MUSIC IS THE HEALING FORCE OF THE UNIVERSE Pensacola African Americans Set Tone for Jazz & Blues
Counting Syllables and Connecting Community
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Editor’s Note Editor’s Note Editor’s Note Good morning, Pensacola! What a strange placeisweitfind ourselves already? in this spring. The novel How August coronavirus COVID-19 hasThese arrived in our How is it still 2020? community and, although we have so far Let been Somehow, here we are in February of 2021. two questions may seem luckier than many, the fight to keep it from that sink in. February. I but don’tI know about you, contradictory, can assure you spreading continues. We went to print with I am feeling them both equally— but time has become such a strange concept this issue on March 30. At that time, Escambia I don’t think I On amcases alone. to me and during thehad pandemic. one hand, County 42 confirmed and Santa Rosa had 30. Those numbers rose quickly once everything is dragging and This year is just tooalong much. Allitofseems it—thelike testing was expanded. Too quickly. The fact is, we willpolitics, never get past this crisis. On theI’m other the pandemic, the pundits. over we don’t know who might have the virus or be this weeks month are we chose tobyfocus on a hand, it. theSo, work flying and as carrying the virus without symptoms. That is relaxing and we, playful “P”aword: whymore it is essential as a community, soon asmuch I’ve wrapped up that one deadline, wholestay Pets.home Whoasdoesn’t go all gooey inside over as at humanly possible--leaving slew of new onesmuch follow its heels. I suppose an adorable kitten oressentials. a playfulI pup? Only only for absolute like the idea, too, that’s athe good problem to have—work. Here at most heartless among us, I suspect. of practicing physical distancing rather than Ballinger social Publishing, weWe arecan grateful ourvia distancing. remainfor social Adoptions are on the rise during the pandemic this modern world—phone advertisersmany andavenues readersinwho have continued to andcalls, it’s easy see why. Pets alleviate the stress, texts,tovideo calls—and I encourage support us through the pandemic, the hurricane boredom andtoloneliness of social distancing everyone stay connected to their tribe. Weand and alluncertain thedon’t chaos ofwhat theThere last year Wethings take futures. may or be many know tomorrow willso. bring and great pride bringing the best of the region out we ofin our control in 2020, but we can provide all need to feel connected to something or someone in order get through loving home to a sweet pet andfinding get this. more to the apage each month. Weto enjoy love than we could have imagined in new people places profile and wereturn. love Onand the topic of to physical distancing, in our While the Pensacola Humane Society has had COVID-19 guide, you will see that highlighting the arts,resource entertainment, business, great success with adoptions and fostering Pensacola neighborhoods community and history of our town. So,and thanks forthatgroups thishave year, thosefair who love animals found several clever, uniqueknow and safe ways readingtheand thanks advertising with us. a shelters are for never empty. There is always to stay connected and to make a difference pet while infor need, so ifend snuggling up to a sweet kitty Let’s hope apracticing swift to thedistancing. pandemic physical I must or playing fetch with a playful pup sounds say, I am very impressed with the outpouring and a robust 2021 for our local economy.
likeofa good waysupport to passI some time, check my love and have seen amongst Pensacolians—yeah, out fellow our adoptable pet profilesthe ontoilet pagepaper 34.
In this issue of Pensacola Magazine, ourmore focus is hoarding was weird, but there are than got Parks some stories for ourat up enough peoplefeel-good givingan of pet themselves to make on art.We’ve Dakota offers in-depth look readers well.I get Gina Castro met with some for it.asCan a big round of applause for our how the pandemic has affected local artists and arts organizations. While it hasn’t been a great
first responders and hospital workers? Thank you for putting yourselves onand the front incredible special-needs pets their lines owners to keep us as safe asthat possible. big shout and she discovered whileAlso, thesea precious outfor tomay all teachers there scrambling to we are year thethe arts, I feelout certain that, once babies take a little more care, the love put together online lessons to keep our kids they give return is worth able, our in community will every rally second. around our local engaged and learning instead of worrying about
arts groups and offer the Pensacola support cannot We appreciate you! we If things exoticthey animals arecontrol. more your thing, head are known for.brand In addition, Castro dives on over to the spankingGina new and On that note, I encourage you to read our deep into the impressive history of Jazz Zoo. and significantly enlarged Alabama Gulf Coast COVID-19 Resource Guide, which provides The new location features all the hands-on, up Blues in Pensacola. It’s quite the legacy and resources for food, business, community close interaction as the previous location plus andworth more. The well the ever-changing read. While nature many ofvenues and added attractions, amenities and experiences this crisis necessitates that I mention that exhibits events are in limbo, a few interesting that willresources make for a wonderful day out. these may or may not family be available and gatherings are happening in February. In to you by the time you read this issue. I If you’re interested in conservation, check out celebration Blacka place History Month, hope it will of provide to start, some Voices DakotaorParks story on local Panhandle Rooftop someis inspiration either ofideas Pensacola presenting an way. exhibit titled Nesting Biologist, Rebekah Snyder. Through Black Citizenship inthat theFlorida, Agehave of Jim Crow. The You may also notice we some nonher work with Audubon Snyder helps pandemic related stories in this issue. We made exhibit details the black experience in America to ensure local shorebirds have safe nesting the call include already planned that through aanvariety of lenses. For articles the more spaces in to increasingly overpopulated region. might still be helpful, relevant or enjoyable for literary among us, The Westthem Florida Literary Weahope you find Allour ofreaders. this, plus few DIY pet treat useful. Federation will host Haiku Slam recipes and some goodanews from the in February As for us, Pensacola Magazine has been after issuing a Haiku Challenge in January. Florida legislature regarding protection published under one title or another for
formore petsthan in abusive situations. 40 years. We have no plans on
I hope all of you to stay safe and changing that. Wecontinue will continue to publish So, turn off the news, put down your phone and to bring you all the information we healthy during these trying times. Ifcan you and enjoy these heartwarming tales and for as long as we can. Please reach out to us can, take some time to support local adorable of photos of local animals and artists with story ideas, inspiration or just a quick the folksWe who for them. When by attending one of the upcoming artwe hello. are care all working from homeyou’re and done, give your kitty acooler little buying catnip and are missing ourof water conversations. events (safely, course!), local art or throw your dog a bone. It’s these simple donating favorite artsstrong, organization. Stay safe,to stayyour healthy and stay Pensacola! pleasures that will keep us all sane.
Kelly Oden Kelly Oden Kelly Oden Executive Editor Executive Editor
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Contents FRED LEVIN: LARGER THAN LIFE WITH A HEART OF GOLD 12 Remembering beloved Pensacola native, revered trial lawyer and generous philanthropist, Fred Levin.
DISMANTLING RACISM THROUGH EDUCATION
African American Heritage Society brings more meaning to Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow exhibit.
Join the West Florida Literary Federation and the Poets Roundtable for its newest community event.
MUSIC IS THE HEALING FORCE OF THE UNIVERSE 22 Pensacolians reflect on the history and impact of jazz and blues.
KEEPING THE ARTS ALIVE
Creating art and surviving amidst a global pandemic, financial hardship and even a hurricane is no easy feat. The Pensacola art community has shown perseverance through the unexpected.
