Grantee Spotlight: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Marc Chagall, Flowers, and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams

Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota has enjoyed an overwhelming response this year to its Picture4latest exhibition featuring the artist Marc Chagall’s nature-inspired artwork and personal effects. The immersive exhibition, Marc Chagall, Flowers, and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams, introduced a new way of examining the artwork of the prolific artist. The exhibition opened February 12 and continued through July 31, 2017.

The six-month exhibition garnered record-breaking attendance numbers to this 15-acre bayfront botanical garden. The visitor experience included a glass house conservatory where reproductions of Chagall’s nature-inspired stained glass were displayed among living plants. Visitors also strolled  the grounds of the gardens which were enhanced with flora that evoked the south of France, the land that inspired Chagall and where he spent much of the later part of his life.

Additionally, the exhibition included Chagall’s masterwork painting The Lovers (1937), on loan fromthe Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and two additional paintings loaned from a private collector that have not been publicly exhibited before. Also on view were archival photos and personal effects from Chagall’s studio.

Accompanying cultural performances, special events, classes and lectures supported the exhibition, along with a French-inspired menu served at the on-site cafe.

Photos © Matthew Holler. / Stained glass © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York ADAGP, Paris


Five questions for Lyudmilla Fuentes, VSA Florida Young Artist

by Jennifer Hoesing

VSA Florida sponsors the Florida Young Soloists program, now in its fifth year. A statewide call for musicians and vocalists with disabilities age 25 and under is sent each spring. Three prominent music professionals adjudicate the applications and select the top two as Florida’s nominations to the VSA International Young Soloists program. The Florida finalists appear with the Florida Orchestra. Today we have five questions for Lyudmilla Fuentes, one of this year’s Young Soloists.

Lyudmilla Fuentes

DCA: What do you enjoy most about making music?
Lyudmilla:  What I love the most about making music is that I feel completely free and that I can just let it all go. When and if I’ve had a bad day, I can start singing and all my cares in the world just float away. It’s my comfort zone, I guess I can say.

DCA: Why do you think it is important for people to make music?
Lyudmilla:  I believe that music is the universal language and that it tells a story in a language that other people from other countries can also understand. I also believe that in times of trouble, it can bring the world together.

DCA: Do you think you will always perform music?
Lyudmilla:  I am planning on pursuing my music as a career but also help those in need by raising money with my performances and bring awareness to people in other countries such as my homeland, Russia.

DCA: Who are your favorite musicians or artists?
Lyudmilla:  My favorite musicians are Bocelli, Anna Netrebko and Pavarotti.

DCA: Why are music and art important to Florida?
Lyudmilla: Music and art are important to Florida because they enhance cultural development and provide for a source of expression and human interaction.

Cultural Conversation: Heather Stuyverson

by Jennifer Hoesing

Today’s post is an interview with our talented new intern, Heather Stuyverson. Heather is pursuing a Master’s degree in arts administration at the Florida State University College of Music. Why did Heather choose an arts administration career? Read on to find out.

Heather Stuyverson wears many hats. Among them - rocking the Stratocaster. (photo submitted)

How long have you been involved in arts and culture?

The arts have been a part of my life ever since I was in my mother’s womb.  My mother –a ballet teacher 30 years of her life– taught dance while she was pregnant with me. At three years old my mother put me in dance classes and my experience with the arts began.  I continued to dance throughout my childhood, but it was until I was seven I discovered my true artistic passion, music.

The instrument that drew me to music was the guitar.  Throughout my life I have played various genres on the guitar, but I mainly focused on studying the genres of classical and jazz guitar during my studies as an undergraduate at The Florida State University College of Music.  In 2006, after completing a Bachelors of Arts in Commercial Music, I worked at a prominent studio in Nashville, TN and had an amazing experience in learning the process of the music industry.  Four years later, I decided to return to FSU to pursue a Masters in Arts Administration and to dedicate my career to working for non-profit arts organizations.

Today my continued involvement with the arts includes completing my masters degree, serving as the house manager for all of the Florida State University School of Dance performances, serving on FSU’s Friends of Dance board, working at the FSU College of Music Admissions office, working as an intern for the Division of Cultural affairs, teaching guitar to seven private students, and performing around town as a guitarist in various settings.

Why have you chosen arts administration as a career path?

The arts have helped shape me into the person I am today.  Whether it is an undeniable musical progression, a dance sequence, or a color scheme in a painting, the arts strike a chord within my soul.  They have impacted me to not only see life from different perspectives but they have also enhanced and broadened my views on life.

Yet when I observe my peers it seems the arts do not have the same impact on their lives.  My friends seem to have a lack of interest in attending a symphony, theater or dance performance.  Because of this I often wonder, “Is the concert arts audience dying and specifically, is it dying within my generation?”

In today’s culture, it seems to me that popular artists are reaching their audiences in ways that other artists are not.  I think there is somewhat of an emotional disconnect occurring within our culture in regards to specific art forms. In light this disconnect, I chose to pursue a career in arts administration first because of my passion for the arts, and second because of my desire to broaden the arts audience. 

