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

Spotlight On: A Flamenco Tribute to Viva Florida 500

by Tim Storhoff

As part of the Viva Florida 500 celebrations, native Floridian Clarita Filgueiras has produced a short film entitled “Honoring the Past: a Flamenca’s Journey.”

This 17 minute film presents two Flamenco dances choreographed and performed by award-winning choreographer/dancer, Clarita Filgueiras accompanied by singer Vicente Griego and guitarist Rodrigo Valdez. Clarita descends from a long line of Flamenco artists. Born in Florida, Clarita began her studies in Spanish dance at the age of eight with Jose Molina and Luisita Sevilla. In the late 1980s, Clarita lived in Madrid with her family and studied traditional Spanish dance styles including flamenco with some of Spain’s best artists. Clarita has been a member of the Division of Cultural Affairs State Touring Roster and was a recipient of a 2012 Folk Heritage Award from the Florida Folklife Program

The short film goes through the process that created the choreography and performance commemorating Ponce de León’s arrival in Florida through the eyes of Clarita Filgueiras. In many ways, flamenco is a great representation of Viva Florida 500. This year through events all across the state, Viva Florida has highlighted the 500 years of historic people, places and events in present-day Florida since Juan Ponce de León named this land La Florida. While Spain’s claim in 1513 marked the beginning of a new era, Florida’s Native American heritage dates back more than 12,000 years, and Florida’s cultural affluence results from the diversity and interaction of cultures in our state.

Like Florida’s rich culture, flamenco is also the result of cultural interactions in a country’s southernmost region. While the music and dance tradition has transformed dramatically throughout history, flamenco originated as a vocal tradition that arrived in Andalusia, the southernmost region of Spain where Europe is closest to North Africa, in the fifteenth century. It was brought by the gitano people who were believed to have originated somewhere on the Indian subcontinent before traveling for centuries through parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. When they arrived in Andalusia in the early 1400s, they found a truly cosmopolitan place where people from diverse cultural backgrounds and religions coexisted fairly peacefully. The music the gitanos brought with them already reflected the diverse regions they traveled through. Over time, the music gained more acceptance and popularity in Spain when gitanos performed in cafes where intellectuals gathered. In the nineteenth century, Spanish guitar became a primary feature of the music and dancers became the focal point of staged performances. Flamenco continues to be one of Spain’s defining traditions, and it came to Florida through interaction with Spain. Today, performers like Clarita Filgueiras and her dance company Flamenco Puro continue to further the flamenco tradition in our great state.

For more information about flamenco, the video, or to hire Flamenco Puro, contact Clarita Filgueiras or visit To learn more about Viva Florida 500 events, visit

Spotlight On: Arts in Education and Starry Night Studio

by Tim Storhoff

Last week was National Arts in Education Week, which was established in 2010 by the House of Representatives with a resolution stating:

Arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.

To coincide with National Arts in Education Week and the beginning of a new school year, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs installed a new art exhibition in the lobby of the R.A. Gray Building in Tallahassee entitled “Growing Tall Through Arts Education: Budding Young Local Artists.” This exhibition features a series of Sunflower Paintings created by students from Starry Night Studio in Tallahassee, owned by art instructor Kathleen R. Carter.

"Growing Tall Through Arts Education" an exhibition from the Division of Cultural Affairs currently showing in the RA Gray Building in Tallahassee

“Growing Tall Through Arts Education” an exhibition currently showing in the RA Gray Building in Tallahassee.

Starry Night Studio offers individual and group art classes for children and adults. For this group exhibition, some of Kathleen’s younger students produced individual sunflower paintings with acrylic paint, using a limited palette and similar size canvases to unite the installation. The long narrow canvas size was purposefully chosen to suggest the feeling of a field of tall sunflowers. Students studied pictures and paintings of different sunflowers, then individually painted their own interpretation creating the varied depictions seen in the exhibition.

The majority of the classes at Starry Night focus on painting in acrylic, but other media is also taught through classes and individualized instruction. In order to focus on the development of each student, the class sizes are limited to five students at a time. Students learn classic academic methods of art including color theory, composition, brushwork, and more.

photo 1

Kathleen Carter working with a student on his painting at Starry Night Studio. Photo submitted and used with permission of Morgan Lewis.