IN EVERY ISSUE Editorâ€™s Letter
Page 10 with DeeDee Davis
SPECIAL SECTIONS Business Climate On the Market
ON THE COVER: Grace Kim, Principal Second Violin, Pensacola Symphony Orchestra photo by Guy Stevens
8 Pensacola Magazine
FEBRUARY 2021 Owner Malcolm Ballinger Publisher Malcolm Ballinger firstname.lastname@example.org Executive Editor Kelly Oden email@example.com Art Director Guy Stevens firstname.lastname@example.org Graphic Designer/Ad Coordinator Garrett Hallbauer email@example.com Editor Gina Castro firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Editor Dakota Parks email@example.com Contributing Writers DeeDee Davis Editorial Interns Faima Mastrangelo Sky Rivera Sales & Marketing Paula Rode, Account Executive ext. 28 firstname.lastname@example.org Becky Hildebrand, Account Executive ext. 31 email@example.com
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PAGE 10 with DeeDee Davis
“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.” – George Carlin Have you ever really considered how very important music is in your life? I feel that my whole personal history could be easily chronicled by a long string of songs. Where words just don’t seem like enough, music takes over as a form of expression that touches every emotion and every nerve. I can’t hear a song by Tennessee Ernie Ford or Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass without smelling Sunday dinner cooking. Coming home from church as a child, the house was filled with deliciousness drifting out of the kitchen where my mother prepared a mid day feast for our family. It was usually fried something with mashed potatoes and, of course, gravy, along with whatever vegetables were fresh. This was important as the vegetables hopefully negated the power of the cup of bacon grease that was used to season every dish we ever consumed. My mom would hum happily to “16 Tons” while we washed up and my dad planned for the afternoon football game on a rabbit ears TV set. One chord by either artist and I can describe my Easter dress when I was 8 and recall fists flying as my younger brothers fought over the last pork chop. Growing up in the South, everyone has some memory of Hank Williams. Whenever I hear his unmistakable twang, I can almost taste the mud at Lake Martin, where my father dared to take us on a camping trip one summer. I might add that I have never since ventured out to do anything that even remotely resembles camping. The seven of us slept in a tent by the lake’s shore as part of the big adventure. My poor dad – he meant so well. The mosquitos ate us alive and rocks poked us through the thin sleeping bags no matter how or where we placed them. The days were a blast as the five of us kids played in the water while Mom read and Dad 10 Pensacola Magazine
during that time. It was high school and he was one of the first to have a cassette player. We would crank it up so loud that the windows shook, because this is exactly how you should play Hendrix. Our group was mostly typical kids of the day, except that we worried about our friends getting drafted and sent to Vietnam.
napped as Ole Hank sang on the transistor radio. We sang “Kaw liga” and “Hey, Good Lookin’” with all the gusto of the Vienna Choir Boys and I am certain this is when my mother invented “the quiet game.” The trip was cut short as my dad did not want a divorce and we all wore him down with our crying and scratching.
I am a product of the SEC, and the first notes to the Auburn fight song still give me chills and thrills that are unsurpassed. I watch most of the games now from the comfort of home, but the band starts and I am there with my pom poms. Cool temperatures, changing colors in the trees, a sold out stadium, and the roar as the team takes the field – how much better does it get?
I was 10 when the Beatles first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” I screamed and jumped and thought I would die from sheer pleasure as they sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I vowed on the spot that I would marry Paul McCartney. My perplexed younger siblings watched but didn’t get it… yet. I taught my mother how to do the twist and the jerk as we played “Meet the Beatles” on the hi fi in our living room. Every 10 and 11 year old mastered these moves while soaking up every second of “American Bandstand.” Those early Beatles songs remind me of growing into a social conscience in a time challenged with change.
During my short stint in the Florida Legislature, a sizable delegation of us attended an education conference in Orlando. After dinner one evening we were all invited to a party honoring some teachers of the year, with Chubby Checker there to entertain. I was one of the lucky ones that he helped up on stage to twist while he sang his classic “Do the Twist.” Talk about a dream come true! Forever I will consider this one of my proudest moments as I twisted with the one and only Chubby Checker. Everyone in that room put aside partisan politics and let the music work its magic. More music!
Tom Jones came on the radio as I made my first solo drive in the coolest car my father ever bought. I was 16, and if you don’t understand the importance of graduating from the family dodge station wagon to a brand new sporty green Pontiac Firebird, you haven’t lived. He’s still singing (Tom Jones, not my dad as he isn’t much of a singer) and sends me to a place where everything smells like new car and pure freedom. Jimi Hendrix belted out “Fire” almost every time I rode in my good friend Tim Steigerwald’s car
I could go on. Every significant memory I have stored in my pea brain has some kind of music association, though there are gaps when the music stopped for a while. But, mercifully, it always starts again and dancing will surely follow. “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ballinger Publishing.
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FRED LEVIN Larger Than Life with a Heart of Gold
In Memorium March 29, 1937 – January 12, 2021 Legendary Pensacola personality and revered trial lawyer Fred Levin died on January 12, 2021 from COVID-19. by Kelly Oden photo by Guy Stevens
ensacola Magazine and the Pensacola community mourn the loss of litigator and philanthropist, Fred Levin. The legendary Pensacola personality and revered trial lawyer passed away on Jan. 12, 2021, from COVID-19. In honor of Mr. Levin, we are running the following interview, which originally ran in the Summer 2017 issue of Coming of Age Magazine. Our hearts go out to Mr. Levin’s family and friends, of which there are many. Fred Levin is perhaps best-known as the trial lawyer who brought down big tobacco, but locals know he was also one of the most generous philanthropists our community has ever known. Levin gave millions of dollars to the causes closest to his heart. He donated to big name organizations like the University of Florida; The Studer, Levin, Bear, Switzer YMCA; The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition; and the University of West Florida. In addition to these big dollar contributions, Levin gave significant donations to smaller nonprofits like The Children’s Cancer Society and Gulf Coast Kids House, along with countless smaller grants to area nonprofits, little league teams, and
even individuals. Levin’s charitable giving has changed many lives for the better and has significantly contributed to the growth and renaissance Pensacola has seen in recent years. Levin was born on March 29, 1937, in Pensacola. He grew up in a conservative Jewish household, with his mother (Rose), father (Abe), and brothers (David, Herman, Stanley, Martin, and Allen). Levin’s father owned a local pawnshop where Levin would often fill in. As an undergraduate at the University of Florida, Levin was more interested in socializing than academics. That changed when he entered law school at the University of Florida College of Law in 1958. He spent three years working hard and he graduated third in his class—first in what was left of the original freshman class. Levin found that he enjoyed being praised for his mind rather than his dancing skills—and so, his lifelong relationship with success began. Levin has been honored with many awards and accolades in his life and career. He has been named Trial Lawyer of the Year; he is a member of the prestigious Inner Circle of
Advocates; he holds multiple records for highest verdicts; he has been recognized in every edition of Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America and Best Trial Lawyers; and he is a member of the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame. While his legal accomplishments could fill volumes, Levin also found tremendous success as a boxing manager and was awarded the Rocky Marciano Award for National Boxing Manager of the Year. Fred was also a passionate advocate for racial equality and civil rights. Additionally, Levin was named a chief in the country of Ghana. He is one of three to receive this great honor along with Shirley Temple Black and Barbara Jordan. COA: What was your boyhood like growing up in Pensacola? FL: I thought it was fabulous. You have to go back to the late 30s and then World War II. I never knew anything else and life felt very good. I certainly did not see prejudice or anything along those lines. Although I wasn’t good at it, I enjoyed sports. I played basketball and baseball and things of that nature. The 50s were fabulous times—this was after the Korean War, so during that break
between high school and college. Basically, the 40s and 50s were great times for me. COA: Your father owned a pawn shop in Pensacola when you were growing up. Were you very involved in that? FL: Yes, and I think it had a lot to do with my legal career. When he would go to lunch or go out to coffee, I basically ran the store. It got to a point that as people would come in, I could almost identify what they did just by looking at them. I was able to identify what they wanted, their occupation, etc… This became very helpful as I got into the practice of law and jury trials and things like that. COA: I understand that as an undergraduate, you weren’t the best student. FL: I had a fun time in college. When I got through with my four years, I had really learned nothing, but I had enjoyed it so much, I wanted to stay longer. The easiest way to do that was three years of law school. So, I applied to law school. You had to have a degree to get into law school— that’s the only thing you needed. So, I had to go to summer school in order FEBRUARY '21
FRED LEVIN: LARGER THAN LIFE WITH A HEART OF GOLD
