Located at 112 E Adams Street, The 5 & Dime is a nonprofit theatre company that opens its doors to artists of all disciplines whose passions, skills, drive, and enthusiasm need a place to call home. The theatre was founded by a group of artists and friends in 2011 who came together with a common goal of developing Jacksonville's arts and culture community, with the specific intention of seeing theatre productions within the urban core. Advocating for change and then actually defining an approach to achieve that change can feel overwhelming. This may be one of the reasons why individuals adopt an apathetic attitude, one that is echoed by sentiments such as "it is what it is." Instead of accepting things as they were, when questioning who could serve as agents of change, the 5 & Dime's founding group thought "Why not us?". With that belief in mind, they sought ways to harness their talents to enrich life in Northeast Florida.
Initially nomadic out of necessity, The 5 & Dime dedicated the first five years of operations to building their brand while keeping their overhead low. They partnered with various hosting venues when bringing their productions to life. In February 2017 the company scaled its operations and found a stable home in Jacksonville's urban core. They now reciprocate to the creative community the same hospitality that they were previously shown by opening the doors to their 80-seat theater and lobby gallery to artists looking for a place to host performances and exhibitions.
In his 1976 book "The Selfish Gene," biologist and author Richard Dawkins coined the word meme as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads. Internet memes are the byproduct of the digital age. They are most often images or videos that are accompanied by mimicry or humorous captions and they spread rapidly from one person to another through online channels. Memes are now shared most broadly through social media but they gained their initial popularity in message boards and blogs. Acting as inside jokes, the memes of message boards provided a self-reflective commentary on niche subcultures.
Memes have now made their way into the mainstream and often relate to news accounts, social interactions, or pop culture happenings. They serve as both commentary and parody. This type of mockery existed in the art world well before memes were a part of our common vernacular. In some ways, memes can be viewed as a second coming of the Dada art movement, which spanned from 1916 through 1924 and served as commentary on materialism and nationalistic attitudes that arose after World War I.
This relationship is not lost on fine artist Tony Rodrigues, who is also an avid art historian. Through painting, photography, and printmaking, Rodrigues creates work that appropriates images from popular culture and places them in different contexts. It isn't uncommon for Rodrigues's work to incorporate timeworn materials, such as old textbooks, magazines, and safety manuals that he bought at garage sales and thrift stores. In his work, Rodrigues employs images from past and present alike to create a skewed sense of nostalgia. His repurposed images convey feelings that range from quiet levity to somber introspection.
In the simplest terms, Aaron Levi Garvey is an arts professional. In more detailed terms, he is a writer, lecturer, consultant, and an independent curator of museums, galleries, and non-traditional spaces. In 2015, Garvey co-founded Long Road Projects (LRP) with his wife, Stevie Covart Garvey. The artist residency program and edition publishing house serves as a platform for artistic experimentation, community engagement, and education. Since its inception, LRP has hosted five resident artists, including: Lala Abaddon, Gamaliel Rodriguez, Tameka Norris, Joshua Short, and Paul Weiner. The foundation also recently announced the fall and winter 2017 residencies of Curtis Santiago and Sheida Soleimani.
Garvey is also the newest arts professional to be appointed to the Art in Public Places Committee, which consists of 11 Mayor-appointed volunteers. The Committee is composed of two members from the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville's Board of Directors, three arts professionals, and six community representatives. The Committee is responsible for commissioning artists and artworks for the Art in Public Places Program. They oversee the selection, placement, installation, and maintenance of art on City-owned public property.
Get Real, Get Committed, and Do the Work - 10 Questions with Filmmaker, Writer, and Painter Dr. Nadia Ramoutar
Our comfort zone is the behavioral space where we feel at ease due to an established degree of familiarity, security, and certainty. We have higher control of our environment when we are inside of our respective comfort zones. Our activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes anxiety and risk. Stepping outside of our comfort zones, however, has massive benefits related to performance and creativity.
We have been programed to view stress as a psychological state that should be avoided. But, in reality, there are healthy forms of stress that can actually serve as a catalyst for growth, personal development, and ultimately transformation. Directly outside of our comfort zones, but not too far outside of our comfort zones, is an area referred to as the optimal performance zone.
We expose ourselves to new challenges and tasks when we enter into this zone. As a result, we may experience increased levels of uncertainty, which is often followed by fear. Typically, what we fear most about new challenges is that we may fail. But, in retrospect, when was the last time you felt a deep sense of accomplishment that didn't result from overcoming and completing something that challenged you either emotionally, mentally, or physically?