“Art education is important, ultimately, because it provides unlimited opportunities for teachers to promote a student’s use of higher order thinking skills. In the arts disciplines, students are challenged and encouraged to take risks, be self-reliant, then find their own solution to a problem. Allowing students to explore many solutions to one problem promotes the ability to think creatively,” Kathleen said. “The arts are not only essential in the classroom, but to our society as a whole. I remind students and future teachers to think about Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein if they should question the importance of promoting creativity through art education in the classroom.”

tatum sunflower

A student working on her Sunflower Painting at the Starry Night Studio last month. Photo submitted and used with permission of Kathleen Carter.

Kathleen started studying with a professional artist from age 12 to 18 in Dothan, Alabama then majored in Art with a concentration in painting at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. She attended Florida State University where she received a Master’s in Art Education and continues her education through workshops at the Ringling School of Art and Design and studying with other professional artists. Kathleen has taught private lessons all of her adult life but officially opened Starry Night Studio four years ago. She has taught all ages, from Pre-K through college and currently works as an adjunct instructor in the elementary education program for Flagler College in Tallahassee. Kathleen works in oil on her own projects and commissions. In her work she experiments with all styles of art, from realistic to abstract.

“As an artist and art teacher, I think it is extremely important to use art as connection, connecting people to their own ideas and to each other. Besides teaching at my studio I enjoy large collaborative projects with various populations in the community. I am actively involved in volunteer projects working with different organizations. These include Boystown, Traumatic Brain Injury Association of Florida, The Tallahassee Senior Center, The National Guard, Be The Solution, Inc., local elementary schools and businesses,” she said.

“I think it is extremely important to make art accessible to all. So my mission is always to promote art and other artists in any way I can. I have shown my Starry Night students’ work at Signature Gallery, Narcissus, Purple Martin Nurseries, Connie’s Hams,That’s Mine Monogramming,  Anthony’s Bar and Grill, Maclay School Pre-K, The Chameleon Tween Boutique, Lofty Pursuits and we will have an exhibit at Sage Restaurant in December.”

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Students comparing and adding finishing touches to their sunflower paintings. Photo submitted and used with permission of Kathleen Carter.

A student working on a painting at the Starry Night Studio. Photo submitted and used with permission of Kathleen Carter.

A student working on a painting at the Starry Night Studio. Photo submitted and used with permission of Kathleen Carter.

Kathleen chose sunflowers as the theme for this exhibition because of the associations they have with the artist Vincent Van Gogh and the feelings of happiness the bright flowers can evoke. Just recently, Tallahassee has adopted the sunflower for inclusion with the “Talla-Happy” marketing campaign. Sunflowers also reflect the importance of arts education. As young students, the exposure to artistic disciplines like dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts plants a seed of creativity that can positively impact all future pursuits. And in addition to helping them in other subjects, the arts also make them more curious, engaged, and well-rounded citizens. As the economy moves forward, creativity through training in the arts will be a key element to Florida’s future success.

While National Art in Education Week may be over, artists and teachers like Kathleen understand that teaching the arts is a year-round passion. The Division of Cultural Affairs supports the view that the arts build cultural understanding, mutual respect, and strong communities, and supports arts and culture as an integral part of education and lifelong learning for all Floridians.

Learn more about arts education at the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Arts in Education page. You can find Starry Night Studio on Facebook or contact Kathleen Carter at “Growing Tall Through Arts Education: Budding Young Local Artists” will be on display in the R.A. Gray Building through the end of September.

Spotlight On: The Future of Arts and Culture Districts in Florida

by Bob Evans

I might dispute the claim that a river is the only feature missing from Tallahassee, but I won’t dispute that Johnny Cash lyrics always make a salient point. In a recent Emerging Leaders Blog Salon post at the Americans for the Arts ARTSblog, “Another Wide River to Cross: Incentivizing an Arts District in Tallahassee,” my colleague, Tim Storhoff, gives some excellent commentary as to why a centralized arts district can be a defining factor in the overall health of a city. The truth is that these arts and culture districts provide a community with a meaningful sense of place and purpose, the likes of which cannot be easily replicated.

