Meet the Florida Council on Arts and Culture: Rivers H. Buford, III

The Florida Council on Arts and Culture is the 15-member advisory council appointed to advise the Secretary of State regarding cultural grant funding and on matters pertaining to culture in Florida.

Appointments to the Council are determined by the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, in consultation with the Secretary of State. The Governor manages seven seats that serve four-year terms. The President and Speaker manage four seats each, with terms of two years. The appointments are based on geographic representation, as well as demonstrated history of community service in the arts and culture.

In this bi-monthly series, we will introduce you to each member of the council and share their thoughts on the role of arts and culture in the state of Florida. This month, we chatted with Rivers Buford. Rivers was appointed to the council in 2019 by Governor DeSantis. 

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Tells us a little bit about yourself.

Rivers: As a Government Relations practitioner, I have represented a variety of groups before the state and national government for the past 30 years. I help those who don’t understand public policy or have time to engage in the legislative process. I served under eight different Secretaries’ of State and as a policy advisor to a Senate President.

When I’m not working, I enjoy walking around the woods of my family’s mountain cabin in Clayton, Georgia. I am entering my 35th year of marriage. My wife and I have one daughter, Kathryn Elizabeth. In addition, I have one loyal four-legged family member, Scout, named after Jean Louise in To Kill a Mockingbird.

DCA: Why are the arts and culture important to our state?

Rivers: When I first joined the DOS staff as a team member, the Honorable Katherine Harris was Secretary of State. She sat down with me and explained the value of the arts in cultural relationships, interpersonal relationships and professional business relationships. People want friends with common interests. Art and it’s many disciplines is the universal language that everyone can appreciate, no matter what language they speak or where they live. That is why she felt (and rightfully so) a cultural mission should precede an economic trade mission, to serve as the ice breaker in finding common ground with our future trading partners. The Arts are an economic engine for our state. More people attend events of the arts than sporting events. 

DCA: For you, what is the most inspiring part about working in the arts?

Rivers: I appreciate art in its many disciplines. though I can’t play a single instrument or sing anywhere other than my shower, or paint anything other than a solid wall, I admire those who do, and how they think. It is a gift that I hope to be able to help share with others, so they can learn to appreciate them also.

DCA: What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Florida Council on Arts and Culture?  

Rivers: I’m an avid (some say rabid) collector of the The Highwaymen Art movement. I hope to be able to light the fire in the minds of other to appreciate our many different disciplines through visits to galleries and museums of all types around our great state. And then hopefully, they will buy something. I once heard, living artist need you to buy now, so they can continue to produce. Dead artists, though their works are great, no matter what the discipline, don’t need the money and are not contributing to our economy.

Grantee Feature: Dance Alive National Ballet Welcomes New Resident Choreographer

Provided by Dance Alive National Ballet. All photos by Johnston Photography.

About Dance Alive National Ballet

Founded in 1966 in the ‘Gator Nation’ of Gainesville, FL, Dance Alive National Ballet features an international roster of award winning dancers. Elegant and exciting, they are at the heart of the company’s undeniable success. DANB’s repertoire ranges from the quintessential classic Nutcracker to the cutting-edge movement of contemporary ballet. Throughout this choreographic tapestry are woven the ballets of Executive Artistic Director Kim Tuttle and Choreographer-in-Residence Judy Skinner whose distinctive artistic styles brand the company.  Entertaining and insightful, provocative and joyous, this creative aesthetic is at the heart of the Company. From dancing on a basketball court where lights were hung on hoops to being sponsored in state of the art theatres, to performing by invitation for HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, DANB has been on a mission to bring dance to the people.

New Resident Choreographer

Dance Alive National Ballet is proud to announce the appointment of Brian Carey Chung (choreographer, poet and nurse) as Resident Choreographer for the 2019-20 season. Mr. Chung brings to the table an extraordinary wealth of experience in both classical ballet and contemporary dance. He was founder and artistic director of Collective Body Dance Lab, performed with LINES Ballet for 7 years before joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Armitage Gone! Dance where he was principal dancer, rehearsal director and assistant choreographer. His first ballet for DANB, premiered in February 2019, ‘Touch Me Closer’, was a work of deep beauty, using highly trained classical dancers in a new and original way. This was so successful that Kim Tuttle, Executive Artistic Director of Dance Alive National Ballet asked him to create a full length ballet for the spring of 2020. His title of choice is ‘Athletes of God’, inspired by a quote from iconic modern dancer Martha Graham and set to music by Bach. His respect for dancers is boundless, and we look forward to moving Dance Alive National Ballet forward with grace and enthusiasm. 


