was going to be for me like it was for everyone else on Earth, I set about finding something I could do well and make a living from.

4_AmyGross_SporaMutatus

Spora Mutatus by Amy Gross

So I became a textile designer like my Dad, expanding into surface design as time passed: children’s bedding, baby blankets, slumber bags and rugs, plush toys, dolls, magic show stages, beach towels. I freelanced for over twenty years, working with Sesame Street and Disney and Warner Brothers, Elmo and Winnie the Pooh and Bugs Bunny. I painted at night for a long time, but the ideas I had about what kind of artist I was morphed and changed. I would only answer to the title “designer,” which is unfair to every graphic artist out there, and which only applied to my own confusion of identity. I had a lot of unformed assumptions about what kind of personality made interesting art, thinking I had some of the elements but not enough to justify sharing my work with anyone outside my family. I kept sketchbooks and journals, but they were for me alone, and I felt almost liberated by the loss of the labels I had stuck onto everything creative when I first left art school. I figured that I had chosen my path.

2_AmyGross_SilverBees(h.miserablilis)Adapting,

Silver Bees, (h.miserablis), Adapting by Amy Gross

Then I moved to Florida. My extended family had lived here since the seventies, so I assumed that it would be known territory. I was wrong. In the almost twenty years I have lived here, Delray Beach and South Florida have been so multilayered I’m still discovering it. In New York I was always on the periphery of the art community, but once here I was almost immediately welcomed into the creative world. Museums held talks where the artists were right there in front of me, answering my questions. Studios were opened up, galleries had exhibits by people that might be too much of a risk in more expensive places.

3_AmyGross_SilverBeesAdapting_Detail

Silver Bees, (h.miserablis), Adapting, detail, by Amy Gross

Within months I was standing on the sidewalk in Lake Worth next to my favorite artist, a person I was too in awe of to speak to. But imagine – I could have, if I had worked up the nerve. And I became friends with working artists from places all over the world, interesting people bringing experiences to their work that I had known little about. There was an openness, a generosity that I wasn’t used to, a camaraderie that suggested that competition was not the only motivation that made you want to work hard.

6_AmyGrossBroodCombBiotope

Brood Comb Biotope by Amy Gross

I became excited about the prospect of being an artist again. The landscape here fascinated me, the constant and accelerated growth, the tension between the natural and the man-made, the battle between the native plants and the invasive foliage, the adaption and symbiosis that weaves itself into every story here. Plants tangle and overwhelm any structure that isn’t constantly managed, rainforests thrive in between gated subdivisions. Water turns solid from duckweed, strangler figs squeeze palms, reptiles sleep in your drain pipes. I vitally needed to describe these collages of elements, to combine them with my own life experiences and mix the things I could see with what I could not. I started making my embroidered canvases and later, fiber sculptures to describe my fascination with this strange environment and turn this awe into metaphors that tell a story of a human’s experience within it.

1_AmyGross_Mycorrhiza

Mycorrhiza by Amy Gross

Florida’s creative inclusiveness was a very important factor in my finding a place for what I do in the outside world. This is why Culture Builds Florida. My mentors in Palm Beach County encouraged me to go beyond my earliest ambitions, to push my boundaries. And my most recent experience, being chosen as the 2019 Fellow for the State of Florida for the South Arts Southern Prize, was an affirmation I did not imagine or expect. My process is primarily a solitary and internal one; I make things now from an inner conviction and I still look up and am surprised that what I do has a life outside of my studio. So when I found myself in a room celebrating art making with South Arts, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the myriad sponsors, I was floored. I was surrounded by people who are deeply invested in the arts and the lives of art makers, who understand its value and what it can do for the community. Their gift of support and its translation into precious time to work made me even more grateful that I get to do what I love to do. It took me a while to get to the place where I could meet them all, and their affirming “Yes!” will stay with me wherever my work goes next.

7_AmyGross_16Biotopes

Collection by Amy Gross

Culture In Florida: April 2019

culture-in-florida

Culture in Florida is a monthly news roundup to showcase our state’s wonderful diversity, spotlight the organizations and artists that contribute so much to our communities, and stress the comprehensive benefits of arts and culture to Florida’s economy and quality of life.

Here’s a sample of arts and culture around the state for the month of April:

FEATURED FESTIVALS

The 21st annual Sarasota Film Festival took place between April 5 and 14. This year’s festival featured films from national and international filmmakers, special appearances with actors Greg Kinnear, Blythe Danner, and Anne Heche, and other special events. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida celebrated Earth Day on April 13th with a huge community event that included educational programs, interactive shows, hands-on activities, food, and beverages for children and families.

The Jazz Society of Pensacola hosted the 36th annual Pensacola JazzFest on April 6 and 7. This free event celebrated America’s unique musical art form through a wide range of concerts and events. The City of Holly Hill and Helping Hands Thru Arts presented the inaugural Holly Hill Arts Festival on April 6 and 7. The event featured over 70 juried works of arts and crafts.

