Postcards from NEA Secretary Jane Chu: Sketches of Florida

In addition to being an accomplished musician, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu is a skilled visual artist as well. As she travels the country on behalf of the NEA, Chairman Chu makes sketches of various locations, and graciously shares them with each State Arts Agency. She created some lovely artwork while in Florida and we are thrilled that she has allowed us to share them with you!

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Betsy Restaurant – Florida

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Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery

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New World Symphony in Miami Beach

Chairman Chu’s sketches should not be used for fundraising purposes or as an endorsement.

Artist Brian R. Owens Brings Windover Woman to Life

Today we’re featuring a story about a Florida artist, Brian R. Owens.

On November 13th, a newly revised exhibit opened at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science in Cocoa, FL, about one of the first groups of people in North America. The accidental discovery of a ceremonial burial ground in 1982 resulted in the unearthing of one of the largest and most well-preserved skeletal sites on the continent. The excavation reshaped our understanding of “archaic hunter-gatherers” and how they lived 7000 to 8000 years ago, about 3000 years before the “Great Pyramid”. They are called “Windover People”. Research is constantly ongoing as new technologies emerge to analyze the remains of 168 people. Over 10,000 bones and artifacts are preserved at Florida State University. The Museum commissioned Brian R. Owens to sculpt an artistic interpretation of one particular female based on her skull. It’s the centerpiece of the new exhibit. They call her the “Windover Woman”.

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Computer-generated image based on the bones of the Windover Woman

CBF: What did you have to work from?

Lots of detailed measurements of her skull but not the skull itself. I also had some computer-generated images that were made years ago on the basis of the skull. The remains included DNA but it’s so damaged that it is of little use. At least for now. Archeologists generally agree that she was descended from Asians.

CBF: How is an artistic interpretation different from a forensic sculpture? Continue reading

The Museum of Florida History Re-opens

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We’re so happy to announce that the Museum of Florida History re-opened this morning after being closed for seven months as part of the renovation project on the plaza level of the R. A. Gray Building. With the reopening of the Museum comes the completion of a fascinating new permanent exhibit, Forever Changed: La Florida, 1513–1821. Phase 1 of the Forever Changed exhibit opened in 2012 and featured the time period 1513–1565. The new exhibit explores a dynamic period in history—from the meeting and interaction of native and European cultures to Florida’s adoption as a United States territory.

Be sure to stop by the Museum when you’re in Tallahassee, and check out the Museum of Florida History webpage!

Spotlight On: Grant Season at the Division of Cultural Affairs

by Tim Storhoff

sizedcbf-dca-colorSummer is an extremely busy time here at the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, particularly with all the activities related to our grant programs. We have grant periods beginning and ending with the state’s fiscal year, which starts on July 1. This means that between June and September of every year we are actively working with three years of grants: the year that just ended, the year that is just getting started, and the next year (currently in the application review stage). These grants are an extremely important part of what we do, and we know that many arts and culture organizations from across the state depend on them to keep their programs up and running. Therefore I wanted to give you some insight into what’s going on and how we keep these grants moving and on track.

2012-2013: Finishing Up and Closing Out

The official period for 2012-2013 grants ended on June 30. There were 314 total grants given to organizations in 45 Florida counties for a total of $8,868,534. This amount included a $5 million appropriation by the state legislature for General Program Support and approximately $3.9 million for Cultural Facilities (no money was appropriated in 2012-2013 for Specific Cultural Projects). For a full record of awards by county, take a look at this list.

After organizations with General Program Support grants finish up their June events, they have until July 30 to fill out their final reports online. It typically takes Sarah, Maureen, and I (the program managers for these grants) until sometime in the fall to read through everything, but it’s great to be reminded of all the wonderful activities that these grants made possible. These reports allow us to see specifically how all the grant money was used and what overall impact it had in terms of individuals from the the community who participated. In addition to getting overall numbers, we’re interested in the number of youth, elders, and artists that took part in events throughout the year. While we often stress the economic impact of the arts with Culture Builds Florida, these participation numbers help show the significance of the arts in a way that goes beyond dollars and cents. The arts create important social connections between people when they attend performances, visit museums, and perhaps most importantly, collaborate to create art together.