Map of the Bradenton Riverwalk from

At the behest of the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, I’ve done some research on the subject of arts and culture districts. I found that these areas, intended to create a “critical mass” of places for cultural consumption, have 4 major outcomes:

  • Attracting artists and cultural enterprises
  • Fostering cultural development
  • Encouraging economic growth
  • Fulfilling community needs – both rural and urban

These outcomes are condensed from the National Association of State Arts Agencies Policy Brief on State Cultural Districts, which naturally also defines the state’s roles.  Currently, 12 states have enacted legislation for arts and cultural districts, but Florida is not among their ranks. Overall, I feel like the recognition, facilitation, and cultivation of these districts by the state is the most crucial part of the process.

Originally, I was unclear if the catalyst of these districts came from a grassroots or local effort or from the state; was it a top-down or bottom-up approach? Through my research, I discovered it was more of a growth from a younger program to an older program, where the criteria are established first, and grants, funding, and tax incentives are added later. The current models in states like Texas and Maryland support this.

Maryland is especially receptive to these districts, and has provided admissions and amusement tax exemption, income tax credit, and property tax credit for these districts, the most of any state. The benefits of these districts are astounding. Towson University conducted an economic impact study of these arts districts in Maryland, and found that “an estimated 1,621 jobs, $147.3 million in state GDP, and $49.8 million in wages were supported on average annually between 2008 and 2010.”

Florida has some excellent examples of arts and culture districts, from the Bradenton Riverwalk, to the Tampa River Arts and Channel Districts, Jacksonville’s CoRK District, Miami’s Design District, and on. But as of right now, there are no local or state systems to provide a forum for communication, nor are there direct tax incentives for these areas. If Tim’s dream comes true, there will be a vibrant district right in the middle of Tallahassee, and, as he theorizes, “If Florida’s policy makers can experience the benefits of an arts district firsthand, perhaps a statewide system can be implemented.”

Right now, it’s hard for anyone to see long term benefits of giving tax breaks, especially to relatively new programs. It’s going to take time, and we need to be cautious, which is exactly why states like Texas have adopted the certification-only approach without incentives. It’s a great way to test the efficacy of the program. But, as for the future, I’ll just have to defer back to Mr. Cash: “I don’t know. I can’t say. I don’t like it, but I guess things happen that way.

Spotlight On: Poetry for All at the O Miami Poetry Festival

by Tim Storhoff

The goal of the O, Miami Poetry Festival is for every single person in Miami-Dade County to encounter a poem. This event returns in 2013 to once again attempt to deliver poetry to all 2.6 million+ residents of Miami-Dade County during the month of April, which is National Poetry Month. Created by University of Wynwood with founding sponsor the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, O, Miami is both a celebration of contemporary poetry and an experimental project to turn a metropolitan area into a canvas for the literary arts.

In 2011, poems were flown behind airplanes, dropped out of helicopters, sewn into clothing, and attached to every single bus in Miami-Dade County. Events featured actors (James Franco); choreographers (Jonah Bokaer, Rashaun Mitchell); artists (Anne Carson, Sam Winston); and, yes, poets (W.S. Merwin, Tracy K. Smith, Raúl Zurita). The festival was covered nationally and internationally by The New Yorker, NPR’s Morning Edition, Dwell magazine, Best American Poetry, and the Associated Press, and chronicled in a new Knight Foundation report.

To continue trying to reach every person in Miami-Dade County this month, the festival organizers are undertaking a new series of projects and events to re-imagine what’s possible in the presentation of contemporary poetry, including:

  • A special celebration with Thurston Moore, lead singer of Sonic Youth; Richard Blanco, the Miami-raised poet who read at the 2013 Presidential Inauguration; and Megan Amram, a poet, comedian, and writer for the NBC show Parks & Recreation
  • A final weekend on South Beach that will feature readings and performances from the most diverse group of poets we’ve ever assembled, including Kevin Young, Chase Twitchell, Jean Portante, Jose Angel Leyva, Eduardo C. Corral, and Frank Báez
  • A book called “That’s So Miami!” published by the people of South Florida. Send us your poems that begin or end with the phrase #ThatsSoMiami and we’ll play them on WLRN 91.3 FM, post them online and select the best ones to go into the book.
  • “Poetry is Dead”: the first-ever poetry parade on South Beach featuring performances by well-known dead poets
  • A special “local poem” displayed pasted on 100 lampposts banners Will we ever see another month so full of poetry?”
  • Poems written by South Floridians flown behind airplanes
  • Brand-new “poetry films” commissioned from and created by those behind the Borscht Film Festival
  • A Tatoo + Poetry Night featuring legendary tattoo artist Duke Riley
  • A new dance + poetry piece by Merce Cunningham alumni Rashuan Mitchell and Silas Reiner commissioned and created for O, Miami
  • An opening ceremony with Miami legend Trick Daddy
  • The first-ever Miami Literary Trivia Night
  • An open mic reading series for locals
  • A “poetry soapbox”: everyday at 5 p.m., a poet will read on the front steps of The Betsy Hotel
  • A poetry-themed flash mob

