"Light Up The Darkness..."
- Bob Marley -
I'm quite certain that Robert Nesta Marley was not talking about a Lantern Parade when he uttered those words. But he was most certainly using light and darkness as metaphors to say - we can all do better and promote positivity. When Harry Dixon Loes wrote "This Little Light of Mine", the sentiments were the same. Whatever light or positivity or goodness you have within you - let it shine, shine, shine... let it shine.
Perhaps, then, it's no surprise that light had the same inspirational impression on Joseph White - Publisher and Editor in Chief of Jacksonville Magazine when he visited the Atlanta Lantern Parade in 2017. Looking to bring something new, different, and unprecedented to Jacksonville, he decided to see what the appeal of the parade was all about. Once he saw it, you could say a lightbulb went off, and he decided to produce a similar event here in the River City. Pair that with the initiative of raising money for art supplies and equipment and he had the blueprints for a delightful occasion.
Despite a few seemingly disastrous setbacks, 2018's Lantern Parade was a huge success, and this year is anticipated to be even better. In the weeks leading up to the parade - which is set for Saturday, February 16 - there have been multiple lantern making workshops held at various venues around town. People are encouraged to use their creativity to design their own lanterns or light-giving apparatuses and then join in the parade instead of merely watching from the sidelines. The parade route runs from the Riverside Artist Square under the Fuller Warren Bridge and continues down the St. Johns River to the Jacksonville Landing. The Parade itself begins at 7 PM and concludes with a Downtown fireworks show at 9 PM.
This week we got the chance to speak with Joe and learn about the history of the parade, the motivations behind it, and where we can expect to see its light spread next.
“Love Our Locals” by “Laughing Out Loud” - 10 Questions with Monique and Adam Madrid of LOL JAX Film Festival
"When you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist -
Monique and Adam Madrid are the kind of visionaries every community needs.
What started as an idea in passing soon developed into the foundation for what has become the LOL JAX Film Festival - a local Short Film Festival with a mixing in of Stand Up Comedy. The project launched two and a half years ago and has already gained a huge amount of notoriety, recognition, and community support in a relatively short amount of time.
The idea was to create a platform to showcase short films and talent by local community filmmakers, actors/actresses, and comedians while promoting positivity within that same community. Perhaps it was fortuitous that the idea came to Monique while they were attending the 2016 Jacksonville Horror Showcase hosted at Sun-Ray Cinema in Historic Five Points. A little over a year later that very same venue would be the flagship site for their own film festival.
Pairing their love of cinema and filmmaking with a dash of comedy between the lines has proven to be just the right recipe for success for the pair. They have big plans on the horizon as they approach their third year in operation and we're happy they made the time to discuss the past, present, and future of LOL JAX with us.
“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind
Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses - especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
- Leonardo da Vinci -
When you get into the kind of head space where you truly begin to break down, understand, and assimilate the ideas that da Vinci references here, you can easily be perceived as beyond the common sphere of what most consider to be reality. Which, oftentimes, can be quite a shame because the type of mindset that lends itself to this broader conceptualization is typically the type that can also break through paradigms that have often overstayed their welcome among our shared human experience and prevent us from moving forward as humanity. Abstract thought and application are part of the ways by which we evolve as a culture, and it's this same 'just outside of accepted reality' perspective that can get us there.
Jeremy Nix, or perhaps more recognizably, The Balance King, maintains the sort of globalist outlook that, when you slow down, really listen, and consider the words and thoughts he conveys, demonstrates the outcomes of this same mindset. He's an artist that reasons as a scientist, and a scientist that understands how the application of scientific methodology can inform his art.
He also has a pretty delicious sounding recipe for what he calls 'Vegan Chili Crunch' that he shares with us today, along with his very interesting takes on art, existence, and his purpose on this journey.
It's not every day that you get to sit down and talk with an actual living legend - though they are hardly the types to claim that designation on their own. It's even less likely that that individual lives and creates in your same city, so we understand just how lucky we are to not only have an Artist like Paten Locke in Jacksonville, but also to be able to pick his brain for this interview - and, dare we say, call him a good friend!
Considering his extensive, highly impressive resume and insane amount of skill, Paten is extremely unpretentious and down-to-earth. Born in Boston and raised by artist parents, his life has been full of music and creativity since day one. From "digging" through his father's expansive record collections as a child, to amassing a mind-bending collection of his own that threatens the very real possibility of taking over his home, his repertoire runs the gamut from DJ, to emcee, to producer, with some of everything else in between. And while his "spirit is fundamentally and philosophically Hip Hop", his tastes are as vast, eclectic, sophisticated, and it shows in every project that he touches - and there are MANY.
Read on after the jump to get to know the visionary and constantly developing Paten Locke, and understand why he is a mainstay in Duval's Hip Hop history.
Don't Miss A Beat is on a mission to make sure that no child in Jacksonville, Florida gets left behind. For a decade the organization has worked to combat Jacksonville’s high dropout rate as well as other issues that plague our youth in this city. Utilizing the performing arts, academic enrichment, and civic engagement, Don't Miss A Beat has made positive and measurable impacts on our neighborhoods and communities.