Some of the organizations and events funded with 2012-2013 DCA grants.

Some of the organizations and events funded with 2012-2013 DCA grants.

2013-2014: Getting Started (or at least trying to)

With the previous year’s grants ending on June 30, the current year’s grant period is scheduled to begin right away on July 1. Organizations applied for 2013-2014 grants in spring 2012. After panel meetings, eligible scores were sent to the Florida Legislature via the Department of State’s Legislative Budget Request. The Legislature appropriated $5 million for General Program Support, fully funded Specific Cultural Projects with $830,523 and funded Cultural Facilities for $3,328,000. Along with Fast Track and State Touring grants, the state totals came to 351 grants in 47 counties for $9,350,322. For a full record of awards by county, take a look at this list.

Contracts for this year’s grants typically would have been mailed out in June so payments could be processed on July 1. However, a new bill passed by the 2013 Florida Legislature (HB 5401), requires that all contracts include new elements and go through a new approval process. As one of the first state agencies to deal with these new requirements, we’ve been proactive in collecting all the required information from each grantee for insertion into the contracts. Now we’re just waiting for approval to start sending out payments. In the end this bill will provide a useful resource to Florida’s taxpayers. They’ll be able to log onto a website and see exactly where state dollars are going and what they’re being spent on. After signing the bill, Governor Scott applauded the transparency it will provide, saying, “As taxpayers, we deserve to know if we are getting a return on investment for our money.” We’re confident that through arts and culture, Floridians are getting a positive return on investment as the economic impact of the arts is clear and show that Culture Builds Florida. We just wish it didn’t create a delay in getting funds out to our grantees!

2014-2015: Looking Ahead and Panels, Panels, Panels!

In addition to dealing with grants that have just ended and are just starting, we’re spending a lot of time reviewing applications and preparing panel meetings for 2014-2015 grants. Applications were submitted on June 1 or June 15 depending on the program, and we received a total of 322 applications for General Program Support, 61 for Specific Cultural Projects, 29 for Cultural Facilities, and 169 for Individual Artist Fellowships. We’ve been busy going through and checking each application for eligibility and making sure that everything is in order to send it on to the panels. So far 125 panelists have been officially appointed for the 22 different panels that will take place between late August and early October, and additional panelists have yet to be appointed. Panelists serve on a volunteer basis and must be practicing artists or professionals who specialize in the area of the panels they serve on, and we are extremely grateful for the time they donate to this process. For the full grant panel schedule, check out our calendar.

Our file room is filled with stacks of support materials that were mailed in as part of applications.

Our file room is filled with stacks of support materials that were mailed in as part of applications.

After applications are scored, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture sends panel recommendations to the Secretary of State who then includes them with a request to the Legislature. In spring 2014 the Florida Legislature will make funding decisions and next summer this process will start all over again as organizations start their 2014-2015 grant period.

As you can see, this isn’t just a busy time for the DCA but for current grantees as well. As soon as they finish their application they need to start working on their final report while also filling out the required documentation for the grant that’s just starting. It can be a lot of work keeping everything straight while juggling three years worth of grants, and we’re rarely able to grant as much money as we’d like to Florida’s many deserving organizations. However, the end result is worth every document filed and phone call made because we believe that arts and culture are essential to the quality of life for all Floridians. The events funded through these grants stimulate tourism and enrich our communities. The arts provide jobs, bring people together, and remind us that Florida is a special place to live and work. 

If you have any questions about our grants, please contact a member of our program staff, and remember to let your community leaders and legislators know about the impact these grants have in your community so that we can continue to increase our support for Florida arts and culture.

Culture Builds Florida Has a New Ally

When George Byfield, President of Lakeland-based Comet Group Inc., attended the launch of Culture Builds Florida in Tampa 2011, he came away inspired to create a new type of online publication.