to get the grades to get my degree and go into law school. COA: In law school you changed. You became more motivated and worked much harder on your studies. What changed? FL: I thought that this was going to be a continuation of my undergraduate time, but on the first day of law school, the dean said, ‘look to your right, look to your left, neither one of them will be here when you graduate.’ Now, of course the guy on my right and the guy on my left were looking at me. I realized that this wasn’t going to be a continuation. So, I started really studying and for three years I did not do any playing. I did nothing but study, study, study and it started something that really continued all through my law practice—and that is preparation. It had so much to do with doing well in law school and then doing well in the practice of law. COA: At that point you had met your wife. I understand that when the two of you met, she wasn’t particularly impressed. FL: No and she had good reason. I was introduced to her by my roommate who later became my dear friend and followed me to Pensacola, Fred Vigodsky. I fell in love almost immediately and I don’t think she did. COA: How did you win her over? FL: I think that all in all, she figured that I would be a safe bet for her. I
14 Pensacola Magazine
think she had been in love with a guy in high school and she figured I would be an easy person for her to date and she wouldn’t have to give up her love. COA: But then the two of you fell in love. FL: Yes. We were married in 1959 and I graduated in 1961. COA: You famously went up against big tobacco and won. How did that journey begin? How much of a struggle was it? FL: I had a major victory in the railroad case and as a result, I was accepted into a very exclusive fraternity called the Inner Circle of Advocates, which was limited to 100 lawyers. They have a seminar once a year and I had gone to it and I was sitting there, smoking a cigarette and having a drink when one of the members came up to me and asked if I would like to be part of this case against big tobacco. I actually told him no because I knew that no one had ever defeated big tobacco or received anything from them. Anyhow, I went back to my home in Pensacola and I saw that there was a statute that, with a few changes, would have allowed the state of Florida to sue big tobacco. At that time, I was counsel to the president of the Florida Senate, W.D. Childers. Long story short— he decided to sponsor the changes and we went to the Governor and he agreed to the changes. At the last
minute in the legislative session, we got the bill passed and that became the tobacco statute that allowed the state of Florida to sue. We ended up settling the state of Florida case for $13 billion back then. The other states were going to follow suit. There happened to be a national settlement with big tobacco that, among many things other than money, forced them to withdraw a bunch of things they had been doing and a lot of the money went toward the anti-tobacco advertising. The bottom line is that it did cut smoking down 20 percent. There are 100,000 American lives that are saved each year because of this statute that was basically adopted nationally. It makes me feel good to know that, as a result of some stupid little thing, each year we save about same number of American lives that we lost in Korea and Vietnam combined. COA: How many years did that take and were you always pretty confident of winning? FL: No, not at all. In fact, I always thought that tobacco was so strong they would get it defeated. Actually, the following year after we passed the statute, the legislature—through tobacco—overturned the statute. Then, Governor Chiles vetoed the overturning. The following year they came within one vote of overturning the veto. So, a lot of things had to
happen for this to eventually become what it did. It was called the most significant piece of health care legislation ever passed in this country. COA: After that, you became very well-known and very wealthy. You decided to donate 10 million dollars to your alma mater, the University of Florida Law School. In return, they named the law school the Frederic G. Levin College of Law. This naming was met with a lot of push back from the Florida legal community. How did that relationship change over the years? FL: I’m not so sure that it’s changed at all. It certainly started me in a direction of making contributions to different charities—everything from the law school to IHMC to UWF and from the Children’s Cancer Camp to Gulf Coast Kids House. These are all major contributions. I think the lowest of any of them was the camp and it was $300,000. Basically, it goes back to family. My father left me with the idea that once you’ve taken care of your family, make sure you do what you can from a philanthropic standpoint. That’s basically what I’ve done. COA: Your larger donations, are those things you plan or are they spur of the moment?
Looking back, I don’t know what I would have changed. For a Jewish boy from Pensacola, Florida, it’s been a good ride.”
FL: The biggest donation, which was to the law school, was spur of the moment. The dean and the major fundraiser came to see me. They wanted me to talk to another lawyer about him making a 6 million dollar contribution to put his name on a new building. The dean said for 10 million dollars we will put his name on the college. I got to thinking about it and I had just received a lot of the tobacco money. I said I might consider that. Within 15 minutes, I made the decision to do it. COA: I understand that part of that decision was that you wanted to kind of stick it to the legal community. Tell me about that. FL: I was getting excellent results in my law practice and for whatever reason, those attorneys and law firms that represented the other side—the insurance companies, the medical profession, the major corporations—they were upset and probably rightfully so. They left the impression that I was doing something unethical, which was not the case. In fact, I bent over backward trying to play by the rules and get good results, which I did. They would make comments and so it just happened that it came at the right time for me to ‘stick it to them,’ as you say, which I did. Then they really got upset. Here I had taken the major law school in Florida and put my name on it. They really got upset then.
COA: You’ve been named Trial Lawyer of the year and you’ve won many big cases. Tell me a little bit about your process or legal philosophy that has granted you so much success. FL: When I got to law school and they said ‘look to your left, look to your right,’ I wanted to stay for the three years, so for the first time I really, really started studying. I really started preparing. And actually, instead of one out of three graduating it was really one out six. Of the 360 that started with me, 60 graduated. Of those 60, I graduated number one. For the first time in my life, instead of being the fun guy, I was getting credit for being something else, which was bright and smart. I had never had that. I was always the fun guy. Instead of having good grades, I was probably the best dancer in high school and college. For the first time I was getting credit for being something other than the fun guy. So, when I started practicing law, the same thing followed through. I would be more prepared than the next guy, and as a result, I started getting good verdicts. That gave me a good reputation and the reputation, with the kind of law I practiced, m e a n t m o re m o n e y a n d t h e reputation became more and more— not just citywide, but statewide and then nationwide. It felt good to be known for something other than the jokester. It was nothing other than total preparation. In almost 60 years in the practice of law, I don’t
remember ever being surprised in a courtroom. I was always prepared for anything. I enjoyed it more to be known as the best lawyer than the best dancer. The problem with preparation is time, and as a result of all that time, you spend less time with family. Now at this stage in life, I look back and I reflect on what I missed. The sad thing is I still can’t determine—would I have been happier with being a great husband and father than to be the great lawyer. I really don’t know. As a result of success, I provided for them very, very well. I don’t know what their thoughts would have been. I know what my wife’s thoughts would have been. She would have preferred that I’d been home. COA: A lot of people who battle cancer and survive say that it changes them. What has the experience been like for you and how has it changed your perspective? FL: All I was thinking about was getting ready for my next trial. Then I had a seizure. They took me to Baptist Hospital. They decided to send me to the University of Florida where they removed the brain tumor. They knew that it had to have come from somewhere else in my body. So, they sent me to Dana Farber where they determined that I have lung cancer. All during this time, I didn’t know it, but I had something called ICU delirium. It’s very common, but not to the extent that I had it. Normally, you have it for a day or two where you get out of surgery and you don’t know where you are for a couple of days. Mine went on for months. The first thing I remember is the doctor in Boston telling me, “I have good news for you.” Now, I had been in a totally different world all this time, so I didn’t know I even had cancer. So I never really went through the fear
that you get when somebody tells you that you have Stage 4 lung cancer. By the time they told me, I was cancer free. I was always very optimistic, so it never really changed me other than I wanted to make sure that my children were well taken care of. COA: What made you get into talent management and boxing? FL: Roy Jones Jr. was Pensacola’s 18-year-old superstar who went off to the Olympics. Boxing was much more important in 1988. Of course, everyone in Pensacola was watching him in the finals. They basically stole the finals. He beat the hell out of his opponent, but they gave the gold metal to Korea. When they got back, his father came to see me and asked if I would represent him. From that point on, I had the most fun I’d ever had in my life. Without knowing much of anything, I became National Manager of the Year, and I met all of these very powerful people. COA: What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered? FL: That I did my best, which I did. That I was a great lawyer. I don’t know if I’d rather be known as that or as a great husband and father, as I’ve said. I am a great friend. I can’t say ‘no,’ and as a result, I have tons of people coming to me for different things. But, what do I want on my tombstone? I guess it would have to have something to do with my work in the legal community. Although, I’ve had some very fortunate things happen to me in life outside of the legal community. Very few of which I really deserved. Looking back, I don’t know what I would have changed. For a Jewish boy from Pensacola, Florida, it’s been a good ride.