“Today’s audiences demand to be engaged, and often that means taking art out of the symphony halls and into people’s everyday lives,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts at Knight Foundation, whose art program inspired and funded the festival. “Whether you’re a poetry enthusiast or organizing a small music festival, the lessons from O, Miami will resonate.”

A new report commissioned by the Knight Foundation chronicles the rise of Miami’s art scene and the unorthodox, inaugural O, Miami festival. It also offers insights for any cultural organization trying to engage new audiences and reframe art for their communities. For some additional tips, check out O, Miami co-founder Scott Cunningham’s tips in Bringing Art to People: 8 Ways a Cultural Event can Transcend Genre, Geography and Demographics.

The O, Miami Poetry Festival will be taking place all throughout April, and you can visit their calendar for a list of scheduled events. If you’re a part of a cultural organization, we also encourage you to read the above reports and articles for useful information that can help us all in our goals to more successfully bring the arts and culture to all Floridians.

Spotlight on: Italian Culture in Florida & The Italian Family Festa

Submitted by Elizabeth Ricci

This is the “Year of Italian Culture in the U.S.” according to the Italian embassy in Washington, DC. 2013 “commences a journey that will communicate and promote Italy, engage and enthuse Americans, strengthen the bonds that unite us and create new ones.” New bonds are being formed and old bonds strengthened every day here in the Sunshine State. According to the National Italian American Foundation, Florida is home to approximately eighteen Italian Festivals and just over one million people of Italian heritage.

Photo by Mike Copeland. Submitted and used by permission of Elizabeth Ricci.

Photo by Mike Copeland. Submitted and used by permission of Elizabeth Ricci.

Photo by Mike Copeland. Submitted and used by permission of Elizabeth Ricci.

Photo by Mike Copeland. Submitted and used by permission of Elizabeth Ricci.

Two Italian-American women in Tallahassee, Shelley Duke and Elizabeth Ricci, recognized the need to celebrate their shared culture and founded the Tallahassee Italian Family Festa in 2010. The event was so popular that it was named “Best Inaugural Festival” by the National Association of Italian Festivals and one of the “Top Ten Festivals” to attend by the Miami Herald. Having run out of specialty Italian food the first year and out of space the second year, the third annual Italian Family Festa will celebrate all things Italian on new grounds and with an abundance of pastries and specialty foods as well as offering cultural activities and “famiglia” fun. An Italian consulate attaché will be on hand with words from the Italian Consul General in Miami.

The entertainment celebrates ancient Italian art forms including the Cirque Italiano, opera, stomping grapes and tossing tomatoes, to name a few. Artists from across the panhandle will create 3D sidewalk chalk masterpieces in the ancient Madonnari tradition which dates back to the 1500s and is named for the “Madonna” when itinerant artists painted streets near the cathedrals where they worked. The event will also feature Italian beer, wine and limoncello, bocce, a gondola, and exotic cars, and cooking demonstrations. The Italian Family Festa is not just celebrating yesteryear, however, as this year the Festa debuts the Italian Idol competition to encourage both young and old to compete in song. With separate competitions for kids and adults, two lucky winners will be crowned for their musical talents in this competition judged by local celebrities.

In addition to being the Year of Italian Culture, in 2013 Florida is celebrating Viva Florida 500 and commemorating the 500 years of history since Juan Ponce de Leon landed on Florida’s coast in 1513. Since that time, many cultures have come together in our diverse and vibrant state, and the Italian Family Festa is just one of the many cultural festivals that occur each year throughout the state.