Byfield saw – instantly – an incredible synergy in the mission of Culture Builds Florida with that of the new niche publication he envisioned.

“I came away inspired to create an exciting online magazine that would not be limited by the traditional print publishing model of City, County or Region,” Byfield says. “I envisioned a new type of publication about Florida…connecting people in the arts and culture, travel and leisure, farm and ranch, and nature/wildlife arenas, along with commerce and conservation. We’re calling it Art and Gator. And our goal is to position Florida as the premier arts and outdoor-lifestyle destination for discerning travelers and residents alike.”

Even while still at the launch ceremony, Byfield was already discussing with officials the ways in which his new publication could help Culture Builds Florida meet its objectives.

“Culture Builds Florida was speaking to the exact same audience that we’re aiming for,” Byfield says, “an upscale, influential audience very much involved in both the arts and nature. An audience that realizes there’s so much more to our state than just the great theme parks…and that vibrant cultural and natural amenities play a vital role in our state’s economic growth.”

The arts are big business for Florida. Our state’s diverse cultural offerings attract travelers by the millions to art shows, festivals, special events, and certain types of businesses – energizing the Florida economy for all of us.

Toward that end, Art & Gator (www.artandgator.com) is already a VISIT FLORIDA small-business partner, sharing content and looking into creative ways of enticing travelers to spend a few extra days here.

“More than 65 percent of Florida’s visitors participate in either cultural or nature-based activities while they’re in the Sunshine State,” says Chris Thompson, President and CEO of Visit Florida. “This fact establishes Art & Gator as a key travel planning resource to our visitors. By raising the awareness of these vital market segments, Art & Gator and our partners will serve as a catalyst for economic growth and environmental sustainability.”

Art & Gator is an upscale lifestyle publication, geared toward those who appreciate our state’s cultural institutions and artists, its natural wonders, and the movers and shakers who propel its cultural, sustainable and economic engines.

Initially conceived during the launch of the Culture Builds Florida campaign, the online publication Art & Gator will promote Florida’s diverse cultural offerings to travelers and residents alike. Image used by permission of Art & Gator.

“Our big theme parks are great,” Byfield says, “and they bring people here from all over the world. But we’d like to show discerning travelers and residents that there’s a lot more to our state, as well. And to show them the part that interesting Floridians are playing in enhancing our state’s economic, social, and artistic climates.”

Toward that end, Byfield has assembled a talented core of writers, as well as experienced salespeople who will sell both ad space and special memberships.

Art & Gator is offering a wonderful opportunity for Florida’s cultural organizations to get their messages out…many of which are now overlooked by travelers from outside the state (and sometimes, from inside the state). The site will serve as a dynamic platform to market these organizations. And there are a variety of options to help these organizations publicize themselves to a niche group of travelers…who are looking for exactly what they’re offering.

“We want to be an effective resource for Florida cultural institutions,” Byfield says, “a genuine go-to source for Florida’s authentic cultural and natural travel experiences. And we want to bring them more business from both residents and travelers.”

Byfield has a distinguished background in publishing and tourism marketing, and brings a diverse and integrated approach to the direction of Art & Gator online magazine.

“I understand the challenges facing business and government right now, when it comes to contributing to the arts,” George Byfield says. “My own father refused to support my decision to study art. Where other trades are recognized and valued as “industry,” culture is often viewed as a hobby or a part-time vocation. It’s not necessarily driven by a bottom line, but by passionate people with a vision.

“However,” Byfield continues, “corporations have expanded, people have bought second homes, and families have changed lifestyles because of inspired journeys to cultural or natural destinations. Culture does more than just build Florida – it can sustain Florida’s Quality of Life for generations to come.”