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DISMANTLING RACISM THROUGH EDUCATION BY FIAMA MASTRANGELO
The summer of 2020 marked a social justice awakening for many. Worldwide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement sprang up in response to many African Americans who were murdered by police, especially the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Advocates turned to social media platforms to expose police brutality and explain systemic racism to those who chose to listen. But after a year of BLM peacefuls protests, spread of #ShopBlack and frequent discussions about systematic racism. Many wondered “What is the silver bullet to racism? How do we end it for the next generation?” If you were to ask local historians, they would say education is the key. “As a nation we have not concentrated enough on teaching a complete history of the country… There seems to be a lack of understanding as to how we got here—this moment in history. If African-American history was taught along with American history, I think we would have a more educated citizenry, and more people would understand the dynamics of this country called America,” Dr. Cheryl Howard, the president and co-founder of African American Heritage Society of Pensacola (AAHSP), said. “Because we have not included African American history in with the rest of the history—subjugating it basically to the month of February for Black History Month. Overall, there is an incomplete understanding. I think this exhibit [Black
Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow] is very timely; it’s probably the most complete coverage of the AfricanAmerican experience, exhibit-wise, that we have seen in a while [in Pensacola], and it has been very well received.”
Roger Williams University Nashville, Tenn. Normal Class, 1899. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.
The recent exhibit Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow was brought to the Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center in collaboration with the AAHSP. Voices of Pensacola is one of the many branches of Historic Pensacola and UWF’s Historic Trust. This multicultural center presents the heritage of Pensacola through the lenses of the diverse cultural groups that shaped the city into what it is today. The exhibit originated from the New York Historical Society as an eight-poster presentation detailing the African-American experience when Jim Crow laws were in effect. Dr. Howard curated the exhibit for its debut in Pensacola and tripled the content from the original exhibit. The exhibit now begins in the year 1619 and follows the evolution of racism in America from enslavement to Jim Crow to voter suppression and then mass incarceration. Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow is unapologetically accurate in detailing the African-American experience in a country with a history of violence against them. This exhibit was carefully curated to illustrate relevant examples of history repeating itself in today’s seemingly unprecedented political climate. As visitors walk through the exhibit, they are presented with stories of children being separated from their families through state-sanctioned practices. The rise of the Ku Klux Klan is documented and supplemented with FEBRUARY '21
DISMANTLING RACISM THROUGH EDUCATION
Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow follows the evolution of racism from 1619 to today.
methods of voter suppression used by domestic terrorism groups to deny freemen their constitutionally protected rights. The exhibit includes accounts of how presidents used their positions to uphold racist doctrines and promote falsified “Lost Cause” narratives. The presentation of these moments in national history flow seamlessly from one poster to the next. Systemic practices are broken down into digestible narratives for visitors of all educational backgrounds. The history is painful and soaked in blood, but it presents a very necessary reminder of why the status quo must always be questioned. Franscine Mathis, a paralegal, local politician and member of the AAHSP, emphasized the relevance of identifying forms of systemic racism present in today’s climate. Mathis identified the legal practice of direct file as an especially oppressive practice. “Prison is no place for a child to be raised,” Mathis began. “We need people who understand the process of direct file to [hold] these state attorneys’ offices accountable. How did you direct file this child? What made you feel like they need to be direct filed? Did you follow these steps and guidelines? Did you go to these schools and talk to their teachers or counselors? Why did they do this?”
Dr. Cheryl Howard, the president and co-founder of African American Heritage Society of Pensacola, curated the exhibit for its debut in Pensacola and tripled the content from the original exhibit.
18 Pensacola Magazine
Florida is one of only a few states that allows prosecutors to charge minors as adults without the approval of a judge. This practice of direct file enhances the school to prison pipeline that puts black minors into the prison system where they will not receive sufficient education, psychological services or
From left to right, clockwise: Thomas Waterman Wood. A Bit of War History: The Recruit, 1865. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Charles Stewart Smith, 1884. McPherson & Oliver. Escaped Slave Gordon. 1863. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D.C. War Department. From American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917–1918. National Archives.
familial support appropriate for their developmental stages. Mathis asserts that practices such as direct file support what the exhibit calls the “New Jim Crow.” Unpaid prison labor, mass incarceration and police brutality are new strains of the same disease that has been running rampant in the United States’ criminal justice system since its inception.
The exhibit manages to accurately portray the stakes of repeating history while simultaneously lifting up black heroes. Harriet Tubman is celebrated for her bravery while Martin Luther King Jr. is revered for his leadership in tumultuous periods of the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Howard indicated that the exhibit is still evolving during its stay at the Voices of Pensacola. The current exhibit ends with the names of black citizens who have died from police brutality, but Dr. Howard wants the exhibit to end on a more uplifting note. “The last one will be a very uplifting final [poster],” Dr. Howard explained. “The one that is here now is very good also because I think it does remind us that black lives do matter—and we remember the catalyst for this awakening that we have had by asking [visitors] to remember these people. But I think that it is also important to show that despite the odds, what we have been able to accomplish.” Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow will be featured throughout the month of February at the Voices of Pensacola. Admission for this exhibit is free.
HAIKU SLAM Counting Syllables and Connecting Community by Dakota Parks
Back in 1980s Chicago at the Green Mill Jazz Club, a group of local poets were trying to get the broader community involved in the tight-knit poetry scene. By fusing
together writing, performance, competition and audience participation, slam poetry, or slam events were created. At a slam, random members of the audience judge the poems, and the poet with the highest points at the end wins. In a similar fashion, to bridge the gaps between the literary and poetry community, the West Florida Literary Federation’s newest formed Poet’s Roundtable is hosting a haiku slam. 20 Pensacola Magazine
The slam is the brainchild of the Poet’s Roundtable, a collaborative group of local poets consisting of newly appointed poet laureate of Northwest Florida, Katherine Nelson-Born; Charles McCaskill, a finalist for poet laureate and author of three poetry books; and Asia Samson, a prolific spoken word artist and slam poetry coach. Aimed at bringing the community together and celebrating the multiple facets of written and spoken word, the roundtable is working together to promote writing challenges, workshops and new events, like the haiku challenge and slam.
“The haiku challenge was born from the Poet’s Roundtable as we discussed how to bring a slam to the community,” Nelson-Born explained. “We wanted a place to encourage new and experienced writers in the same space while bridging the gap that exists between some of the older population in the literary community and some of the powerful younger voices in the poetry community. The haiku is a short but very powerful form of poetry that everyone can relate to. Plus, performing a quick three-line poem is less nerve wracking to people who haven’t performed before, so it lowers the pressure.” Drawing from the Japanese poetry form with a 17-syllable count of five-seven-five, or the
American model championed by Jack Kerouac, the haiku challenge tasked members of the community to write a haiku every day in the month of January based on writing prompts posted to the West Florida Literary Federation’s social media. Prompts range from your last Google search and first childhood memory to reflecting on nature and historical moments. The challenge served as a prelude to the poetry slam being hosted in February, where participants are invited to share their haikus. Don’t worry—there’s still plenty of time to read the prompts and get involved if you missed the daily prompts in January.
“Being limited to how many syllables you can use forces you to get creative,” McCaskill said. “It’s not limited to just haikus, but any writing form that has guidelines can open up possibilities to a writer. It really encourages this creative and intentional use of words. Throw in the performing nature of slam, mixed with the discipline to choose the right words to convey a message, and I’m excited to see how poets step up to the challenge of it all.” Both Nelson-Born and McCaskill accredit Samson to really ushering poetry slams to Pensacola. Touring universities performing spoken word and competing in slam competitions since 2004, Samson began hosting
MEET THE POET’S ROUNDTABLE
poetry slams in Pensacola and formed a team to attend the regional Southern Fried Poetry competition in 2019. The Pensacola Burn Beautiful slam team took third place at the competition in 2019, bringing Pensacola back to the table after 15 years of being absent from the competition. While many poets embrace the style of slam in their writing, as Samson explained, it’s the judges that really differentiate a poetry slam from a standard open mic. “The whole purpose of slam is to get the community involved in poetry. They aren’t just listening to poetry anymore— you give them the reigns and let the audience judge the competition,” Samson explained. “In the National poetry scene, they do haiku death matches or slams, so I decided to host one here in Pensacola and everyone loved it. I couldn’t wait to host another one and then COVID happened. So, I’m really excited to see the poetry community come together to show everyone what a haiku slam is and to welcome new people to the world of slam.”
