Sarah Crooks Flaire Decorates Florida’s Holiday Tree

Jacksonville artist Sarah Crooks Flaire of evervess art studio was recently selected to make ornaments for the National Parks Service to display as part of my faceAmerica Celebrates: Ornaments from Across the USA. The display at President’s Park at the White House features holiday trees decorated with ornaments designed by local artists from each U.S. State and territory as well as the District of Columbia. The ornaments reflect National Parks Service parks and programs, and the artist has taken her inspiration from the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve at the mouth of the St. Johns River.

We asked her a few questions about the project, and she was kind enough to answer them!

Why were you chosen to make the ornaments for the Florida holiday tree at the Pathway of Peace for the National Parks Service?

I am an environmental artist passision flowerand a certified Florida Master Naturalist, so
creating ornaments to celebrate the National Parks must have seemed like a natural fit. I make images and experiences that connect us to the natural world, while appealing to all ages, I express a deep sense of spiritual ecology
.

Can you please describe your process in physically making the
ornaments? How did you choose what materials to use?

The ornaments celebrate the flora and fauna of the estuary of the Timucuan Preserve and highlight the importance of oysters. I use recycled cd’s to represent a waterline and miniature worlds above and below that surface. Continue reading

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”.

IMG_0004

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

Spotlight On: A 300th Birthday with the C. P. E. Bach Festival

C. P. E. Bach is having a 300th birthday party in Tallahassee! The “C. P. E Bach at 300” festival features three days of concerts and lectures that celebrate the life, music, and influence of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s fifth child, born 300 years ago in 1714. The festival is presented through a partnership with the FSU College of Music, Musicology area and Early Music Ensembles, with the Tallahassee Bach Parley, and will take place from Friday, November 21 until Sunday, November 23.

Members of the Tallahassee Bach Parley

Members of the Tallahassee Bach Parley. Photo submitted by Erica Thaler.

“This three-day festival is an exciting partnership between the FSU College of Music and the Tallahassee Bach Parley,” says Bach Parley music director Valerie Arsenault. “FSU music faculty and students, guest artists from out-of-town, and Tallahassee community musicians will join forces to present the music and world of C. P. E. Bach.” The Tallahassee community is home to a thriving community of Baroque players and enthusiasts, and this festival offers three days of unique musical opportunities for patrons to enjoy.

Most of the performances will be on period instruments, including fortepiano (an early incarnation of the modern piano), clavichord (a delicate, intimate, soft-sounding keyboard instrument), along with harpsichord, organ, modern and baroque flutes, period stringed instruments, and guest artist Josh Lee on viola da gamba. Special guest Mark Knoll, a founder of the Tallahassee Bach Parley and FSU College of Music alumnus, will be returning to give the keynote lecture and musical commentary for the concerts. By using period instruments, the musicians will recreate the music using the same tools as when it was first written. History and music will come to life with commentary about the pieces and lectures to provide insight into the works and world of C. P. E. Bach.

One of the trademarks of the Tallahassee Bach Parley is to provide commentary before the pieces, to give audience members historical background about the composer or the piece, and to give listeners ideas about what to listen for in the music. In fact, the word “Parley” means discussion, so providing an opportunity to talk about the works is part of what makes the Bach Parley unique. Similarly, the entire festival combines guest lectures in addition to performances, so audience members can learn more about the world in which C. P. E. Bach lived and composed his music, bringing the past to life.

The festival will begin on Friday evening with an intimate clavichord performance by Charles Brewer at FSU in the Kuersteiner Music Building lounge (limited seating), followed by a lecture “C. P. E. Bach at 300, An Overview: Life, Family, Works, Reception” in Lindsay Recital Hall by visiting scholar Mark Knoll, founder of Steglein Publishing and an editor of the new C. P. E. Bach edition through the Packard Humanities Institute.

On Saturday, Dr. Knoll will give a pre-concert lecture followed by a concert of chamber, vocal, and solo keyboard music, including fortepiano, organ, and harpsichord in Opperman Music Hall, FSU. This concert will feature FSU College of Music faculty members Sarah Eyerly (soprano), Joel Hastings (fortepiano), Eva Amsler (modern and baroque flute), Iain Quinn (organ and harpsichord), along with FSU student performers.