Photo by Mike Copeland. Submitted and used by permission of Elizabeth Ricci.

Photo by Mike Copeland. Submitted and used by permission of Elizabeth Ricci.

Photo by Mike Copeland. Submitted and used by permission of Elizabeth Ricci.

Photo by Mike Copeland. Submitted and used by permission of Elizabeth Ricci.

The Italian Family Festa will take place on April 13 and 14 at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum. To learn more, visit

Spotlight On: “La Florida,” The Florida Artists Hall of Fame sculpture

by Tim Storhoff

Induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed upon creative individuals by the state of Florida. When three artists are inducted into the Hall of Fame on March 20, they will have a plaque in their honor added to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame Wall on the Plaza Level in the rotunda of the Capitol Building and receive a sculpture of La Florida by Florida sculptor Enzo Torcoletti.

Enzo Torcoletti with his most recent "La Florida" sculptures. Photo taken and used by permission of Tim Storhoff.

Enzo Torcoletti with his most recent “La Florida” sculptures. Photo taken by Tim Storhoff.

The state legislature established the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1986 and sought someone to produce the award that would be given to inductees. The following year, Mr. Torcoletti was contacted about the project and began working on potential designs for the sculpture.

Enzo Torcoletti was born in Italy and began studying art there before moving to Canada. He received a B.A. in English literature in 1968 and a B.F.A. in sculpture and printmaking in 1969 from the University of Windsor. He then came to Florida to continue his studies, and in 1971 received his M.F.A. in sculpture from Florida State University. He then taught sculpture, drawing, and art history at Flagler College in St. Augustine for years, and is now an Emeritus Professor. For the last forty years, Enzo has actively produced sculptures for exhibits and commissions.  His work has been shown extensively and is included in numerous private and public collections in Florida, across the U.S., and abroad. He now splits his time between his homes in Florida and Tuscany.

When he was selected to make the sculpture that would be given to Florida Artists Hall of Fame inductees, he began making sketches followed by more in-depth drawings. In coming up with his concept, he decided that it should be something unique to Florida. He wanted it to be semi-abstract but incorporate the female form, because when Juan Ponce de León named the land he used the feminine word La Florida. The feminine form is also representative of the Muses that according to Greek myth provide inspiration for the arts.

A preliminary drawing for a sculpture by Enzo Torcoletti. Photo by Tim Storhoff.

A preliminary drawing for a sculpture by Enzo Torcoletti. Photo by Tim Storhoff.

"La Florida," the Florida Artists Hall of Fame sculpture by Enzo Torcoletti.

“La Florida,” the Florida Artists Hall of Fame sculpture by Enzo Torcoletti. Photo courtesy of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

Enzo also wanted it to evoke the water and beaches associated with our state, so he chose to include elements of waves and to make it look partly like skeleton of a shell you might find after a storm. The spiral at the top of the sculpture, when viewed from above, is  like the eye of a storm during a hurricane. Enzo carved the initial model for the sculpture out of wax and then created a rubber mold before the final bronze casting using the lost-wax method. The base is made of Florida limestone resulting in a heavy and substantial award given to inductees. The original maquette prototype is on display in the Twenty-Second Floor Capitol Gallery in Tallahassee.

All of Florida’s artists contribute to our vibrant and diverse communities and show that this is a special place to live and work. We are pleased to honor those who have made the greatest contributions to the arts in Florida with this beautiful sculpture. The 2013 inductions to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame will take place during the Florida Heritage Month Awards on March 20. The award ceremony will take place in Tallahassee at Mission San Luis, Florida’s Apalachee-Spanish Living History Museum. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees include performer Gloria Estefan, singer/songwriter Frank Thomas, and painter Laura Woodward. This will make fifty-five artists who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since the first ceremony in 1987. Other awards to be presented at Mission San Luis include the Florida Folk Heritage Awards, the Secretary of State’s Historic Preservation Awards, and the Florida Book Awards. To learn more about Florida Heritage Month, please visit

To learn more about the lost-wax method of creating a bronze sculpture, check out this video from artist Brian Owens who used it to create the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers monument:

Postcard From: The Poetry Out Loud 2013 Florida State Finals

by Tim Storhoff

On Saturday, March 9, forty-four high school students from across the state of Florida came to Tallahassee to compete in the Poetry Out Loud Florida State Finals. This year, the Poetry Out Loud program in Florida assisted nearly 20,000 Secondary-Level students in learning about poetry in their classrooms. Program outreach to Florida’s many school districts included suburban, inner-city and rural community schools around the state. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. Teachers at more than fifty Florida high schools completed this program through to the end, and forty-four schools sent one student winner each to represent their school in the State Finals competition.