Three judges, 17 syllables, sanitized microphones and the social distanced beer garden at Emerald Republic Brewing Co. add up to the perfect haiku slam. As Samson explained, three random members in the audience will be given color coded batons to judge the winner of rounds while two poets face off on each side of Samson, who will be hosting the slam. As the poets and participants work their way through a bracket competition, the haiku slam champion will be declared at the end of the event. To learn more about the haiku challenge writing prompts and get involved in the challenge and slam, visit the West Florida Literary Federation Facebook page. The haiku slam will take place at Emerald Republic on Saturday, Feb. 27 from 6-9 pm. Come out and enjoy a delicious craft beer, put your thinking caps on and listen to some poetry!
Prompts for the #HaikuChallenge
To prep for the February Haiku Slam, each day in January, WFLF Facebook prompts challenged community members to write a Haiku or a short three-line poem based on the weekly theme provided. The poem can be traditional Japanese style with a syllable count of five-seven-five or the American model championed by Jack Kerouac. The third week of January 2021 included the inauguration of the US President, an event surrounded by unprecedented fiery rhetoric and images, which sparked the theme of “fury” as represented by images from nature, history, or Greek mythology. Week 1 Writing Prompts: Your year in review (Jan. 1) A pet peeve (Jan. 2) A message to your younger self (Jan. 3) Inspiration from a dream you’ve had (Jan. 4) The last text you sent (Jan. 5) Your last Google search (Jan. 6) Your morning routine (Jan. 7) Week 2 Writing Prompts: Your first smartphone or camera photo (Jan. 8) Your first childhood memory (Jan. 9) Your first heartbreak (Jan. 10) Your first triumph (Jan. 11) Your first road trip (Jan. 12) Your first moment or image sparking political awareness (Jan. 13) Your first or favorite concert (Jan. 14) Your first memory of a famous person or event (Jan. 15) Week 3 Writing Prompts: Your response to an image of an approaching storm (Jan. 16) Your image of nature’s fury unleashed (Jan. 17) Your image reflecting a historical figure or event (Jan. 18) Your image of beauty amidst carnage (Jan. 19) Your image projecting calm in the midst of chaos (Jan. 20) Your image of a spirit/deity/mythological figure (Jan. 21) Your image of the resilience of humankind (Jan. 22) Week 4 Writing Prompts: Your image of climate change (Jan. 23) Your image of the natural world’s resilience (Jan. 24) Your image from a weekend camping trip (Jan. 23) Your image reflecting a natural wonder of the world (Jan. 24) Your image of a favorite plant/tree/flower (Jan. 25) Your image of a favorite animal/insect/amphibian (Jan. 26) Your image of an extinct species in today’s world (Jan. 27) Your image from hiking/walking (Jan. 28) Your image contrasting manmade construction with nature (Jan. 29) Your image rendering large something small (Jan. 30) Your image rendering small something large (Jan. 31) The month-long event is free, and participants can present their work in the February Haiku Slam celebrating National Haiku Month, designating the shortest month of the year for the shortest form of poetry. For more information, visit wflf.org, WFLF on Facebook or contact Katherine Nelson-Born at bcs. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music is t he healing f orc e of t he universe Pensacola African Americans Set Tone for Jazz & Blues
he Belmont DeVillers Dist rict
“The Blocks” is the heart of jazz and blues in Pensacola. At the era’s prime, Gussie Records Shop was the heartbeat—pumping the smooth sultry beat through the streets of Pensacola in 45s and LPs. Gussie Streeter, in her twenties at the time, opened a dry cleaners near Blue Dot in 1962. A young man, noticing that she had a turntable in her store, asked her to sell some of his records. As this side hustle began rolling in more money than the actual dry cleaning, Gussie followed the lead of her customers. Gussie Records took form in 1965 in the building Five Sisters Blues Cafe now stands. The reason black-owned record stores like Gussie Records were so essential to the success of jazz and blues is that music from black artists couldn’t be purchased in the South. Since the South was heavily segregated, white business owners in southern cities like Pensacola had no interest in selling records by black artists. Gussie networked with record companies in larger multiracial cities like Mobile, Nashville and Atlanta to bring the music of black artists to Pensacola. Pensacola Magazine (PM) interviewed Gussie’s eldest son Alvin Streeter Jr. in her stead, but Gussie is well and recently celebrated her 86th birthday. 22 Pensacola Magazine
“When you bought music back then, first of all, you couldn’t get anything by black artists in the South. That included the Pensacola area. You couldn’t buy it in the South because of the times,” Alvin explained. “Basically, if Sam Cooke recorded a song, the only version you could get is a cover version by white artists. In the South, you could get Ray Charles, you could possibly get Little Richard, but you could just get very few black artists. So African Americans, unless they lived in Atlanta, Memphis or New Orleans at the time in the South, they really had no avenue to black artists. So, she [Gussie] was the bridge.”
by Gina Cast ro
Blues and R&B were Gussie Records bread and butter. Jazz was a hit at the record shop, too. But Alvin recalls blues being a major seller at the store. Gussie developed a personal relationship with Malaco Records in Jackson, Mississippi, which kept her store up to date with the hottest blues records. “Me and my family, we give her a hard time. We tell her she was like the original DJ because at the time she started in the 60s, she was playing music for customers, which was a little bit different from other music stores back then. She had a turntable, and she would play one record for you, and while she’s talking to you, she’d put another one on, you know, anything off the top 10. Then the next thing you know, you walk out with 10, 45s,” Alvin said with a chuckle. “She had a really good flair for it.” Business was so good at Gussie Records that Alvin remembers not coming home until past midnight some nights. WBOP, the first black operated radio station in Pensacola, was just a floor above the record shop. Every Sunday night, Gussie would host a jazz
GUSSIE St reet er show on WBOP with DJ Joey Brewer. She would select the album of the weekend. Gussie often got the newest records before the radio did. Since Pensacola played an integral role in the Chitlin Circuit, the most popular jazz and blues musicians always passed through Pensacola on tour.
GUSSIE RECORDS Shop
“The Chitlin Circuit was the top level of African-American entertainment,” Jim O’Neal, founding editor of Living Blues Magazine, said. “The top blues, soul and jazz artists went to places like the Apollo Theater in New York and many others all across the country. There were places in Pensacola, too, like Abe’s 506, The Savoy and some others in the Belmont Devillers District.” When performers like Ike and Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Ray Charles, and B.B. King would perform at the Blocks, they would also do a show on air with WBOP and drop off records at Gussie Records. Alvin remembers Tina Turner coming in and out of his family’s record store. Gussie Records was also a news source for customers. The store had a whole wall covered in flyers for upcoming concerts. One of Alvin’s favorite memories was when his father picked up Joe Simon from the bus station in 1969. Simon is a soul and R&B singer with more than a dozen albums. His music has been sampled by recent popular artists such as Outkast and Lil’ Kim. “We picked up the artist Joe Simon. He just had his first big hit that went nationwide. It was called ‘Moon Walking,’”
Alvin recalled. “He actually made it right around the time we first landed on the moon, and I was a little kid. When artists came into town, my father would go pick them up and show them around, or another guy from one of the clubs would. They would pick up the artists because a lot of them were leery about traveling with anybody else around here because it was still funky in the South, so they had to be careful.”
Band perf orming in ' T om s T avern Club on Gonzalez and Railroad st reet s. Henry "Chick" Minor is
Pensacola wasn’t just a stage for national music talent. It’s also the birthplace of many talented jazz and blues artists. R&B singer, James Purify and Bobby Purify reached fame in the 1960s for their hit single “I’m Your Puppet.” The single reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966 and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1967. Unfortunately, James died in Pensacola from COVID complications Jan. 22. Jazz pianist and composer Don Shirley was born in Pensacola to Jamaican immigrant parents. Shirley made his debut at Carnegie Hall with Duke Ellington and the Symphony of the Air Orchestra. The 2018 film Green Book, which received the best picture Oscar, follows Shirley’s tour in the South. Local pianist and organist, Henry “Chick” Minor, 93, recalls witnessing Shirley perform in Pensacola when Minor was 10 years old. Minor recently suffered from a stroke, so his statements are from a document he wrote and shared with Pensacola Magazine: “I had no intention of being a musician. My parents had a
seat ed at t he piano.