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Culture in Florida: June 2019

Culture in Florida is a monthly news roundup to showcase 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.

Here’s a sample of arts and culture around the state for the month of June:


FEATURED FESTIVALS

The Festival of New Musicals took place at The Winter Park Playhouse from June 20th – 23rd. The four day festival showcased six brand new musicals from around the world. One act of each musical was fully read and sung concert-style, without staging, by various casts of professional actors and musicians.

Produced by Community Arts & Culture, the 21st Annual Afro Roots Fest wrapped up in Key largo on Saturday, June 29th at the Murray Nelson Center. This event has historically celebrated the widespread influence that Africa continues to have on music, and furthers the mission of Community Arts and Culture, which is to foster an appreciation of the arts and culture through education. The festival was named as “Best Music Festival” in the “Best of Miami” 2019 issue.


SPECIAL EVENTS

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science celebrated World Ocean Day on June 8th with a day full of events and activities! The events included informational sessions on the impacts of plastic pollution, coral reef ecology and conservation, and scuba diving essentials. Museum goers also got to experience virtual swimming with sharks and dolphins!


OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

The Ann Norton Sculpture Garden’s exhibit The Art of Sherlock Holmes closed on June 2nd after opening on May 10th. The Art of Sherlock Holmes, curated by author Phil Growick brought 14 pieces of art that were interpretations of different short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, all created by West Palm Beach artists. The artistic styles include abstract, contemporary, digital, realist, minimalist, symbolism, or an amalgam of various forms.

The Moon Bay exhibit opened this month at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. This unique 2,000-gallon habitat has two separate areas where the jellies can be touched by visitors. This experience–to gently interact with jellies–is only the fourth of its kind in the United States. 

The Museum of Discovery and Science opened their new exhibit, Hall of Heroes, this month. This exhibit brings guests into the world of superheroes, crime-­getters, gadgets and spies through an immersive experience. Guests can expect their journey through this exhibit to include movie prop-quality photo opportunities, including an authentic George Barris-built 1966 Batmobile, and challenging, highly engaging interactives, intriguing, informative displays with props, costumes and more. This exhibit will run through September 2nd, 2019.

The Monticello Opera House programmed a production of A Chorus Line at the end of the month as their special summer event. The premise of this show captures the spirit and tension of a Broadway chorus audition.


HONORS

Congratulations are in order for the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which was chosen this month to become a Smithsonian Affiliate. From the Sarasota Magazine:

“Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has been designated a Smithsonian Affiliate, joining a national network of museums, educational and cultural organizations in sharing the resources of the Smithsonian Institution. There are currently 213 affiliates in 45 states, Puerto Rico and Panama; Selby Gardens is the only garden in Florida that is part of the Smithsonian Affiliate network.”


UPCOMING IN JULY

Arts4All Florida will present their new exhibition, “Transformations: Building a World of Access and Inclusion” on July 26th, which run through September 15th, 2019. “Transformations” is a unique exhibit celebrating personal and societal transformations. The artwork in this exhibition will celebrate the 29th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its influence on creating a world in which the arts are universally accessible. 

The Downtown Cultural Series in Gainesville will continue their free concerts on Friday nights this month for the Gainesville150 anniversary celebrations. This series is the region’s longest-running and largest free outdoor concert series features local and regional musical talent at the newly renovated Bo Diddley Plaza. The Free Fridays Concert Series will continue every week through the month of October.

The Bay Arts Alliance is presenting the Art of Florida Cartoonists Exhibition from June 8th to July 20th at the Panama City Center for the ARTS. This exhibit will showcase a wide variety of visual treasures created by cartoonists, illustrators, and storyboard artists who have lived or worked in the Sunshine State.


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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

Art and Environmental Conservation: Sarah Crooks Flaire and Green Revolution

Green Revolution is an innovative museum exhibit designed by the Smithsonian Institution. The Museum of Science and History of Jacksonville, FL received all of the necessary design files and instructions digitally, and constructed the exhibit from recycled and repurposed materials found within the community. Composting, green energy, gardening and climate change are some themes of the exhibition.