The Division of Cultural Affairs is excited to partner with Art & Gator, which originated with the Culture Builds Florida launch and reinforces our campaign to develop awareness for Florida’s cultural community and the contributions arts and culture make to business and quality of life in our state. We encourage you to check out the publication, inform them about cultural events in your area, follow them on Twitter, and watch for an upcoming interview with Division Director Sandy Shaughnessy about Culture Builds Florida at artandgator.com.

Spotlight on an Arts and Humanities Halloween

By Tim Storhoff

As National Arts and Humanities Month comes to a close over the next week, we strongly encourage you to take some time out to appreciate the arts in your community. While you’re at it, you might as well enjoy some spooky Halloween fun! Today we are spotlighting a handful of events hosted by some Florida Division of Cultural Affairs grantees that will allow you to get into the Halloween spirit.

Superheroes enjoying the music instrument zoo at the 2011 Symphonic Spooktacular. Photo courtesy/used by permission of Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.

If you’re in the Jacksonville area, the Jacksonville Symphony is having its Symphonic Spooktacular on Sunday, October 28. Pre-concert events including games and an instrument zoo start at 2:00 p.m., and the concert begins at 3:00. Kids are encouraged to wear their costumes for what should be a frighteningly fun musical afternoon. Paul Witkowski of the Symphony described the event saying, “Kids and families really love going to the Symphony for this annual event. It’s nearly a full house every year, celebrating Halloween, celebrating their creativity (with the creativity of their parents, of course) and kicking off the EverBank Family series.”

Under the direction of conductor Scott Gregg, the concert will include music from Harry PotterWilliam Tell Overture, Funeral March of a Marionette,andcomposer Gregory Smith’s A Major-minor Mystery. Dancers from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts will be featured in “Duel of the Fates” from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Make sure to bring the kids in their favorite costumes to join the ghouls and goblins of the orchestra and arrive early for the pre-concert activities. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.jaxsymphony.org.

Learning more about the orchestra at the 2011 Symphonic Spooktacular. Photo courtesy/used by permission of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.

Theatre fans in the Tampa area looking for a Devilishly good time should check out The Screwtape Letters presented by the Fellowship for the Performing Arts at the Straz Center on Saturday, October 27 and Sunday, October 28. This touring theatrical adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel has been widely praised, and its demon-rich plot will fit well into a Halloween weekend. Wilborn Hampton of The New York Times called the performance “a humorous and lively stage adaptation…the Devil has rarely been given his due more perceptively and eruditely…clever and satirical.” Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal said it was “One Hell of a good show!”

The play is set in an eerily stylish office in hell and follows the clever scheming of Satan’s chief psychiatrist, Screwtape, as he entices a human ‘patient’ toward damnation. The Screwtape Letters is still one of Lewis’s most popular and enduring works along with The Chronicles of Narnia, and it includes many of the theological themes and insights into human nature that his writing was known for. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to http://www.screwtapeonstage.com or http://www.strazcenter.org.

Max McLean stars as “Screwtape” in THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS. Tickets range from $29 – $89. Student tickets are available for $25 each; limit two per customer, at the Box Office. Valid ID must be presented. All ticket prices are subject to facility fees. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit http://www.ScrewtapeonStage.com. Photo courtesy/used by permission of the Fellowship for the Performing Arts.

Another fun Halloween-appropriate spectacle will be the Rocky Horror Show at the Delray Center for the Arts. If you have never experienced Rocky Horror live, it is more than a musical. It is an experience that you will not forget. This performance is presented by Entr’ Acte Theatrix, and they will have audience participation ‘survival kits’ available for purchase to those who want them. This show is an outrageous assemblage of the most stereotypical science fiction movies, Marvel comics, Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello outings, rock ‘n’ roll of every vintage, and not for kids. The play (upon which the classic film The Rocky Horror Picture Show is based) has grown from an experimental production originally produced in a small London theatre in June 1973, to a cult phenomenon with fans world-wide.

Rocky Horror will be in the Crest Theatre at the Delray Center for the Arts from October 25 to November 4. So if you’re in the area, you should have a fun Arts and Humanities Halloween with Dr. Frank N. Furter doing the Time Warp again. Purchase tickets at http://delraycenterforthearts.org.