" " Wally T he Cat Mercer viewing his music award in 1990.
piano in the home. I used to bang on it at the age of around 10 years old. My father’s baby sister came to live to finish high school. She took me to the Saenger Theatre to see a child named Donald Shirley in concert. He was about seven or eight years old. He was a gifted musician. He could listen to a song one time, and he could almost play it note for note… He went on to be a professor of music. I kept on banging.” After serving in the military, Minor was offered the opportunity to play piano professionally in Pensacola. “During this time men just didn’t play piano. I was married and couldn’t go to
school, so I bought [piano] books and practiced. Through the years, I was able to advance my music ability. In 1961, I became the house band pianist at the new Abe’s 506 Club.” Minor later moved to Jacksonville where he played with several bands, but he came back to Pensacola in 1965 and continued to play in the city. The origins of blues and jazz is still hotly debated. O’Neal explained that Mississippi tends to get the most credit for the blues. However, since times were so racist then, black history let alone black music wasn’t well documented or documented at all. FEBRUARY '21
Music is t he healing f orce of t he universe “Nobody really knows where it started. It wasn’t documented at the start. Mississippi gets the most credit for it because the most famous blues singers came from the Mississippi Delta, where there were a lot of cotton plantations,” O’Neal continued. “At the same time, there was an established performing circuit all along the Gulf Coast from New Orleans through Biloxi, Mobile and Pensacola. Some people think that blues may have originated in New Orleans and then made
It addressed t he condit ions t hat black people were living under. During slavery, during t he segreg at ion era, ’ when t here s a lot of problems t hat would give people t he blues, t he blues gave t hem a release and hope ” f or a bet t er day.
its way up. Other people think it was even further north on the Mississippi River and came south on the river boats and the vaudeville shows.” Although the origins of blues aren’t quite known, it is known that in the Gulf Coast, blues and jazz roots run deep. Mother of the Blues, 24 Pensacola Magazine
GWEN MCCRAE began seeing gospel and
Ma Rainey performed at the Belmont Theatre in the early 1900s—marking the theatre as an essential stop in the Chitlin Circuit. Rainey’s powerful vocals inspired blues singers for generations. The Belmont Theatre, though white-owned, was the stage for many early jazz and blues performances. Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, professionally known as Jelly Roll Morton, frequently filled the theatre with ragtime jazz from 1906 to 1908. “The Gulf Coast was a strong point—really a stronghold of it in the early days, especially on the professional level, because there were theatres there. The Belmont [Theatre] was very famous, and some of the first blues singers actually sang there,” O’Neal said. “Ma Rainey was the most famous. When she was singing there, blues wasn’t even called blues at that time.” It’s said that jazz originated in New Orleans, but the genre itself sprouted from blues. The blues bloomed from the sorrows of slavery in the South. “It developed out of the African-American culture, primarily in the South. A lot of it was on the plantations, but it was on the Gulf Coast as well. It served as an oral history for the black community at that time because a lot of the history wasn’t written down,” O’Neal said. “So the blues has become more valuable in retrospect. It addressed the conditions that black people were living
evolved int o an R&B
singer. McCrae is well-known f or her 1975 hit “Rockin’ Chair.”
under. During slavery, during the segregation era, when there’s a lot of problems that would give people the blues, the blues gave them a release and hope for a better day.” The same origins can also be said about gospel. Blues and gospel are both said to have stemmed from field hollers, African-American spirituals and hymns. O’Neal explained that the Father of Gospel Music, Thomas A. Dorsey, who grew up in church, started out playing blues and composing blues and jazz songs. Many famous blues and jazz musicians came from backgrounds in gospel music. Pensacola’s Gwen McCrae, 77, began singing gospel as early as she can remember at Houser A.M.E Zion Church. Gwen,
Henry “chick” Minor, 93, is a Pensacola self t aught pianist ' who played in Abe s 506 house band during t he 60s.
who was born and raised in Pensacola, is a blues and R&B singer. She released 14 albums and is well-known for her 1975 hit “Rockin’ Chair.” Although McCrae was the first to release the single “Always on My Mind,” it was popularized when Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson covered the song. Gwen’s road to fame as a blues singer began when she met George McCrae. The two married and then later divorced. George was in the U.S. Navy stationed in Pensacola. He started a band called the Jivin’ Jets. Gwen started singing later as back up for the band. When the couple moved to West Palm Beach, they were spotted by R&B singer Betty Wright while they were performing at a club. The couple was later signed by TK Records. PM interviewed Gwen’s daughter Leah McCrae. Leah grew up singing in the children’s choir in church, which her mother directed. Leah agrees that blues and gospel were cut from the same cloth. “If you listen to blues songs, it’s expressing the struggles
Minor, St reet er
and the hope of people. That’s what gospel is,” Leah continued. “The hope of people. It’s telling a story in their truth, and what they’re expressing, what they’re experiencing but in blues.” On the other hand, jazz is known for its freedom. This genre left room for artists to explore and harness their sound. Jazz singer Crystal Jay Albert gained national acclaim by performing with jazz legends Art Blakey, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. Albert now lives in Navarre and is the former musical director of Pensacola JazzFest and current Jazz Society of Pensacola member. “Jazz represents a freedom of movement. It’s a freedom of interpretation and improvisation,” Albert said. “There are many different ways to improvise, but one way would be to improvise on the melody of a song, like embellish it or change it just a little bit. Next thing you know, you’ve got a whole other song going along with the original song.” As jazz and blues became more popular in the 60s, the audience became more diverse. Some believe the increasing popularity of the music helped lead to desegregation. On Sept. 11, 1961, Wally “The Cat” Mercer’s Celebrity Club, located at 517 W La Rua St., was raided and Mercer was fined $250. Mercer is a Pensacola based singer who helped start WBOP. The Pensacola News article states that “The raid
was conducted by city police after one of the officers visited the club and found that both Negroes and whites were either participating in or were spectators at a jam session.” The judge ruled the club as disorderly since Florida still recognized segregation in places of recreation. There were a total of 16 white people at the club and the majority were under the age of 30. Perhaps the frequent mixing of races at venues like Celebrity Club made it too difficult for segregation to be enforced. “I think blues and sports were two avenues that kind of led to whites and blacks coming together because the talent could be appreciated. There were a lot of white kids who were starting to listen to blues records on the radio,” O’Neal said. “There wasn’t segregation on the radio at least for the listener. So that exposed a lot of the young white audience to blues music and to black music. I think it played a role in bringing the races together.” Mercer is known for his 1954 hit “Rock Around the Clock.” The following year, Bill Haley & His Comets released the more widely recognized song “Rock Around The Clock,” which features a similar hook and the same title as Mercer’s. Although jazz and blues have faded from the mainstream, the impact of these genres can still be seen in music today.
Grover Robinson celebrat ing t he inst allment of t he Mississippi Blues T rail Marker in t he Belmont DeVillers Dist rict.
Rock and Roll.’ Blues and country music kind of both were forerunners of rock and roll, but a lot of the country singers have used blues and a big part of jazz as foundation,” O’Neal explained. “Blues and jazz lead to soul music, disco, funk, and even hip hop. You don’t hear it so much in the musical structure, but in the content of the lyrics and the attitude, there’s a lot of similarities to the first blue singers and the rappers.” Blues and jazz are still a part of Pensacola. Although Gussie Records and many of the clubs in Belmont DeVillers District have closed throughout the decades, the memory of these businesses and their contributions to jazz and blues still live on. The murals painted on the buildings of the district are a reminder that musical legends walked these streets. In 2019, the district was recognized as an official stop on the Mississippi Blues
Trail. The marker, which is located next to Five Sisters, credits the district, Gussie Streeter and Abe Pierce Sr. for advancing the growth and appreciation of the blues. Jazz Society of Pensacola hosts the annual JazzFest. Each year, the festival brings dozens of nationally acclaimed jazz and blues musicians. In 2020, Dr. F. Norman Vickers, a founding member of the society, established the society’s Vickers Artist in Residence Fund. The fund is used to bring jazz musicians and educators to schools and colleges in the area to give students an opportunity to network and workshop with professional musicians. Another member of the Jazz Society, Bob Byrnes and his wife endowed the Robert E. and Margaret V. Byrnes Jazz Scholarship at UWF. This scholarship is the only one at UWF dedicated to students studying jazz.