In the final concert on Sunday, the Tallahassee Bach Parley will join forces with members of the FSU Baroque Ensemble for orchestral and chamber music. Kim Jones will be featured in C. P. E. Bach’s Concerto in A major for cello, and the large ensemble will also play the Berlin Symphony in G major. For the chamber music portion, guest artist Josh Lee will perform a viola da gamba sonata, and Eva Amsler, Melissa Brewer, Iain Quinn, and Valerie Arsenault will play duos, trios, and a quartet.

For additional information about the festival or the Tallahassee Bach Parley, visit www.tallahasseebachparley.org or e-mail musicdirector@tallahasseebachparley.org. The FSU College of Music publicity office can be reached at music-publicity@admin.fsu.edu.

Poetry as a Means to Understand and Cope with the Social Difficulties of Having Autism

by Jacob Richard Cumiskey

My name is Jacob, and I am a twenty-one year old undergraduate at Warren Wilson College studying poetry. I have a disability known as Asperger syndrome: an Autism Spectrum Disorder that manifests itself through extreme discomfort in most social situations and difficulties in non-verbal communication. The phrase “non-verbal” can be a bit misleading here, because while I personally have a very difficult time reading body language from my friends or hand signals from my parents, I have a very comfortable time communicating to the world through my writing. I have been writing poetry for around nine years, and I believe there may be reasons linked to my disability as to why poetry comes more naturally to me than socializing, and the truth behind these reasons might not just be important for the autistic community to understand, but for the state of Florida to know as well.

Autism has become a hot word in our state recently, but there seems to be some pretty dangerous patterns regarding people’s initial take on what having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (an ASD) means. There is this tendency to either reduce individuals with an ASD to people with basic social anxiety or demonize them to the point of labeling their behavior as intentional social deviance. Doctors and scholars naturally have a much more empirical view on ASD—having linked differences in social behavior with differences in brain structure— but in my opinion, the ways in which the general public is learning about autism these days is extremely silly. The behaviors of a shark need to be researched from afar because we cannot ask the shark why it does the things it does, but some people with autism can be asked what their life is like and explain directly (or indirectly) what autism means to them.

The arts are an easy example of how this can be accomplished.

First and most important, eye-to-eye discussion is not always necessary with art, and so just about any artistic medium can act as an outlet for people with an ASD to discuss things they wouldn’t normally be comfortable talking about. Writing, for example, creates a safe environment where it is just the person and some paper. A blank page (or canvas, or journal) is the perfect listener and has zero social expectations for the artist, and this makes all the difference in terms of comfort. As someone with autism myself, one of the main reasons why I chose to write poetry over other forms of artistic expression is because it gives me the chance to speak without having to be spoken to or observed. I feel safe when writing because essentially nothing is expected of my behavior when I am alone with the page, unlike just about every other moment of my life. Poetry provides an opportunity for me to feel easy about my own thoughts, and so instead of forcing kids and adults with an ASD to participate in uncomfortable social experiences in order to help them “grow,” doesn’t it make more sense to allow the autistic community a means to indirectly communicate with neurotypicals through the arts? Wouldn’t art be an effective way to help people with autism grow comfortable with their own voice?

The arts can be no replacement for day-to-day communication, I know this, but art also creates the chance for normally unacceptable forms of communication to be celebrated and allows for an individual’s confidence to build. Through poetry, I may not have immediately begun socializing with other people, but I slowly learned to feel confident and safe with my own thoughts, and this confidence is the key to prosperous social interaction. In time, I hope our state will begin notice this valuable correlation between autism and the arts even more. So many people with an ASD are relentlessly treated like social pariahs by their peers; at the very least, it is essential for people on the autism spectrum to have a place where thoughts can be explored safely. Poetry is this for me, and I hope it might already be this for a few other people with an ASD as well.

As a personal example of the concepts I have been talking about, recently a good friend of mine asked me how I feel being in a long-distance relationship. Because of my autism, this was naturally a hard question for me to answer in the moment, and so I began working on a response to this through poetry. Writing this was not only more comfortable for me personally, but I feel as if it became a more effective form of communication than me just speaking on the subject immediately. What do you guys think?

I had to write some stuff to myself before I could answer her question.

I had to write some stuff to myself before I could answer her question.

My response.

My response.

Jacob Cumiskey recently spoke at the Florida Alliance for Arts Education 2014 summit in a session entitled “Access through the Arts: One Student’s Journey to the Neurotypical World in the Public School Setting.”

Spotlight On: Professional Development for Artists at Convening Culture 2014

by Tim Storhoff

Convening Culture 2014 will take place January 28-29 at the Vero Beach Museum of Art.

