Marsha Hatcher, a South Georgia born visual artist, has lived and created in Jacksonville for the past 25 years. With the preferred mediums of acrylics, oils, and sometimes wood, Hatcher paints expressionistic portraits that adroitly capture a range of gripping emotions conveyed through the faces and bodies of black children, women, and men. Her work will be on exhibit in Through Our Eyes 2018, which opens with Family Fun Day on Saturday, February 3 at the Ritz Theatre and Museum in Jacksonville's historic neighborhood of LaVilla.
2018 marks the 25th anniversary of Through Our Eyes. The group show was the first time Hatcher exhibited her work in Jacksonville after moving to the city in 1989. Since rooting herself in Northeast Florida, she has submitted work for exhibition to 20 of the 25 years that the show has been in production.
The Unstated, The Expressed Intent, and The Driving Inspiration - 10 Questions with Writer Valarie Esguerra
Valarie Esguerra is an accomplished writer, educator, and creative consultant who is native to Jacksonville. She grew up writing, directing, and producing plays for her church, having felt that the available productions were not entirely reflective of her community. Esguerra continued to cultivate her talent for getting to the heart of the matter through her involvement with the local community theatre circuit. She participated in Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre's inaugural season 26 years ago and founder Carson Merry Baillie served as Esguerra's mentor.
Esguerra is one of four Jacksonville artists to participate in the pilot year of Lift Every Student, a collaborative arts integration program between Any Given Child Jacksonville, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, and Duval County Public Schools. Esguerra and musician Lucy Chen and visual artists Sarah Crooks Flaire and Erin Kendrick are working as teaching artists in residence in Duval County's newly appointed arts integration schools during the 2017-18 academic year. The program was funded with the support of PNC through their Arts Alive grant program and private donor and sculptor David Engdahl.
Perfection is a Tired Story - 10 Questions with Writer Hurley Winkler and Visual Artist Aysha Miskin, Creators of Nickname Zine
A zine is most commonly a small-circulation, self-published work that is made using an analog process of cutting out original or appropriated texts and images and then arranging them on a page using tape and paste. Issues are then typically produced using a photocopier, which often results in a grainy, raw publication. Because zines traditionally have low production costs, writers and illustrators are free to take risks and create whatever it is they wish to see in the world.
Zines are the product of either a single person or a collective group. There are a number of zine makers in Jacksonville, including writer Hurley Winkler and visual artist Aysha Miskin who collaboratively create Nickname. Through the zine, Winkler's words are accompanied by Miskin's illustrations to create an independent publication that combats life's woes with humor. Within its pages, readers will find poems, illustrations, letters, journal entries, and collages.
All New Trends and Ideas are Born in the Cultural Underground - 10 Questions with Noli Novak, Senior Hedcut Illustrator for the Wall Street Journal
Visual artist Noli Novak has illustrated hedcuts since 1987 when she first began her career as a Staff Illustrator at the Wall Street Journal. The term hedcut comes from a newsroom abbreviation for "headline cut." They are hand-drawn, pen and ink illustrations. The technique resembles old style engravings and it gives the Journal its iconic look.
Novak recently celebrated 30 years at the Journal. Between her daily assignments and commissioned jobs, she has amassed a portfolio of work that includes tens-of-thousands of hedcuts that have been featured in international publications, corporate brochures, advertising, product and website illustration, and social media avatars. Her client roster includes Jim Beam, Nike, MTV Networks, and Infiniti, just to name a few.
Originally from Croatia, Novak began her career as an artist in New York City. There she met her now husband, Serigrapher George Cornwell, in 1986 and the two bonded over a shared passion for the visual arts and music. Soon after, they formed the band Gluegun, which featured Novak as vocalist, Cornwell on guitar, Jeff Sćios on bass, and Paddy Mike on drums. The group released their first album, Itch, in 1993 on Snob Hill Records. In 1996, they released the B-sides to Itch as a self-released 7" record.