Environmental artist Sarah Crooks Flaire is partnering with MOSH for the display of several of her creations in the lobby and within the exhibit. Crooks Flaire uses repurposed materials to create unique works like three-dimensional butterfly collages created from tin cans and large murals made from recycled decorative fabric. Beasts of Burden, a 16-foot hand-sewn fabric tapestry, for example, reflects on the importance of water and ways our culture has tried to twist the natural flow. Visitors are invited to participate in an evolving sculpture of hand silkscreened paper butterflies, symbolizing transformation and the interconnectedness of all life. This artwork, Transmigration II will change throughout the 4 month exhibit.

After attending the recent Convening Culture conference, Sarah Crooks Flaire spoke with the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and shared some of her work from this exhibition that bridges art and environmental conservation:

I recently attended the first Convening Culture Conference in Vero Beach FL, where it was exciting to see other artists and organizations bringing the arts and environmental conservation together. The current exhibition Green Revolution: Renewed at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville FL exemplifies what the conference was all about: making change possible through creative collaboration.

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“Prayers for Transformation” butterflies

"Prayers for a Transformation" visitors pinning butterflies at the MOSH.

“Prayers for a Transformation” visitors pinning butterflies at the MOSH.

This collection of work incorporates recycled materials chosen for their symbolic associations and material potential. I chose to focus on a few products made from trees (paper, shipping pallets, cardboard), aluminum and petrochemical greens. Trees continue their lifecycle by becoming butterflies in Prayers for a Transformation, a site specific interactive collaboration of silkscreened butterflies . Visitors are encouraged to print their own butterflies onto recycled paper, decorate and state a wish for change while pinning them into the larger flock. By actively engaging visitors in a creative recycling process their attention is focused on changing their habitual patterns of consumption. A pdf version can be downloaded from the Museum of Science and History website. Changing over the course of four months, this shifting flock of monarchs migrate through various life forms.

"Whirlpool Feet" etching with collograph by Sarah Crooks Flaire, 22”x22”

“Whirlpool Feet” etching with collagraph by Sarah Crooks Flaire, 22”x22”

With this work I’ve asked, “How do I touch the earth? What am I wearing? Heavy shoes? Barefoot? How do I quiet my own voice and open to other lives? How do we create a new narrative? By understanding my vulnerability versus packaged perfection, by shedding my skin in order to grow, I redefine what I hold onto and ultimately what I give away.” This to me is the essence of our Green Revolution, where by changing my own lifestyle and by changing our habitual patterns of consumption and waste we become part of the whole through an even exchange.

"Quetzal sittin’..." by Sarah Crooks Flaire, recycled aluminum , vhs tape, and plastic greenery 22”x13”x4”

“Quetzal sittin’…” by Sarah Crooks Flaire, recycled aluminum , vhs tape, and plastic greenery 22”x13”x4”

Recycled soda cans become caterpillars and the ultimate rainbow in Quetzal Sittin’ on da Chain of Being. Images of imperialism are transformed into the background of a new narrative in giant 16’ tapestry drawings like Red Pearl River and the Beasts of Burden, sparking a discussion about how we connect with nature.

"Red Pearl River" by Sarah Crooks Flaire, charcoal and gesso on cotton with waterbased dye and handsewing cotton thread.

“Red Pearl River” by Sarah Crooks Flaire, charcoal and gesso on cotton with waterbased dye and handsewing cotton thread.

"Trailwalker State Bird Series" by Sarah Crooks Flaire, 22”x22” etching with unique inking on paper, chine colle' with recycled pallet frame hand made by Olivier Flaire

“Trailwalker State Bird Series” by Sarah Crooks Flaire, 22”x22” etching with unique inking on paper, chine colle’ with recycled pallet frame hand-made by Olivier Flaire

In 2009, I read an article about the “State of the Birds” report published by the Audobon Society. In it they warned that in less than fifteen years, 50% of our state birds will not be able to live in their own state due to habitat loss. This series of etchings is my response to the question of how they will adapt to a more urban lifestyle. By contrasting organic and artificial my art creates a surrealist sense of what the world would be like if we keep synthesizing nature rather than protecting it. My work invites a dialogue about what our relationship with nature would be like if it were one of communion, rather than domination.

The Green Revolution Exhibition runs through May 4, 2014.