What do you think arts and culture contribute to Florida?

The arts and culture industry contribute to the State of Florida both intrinsically and extrinsically.  I often think about how our world is painted in color and not black and white.  There is an indisputable beauty that surrounds us everyday in the nature of our world.  I believe arts and culture only enhance that beauty of our world and furthermore our state.  They help us identify who we are as individuals and who we are as Floridians.  The arts and culture help bring communities together and are monumental in the education of our children.

It’s also important for business-minded individuals to see how arts and culture contribute to Florida’s economy. The question is often raised, “Why should we invest in the arts over investing in something more practical?” It has been researched and proven that for every $1 that is invested in the arts, $5 is invested back into the economy of Florida.  That is a 500% return on investment!  As well, the arts and culture industry in Florida is the third largest industry in our state.  Thus arts and culture are creating jobs and furthermore attracting tourists to Florida.

What is the single greatest contribution of arts and culture to your community?

Although Tallahassee is considered a small town compared to some of Florida’s more metropolitan areas, we still have a wealth of amazing local arts organizations, universities who are known for the arts and an incredible local arts agency.  As a Tallahassee-born-and-raised girl, I have seen how the arts and culture build relationships right here in this community.  I believe that’s the single greatest contribution.  The arts bring people together and they unify community members under one purpose.  Relationships between art teachers and students, community chorus members, fellow actors in a play, just to name a few, are invaluable and only strengthen a community.

Who’s your favorite artist or musician?

How could I choose just one?  The musicians that have been the most influential to me as an artist are Ana Vidovic (classical guitarist), Pat Metheny (jazz guitarist), Alex Fox (flamenco guitarist), Dianna Krall (jazz artist) and Alison Krauss (as an all-around musician).

Cultural Conversation: The Intersection of Dance and Deviation

by Dr. Gaylen Phillips

David Neumann researches movement for RESTLESS EYE. Image courtesy of

When Dr. Karin L. Brewster, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Demography and Population Health at Florida State University, got a call from Ansje Burdick at FSU’s Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC), she was a little puzzled. Choreographer David Neumann and his collaborator Sybil Kempson wanted a meeting with Karin to discuss statistics. David is a 2007 MANCC Choreographic Fellow who is currently on the FSU campus as a Visiting Artist where his work RESTLESS EYE is currently in development.

This piece is scheduled to premier at the New York Live Arts Partnership (supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts) on March 24, 2012. David and Sybil, accompanied by Ansje Burdick, MANCC’s Manager of Artist Services and Community Engagement, met with Karin on an October afternoon.

Dr. Karin Brewster

Karin didn’t know what to expect. What she did know is what David’s fact sheet said about his work: “Neumann’s company, advanced beginner group, will explore the realm between thought and behavior, between describing life and experiencing it . . . [they] will source various data sets and statistics based on everyday phenomena and translate this information into a deeply physical and human expression.” Sybil is developing the text.

“I liked David immediately; he has tremendous energy and charisma. What I really enjoyed was his curiosity. This drives his work,” Karin said.  David readily admits that his curiosity about everything has always been the biggest factor in his life and it is the most important tool in the development of his art. During this initial conversation, it became clear that David is interested in learning things that challenge his natural inclinations; he wants to follow where inquiry and process might lead with no preconceived ideas of the outcome.

Sybil, as the writer, was interested in the subjectivity of language/art versus the “hard rules” of science, and Karin responded that “science doesn’t exist without imagination.” But how do curiosity, data sets, and statistics translate into choreography? “That was the part I couldn’t grasp,” said Karin. “So the conversation with David and Sybil was fascinating.”

One thing the three talked about was the importance of repetition and variation to dance and to statistics; Karin even taught David and Sybil how to calculate a standard deviation, still not knowing how it would inform their work.  But, “when I attended his informal showing of the piece on October 27, I came to a new level of appreciation.” She laughed, “I’m not saying I fully understand how and what he does, but the process – the intellectual inquisitiveness – was a huge eye-opener for me. I had not thought about dance in such a way before. I now better appreciate the inspiration and originality that goes into choreographing a dance project, as well as the rigor. It was fascinating to see a performance piece in the making and, in particular, to realize the similarities in the process of creating a dance and ‘creating’ research. “

Karin was intrigued enough to ask to meet with David a second time; his visit on the FSU campus is limited and she said, “I don’t know whether this is silly, but it struck me during the October 27 showing as I listened to David explaining his process – particularly about the importance of data collection to his piece – that he might want to learn about how scientists evaluate the probability that their results represent what’s ‘true’ in the ‘real world.’ This evaluation process is where the standard deviation is truly important, and it reveals the leap of faith we make when we present our findings as reliable representations of reality.”