Jaz z and blues are only t wo of t he many cont ribut ions Af rican Americans have made t o t he American art f orm. In t ribut e t o Black Hist ory Mont h, pensacola magazine creat ed a playlist of jaz z and blues songs by local Af rican-American musicians.
“Blues was a huge influence on rock and roll. There’s a song called ‘The Blues Had a Baby and They Called It JANUARY '21
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KEEPING THE ARTS ALIVE BY DAKOTA PARKS
Photo by Guy Stevens
hen the world first stood still, suspended and reeling in the wave of initial COVID-19 reports and shutdowns, the creative and cultural epicenters in cities around the globe went dormant. Red curtains never opened on stages, music halls went eerily quiet, museums and galleries shut down with paintings still on display for no one to see. A bustling industry that filled so much of our free time from performances to exhibits quickly became a lifeline for people struggling through isolation. As art spaces, organizations and working artists themselves tried to stay afloat through technological innovation, people at home tuned in to new adaptations like virtual tours and recorded performances. Financially, however, the arts have been hit hard. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, America’s arts and culture sector, including nonprofit, commercial and education, is an $878 billion industry that supports 5.1 million jobs. The arts and culture
sector alone accounts for 4.5 percent of the nation’s economy, which is a larger GDP than agriculture, transportation or tourism. In the first four months of the pandemic, a Brookings Institution report on the art economy calculated a loss of $150 billion in sales and 2.7 million jobs through July 2020 alone. Though nearly a year has passed since the beginning of the pandemic, communities across the country are still struggling to keep the arts alive. Here in the Panhandle, artists and organizations have adapted to keep creative outlets open to the public during a time when some have needed them the most. However, while many venues have closed their doors for the inevitable future and many artists have been furloughed, the lingering question remains as to when normalcy may return and what it will look like. Pensacola Magazine caught up with several art organizations and artists to catch a glimpse into the perseverance of the art community.
ART CENTERS INSTITUTIONS At the Pensacola Museum of Art, staff quickly began reimagining ways to keep the community connected as soon as its doors shut to the public in March 2020. Faced with closing the museum the same week as the 66th Annual Members Show and Poppy Garcia’s Bless Your Heart exhibit were set to open, Exhibition Designer Richard Rodriguez began capturing panoramic photos to bring the exhibits to the virtual realm and even hosted Poppy in his own backyard for the artist talk and workshop.
artist guilds and committees meet via Zoom, Executive Director Caitlin Rhea explained that keeping the creative space at First City open was crucial to maintaining safe social connections and overall health and wellness. Running a nonprofit art center through a pandemic, however, is no easy feat. FCAC was able to host its biggest annual fundraiser, the 14th Annual Pumpkin Patch at a new outdoor venue utilizing the Blue Wahoos Stadium. “As a
“We had to figure out how to take our planned programming digital,” Rodriguez explained. “The ways we found to keep engaging the community in the past year are methods we will keep pursuing in the long term. The digital landscape might close an accessibility gap, but it still struggles to fulfill the need we have for creative and cultural endeavors. I’ll be happy if digital programming excites the public to visit the museum.” The museum has opened six exhibits since its reopening in June, offered a virtual summer camp with guided art instruction and hosted a plethora of digital programing including the month-long Big Read with U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. “The museum we closed is not the same museum we reopened,” Director Nicholas Croghan explained. “We consider ourselves to be this kind of community hub at the museum—a place where everyone can go and feel welcome. Though most of the virtual programming was new to us, it has allowed us to keep people connected. After events ended, we received messages from people saying, ‘Thank you so much. I didn’t know how much I needed this,’ which has really kept us motivated. From the pandemic to racial injustice and Black Lives Matter to financial hardships, 2020 was a hard year for everyone.” Over at the nonprofit First City Art Center (FCAC), creating a safe space to host workshops, classes, studio spaces, exhibits and youth art programs was the top priority when the center resumed classes and its youth art camp in June. Even though the classes are smaller, behind masks and the
Poppy Garcia’s Bless Your Heart exhibit
– Open Mic Night at The Gordon on Jan. 14.
nonprofit, the fundraiser provided critical support to our programs and facilities and also benefited over 40 local artists,” Rhea explained. “In addition to donations, grants, memberships, ceramics supply sales and classes, we rely on fundraising events to continue serving the community. We wouldn’t be here without the support of Pensacola. Supporting Pensacola with an affordable art space is also at the heart of a new face in the art community, The Gordon Community Art Center, rented and managed by PenArts, a nonprofit theatre and production group. Although The Gordon first opened its doors amidst the pandemic in August, the space has witnessed several virtual productions, a new open mic and several art installations. Christine Kellogg, the artistic director for PenArts explained that the pandemic brought a new use to the space, which consists of a black box studio, music room, library and lobby. “We were finishing construction right as COVID started and had to suddenly shift gears,” Kellogg explained. “All of my professional work was cancelled, our PenArts productions were cancelled and we had to rethink how to use our space safely. We had blank space on our walls and thought we should host a local artist once a month and display their work. So, we have our small artist reception once a month, we teach PenArts classes here and slowly by word of mouth we have established ourselves and rent the space out for filming, dance, music and photoshoots.” PenArts has also hosted three virtual cabarets, which have given artists and performers across the country a creative outlet and a place to connect.
VISUAL ARTISTS For Carter J. Gaston, a portrait and mural artist, the pandemic has caused him to switch artistic mediums and spend a lot of time in the studio networking and creating art alone. With the monthly Pensacola Gallery Nights cancelled, Gaston has lost around $400 a month in revenue.
Carter J. Gaston
To make up for the financial hardship, he hosts small, private and social distanced paint lessons and parties for families, businesses and even the 100 Black Men of Pensacola group, which mentors and educates young men. When he’s not on a ladder painting a mural or commissioned on a project, he’s connecting with the community to build relationships and stay connected.
“I wouldn’t be here or have success as an artist here without our community,” Gaston said. “It’s a beautiful thing watching the community come together to support one another. Not being out there like I used to at events or parties has been hard, but I’ve gotten used to the silence and working in isolation. I have a message to fellow artists though: don’t stress. Get out of your head and don’t let the stress, worry and fear clog your creativity and keep you from doing what you love.” When the pandemic shut down the schools and universities, students took their work home and completed the school year online. For art students, however, they lost their studio space and access to the materials and equipment they need to complete their work. Kim Brown, a 24-year-old BFA graduate from the University of West Florida finished her degree at home without access to a kiln to finish her ceramic sculptures for the annual exit show. Without safe or stable access to an art space, Brown has spent her time working on her portfolio for a master’s program and commissioning Kim Brown, visual artist digital artwork. “I like working with mixed media and ceramics. My focus right now has been aspects of feminism and sculptures of self-biography. I’m half Panamanian and half white, so my art allows me to express the intersection of both cultures,” Brown explained. “It’s been really frustrating not being able to work in a studio or create art around other people, because
I love being in a shared creative environment. Working on my portfolio and making slow progress on projects has helped take the edge off. It’s been nice talking to women about their bodies and hearing experiences to add and represent in my project.” Much like other artists navigating isolation and creativity, local artist Geza Burnow retreated into nature at Pensacola Beach, taught himself digital 3D art and began spending more time catching up with friends on the phone during quarantine. Burnow has recently been drawn to scratchboard and 3D art and describes his art as a Rorschach ink blot that discovers itself as he creates. With exhibits and galleries around the world closed, he explained that his normal revenue has gone down, but he witnessed a surge of support in online sales purchasing art in the early months of quarantine. “I feel like I’ve become more dedicated to my craft because sometimes there is nothing else to do besides create,” he said. “I started playing with new mediums and new expressions, and oddly enough, I have become more whimsical and romantic. Before this whole COVID mess, I was kind of cynical and removed from my emotions. Now I’m more connected to them, and when I’m creating something, I actually ask myself, ‘Will this make someone’s day or help bring joy to someone that sees it?’ I’ve also gotten to trade art with at least seven people around the world since all of us are financially struggling but can exchange art for art, so that’s been a positive too.”