Crooks Flaire has created mixed media work for the Jacksonville Public Library, healing centers, corporate environments and private homes. She recently won best in show at the Florida Museum for Women in the Arts for a 22′ installation of life-size intaglio self portraits. To learn more about the artist visit crooksflaire.com or themosh.org

CultureBuildsFlorida.org will be spotlighting the connections between art and environmental conservation throughout 2014. 

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.

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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.”

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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 artsmethods@comcast.net. “Growing Tall Through Arts Education: Budding Young Local Artists” will be on display in the R.A. Gray Building through the end of September.

Art Talk: Division Intern Katherine Laursen

by Tim Storhoff

Division intern Katherine Laursen. Photo submitted and used by permission of Katherine Laursen.

Division intern Katherine Laursen. Photo submitted and used by permission of Katherine Laursen.

Katherine Laursen joined the team at the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs at the end of August as an intern for the 2013-2014 school year. Born and raised in Dunedin, Florida, Katherine graduated with honors from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Music Education in 2005 and a Masters of Music Education in 2011. She taught in the Pinellas County Schools for six years: first as the Assistant Director of Band and Chorus at Largo High School for three years and then as the Director of Chorus and Strings at Dunedin Highland Middle School. Katherine has been a member of the Festival Singers of Florida since its formation in 2008 and has previously been a member of groups including the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, the Zielinski Singers, Opera Tampa, and Tapped In, a professional tap company. In addition to all of that, she is also actively involved in the Scottish dance community, is a staff singer and Chorister Assistant at St. John’s Episcopal Church, and has another internship at the Tallahassee Ballet. Currently, she is working on her MA in Arts Administration at the Florida State University. I recently asked Katherine about her artistic background and her thoughts on the importance of the arts in Florida.

DCA: What are some of the earliest arts experiences you can remember?

Katherine: My earliest memory has to be from when I was around 4 years old. I remember dancing around in my bathing suit and Sunday school tights to Kiss Me, Kate, my favorite musical at the time. I grew up in a house filled with music. My great-uncle worked for MGM, so we would watch every movie musical he worked on. My parents realized they couldn’t wait any longer, so they enrolled me in ballet at Patricia Ann Dance Studio in Dunedin, FL. They couldn’t have known then what a great home it would become for me.

DCA: What made you decide on a career in the arts?

Katherine: Growing up whenever I was dancing, singing, playing, writing or making something, I knew who I was. I would spend hours at the dance studio only to come home to practice my flute. I wrote poem after poem in my journals. In the summers, my parents sent me to the Dunedin Fine Arts Center for classes, Writer’s Camp or the Florida Dance Festival multi-week intensives. When I got older, I added theater and voice to my experience. It was only in my senior year of high school that I chose voice as my main area of study. I continued to study dance and flute and my teaching experiences led me to add guitar, color-guard and viola to my arsenal. With the arts, you are never done learning and growing. I can’t imagine my life without the arts, so it makes perfect sense that my goal is to provide access to the arts to everyone who wants it.

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Katherine dancing with other members of Tapped In, Inc. during an event in Tampa in 2011. Photo submitted and used by permission of Katherine Laursen.

DCA: While your arts background is largely in music, you’ll be working with arts more broadly here at the Division of Cultural Affairs.  What are some of your artistic interests outside of musical performance?

Katherine: My connections to the arts originally came from dance. I always make my way back to ballet because I feel the most connected to who I am there. Ballet has been in my life since my first memories, so I believe it’s connected to every part of who I am now. When I go back to dance class, even as an adult, the world disappears and everything is focused on the beauty of the art. Because of this connection, I am able to carry that passion and focus into all other aspects of art in my life. I discovered my love for music in dance class. I discovered my love of design and color through costumes and lighting. Dance is beautiful, but it is enhanced and complimented by all of the arts and that relationship goes both ways.

DCA: The Division of Cultural Affairs believes in the motto “Culture Builds Florida.”  What do you think when you hear that phrase?  Why do you believe arts and culture matter to our state?

Katherine: I know that I cannot separate the arts from their impact on my life. In that same way, I don’t think that you can separate the culture of Florida from its impact on building our state economically and otherwise. There is so much to be said for loving where you live. As a Florida native, I have grown up watching my state find its identity. When people feel a part of the place they live, they are more likely to contribute to making it better. Incorporating the diverse culture of our state is a challenge, but how lucky are we as Floridians to have such a plethora of arts and culture to embrace?