The second interview, then, took David a bit deeper into the underlying machinery of statistics, beyond the numbers to the realm of interpretation. “We can take ten random samples from the same population and get ten sets of statistics.  So, how do we know which set of statistics is right?  We can’t, but we can know that some sets are more likely to be right than others,” Karin recalls telling David.  “Statistics like dance is an approximation to something, a representation of some piece of the world.” This was an “aha!” moment for both of them as they realized the art of dance and the art of statistics are more connected than may at first seem obvious.

“This was one of the most fascinating and engaging encounters I have ever had,” Karin summed up. “David’s unique perspective has really given me some things to think about in my own research.”

Thanks to Karin Brewster, Ansje Burdick, Jennifer Caliennes, Ellie Couvault, Sybil Kempson and David Neumann.

Cultural Conversation: Five Questions for Grace Maloy

by Jennifer Hoesing

Grace Maloy headshotGrace Maloy is Executive Director of the Gadsden Arts Center in Quincy, Florida. Gadsden Arts Center provides exhibitions of fine art and art education to the people of Gadsden County, a rural county that is highly diverse culturally, racially and ethnically.

Gadsden Arts Center’s current exhibition, Dean Mitchell: Rich in Spirit, is on view through October 29, 2011. In addition, vernacular art from the Gadsden Arts Center collection is on view at the Gibbs Museum in Charleston, South Carolina through October.

Dean Mitchell PaintingSunshine in New Orleans by Dean Mitchell. Watercolor. 30 x 40 inches.  Now on view at Gadsden Arts Center.

DCA: How long have you had a career in the arts? How long have you worked in Florida?

Maloy: I supposed my career in the arts began in early childhood. My mother and both of her parents were fine artists, and mom often told stories of her beloved father, Rocco, who was a graphic designer and illustrator by trade. Our house was filled with original art, paintings by family members, paintings, drawings, and prints by their artist friends, handmade books, hand-crafted furniture. Many of my grandparents’ artist friends, like watercolorist Henry Keller, went on to become well regarded in the history 20th century art.

Growing up in a family of artists meant the family was raised with a particular approach to life, that a good life is achieved by design, and there is unlimited beauty in our immediate environment to appreciate. Growing up with an artist’s sensibility means that we have enjoyed a depth of awareness of our environment and ourselves that some people may not have.

I also drew and painted pictures from early childhood, as a natural form of thought and expression. By high school, I was asking my parents to enroll me in college-level art and design classes and drawing portraits for friends on commission. My first degree is in studio art, but I went on to learn commercial design and illustration, as my grandfather did. For some reason, I felt an emptiness in the  “working for a paycheck” life as a designer/illustrator, earned an Art Education Masters Degree, and taught high school art for a number of years. I love teaching art to teen-aged children, they are creative and thoughtful beyond measure.

All of this ultimately culminated in my present career as an arts administrator, a field I fell into without intent about 13 years ago, first as an Assistant Curator at the Center for the Arts, now known as the Vero Beach Museum of Art. What a fascinating field this is! We provide critical community services that are increasingly scarce. We are practical business managers, and at the same time, we are creative problem solvers and visionaries. We are inventing a field as we live it, responding to needs and challenges on an ever-changing basis. We are part of a larger family of nonprofit art professionals that move forward into an uncertain economy, seeing endless possibilities because the need is endless, rooted together in one foundation that is the expressive, unifying, thought provoking, enduring, healing, exciting power of art.

DCA: What is the single greatest contribution the Gadsden Arts Center makes to your community?

Maloy: I cannot really identify one overriding contribution. The Gadsden Arts Center completed a community survey last spring, with the aid of a highly experienced third party consultant, who spent about 100 hours interviewing members, donors, elected officials, and community leaders. Part of the process was to determine what they valued most highly in the Gadsden Arts Center. Their responses were the power of Gadsden Arts to draw diverse community groups together in a meaningful way; art education to help area children develop higher order thinking skills, self-discipline, and an avenue for self-expression; and cultural and historical content presented through our exhibitions.

DCA: What other challenges in your community have been addressed through the arts?

Maloy: I think the three greatest challenges addressed by the Gadsden Arts Center have been cross-cultural understanding, tourism and economic development and education.

First, cross-cultural understanding is addressed through the content of many exhibitions, and also through the very practical opportunity for volunteers to develop new social relationships here;

In terms of tourism and economic development, Gadsden Arts is broadly recognized for its historic buildings, museum-quality facilities, exhibitions and programs. We draw visitors from a broad geographic area, who enjoy their visit and leave with a positive impression that helps to dispel longstanding negative stereotypes of Gadsden County that are sometimes perpetuated in regional media.

And finally, education. Through the arts, children learn to solve problems creatively, finish what they start, evaluate the quality of their work, discuss complex concepts with others, and then enjoy visible, public recognition for good work and personal growth. Due to the recession, the arts have been cut from all district elementary schools this year. Gadsden Arts is working with area theatrical and music groups to provide art programs in the schools this year, in addition to existing programs and services for school children. The arts are critical to education – they are also therapeutic, and fun!