Art Talk: Katia Carranza, Principal dancer with Miami City Ballet

We sat down recently to chat with some of the Principal dancers at Miami City Ballet, and got an inside look into their world and activities with the company.

Katia Carranza graduated from the Escuela Superior de Musica y Danza de Monterrey in Mexico in 1996. She then joined Ballet de Monterrey as a soloist. In 1998, she joined Miami City Ballet as a corps de ballet dancer, was promoted to soloist in 2001, principal soloist in 2003 and in 2004 she was promoted to principal dancer. She left after the 2006-07 season to rejoin Ballet de Monterrey as a principal, but continued to dance with MCB as a guest artist for an additional six seasons. Carranza rejoined MCB full-time in 2017 as a principal dancer.

Katia Carranza

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Why did you choose a career in the arts?

Katia: I started this career at a very young age. I didn’t really know that ballet was something I love. Little by little, I became more involved and it brought me so much happiness. I think that being able to do what you love is such a blessing.

DCA: How long have you worked in Florida?

Katia: (Laughs) I came here in August of 1998 for the first time, 23 years ago. I joined Miami City Ballet that year and it changed my life. I am from Monterrey, Mexico. I studied there and danced for one year at Ballet de Monterrey.

During my time there, I had an opportunity to compete in Jackson, Mississippi and that was when Edward Villella hired me, and I was here at MCB until 2007. From 2007 through 2017, I was dancing for both MCB and Monterrey, but I came to Miami 4 years ago to dance here full-time. I feel like I am from here, and that I grew as an artist here.

Katia Carranza and Kleber Rebello in NINE SINATRA SONGS© Choreography by Twyla Tharp. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

DCA: What is the best part about your job?

Katia: Being on stage, for sure. I enjoy having an opportunity to share what we do with so many people, with the audience. I feel like we can change their lives. I always hope that they leave the theater with a positive experience. That is the best part: sharing what we do.

DCA: Tell us a little bit about your organization. What are you currently working on?

Katia: The most important thing is keeping my body moving, until we can all dance onstage and together again. We normally rehearsed together for 8 hours a day, so it is super important to keep my body moving. It is something my body needs – it gives me energy and makes me happy, and so my body asks me to do it every day. I take different classes by Zoom, such as ballet and resistance training, and I use my pointe shoes a little bit every day. I must continue or else my feet and my ankles will become weak.

Katia leads leads a “Move with MCB” ballet básico class (en Español) on Instagram.

Plus, now that we have more free time, I get to teach, which I enjoy a lot. It’s important to continue to be motivated, for both myself and my students too. We all need to stay motivated so we can be on stage again when the time comes. But for now, I have this chance to teach and share with students in Mexico, Brazil, from all over the world. I love being able to share in this way.

DCA: In your opinion, what is the greatest contribution that your organization makes to your community?

Katia: I believe that the greatest contribution we offer is to the next generation of dancers with the various programs and training Miami City Ballet Company and School offer to children and young people. I believe dance can change lives, because it changed mine.

I think dance makes me a better person and gives me opportunities to learn about things that are important. I believe that dancers touch the lives and help others, and that can have a positive impact on young people. That is the greatest contribution we give.

Katia Carranza and Renan Cerdeiro Ballet dancers in Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida”? Why are the arts and culture important to our state?

Katia: Florida is a special place because there are so many cultures here, and we are fortunate because we can experience the different cuisine, histories, and many things that are learned through arts and culture. It helps us all to be better people, and it is something we can share together.


This has been part three of a three-part Art Talk feature with some of Miami City Ballet’s Principal dancers. Thank you to Miami City Ballet and the artists for taking the time to share with Culture Builds Florida.

Art Talk: Jennifer Lauren, Principal dancer with Miami City Ballet

We sat down recently to chat with some of the Principal dancers at Miami City Ballet, and got an inside look into their world and activities with the company.

Jennifer Lauren is a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala. She began training in various regional schools and later with Royal Academy of Dance and the Alabama Ballet Pre-Apprentice Program. In 2007, Lauren joined Miami City Ballet as a member of the Corps de Ballet and was promoted to Soloist in 2011. In 2014, she was named one of Dance Magazine’s “Top 25 to Watch.” During her tenure with MCB, Lauren has been featured in principal and soloist roles. In 2017, she was promoted to Principal.

Jennifer Lauren

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Why did you choose a career in the arts?

Jennifer: I really didn’t choose it. I was introduced to dancing when I was young and fell in love with it. Ever since then, I have been hooked! It is all I ever wanted and dreamed about.

Jennifer Lauren in Apollo. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

DCA: How long have you worked in Florida?

Jennifer: I have been with Miami City Ballet for the last 13 years, and I joined the company in 2007.

DCA: What is the best part about your job?

Jennifer: The best part about my job is that I am doing exactly what I love to do. I am sharing my passion with so many people, including my company. Dancers are extremely close, and because we understand each other, there is this rare bond I have with my coworkers.

Jennifer Lauren and Ashley Knox in Symphonic Dances. Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky ©. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

DCA: What are you currently working on?