Dr. Nadia Ramoutar spent the last 10-years teaching at The Art Institute of Jacksonville. Prior to her position at Ai, she taught at Flagler College for 9-years. This summer, Dr. Ramoutar decided to exit the world of academia and pursue a career as a full-time freelance creative. You could say that she has stepped outside of her comfort zone in a big way.
Maintaining A Connection To Your Environment - 10 Questions with Mixed Media Visual Artist Crystal Floyd
Visual artist Crystal Floyd uses found and re-purposed objects to assemble mixed-media curiosity cabinets and three-dimensional installations. Floyd approaches her work in a manner that is similar to an anthropologist. She exhibits an inquisitiveness for the natural world and how we as humans interact with it. Her creative process incorporates elements of art, history, and science, with research, collecting, and cataloging playing integral roles in the development of a piece. Floyd's curios, dioramas, and displays allow viewers to examine and mull over individual components found within the work, while the pieces themselves represent a larger narrative.
As an artist, Floyd has the ability to create scenes within her work that are completely familiar yet entirely foreign at the same time. Vintage images and items, succulents, insects, and objects found on the shorelines are elements that are present throughout her work. These materials create feelings of wonderment, nostalgia, and impermanence.
Floyd's connection to the natural world extends beyond her work as an artist. She is currently working to launch a new business venture, Lazy Jay's Tour Company. Through this endeavor, Floyd will share with others the places and activities that she believes make this region uniquely special. Tour packages will vary based on an individual's interests and abilities, but patrons can expect to visit natural springs, lesser known beaches, and both the state and national parks that are sprinkled throughout Northeast Florida.
Lily Yeh was born in southwestern China in the province of Guizhou, one of China's most diverse territories. The region is relatively undeveloped economically, but rich in natural and cultural resources. Yeh, who was raised in Taiwan and moved to the United States in the early 1960s, has dedicated more than 30 years of her life to urban alchemy. Her lifework is to use art as a vehicle and promote imagination and collaboration as tools to transform decay into vitality; and trauma and despair into hope and joy. Alongside members of the neighborhoods and villages in which she works, Yeh implements projects that foster community empowerment, improve the physical environment, promote economic development, and preserve indigenous art and culture.
Yeh studied classical Chinese painting during her formative years growing up in Taiwan. She received her Bachelor of the Arts (BA) degree from National Taiwan University in 1963. Later that same year, Yeh migrated to the United States to attend the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated from the private Ivy League university with her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in 1966.
Yeh worked as a studio artist and in academia after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. She served as an Instructor of Art History at West Chester University for two years before pivoting to an Assistant Professor role, and eventually one of a tenured Professor, at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Yeh didn't embark upon her first public art project until 1986, during which she founded The Village of Arts and Humanities, an organization rooted in artist-facilitated community building.
In 2002, Yeh founded Barefoot Artists, a non-profit organization that aims to train and empower local residents, organize communities, and take action for a more compassionate, just, and sustainable future. The organization, which is made up of a network of volunteers, travels to international destinations and uses art to advance initiatives focused on imporving health, education, and economic development. The name is derivative of the barefoot doctor system, set up by Mao Zedong in 1960s China, which gave farmers basic medical training to bring health care into rural areas.
There are certain words in the english language that have a clearly identifiable definition and form. For instance, if you were asked to draw a chair, regardless of your artistic abilities, there is a high probability that the image rendered would be of a piece of furniture used for sitting, most likely with four legs and back support. Other words, which either have more complex definitions or are open to broader interpretations, would result in a wide range of different images. Cool is one such word.
What does it mean to be cool? The word itself is abstract in nature and how it is defined is subjective to a person's perception and lived experiences. As a personal attribute, coolness is an amalgamation of how one looks, how one thinks, and how one behaves. When we think of coolness embodied, we often think of individuals who maintain their poise and composure, even when faced with overwhelming circumstances that are outside of their control. All of this combined leads me to conclude one thing, Princess Simpson Rashid is cool.