Many organizations hosted festivals celebrating the written word in conjunction with National Poetry Month. In Jacksonville, the month-long JAX Poetry Fest featured readings, workshops, and lectures for children, teens, and adults. In Miami, the O, Miami Festival facilitated a month-long initiative with the mission of “every single person in Miami-Dade County encountering a poem”, and in Tallahassee, the annual Word of South festival was held from April 12-14, an event that explores the relationship between writing and music.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Davie’s Young at Art Museum celebrates its 30th birthday this month! The museum hosted an evening of live music, performance art, and food to mark the occasion on April 27. Naples Art Association also celebrates its 65th birthday this month. Happy Birthday!

In Jacksonville, Thursday, April 4 was officially proclaimed “Jacksonville Symphony ‘Bridges’ Day”. This special honor by the city of Jacksonville and Mayor Lenny Curry celebrated the symphony’s Symphony in 60 concert that featured the world premiere of Bridges, a piece inspired by the city and composed for the symphony by composer-in-residence Courtney Bryan.

Naples Botanical Garden kicked off their “Music in the Garden” series on April 7 with a performance by indie band The Woodwork. The series continues on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month through August.

OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

The Museum of Art-DeLand opened Gary Monroe: Photographs and Revelations on April 6. The exhibit features 46 black and white photographs by the artist as well as 22 cultural objects and 10 paintings from his personal collection. In Miami, the BASS Museum opened Sheila Hicks: Campo Abierto on April 13, an exhibit that groups works of art from various periods that explore the formal, social, and environmental aspects of landscape throughout Hicks’ career.

In Winter Park, Phase II of The Sage Project opened at Hannibal Square Heritage Center. This exhibit features 17 portraits and living histories of the most senior residents of the African American west side Winter Park community.

A new exhibit exploring how contemporary artists are influenced by graphic novels and comic books opened at Boca Raton Museum of Art. Beyond the Cape! Comics and Contemporary Art includes prominent contemporary artists exploring some of today’s most complicated issues in this pioneering show, on display through October 6, 2019.

The United Arts Council of Collier County opened an exhibit by three pastel artists who challenged each other to create 30 images of the same subject. Their creative journey is on display through May 28, 2019.

UPCOMING IN MAY

MOSAIC — the Month OShows, Art, Ideas & Culture — in Palm Beach, the Key West Songwriters’ Festival and the Orlando Fringe Festival are just a few exciting events during the month of May. Subscribe to this blog or follow us on Twitter for updates. 


Have an event you’d like to see featured as part of this blog series? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/rNFpweK1euL3y9YH2Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion. 

Culture Builds Florida – and Florida Builds Culture: The Southwest Florida Symphony introduces Brave New Music

Provided by the Southwest Florida Symphony 

image001At 58 years old, the Southwest Florida Symphony is the fourth oldest continuously operating orchestra in the State of Florida. As was intended at its inception, it continues to serve as an “audio museum,” performing great classical repertoire written for full orchestra and chamber ensembles, but as Florida’s demographic evolves, becoming younger and more diverse, the Southwest Florida Symphony has made great strides to acclimate to Florida’s ever-changing cultural landscape.

vlcsnap-2018-03-04-23h28m28s160Beginning in 2016, the symphony began experimenting with crossover concerts that blended classical music with other genres; indie rock, electronica, jazz and Latin. As artistic trust continued to develop between the symphony and its audiences and our community expressed more “classical curiosity,” the symphony became more artistically confident in its ability to expand its horizons and establish a new concert series called Brave New Music. Not exactly Pops, though featuring popular music – and not exactly classical, though always featuring classical repertoire, this series is designed to encourage dedicated, knowledgeable classical music enthusiasts to examine familiar works through a new lens and to remove classical music’s historic intimidation factor for audiences that are not ordinary classical music consumers.

IJS06454Ultimately, this is a way to demonstrate the relevance of classical music to new patrons of the arts and to lead classical audiophiles on a musical journey that begins in familiar territory for them. In addition to the music these audiences experience, these concerts provide educational opportunities through guest artist and conductor Q&A sessions, to meet our orchestral musicians to gain their perspective on these concerts, pre-concert lectures and social gatherings. The best, most beautiful part is that it brings both of those audiences together; spanning generations, socioeconomic and cultural strata, forging relationships among them. It has been said that music is the greatest social network. That’s what we for envision Brave New Music. The Southwest Florida Symphony is honored that Brave New Music can serve as the cornerstone of that network in our community.

DSC06874allBrave New Music initiatives have included jazz arrangements of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition created and performed by Israeli jazz pianist, Yaron Gottfried and Bach – Jazz fusion arrangements created and performed by pianist Matt Herskowitz. Upcoming Brave New Music programs include an evening of Beethoven v. Coldplay, featuring original electronica – classical compositions and visionary arrangements by Maestro Steve Hackman. This concert culminates the Southwest Florida Symphony’s 58th season with a fusion of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 and tunes by British pop band, Coldplay, on Saturday, May 4th. The orchestra commences its 59th season with a screening of the classic thriller film, Psycho, with live orchestral accompaniment on Friday, October 25th and Saturday, October 26th, then closes its 59th season with a celebratory program of tolerance and joy – Symphabulous! A Symphonic Drag Show features nationally known drag performer Chris Weaver. We have every expectation that this innovative programing will enlighten and bring audiences together and will inspire other orchestras to do the same.

To learn more about the Southwest Florida Symphony, visit their website: https://www.swflso.org/.


Interested in seeing your organization featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/3sMwuJWA3bM1orPl2