Jennifer: Lately, I have been working on my basic technique skills. With the extra time, it has motivated me to take a closer look at how I execute my work and how I can improve my craft and artistry.

I’ve also been teaching a lot of private lessons to ballet students, which keeps me aware of my own technique. I love sharing my thoughts and ideas with younger dancers. I am always open to accepting anyone who would like private lessons via zoom. 😊

Jennifer leads a “Move with MCB” ballet basics class on Instagram.

DCA: In your opinion, what is the greatest contribution that your organization makes to your community?

Jennifer: Our organization offers a place for people to forget their troubles and enjoy the art of ballet. We create an environment for around 2 hours, in which a person can completely relax and enjoy what they are watching. It stimulates imagination and creativity in people. The school is also an important start for children to begin to see the value of dancing, whether they grow up to be dancers or grow up to admire the art form.

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida”?

Jennifer: Exactly that. Without culture, humans are not inspired. That is why we have the arts.

We all need to be inspired. We need to be moved by multiple forms of art and entertainment. Florida is full of amazing artists and Miami City Ballet is one of its gems.

Miami City Ballet dancers in Symphonic Dances. Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky©. Photo © Alexander Iziliaev.

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

Jennifer: Without the arts and culture, we have no color in our lives. We need to be inspired and encouraged to open our minds and see what we can create. Going to see a ballet could inspire the next Barishnikov or Maya Angelou to break through. 


This has been part two of a three-part Art Talk feature with some of Miami City Ballet’s Principal dancers. Tune in tomorrow at 8pm ET for our last candid conversation!

If you are interested to take a private lesson with Jennifer, please contact her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenlaurenq

Art Talk: Rainer Krenstetter, Principal dancer with Miami City Ballet

We sat down recently to chat with some of the Principal dancers at Miami City Ballet, and got an inside look into their world and activities with the company.

Rainer Krenstetter was born into a dance family in Vienna where he began his ballet training at the Ballet School of the Vienna State Opera. In 1999, he was accepted into the Royal Ballet School in London and continued his training there until 2000 when he became a corps de ballet member with the Vienna State Opera Ballet. In 2002, he joined the Staatsballett Berlin under the direction of Vladimir Malakhov and went through the ranks up to Principal dancer in 2013. He joined Miami City Ballet as a Principal dancer in November 2014.

Rainer Krenstetter

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Why did you choose a career in the arts?

Rainer: My parents were dancers at the Vienna State Opera in Vienna, Austria, so I grew up in the theater and opera world. As a very young child, I loved going with my parents to spend time backstage — in the dressing room, in the make-up room, the costume department, being around everyone… I just fell in love with the atmosphere of the theater, of the opera.

That was my true passion — the atmosphere of the opera house… the smells, the dust, the different people. I thought, since my parents were dancers, that if I danced I could also be a part of the opera world. So, I danced.

Rainer Krenstetter performs Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna at Staatsballet Berlin. © Bettina Stob

DCA: Have long have you lived and worked in Florida?

Rainer: I started in November 2014. I remember arriving to Florida the day before I started, on November 1. When I landed at the airport, I was wondering… “What is going on here?”…Halloween is not so celebrated where I am from. Upon arriving at the airport I saw all the flight crew, baggage claim attendants, everyone on Lincoln Road and Miami Beach in these costumes. I thought, what is happening here?? Why is there a carnival? So that was my introduction to Florida.

DCA: What was it that attracted you to the United States, and to join Miami City Ballet?

Rainer: I was dancing in Europe from 2000-2014 with Vienna State Opera Ballet and Staatsballett Berlin. During that time, I was performing all over the world but mostly danced classical ballets such as Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Giselle. As an artist, I believe it is important to experience and learn as much as possible. Part of the reason I moved to Florida was to gain new experiences.

Miami City Ballet dancers Tricia Albertson and Rainer Krenstetter performing “Emeralds” from George Balanchine’s Jewels. © Alexander Iziliaev

I have always been interested in the choreography of George Balanchine, but I did not get to dance as much Balanchine in Europe as I wanted to. In Berlin, when our artistic director would ask what works we wanted to perform at our gala, I would always ask to perform works by Balanchine such as Tarantalla, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, and Stars and Stripes.

When I found out that Lourdes Lopez, the artistic director of Miami City Ballet, was looking for a male principal dancer, I knew it was time to pack my bags and head to Florida, as I really wanted to learn more about the Balanchine style and have an opportunity to perform more of his works.

DCA: Tell us a little bit about your organization. What are you currently working on?

Rainer: While we wait until it is safe to perform on stage again in front of audiences, I am keeping busy with my classes, and I am doing a lot of teaching. I am also available for private lessons [contact Rainer via Instagram], and because we have time and the technology available, I can teach all over the world – even to Japan!

Rainer leads an intermediate “Move with MCB” class on Instagram (recording saved to Youtube)

DCA: In your opinion, what is the greatest contribution that your organization makes to you community?