Convening Culture 2014 will take place January 28-29 at the Vero Beach Museum of Art.

On January 29 during the statewide cultural conference, “Convening Culture 2014: Connecting the Arts with Environmental Conservation,” there will be multiple opportunities for Florida artists to present their work, meet other artists and patrons, and gain important career skills. One conference highlight for artists will be the two professional development sessions presented by the Creative Capital Foundation.

Creative Capital is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing integrated financial and advisory support to artists pursuing adventurous projects in multiple disciplines. Through their Professional Development Program, which has been developed by artists for artists, Creative Capital has provided career, community and confidence building tools to help all artists become successful in their fields. In its first ten years, this program has reached more than 5,500 artists in 150 communities. The Florida Division of Cultural Affairs has been partnering with Creative Capital to present professional development workshops in Florida since 2007.

Creative Cap pd-program-logo

The Creative Capital sessions at Convening Culture 2014 will be:

  • Social Media: How to be Everywhere, All the Time
    Includes strategies and practical tips on how to most effectively use social media to communicate about your work and ideas; expand your audience, peer and professional network; and create a deeper connection with the general public.
  • Advocacy & Support Systems
    Provides perspectives on the important role artists can play in advocating for themselves, each other, and the field while explaining ways to develop support systems with other artists and strengthen connections between artists and non-arts partners.

The Creative Capital sessions will be presented by Eve Mosher, an artist and interventionist living and working in New York City. Her works raise issues of involvement in the environment, public/private space use, history of place, cultural and social issues and our own understanding of the urban ecosystem. In addition to being a consultant/leader for Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program, Eve is an Assistant Professor at Parsons the New School for Design. Her public and community-based artworks have received grants from New York State Council on the Arts and New York Department of Cultural Affairs, both through the Brooklyn Arts Council and The City Parks Foundation.

For a taste of the information presented by the Professional Development Program, visit Creative Capital’s The Lab blog. Spaces at Convening Culture are limited, so view the full schedule and register now at florida-arts.org/conveningculture.

The original version of this article appeared in the November 2012 Cultural Connection, the newsletter of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. We encourage you to sign up for our mailing list to receive future updates.

Spotlight On: The Dunedin Celtic Festival and the Scottish Town of Dunedin, FL

by Katherine Laursen

There is nothing like a well-played set of bagpipes.  I know this might come as a shock to some people, but given the right environment (preferably outside) and generous amount of skill and musicianship, bagpipes can be quite beautiful. While Florida has many towns each with their own history and cultural heritage, Dunedin’s Scottish traditions are unparalleled in the Sunshine State with multiple events, clubs, and school ensembles dedicated to the culture of the Scottish Isles. Scottish families originally settled the City of Dunedin in 1899, and it was named by two Scotsmen, J.O. Douglas and James Sumerville, for their hometown in Scotland. So if you enjoy the sweet sounds of bagpipes, Dunedin is a great place to visit.

If you’re still not convinced, the 15th Annual Dunedin Celtic Festival this Saturday, November 23rd will be a great way to ease yourself into Scottish culture with Celtic rock bands, craft beer, amazing food and the gathering of the clans.  Located at Dunedin Highlander Park, this outdoor venue is also home to the Dunedin Community Center complex.

The 2013 Dunedin Celtic Festival will be held Saturday, November 23.

The 2013 Dunedin Celtic Festival will be held Saturday, November 23.

The gates open at 11am and the first band takes the stage at 12:30pm.  This year’s main stage will be in the area behind the Dunedin Community Center complex and will feature regional, national, and international Celtic music artists including Seven Nations, The Kildares, Celtica, Juniper and the Fighting Jamesons, along with the City of Dunedin Pipe Band. The lake stage will feature acoustic acts along with the Dunedin High School and Dunedin Highland Middle School bands and Highland dancers.  Check out the schedule, but make sure to arrive early for the best seats!

This year, the Dunedin Celtic Festival is host to six specialty breweries: Dunedin Brewery, 7venth Sun Brewery, Barley Mow Brewing Company, Cigar City Brewing, Sea Dog Brewing Company and Narragansett Brewing Company.  You will find them around the outer edges of the main stage along with all of the wonderful food vendors, Holy Cow, Camerons British Foods, Flanagan’s Irish Pub, Jack’s Wood Fired Pizza, Grandma Toni’s Ice Cream, Mookie’s Kettle Corn, Serendipity, Dunedin High School and Dunedin Highland Middle School.