My introduction to Rashid occurred shortly after I began working at the Cultural Council. In August 2016, Rashid was one of several visual artists who participated in a story telling event, facilitated by Barbara Colaciello, at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. The event was in connection to "Lift: Contemporary Expressions of the African American Experience." Rashid, clad in a leather jacket in the style of James Dean, Marlin Brando, or Arthur Fonzarelli, was joined on stage by fellow artists Thony Aiuppy, Ingrid Damiani, and Roosevelt Watson, all of whom took turns telling personal stories - stories that touched on exposure to the arts at an early age, how they embarked on their careers in the arts, and triumphs and tragedies they have experienced along the way. Rashid, an abstract painter and printmaker, spoke with a cadence that gave the illusion that her rhythm is set by an internal, well tuned metronome
10 Questions with Dr. Tru Leverette, Associate Professor of English and Director of African American Studies at UNF
Dr. Tru Leverette is a shining example of what an educator can, and should, be. She is passionate about her role as an educator, and you realize this within a few moments of being in her presence. Access to knowledge transforms an individual, and Dr. Leverette believes that it is not her responsibility to tell her students what to think, but rather, it is her responsibility to equip them with the tools that will enable them to think for themselves.
Dr. Leverette is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of African-American/African Diaspora Studies at University of North Florida's (UNF) College of Arts and Sciences. She has authored a number of articles and essays, including "On Being Brown," which was published in "Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out." Dr. Leverette is currently working on an edited collection titled "Against the Grain: Iconoclasts of the Black Arts Movement", which is under review at the University of Georgia Press.
On Thursday, July 13, Dr. Leverette was part of a panel discussion hosted by the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) in connection with the Ritz Theatre and Museum. The event was in support of the traveling exhibit "Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of First," which is on display at the Ritz until Monday, July 31. In addition to Dr. Leverette, the panel, which was moderated by Shawana Brooks, included visual artist Roosevelt Watson III and visual artist/arts professional Hope McMath. The theme of the panel was art as a means of self expression and identity, with a focus on the particular impact art has had on African American communities and the civil rights discourse.
Knopf & Sons Bindery has operated in Springfield for over 50 years. You'll find the unassuming shop off Florida Avenue - surrounded by a mix of commercial buildings and modest homes. When the wind is just right, the smell of bread and croutons wafts across the street from Duval Baked Goods. You wouldn't know it by driving by, but inside the walls of Knopf & Sons, employees, many of whom are either family members or come from the adjacent neighborhood, are printing materials for some of the biggest names in the global marketplace.
Knopf & Sons started as trade book binder, meaning a different business printed the books and they then assembled the pages and covers. Their clients consist of globally recognized brands, such as National Geographic and Rolls-Royce. As the marketplace changed the company saw a need to change with it. Their business model evolved into a full-service publisher, which led to the development of a new brand, OnLine Binding.
Still operating out of the same building, OnLine Binding is a full-service company, offering independent publishing, layout, digital printing, binding, and distribution. They even operate an online bookstore. The target audience for OnLine Binding is different than Knopf & Sons because instead of Business to Business, OnLine Binding markets their services to individuals interested in self-publishing their works.
The services of Knopf & Sons and OnLine Binding are not reserved for writers alone. Visual artists in Jacksonville, such as Kue King and Daniel Newman (in collaboration with Aaron Levi Garvey of Long Road Projects), have used OnLine Binding to create tangible portfolios and beautifully constructed artist books. Their services can also benefit arts organizations, non-profit organizations, and Jacksonville's small businesses because, in addition to books, the company also prints marketing materials such as door hangers and calendars.
Cheyenne Williams is the Marketing Manager at OnLine Binding. She is also the granddaughter of the founder of Knopf & Sons. In addition to her work as a service provider within the industry, Williams is also the President of the Florida Writers Association, an organization she has been involved with since 2010.
The June 28-July 4 issue of Folio Weekly Magazine features a cover story that focuses on Mal Jones, a hip hop MC, events coordinator, mentor, and arts ambassador. Jones hosts the The Lyricist Live, a monthly open mic cypher, which started in 2011, set in the streets of downtown Jacksonville during Art Walk. During the event, MCs step out of the crowd and up to the microphone to showcase their lyrical skills. The environment is supportive and aspiring rappers are given the opportunity to artistically express themselves and hone their craft.
Jones created The Lyricist Live as a way to pay tribute to the forefathers of hip hop, a musical genre with roots that trace back to the 1970s and the Bronx, New York. It is no wonder that this genre resonates with Jones, because he himself was born in the Bronx in the mid 70s. Jones has helped develop Jacksonville's hip hop scene, making him a centerpiece within that community.
The Lyricist Live has a zero tolerance policy for cussing and fighting. Jones, who isn't shy about promoting the importance of a well rounded vocabulary and exposure to the arts, has served as a mentor to Jacksonville's youth and emerging MCs. One MC that felt the effects of The Lyricist Live and was influenced by Jones is Flash the Samurai.
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