Rainer: In every art form… ballet, visual art, theater, music… what we do is give inspiration to the community. At the venues we perform in throughout Miami, Broward, Palm Beach and Collier counties, I see our community’s reflection. We are open to the entire community in South Florida, not just for the people who can afford a $200 ticket, as we have accommodating ticket prices and opportunities for all audiences to enjoy our shows.

We are here for everyone, and that is what I love about Miami City Ballet. We are dancing for our community, and we see that reflection at our shows. It is very different from what I have experienced anywhere else.

Rainer Krenstetter performs Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna at Staatsballet Berlin. © Bettina Stob

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida”? Why are the arts and culture important to our state?

Rainer: Well, Florida is famous for beaches, parties, Disney World, Harry Potter World… so there is this image of what Florida is. Right now, it is so important to show the other sides to Florida culture. I’m very happy that with the theaters we have in South Florida, these amazing arts centers that we get to perform in and where people and families can experience dance, theater, and opera with amazing artists. This is so important, to bring the arts to the community so they can enjoy, learn and experience many different cultures.

This has been part one of a three-part Art Talk feature with Miami City Ballet’s Principal dancers. Tune in tomorrow at 8pm ET for another candid conversation!

If you are interested to take a class with Rainer, please contact him on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/rainerkrenstetter/

50 YEARS OF THANKS

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The 2019-2020 fiscal year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. Established by the Florida Legislature under the Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs has supported and promoted Florida’s diverse arts and culture community for 50 years. Since 1976, when the division was granted the authority to administer grants funded by the State of Florida and the National Endowment for the Arts, more than $787 million in grant funding has been distributed to every corner of the state in support of the division’s mission to advance, support, and promote arts and culture to strengthen the economy and quality of life for all Floridians.

Relationships are the cornerstone of any community, and the Division of Cultural Affairs has been lucky to have partnered with hundreds of supporters over its five decades. In this post, we will spotlight just a few of the people who have helped us support and celebrate Florida’s vibrant arts and culture community. Continue reading

Meet the Florida Council on Arts and Culture: Pat Williams

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 Pat Williams. Williams was appointed to the council in 2017 by former President of the Senate Joe Negron. 

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

Williams: Art: I study it, I travel to see it, I buy it and though I never did make any of note myself, I cannot imagine life without it. I brought my love of art with me when I moved to Stuart, Florida 22 years ago from Chicago, leaving behind cold winters and the beloved Art Institute. 

Soon after coming to Florida I was tapped to write a weekly column for the Palm Beach Post and then, in 2004, I took on the role of founding editor of Luminaries, Treasure Coast Newspapers’ weekly magazine covering local non-profits and charities. It was a chance to design and edit new weekly publication under the Scripps brand for a couple of years. The next adventure started when I was recruited to join the legendary Boston based PR firm Regan Communications. It was there where I earned any serious PR chops I have today. I served as Vice-President of Florida operations.   After a few years there, I hung out my shingle and opened Pat Williams & Associates, fearing the phone would never ring. We had four clients the first week.

From day one, the firm specialized in breakthrough campaigns built around my mantra: if it’s not first, best or different, then it’s not news. We represented leaders in business, law, finance, bio-medical research, education, philanthropy and the arts, and gathered a few awards along the way.

My zeal for art got rolling in the 1950s when the good Sisters of St. Joseph devoted a full 30 minutes every other Friday to giving us art lessons which meant copying a picture.   The process did not set me on fire, but those pictures that were supposed to inspire us sure did. Surrounded by art at home, I grew up knowing art was as essential to everyday life as knives and forks. I went on to get my degree in English and Anthropology and took most of my electives in art history.

In Martin County, I served on the boards of The Elliott Museum, The Pine School, The Arts Council of Martin County and Woman’s Club of Stuart, where I was president for two years. I joined Impact 100 Martin and Women Supporting the Arts as a founding member. Each organization involved the arts in some way that intrigued me.

For pure joy, I like working with creative people on projects with a steep learning curve that involves risk. To feed that beast, I produced a documentary, “Jane Davis Doggett: Wayfinder in the Jet Age,” two years ago.  It got picked up by PBS and then nominated for an Emmy and is now in syndication. Working with immensely talented people on the film is probably the closest I have come to understanding why artists crave the creative process.

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida”?

Williams: Culture Builds Florida tells me the third most populated state in the nation understands the role culture plays in the life of great nations and great states. Lyndon Johnson said this when the National Endowment for the Arts was funded in 1965, “It is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the vision which guides us as a nation. Art is a nation’s most precious heritage.”

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

Williams: Three reasons: the arts are a proven economic engine; they are powerful force to enrich the lives residents and visitors; and they provide a universal language that creates connection and understanding among people from different backgrounds.

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

Williams: When I see the hard evidence that thriving arts communities become a centerpiece of education, entertainment and economic growth in towns and cities across Florida.

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

Williams: I would like to see the arts more accessible to people in every county in Florida, not just in the population centers.

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. 


Interested in seeing your organization featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/3sMwuJWA3bM1orPl2

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.


Have an event you’d like to see featured as part of this blog series? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/rNFpweK1euL3y9YH2Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion. 

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.