This week we spoke with the entire team to find out more about the origins of Don't Miss A Beat, to learn in detail how far they've come and what they've accomplished since the organization's inception, and to get a glimpse of what the future holds for them.
Ravid Kahalani, the creator and mastermind of Yemen Blues, is a musician on a mission - a mission to unite the world with music across cultural and theological boundaries.
Israeli born with Yemenite parents, Kahalani grew up in a religious home that exposed him to Hasidic and Yemenite music from an early age. Ritual trips to the synagogue with his father left a lasting impression on him. “It was a Yemenite synagogue, a very simple building, and I remember the powerful feelings I had as a child when singing the verses of the prayers. It was always about singing and accurately pronouncing verses in a perfect Arabic accent.” (Times of Israel)
An inherent free spirit, Kahalani broke away from his religion and his childhood home as a teenager to discover his own path and find his own way. He described it as a time of "deep exploration" that eventually led him to hard drugs. It wasn't until the age of 20 that he resolved to turn his life around. “I woke up one day with the understanding that I was going to end up a druggie at the central bus station or dead if I don’t stop now,” (Times of Israel)
From that point on he explored healthier outlets of expression from cooking (he spent seven years as a professional chef), to training in dance, performing in the theater, and singing opera. Throughout it all music was the constant and omnipresent driving force in his life. By the age of 25 he knew music was not only his calling, but his destiny.
Yemen Blues is the result of his life's journey thus far and has a sound and style as unique as he is. Rooted in the traditions of Yemenite singing, Yemen Blues threads West African funk, blues, jazz, and other musical traditions together creating a high-energy, danceable experience for young and old.
Yemen Blues will be performing a free concert here in Jacksonville on December 20th at the Jacksonville Jewish Center at 7pm. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to ask Ravid a few questions for our blog this week and got to know the visionary artist behind the music better.
"Talent is no substitute for preparation." - 10 Questions with Musician and Arts Educator, Rashon Medlock
Rashon Medlock is an unassuming individual. Quiet and reserved, his demeanor doesn't boast the wealth of talent, knowledge, or musical dexterity he possesses. That is, until he picks up his guitar and microphone or takes a seat at his piano. It's then that the magic happens and the shy, gentle giant opens up and lets you into his world.
A musician to his core, Rashon writes, composes, and produces music - when he's not teaching music to exceptional and at risk students all around Jacksonville. He understands the value of giving back, why the arts are not only important but integral to our lives and the development of our youth, and why support in and for the community is the cornerstone of our artistic evolution in Jacksonville and beyond.
Rochelle Underdue is a dynamic spirit who has found her path. Everything about her screams movement, passion, and authenticity. Far more than a dance instructor, she aims to translate her fervor for dance into a ministry that leads wandering artistic souls to creative liberation. With already more than ten years of experience under her belt, she is currently enrolled at UNF earning her BFA in Religious Studies. Her endless drive to learn and improve herself feeds her desire to help others break out of the constraints she has often experienced along her journey.
With an infectious positivity, she's making her own way in Jacksonville. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with her and get to know more about what she's doing to change the face of dance in this city, one step at a time.
When speaking on the subject of Arts Advocacy, oftentimes the advocacy efforts stop shy of the Artists themselves. That's why Artist Advocates and co-conspirators like Kate MacKinnon are so valuable and essential to an arts advocacy ecosystem.
A biologist and chemist with a deep love and appreciation for the arts that stretches back to her early childhood, Kate operates KF Mac Consulting - a business consultation firm geared directly at serving Artists and the Arts Community. She observed a need among a deeply underserved artist community in Jacksonville in particular - a need for structured business strategy, branding, marketing, and implementation. This was her inspiration for forming her consultation firm and offering those very services at insanely reasonable costs.
Advocates and co-conspirators like her see a need and fill it with the beneficiary in mind first. If you've ever had the pleasure of encountering Kate, you know what a giving and passionate spirit she has. If not, read on and get to know the Force of Giving that is Kate MacKinnon.
Advocacy manifests in many forms. In the case of Theatre on a Mission, it manifested as the brainchild of a Junior at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts about five years ago. Chelsey Cain, now 24, started the non-profit organization after having spent several years exchanging letters with a pen-pal in Kenya to whom she was introduced through an orphanage by the name of Foundation Stone Children's Center, established by friends of her family serving as missionaries in Africa. At the time she felt compelled to reach out further to her Kenyan friend in an effort to do more for her and her fellow classmates across the globe. The idea to use her passion for theatre as a means to connect and raise money and awareness was the beginning of what would become a growing and thriving non-profit dedicated to bringing the love and joy of performance art to children living in impoverished locations.
Since it's inception in 2014, Theatre on a Mission has executed many successful mission trips to Kenya, Haiti, Costa Rica, and already has plans to expand further. This week we sat down with Chelsey to learn more about Theatre on a Mission and get to know about a small non-profit making a big difference in the lives of the students and families it touches.
Questions? Comments? Submit something for consideration?
Please email Jihan@CulturalCouncil.org