Being Suspended Somewhere Between Cultures - 10 Questions with Multi Discipline Artist and Model Elena Øhlander
Elena Øhlander was born in Minnesota but was raised in Florida. She is a Jacksonville based model and artist who explores several mediums, including photography, illustration, and painting. Øhlander's work will be on exhibit in 1st Things 1st, which opens on Friday, January 12 at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Springfield. This group show features artwork by 30 different First Coast artists and serves as a commentary on the freedoms outlined within the United States of America's First Amendment. Øhlander will also be one of four artists included in the upcoming exhibition Sum + Substance, which opens at The Space Gallery on Friday, February 16. Her work will be featured alongside artists Christie Chandler, Dustin Harewood, and Hiromi Moneyhun.
In connection with the Sum + Substance, Arts Evolution will host a ticketed event on Thursday, February 15 and invites individuals interested in starting or growing their personal and corporate art collections to meet with the artists during an intimately curated experience. The evening will feature artist discussions and a presentation on contemporary art led by Curator and Art Advisor Aaron Levi Garvey. A selection of boutique wines and culinary delectables will be paired with the work of each artist to more fully engage the audience's senses. To maintain intimacy, capacity will be limited to 50 attendees.
I Want To Live In A Way That My Love Speaks Louder Than My Hurts - 10 Questions with Polymath Al Letson
In the spring of 2007, on the soundstage at Austin City Limits, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) launched an initiative titled Public Radio Talent Quest. The objective of the initiative was to identify a new generation of public radio "on-air" talent. The talent quest was designed as a competition between Public Radio Exchange (PRX) and Launch, with each entity responsible for recruiting three original and compelling voices and then working to develop pilot programs for presentation to CPB. Jacksonville Native Al Letson was one of approximately 1,400 hopeful contestants to enter the competition.
In July 2008, Letson and Glynn Washington were named as the winners of the competition. Letson, who had cut his teeth as a poetry-slam veteran, writer, and educator in Northeast Florida, received $200,000 to refine and further develop his pilot program, State of the Re: Union (SotRU), an hour-long program whose stated mission was to "show listeners how we are more alike than we are different and the many ways our differences are celebrated."
In 2014, State of the Re:Union and WJCT were honored with a Peabody Award, an annual award that was first given out in 1941 as a way of honoring the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and online media. SotRU was recognized for its grassroots reporting while also holding itself to high standards of quality and value.
Early Education is a Responsibility Shared Equally Between Teachers and Parents - 10 Questions with Lucy Chen, Pianist and Chair of the Music Department at Edward Waters College
Dr. Lucy Chen migrated from China to North America with her parents when she was seven years old and her family settled in Canada. Chen had a natural love for music as a child and she was drawn to classical, pop, and jazz. It was out of this love of music that a young Chen began taking piano lessons at the encouragement of her mother.
Chen's parents took her schooling very seriously. They viewed music as an important academic subject and because of that, her musical pursuits were not that of a hobbyist. During her adolescent years, Chen spent four-hours each day practicing. She dreaded the long hours of practice but remained dedicated to her development as a musician. It wasn't long before Chen's music teacher asked her to take part in piano competitions. Having access to the arts at an early age set the trajectory for Chen's adult life.
10 Questions with Celia Frank, Managing Artistic Director of Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre (ABET).
In 1993, Carson Merry Baillie approached Atlantic Beach officials with a proposition. It was her desire to stage live theatre productions inside the seaside community's former City Hall building, which in 1991 had been converted into the Adele Grade Community Center. City officials granted Merry Baillie her request and, with the help of three of her drama workshop graduates, Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre (ABET) was founded.
Merry Baillie wrangled a group of volunteers who quickly started investing sweat equity into the company. Together, the group transformed the space into a working community theatre equipped with a stage and risers. Merry Baillie opened the doors of ABET with the purpose of testing the perceptions and assumptions of audiences in Northeast Florida by introducing them to new, exciting, and original plays and musicals. Merry Baillie led from the helm of the company for 13 years and during that time ABET gained a reputation for producing local productions showcasing the work of emerging playwrights, while also creating a space for Broadway productions, revivals, and classics.