You should also check out the museums, galleries, and zoos in your area for some fun Halloween activities. Here are a few of those events organized by Division grantees:

  • Boo at the Zoo at the Brevard Zoo, Friday-Sunday, October 26-28 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The Boo at the Zoo features a variety of activities for the whole family to enjoy including live stage acts, a special play area, a costume contest, Boo Choo train rides, a witch’s lair, a haunted trail, and trick-or-treating.
  • Halloween Nights at the Museum at the South Florida Science Museum, Friday October 26 from 6 to 10 p.m. This fun and educational event includes a costume contest, trick or treating, pumpkin decorating (and smashing!), and even cow eyeball dissection. For more information contact events@sfsm.org.
  • The Tallahassee Museum’s Halloween Howl, Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Come out for a howling good time, which includes a haunted trail (and a not-so-spooky trail for younger kids), the haunted farm, carnival games, a costume contest, and live music.

These are only a few of the events going on over the next week, but whatever you do we hope that you will take out some time to appreciate the arts in your community during this last week of National Arts and Humanities Month. We also want to wish everyone a safe and fun Halloween!

How will you have an Arts and Humanities Halloween? Suggest additional events and opportunities in the comments below or as comments for this post on our Facebook page.

Spotlight on the Florida Artists Hall of Fame nominees, Part III

By Tim Storhoff and Ken Crawford

Today we are finishing our look at the nominees for the 2013 Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Earlier this week we looked at the 2013 musical nominees and visual arts nominees. Established by the Florida Legislature in 1986, the Florida Artists Hall of Fame recognizes persons, living or deceased, who have made significant contributions to the arts in Florida either as performing or practicing artists in their disciplines. These individuals contribute to Florida’s national or international reputation as a state with a sustained commitment to the development of cultural excellence. The Florida Artists Hall of Fame currently consists of over 30 inductees, including musician and performer Ray Charles, actor and director Burt Reynolds, writers Zora Neale Hurston, Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway, filmmaker Victor Nunez, and visual artists Duane Hanson, Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist. Read more about the program, nominating process, and view the full list of inductees at the Division of Cultural Affairs Florida Artists Hall of Fame page.

Here are the final six nominees for this year:

Gloria Jahoda: Writer – Tallahassee (1927-1980)
The author of novels and non-fiction works set in the early 20th Century in North Florida, including The River of The Golden Ibis, The Road to Samarkand, and Florida: A Bicentennial History,  was, according to her nominator Robert Holladay,“…a gifted writer, reporter and trained anthropologist with the soul of a poet.” She was often referred to as the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas of North Florida, since her work sought to celebrate and protect the wildlife and natural environment of this region. Her stories of the people of the Big Bend capture a moment in the natural history of the Gulf Coast.  Senator Bob Graham heralded her work in a state proclamation. When she died, the Florida Muscogee Creek Nation scattered her ashes in a ceremony normally reserved for Native Americans. Ms. Jahoda’s complete collection of writings, letters and research are contained in a collection at the Strozier Library at Florida State University. Her most well-known book, The Other Florida, pre-dates works that were published later by other writers, calling for environmental conservation and expressing a close connection to the land and waters of Florida.

Alexander Key: Writer/Illustrator – Apalachicola (1904-1979)
A nationally-known book and magazine illustrator, Alexander Key’s books set in North Florida celebrate the sensibilities of small towns along the Suwannee River and the Gulf Coast, particularly Apalachicola. He sold stories to the Saturday Evening Post and Colliers before beginning to write books. Mr. Key was inspired by local Apalachicola landmarks; weaving tales of local lore into books such as Island Light, The Wrath and the Wind, Suwannee River: Strange Green Land, and other novels. These were well-known by readers interested in stories written in a mythic style with a sense of folk history and inquiry into the natural world. He also wrote young adult science fiction and children’s books after he married and had children, including The Forgotten Door, and his popular Escape to Witch Mountain, which was made into a Walt Disney film in 1975, 1995, and again in 2009.