This event goes on rain or shine and all of the proceeds from the festival go directly to the three Scottish programs of Dunedin: Dunedin Highland Middle School Band under the direction of David Mason, Dunedin High School Band under the direction of Ian Black and the City of Dunedin Pipe Band under the direction of Iain Donaldson.

Buying your tickets in advance will only cost you $12 but go up to $15 at the gate.  All children under the age of 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult, and there are several parking options. It will be completely outside so plan accordingly with hats and sunscreen or find a shady spot under the many trees in the park. Feel free to bring a chair or blanket to sit on, but all tents, umbrellas, coolers, food and pets should be left at home.

If that isn’t enough Scottish culture for you, Dunedin has plenty more to offer. Make sure to mark your calendars for the 48th Annual Dunedin Highland Games on April 5th, 2014 and the Military Tattoo April 12th, 2014! Any trip to Dunedin can include a taste of Scottish culture and the sound of bagpipes. According to the Dunedin Highland Games, “Bagpipes are woven into the fabric of Dunedin, as intimately as the wool in the tartan worn by the pipers themselves. Citizens (whether children, teens, adults, or seniors) all love to listen to pipe music. A function in Dunedin is not complete without a Piper!”

Spotlight On: Youth Orchestras and the Annual FSYO Concerto Competition

FSYO Concerto comp

by Tim Storhoff

On Sunday November 10, the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra will hold a recital showcasing the 2013-2014 Annual Concerto Competition Finalists. A highlight of the FSYO Concert Season, the Concerto Competition encourages students to step out of their roles within the orchestra, and into a soloist’s seat. The FSYO, which aims to educate and inspire Florida’s top young musicians through programs committed to strengthening musical talents and developing appreciation of the arts through classical music, comprises three full orchestras and one string training orchestra made up of 237 students from around Central Florida. 

In mid-October over 30 FSYO members came from all over the region to audition. Out of these, nine very talented performers were chosen as finalists. These nine talented young musicians will compete to win the honor of performing their concerto in a regular season concert accompanied by the FSYO’s Symphonic Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Andrew Lane.

Youth orchestras have played an important role in music education and fostering music appreciation in the United States throughout the twentieth century. The Portland Youth Philharmonic, which started in 1924, was the first independent youth orchestra established in the country. In the post-war years, young people’s concerts and youth orchestras gained prominence as a way of preserving and promoting the art of classical music when rock and roll emerged to dominate youth culture. The Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra was founded during this time when in 1957, Alphonse Carlo, concertmaster emeritus of the Florida Symphony Orchestra, recognized a need for a youth orchestra in Central Florida in which young musicians could develop their talents.

The League of American Orchestras currently counts nearly 500 youth orchestras in the country, which involve more than 50,000 young musicians in the joy of music making and all the benefits that come with it. New orchestras are created each year to help meet the growing demand for music education and positive activities for young people. These orchestras encourage young people to develop their talents and to experience teamwork, self-discipline, and individual expression while refining musical skills they can use throughout their lives.

Heidi Evans Waldron, the Executive Director of the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra explains the benefit of participating in their concerto competition: “Each student is encouraged to demonstrate leadership by participating in the annual FSYO concerto competition. The ability to memorize music and play a leadership role within an orchestra prepares our students to easily transition into professional musicians. I enjoy watching these young musicians grow within the audition process and rise to the occasion on concert day.” Winners from previous seasons of the concerto competition have gone on to study at Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, The Boston Conservatory, and many other prestigious institutions in Florida and around the country. Between scientific studies and success stories, there is plenty of evidence for the positive impact that studying music can have on young people and all of their future pursuits, whether or not they choose a career path in music.

In addition to the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs is a proud sponsor of some of our state’s other great independent youth orchestras, including the Tallahassee Youth Orchestra, the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, American Children’s Orchestras for Peace, and the All Florida Youth Orchestra along with a number of youth choirs and bands. While most youth orchestras operate at the local level, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States had their inaugural season in 2013, and they are currently inviting young musicians (ages 16-19) to audition for the 2014 season.

Florida’s artistic and cultural heritage has greatly benefited from youth orchestras like the FSYO, which provide valuable life skills to the participating musicians and attract families to their surrounding communities. The FSYO Concerto Competition recital will feature works by Franz Joseph Haydn, Edward Elgar and Camille Saint-Saëns to name a few. The recital begins at 6:30 pm, Sunday, November 10, 2013, at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, 4917 Eli St., Orlando, FL 32804. For more information, visit fsyo.org.