Culture in Florida: December

Culture In Florida

by Tim Storhoff

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

December kicked off with Art Basel in Miami Beach. Beyond being a successful and high-profile arts event, it also did a lot to give back to the surrounding community. A number of artists who came to the area for Art Basel stuck around to restore murals in West Grove. Keif Schleifer, an arts advocate and sculptor from Atlanta who organized the effort, said, “We’ve been humbled by this community and the kids who’ve been painting with us since the day we arrived. I see Art Basel as more than an event of the moment. It’s a meeting ground for people to come together and grow something bigger that continues.” Art Basel has also helped transform the nearby Wynwood neighborhood into a more vibrant area for visitors, and the neighborhood’s connection to Art Basel was covered in the New York Times. Those interested in learning from Art Basel’s success should check out 8 Tips for Courting Influencers the Art Basel Way from the pARTnership Movement.

Art Video on December 5, 2012 during Art Basel 2012.  (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Art Basel Miami 2012, Courtesy of Art Basel)

Art Video on December 5, 2012 during Art Basel. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Art Basel Miami 2012, Courtesy of Art Basel)

Other events across the state have been big hits this month too. This includes the Bradenton Blues Festival (mentioned last month), which sold 3126 tickets and exceeded expectations for its first year. Boynton Beach has continued its rebranding campaign with the opening of the Plein-Air Exhibition in the Boynton Beach Library. Many events centered around the holidays. The very first Christmas celebration in North America was held in Florida, and that holiday spirit continues today. Three million lights helped make St. Augustine’s historic district sparkle, the Thomas Edison & Henry Ford Estates held their annual Holiday Nights, and the Tampa Theatre had a packed showing of It’s a Wonderful Life. Many other holiday events related to Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa were held across the state that incorporated the performing and visual arts in various ways.

We want to acknowledge all of the Florida arts and culture organizations that have recently had success receiving grants. The Miami City Ballet received a $5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant, which will come in $1 million increments over 5 years, is the largest the company has received in its 27-year history. Sixteen Florida Organizations also received ArtWorks Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts worth a total of $412,000. Additionally, the group Citizens Interested in the Arts (CIA) donated $1 million to thirty visual and performing arts organizations in South Florida for the year 2013. On an individual level, Viera resident David Saylor received a great honor when his photo “Discovering Limits” was chosen in Canon’s “Project Imaginat10n” contest to be the inspiration for short films by celebrity directors.

This has been an exciting month for museums across the state. The Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center celebrated its Grand Opening after closing in March for a complete remodeling and repurposing, and the staff at the Elliott Museum in Stuart started moving items into their new building set to open March 2, 2013. The Polaseck Museum in Winter Park has acquired a bust of Woodrow Wilson, created by Albin Polasek himself, that was targeted for destruction by the Nazis. This piece of art was believed to have been destroyed during World War II but is now on display in the museum. In Sarasota, the Ringling Museum opened a new exhibition featuring sixteenth century Venetian art by Paolo Veronese, and the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm is exhibiting the work of Sylvia Plimack Mangold, an American painter known for her landscapes and “portraits” of trees, as part of the museum’s effort to highlight the contributions of women artists. In a special article for the Gainesville Sun, Rebecca Nagy, director of the Harn Museum of Art at UF, asked how brick and mortar museums can stay relevant in the digital age.

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. Photo by Wally Gobetz and made available by a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. (Photo by Wally Gobetz and made available by a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.)

With the New Year comes the official start of Viva Florida 500, the commemoration of Florida’s 500th anniversary so be on the lookout for related events in January and all year long. Looking forward, the Miami New Times presented “Nine New Years Resolutions for Miami’s Arts Community” and the Carrollwood Cultural Center is already preparing for a busy winter season starting in January.

Happy New Year from everyone at the Division of Cultural Affairs, and we hope that 2013 brings you health, happiness, and many opportunities to experience and share the great arts and culture events Florida has to offer!