Adelia Malouf Samaha: Mixed Media – St. Petersburg (1929- )
A painter, multi-media expressionist and fabric artist, Adelia Malouf Samaha’s distinctive floral art in a variety of media have become widely known, as have her portraits in oil of prominent cultural figures in the state, including former Governor Charlie Crist. Her choice of media for floral compositions and special commissions has also included pastels, watercolors, pottery, silk screening and stained glass. She is a major supporter of the St. Petersburg Museum of Arts, teaches volunteer art classes in the Pinellas County Schools, and gives art instruction to disadvantaged young students at neighborhood centers throughout the county. Ms. Samaha is celebrated for her support of numerous charities. She donates work to many organizations and local causes. She and her husband have restored two historic buildings, one of which is listed on the St. Petersburg Historic Buildings List.

O.L. Samuels with Dana (carved wood, 2007)

O. L. Samuels:
Folk Artist/Sculptor – Tallahassee (1931- )
The Reverend O.L. Samuels is a well-known folk artist, largely untrained and unlettered, who began his life as a laborer, became a middle-weight boxer, and then pastor of two churches, before following his dream to become an artist while continuing to preach. His work: unusual wood carvings with a highly colorful ornamental and emotional content, has been much appreciated since he began creating those sculptural pieces in 1983. Rev. Samuels’ art is now widely collected in folk art museums, galleries and in many private international collections. These include the Smithsonian’s African-American Art Museum, the Harriet Tubman Museum, and the White House Collection. His life and work have also been documented in dissertations, films, and published works on the subject of American Folk Art. You can find his website at www.olsamuelsfolkart.com.

Mario Sanchez: Folk Artist/Sculptor – Key West (1908-2005)
Florida Folk Heritage 1991 Award Winner Mario Sanchez was a self-taught folk artist who documented his community’s cultural history in street scenes of the Key West and Ybor City Cuban populace which he witnessed for 96 years and characterized in imaginative painted carvings, paintings and drawings. One of his works was chosen by the Department of State as the image to celebrate Florida’s sesquicentennial in 1995. Mr. Sanchez is the subject of books, documentary films, television programs, and many research articles. His work is exhibited in many important collections. In his 75-year career, Mr. Sanchez produced over 600 works. In 2002, the American Museum of Folk Art recognized him as “the greatest living Cuban-American folk artist.” He was a man of the people and the neighborhood. He could always be found outdoors in his garden “studio,” greeting those who passed by as he worked, and sharing memories of early times as he placed these same images into his art. You can view some of his works and read more about him at the Key West Art and Historical Society page.

Buell Lee Whitehead: Printmaker/Lithographer – Fort Myers (1919-1994)
The artist Buell Lee Whitehead grew up in rural Fort Myers when that area was still the backwoods in the 1920s and 1930s. Cutting firewood for the money to go to college, he entered the University of Florida in 1938, and, following war service, graduated with one of the first Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. His early work attracted so much attention that the University commissioned him to do the official portrait of the dean of the school. As an inspired painter, printmaker, lithographer and engraver, he lived most of his live in Southwest Florida; choosing the subjects of his stylized works from familiar surroundings. His art chronicles early 20th Century landscapes and community lifestyles from the perspective of the beginning citrus, sugar, timber and fishing industries of that area. Later, he was the first Florida artist who travelled the U.S. selling original lithographs from a press mounted on a flatbed truck that traveled with him. Whitehead was one of the nation’s earliest well-known printmakers. You can read more about Whitehead in Ronald Newsom’s book Buell Lee Whitehead: A True Southern Treasure or at www.buellwhitehead.com.

The 2013 inductees to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame will be announced later this year, and they will be inducted on March 20, 2013 during the Florida Heritage Awards in Tallahassee. We encourage you to visit the Florida Artists Hall of Fame wall on the plaza level in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol Building.