Celia Frank joined ABET as the Managing Artistic Director in 2007. Frank has built a career of working in community theatres and with both regional and touring professional companies. Prior to moving to Atlantic Beach, Frank lived in Atlanta, where she worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the major daily newspaper for the Atlanta metropolitan area, in the features department. Upon moving to Atlantic Beach, Frank immersed herself in Greater Jacksonville's arts and cultural sector as a Director, which she continued to do for several years before joining ABET as the sole member of their staff.
There is an age-old adage used to warn the young about the dangers of being overly inquisitive or experimental. The earliest known printed reference to the saying appeared in 1873, in James Allan Mair's A Handbook of Proverbs: English, Scottish, Irish, American, Shakespearean, and Scriptural; and Family Mottoes. It was listed as an Irish proverb and believed to have developed from words written by British playwright Ben Jonson in 1598. That saying is, "curiosity killed the cat."
Keith Marks doesn't believe that curiosity is a dirty word. In fact, he believes that it is a character trait that should be both celebrated and nurtured. This is what led him to co-found Avant Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that explores the arts outside of genre and expectation in an attempt to create a more adventurous community of art appreciators. Fostering curiosity and rewarding it when found is woven into the culture of Avant Arts and serves as a guiding principle for Marks and his co-founding partners.
Marks and audio engineer Moe Ricks recently launched Avant Radio, with the tagline "Curious Music for Curious Minds." The weekly radio program is featured on the airwaves of WJCT 89.9 FM and airs on Thursday nights at 11:00 PM. Shows are themed, curated, sequenced, and then contextualized with the aim of educating and exposing people to new music, cultures, and ways of thinking as it relates to musical tastes. Recaps of the program and selected playlists can be found on Avant's blog.
Being Comfortable In Who We Are - 10 Questions with Your Friendly Neighborhood Nerd, Robert "the Bobbo" Griffin
Imagine, if you will, that you're a child again. You spend your time enamored with comic books and action heroes; fictitious characters who routinely exhibit gallant behavior in page and on screen to serve as the defenders of good in the timeless battled against evil. Your love of these characters is woven into the fabric of your every day life, from the t-shirts you wear, the book bag you carry to school, the games you play on the playground, and even the themes of your birthday parties.
Now, let us pose a question. What effect do you think it has on a child's self esteem when they idolize these characters yet do not see their race or gender represented within the roster of protagonists? In 2011, the academic journal Communication Research published a study conducted by Kristen Harrison and Nicole Martins, two Indian University professors, titled Racial and Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Children’s Television Use and Self Esteem: a Longitudinal Panel Study. Harrison and Martins surveyed about 400 black and white students in Illinois, all 7-to 12-years-old and from lower-middle to upper-middle socioeconomic communities, over a yearlong period. The research focused on how much the kids watched TV and how that impacted their self esteem. What they concluded is that television exposure led to a decrease in self-esteem for white and black girls and black boys, and an increase in self esteem among white boys.
What contributes to this increase or decrease in self esteem? It's simple, representation. Children are affected when their race or gender are not represented or represented negatively in popular culture, whether it's television series, movies, comic books, or literature. Historically, young white boys have had greater access to positive media representation. This type of exposure helps young white boys believe that anything is possible, and that they can attain, achieve, and even be heroes. If popular culture reinforces gender and racial stereotypes, then exposure to media can impact how children of color, girls, gender nonconforming youth, or children with disabilities evaluate themselves or see their place in the world.
Robert Griffin, a man who has given himself the title Your Friendly Neighborhood Nerd, is an ardent advocate for diversity and inclusion within the arts and media, with a specific focus on nerd and geek culture. Griffin, who is also known to many as the Bobbo, is passionate about seeing more people of color (POC) and females working as illustrators, writers, and editors of comic books and animated series, as well as owning and operating comic book and hobby shops. He uses outlets such as his blog and podcasts, Geek Street Radio and Bobbo's Block, to spread his message.
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