The photos below depict the full and enlightening weekend these students had.

The forty-four students who competed on March 9.

Forty-four students who won the individual competitions at their own schools came to Tallahassee and competed on March 9.

The poetry-filled weekend began at the historic Knott House Museum on Friday night, where students were able to introduce themselves and share some of their own poetry.

The poetry-filled weekend began at the historic Knott House Museum on Friday night, where students were able to introduce themselves and share some of their own poetry.

Competing students, their families, and some teachers arrived to the R.A. Gray building in Tallahassee early on Saturday morning to register and prepare.

Competing students, their families, teachers and guests arrived to the R.A. Gray building in Tallahassee early on Saturday morning to register.

Competing students were given shirts, poetry books, CDs, and other giveaways provided by our gracious sponsors.

Competing students were given shirts, poetry books, CDs, and other giveaways provided by our gracious sponsors.

Recitations were judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy.

Aaron Abiza from Hialeah Senior High School in Miami-Dade County chose “Lazy” by David Yezzi for his first poem. Recitations were judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, overall performance, and accuracy.

After a full morning that included each student reciting their poem, the top 25 participants were chosen to advance to Round Two.

After a full morning that included each student reciting their poem, the top 25 participants advanced to Round Two.

During the lunch break, students had a chance to talk about their poems over pizza.

During the lunch break, students had a chance to talk about their poems over pizza.

Seth Snow, who won the competition at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine,  advanced to the second round and used ASL to share his poems.

Seth Snow, who won the school-wide competition to represent the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, advanced to the second round and used ASL to share his poems.

Rhen Davis from Bucholz High School in Alachua County recited "The End of the World" by Dana Gioia. This program encouraged students like Rhen to learn public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Rhen Davis from Bucholz High School in Alachua County recited “The End of the World” by Dana Gioia. This program encouraged students like Rhen to learn public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

In the afternoon, ten students were chosen to go on to the third and final round.

The judges selected ten students to go on to the third and final round.

Second place winner Ricky Vega-Bossa from Western High School in Broward County recited "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson during the final round.

Second place winner Ricky Vega-Bossa from Western High School in Broward County recited “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson during the final round.

The 2013 Poetry Out Loud Florida State Finals champion Kourtney Brooker, reciting her poem during the final round.

The 2013 Poetry Out Loud Florida State Finals champion Kourtney Brooker, reciting her poem during the final round. Kourtney will go on to represent Florida in the National Finals in Washington, D.C.

When the competition was all said and done, everyone had the chance to socialize during a reception before going their separate ways.

When the competition was all said and done, everyone had the chance to socialize during a reception before going their separate ways.

Participation in this program requires commitment from teachers and parents, and many teachers take on this process in addition to their regular duties because of how strongly they value the program and because of the results they see in their students. These results go beyond the literary knowledge, public speaking skills, and self-confidence already mentioned. John Coleman, in the Harvard Business Review, has recently written about the benefits of poetry for professionals, and now these Poetry Out Loud students can reap those benefits. Coleman argues:

For one, poetry teaches us to wrestle with and simplify complexity. Harman Industries founder Sidney Harman once told The New York Times, “I used to tell my senior staff to get me poets as managers. Poets are our original systems thinkers. They look at our most complex environments and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand.” Emily Dickinson, for example, masterfully simplified complex topics with poems like “Because I could not stop for Death,” and many poets are similarly adept. Business leaders live in multifaceted, dynamic environments. Their challenge is to take that chaos and make it meaningful and understandable. Reading and writing poetry can exercise that capacity, improving one’s ability to better conceptualize the world and communicate it — through presentations or writing — to others.

Additionally, poetry can help people develop a more acute sense of empathy, foster creativity, and teach us to infuse life with beauty and meaning. Through engagement with poetry, these students will be better prepared to tackle professional challenges when they arise.

You can learn more about Poetry Out Loud by visiting the national recitation contest’s website at Teachers interested in participating in Poetry Out Loud next year should watch for updates at Thank you to all of the partners and sponsors who made this event possible, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, Citizens for Florida Arts, the Sign Language Resource Center, Habana Boardwalk, Quality Inn & Suites, Subway, and Anhinga Press. We want to wish Kourtney the best of luck as she goes on to compete against all the other state champions in Washington, D.C. in April!

All photos by Tim Storhoff

Spotlight On: The Musical Legacy of George Soffos

by Tim Storhoff

George Soffos. Image courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program.

George Soffos. Image courtesy of the Florida Folklife Program.

Florida’s Greek and musical communities lost an important member and resource last month when master bouzouki player George Soffos passed away. Soffos was widely considered to be the best bouzouki performer in the United States, and he actively shared his musical talents as a performer and instructor across the state.

George Soffos was born on November 6, 1953. The youngest of five children, he grew up in Warren, Ohio. His Greek ancestry could be traced through his father, who was from Asklipio, Rhodes, and his maternal grandparents from Katavia, Rhodes. All three of his older brothers pursued careers in the music industry. When he was fifteen, his parents sent him to study with John Tatasopoulos, the most highly regarded bouzouki player of his day, in Washington DC. Soffos spent two years studying and playing with Tatasopoulos in clubs in the DC area, and at seventeen he began his career as an independent headliner in bouzoukia (Greek night clubs) in cities across the United States. He also toured internationally, performing in Montreal, Toronto, and numerous Greek cities, as well as in countless festivals and other special events throughout the U.S. Mr. Soffos’s career included performances on several recordings for Greek and Greek American artists, including Nikos Kritikos, George Evagoras, Hrach Yacoubian, and Grigoris Maroulis. He frequently provided instrumental backing for Greek singing stars, such as Marinella and Rita Sakelariou, when they toured in the U.S.

After relocating to the Tarpon Springs area in the late 1990s to be near family, Mr. Soffos became the most sought-after performer at local Greek bouzoukia and festivals—and thus a valued community member in an area with a strong Greek cultural presence. Tarpon Springs has a higher percentage of Greek Americans than any other city in the country. The first Greek immigrants began arriving in the 1880s to work in the local sponge harvesting industry, and the city has maintained a strong Greek tradition ever since. Multiple Greek cultural events and festivals are held there each year including the Epiphany celebration, which draws thousands of visitors every January. Soffos was an active part of this Greek community. He became a mentor to many younger musicians by teaching bouzouki classes through the City of Tarpon Springs, which encourages the preservation of Greek community arts.

Soffos continued the tradition of the bouzouki player as custodian and guardian of traditional Greek musical culture. The bouzouki is a Greek stringed instrument in the lute family that produces a sound reminiscent of a low-pitched mandolin. The instrument came to Greece through Turkey in the early twentieth century, but it had multiple precursors such as the Greek tambouras. The bouzouki is the central instrument in rebetiko, or Greek folk music, that underwent a popular revival starting in the 1950s. It has since been used to accompany a wide range of traditional and popular Greek genres, and an Irish variant recently became an important part of Irish traditional music. When Greek immigrants came to the United States in large numbers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they brought their musical traditions with them, and following the revival of rebetiko songs in the fifties, a number of the top Greek bouzouki players came to the U.S., including Soffos’s teacher John Tatasopoulos. George Soffos continued this rich tradition and helped to see it flourish in Florida.

Mr. Soffos recently began to experience the recognition his playing deserved.  He received a Florida Folk Heritage Award in 2011, and was designated a master artist in the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Program in 2011-12. George Soffos was most recently selected as a recipient for the 2013 Individual Artist Fellowship in the Folk and Traditional Arts discipline, but he passed away after suffering a heart attack on January 8, 2013 at the age of 59.

His career spanned diverse contexts for music making in the Greek American community. He was a regular fixture in festivals and cultural events in Florida and across the country, and he shared his musical talents by teaching young musicians and establishing professional relationships with other performers. It could be said that George Soffos’s life represents the history of Greek music in America over the last four decades, and his contributions to Greek music in Florida will continue to be heard for many years.