Geza Brunow, visual artist
“Before this whole COVID mess, I was kind of cynical and removed from my emotions. Now I’m more connected to them, and when I’m creating something, I actually ask myself, ‘Will this make someone’s day or help bring joy to someone that sees it?’ ” FEBRUARY '21
KEEPING THE ARTS ALIVE
PERFORMANCE ARTISTS The performing arts are among the group of artists and professionals that have been hit the hardest through the pandemic. Brookings Institute found that the performing arts would suffer job losses around 50 percent of all jobs in the industry and more than a quarter of all lost sales nationwide. As companies and theatres closed their doors, dancers, singers, musicians and actors lost their jobs or were furloughed for the season. Pensacola’s bustling performance art community consisting of the opera, ballet, symphony and theatre have struggled to keep their heads above water—both metaphorically and physically. When Pensacola Little Theatre’s Executive Director Sid Williams-Heath opened the front page of the Wall Street Journal after hurricane Sally made landfall and flooded a large portion of downtown Pensacola, he didn’t expect to see the theatre on the front page. Between the pandemic cancelling the production of Winnie-the-Pooh, after the cast of children spent an additional 12 weeks practicing and hoping it would open, to hurricane Sally hitting the coast right as the theatre was expected to open its first mainstage production, it has been difficult to stay afloat. Williams-Heath explained that the theatre has since moved to a hybrid virtual/in-person performances at 20 percent capacity, while rehearsals remain masked and social distanced with daily temperature screenings. “Community theatre has always relied on the kindness of the community, and that kindness has been extended in ways that have truly moved us all throughout these adversities,” he explained. “Some patrons are dying to come back. Some are reluctant—and justifiably so. Everything that happens on stage is far more exciting than on screens. Live theatre transports you to another place and time. There is something truly magical about the way live performances draw you in and make you feel part of the story as it unfolds in front of you. It’s all-consuming—the sets, the costumes, the lighting, the orchestra, the inability of perfection because it’s not recorded or in a studio. Actors in a film can’t respond to an audience’s laughter; they can’t feel the tension or anticipation by those in the front row. As a cultural center, we are yearning to have culture back throughout the building.” “Devastation” is the word Jerome Shannon, the artistic director for Pensacola Opera, uses to describe the impact of the pandemic on the performing arts. Just days away from opening the Trovatore production at the Saenger Theatre, the pandemic forced the
“PSO in the Park” performance at Museum Plaza
photo by Bill Mertins
“For the first six months of the pandemic, there was nothing going on anywhere. Not one theatre in the world was presenting live art of any nature...” company to cancel the production and carefully disassemble the moving parts including $10,000 in costumes alone and another $10,000 in rented lighting. Stagehands, electricians and sound engineers all had to be released and singers received their last contracted paychecks, facing the upcoming months without work. “It’s been absolutely devastating for all singers throughout the world. For the first six months of the pandemic, there was nothing going on anywhere. Not one theatre in the world was presenting live art of any nature,” Shannon explained. “Not to belittle the loss of income, but the greatest challenge has been the loss of camaraderie amidst isolation. Opera is the ultimate art form, combining music, drama, costumes, scenery, lighting, chorus, singing, orchestra, etc. into this amazing synthesis. That takes a lot of people working together—it’s common for us to have 100+ people involved in a production.” The Opera has produced online programming through The Mezzanine and Al Fresco outdoor performances during the pandemic; however, the company is about to open its very first synchronous live stream performance with capacity reduced to 388 attendants from 1,500 for the upcoming productions of Carmen and H.M.S. Pinafore.
Pensacola Opera’s Al Fresco at Bayview park photo by Meg Burke
At the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, the pandemic caused the cancellation of two final masterwork performances, an annual fundraising event and several concerts. Although the orchestra has not been able to play together, Executive Director Bret Barrow explained that the company shifted gears to find innovative ways to bring music to the community. Early in the summer, musicians began recording videos from their homes to share on the organization’s social media. By Fall, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra shifted to recording a Mozart concert video and hosting outdoor park performances. “We hosted three ‘PSO in the Park’ performances at Museum Plaza in partnership with the UWF Historic Trust and with help from our friends at WUWF 88.1 FM. These free, outdoor concerts featured small ensembles from the orchestra performing short programs for socially distanced and maskwearing audiences,” Barrow explained. “They were special moments of connection as friends gathered to listen and enjoy true community—something we all miss dearly. Whether an organization has chosen strategic dormancy or has embraced this time as an opportunity for advancement, my hope is that the duration of this experience creates a thirst for performances and connection as we emerge.” The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra has six socially distanced and virtually synchronous concerts scheduled starting in February. While dancers finally graced the stage again for the annual Nutcracker performance, the Executive Director at Ballet Pensacola, Deborah Hawkins, said it has been a heartbreaking year having to furlough dancers and cancel productions. The Ballet has adapted by offering classes in the ballet academy virtually and socially distanced in person, as well as hosting its first ballet of the season; The Nutcracker at reduced capacity with streaming online through the help of a production company. Prior to COVID, as Hawkins explained, the ballet academy had over 300 students from three-year-olds to high school students and now has a little over 200 students. “The arts community here in our area has definitely taken a very big blow. As far as finances are concerned, if the arts organizations had reserves, or had endowments, of course,
“Whether an organization has chosen strategic dormancy or has embraced this time as an opportunity for advancement, my hope is that the duration of this experience creates a thirst for performances and connection as we emerge.” they’ve had to dip into those just to keep a skeleton crew there—to keep things moving forward,” Hawkins explained. “We’ve had to all look at our budgets and cut them down, use the resources that we already have and go to our patrons and explain that we need their support right now more than ever. Luckily, the paycheck protection program has allowed us to retain some of our dancers that were also teachers on payroll, as well as our administrative and artistic staff to plan the new season. In a way, I think the pandemic has reinforced how important the arts are to our day-to-day lives by what keeps us motivated, tapped into our emotions and what makes us human—I just wish it didn’t take a pandemic to show that.”
MUSICIANS The silence in Pensacola from shut down music venues, like Vinyl Music Hall closing its doors and chizuko shutting down in the interim to relocate, has been deafening. For musicians, venues like these are vital to their very existence. Through the pandemic, musicians have stayed home, hit the recording studios and found new ways to keep in touch with fans or keep the creativity flowing. Faced with a cancelled season, Abigail Walker, a bassoon player for the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and a music teacher at the Creative Learning Academy took to her porch hosting porch concerts among various musicians in East Hill. “The pandemic has completely changed my life as a musician,” she explained. “For the past 20 years, I have played upwards of 50 concerts a year, and I have not played on a stage since March 2020. I feel a great deal of pride knowing that I am a cog in the cultural machine of this town. A big reason I have established my life and my family in Pensacola has to do with our community of artists—and the artistic community has gone silent. I long for the day we can be together again.” For Robert Goodspeed, the owner of Night Moves Pensacola and an avid musician who played guitar and drums in several local punk and rock bands, the pandemic ultimately led him to close down his music venue that he opened in May 2019. Goodspeed has plans to reopen the venue in the future and remains hopeful for the future of live performances. “I think there is going to be FEBRUARY '21
KEEPING THE ARTS ALIVE a lot of people hungry for the live music they’ve been missing and dying to go back once it’s safe to do so. I have my eyes set on a new spot, but I’m just waiting for the right time,” he said. Brandon Ballard, the former drummer for the punk bands Dicks From Mars and DEAdBUGGS, recently started hosting livestream performances from his home in the Bugghouse, which serves as an artistic community hub for punk shows and creatives. Every two weeks, he hosts a punk band that streams to YouTube and Twitch. As he explained, the shows fill a void in the punk scene and provide a safe place to perform: “People needed a creative outlet that wasn’t completely foreign to the community and culture we have all built up. Being part of a scene that cares about you and the art you make, kicks the creative gears up a notch, and not having that community has been incredibly hard for a lot of us.”
Hane Skot photo by Meg Burke
Simon Smiley, AKA Yung Smilez
“ ...If you can commission a song, painting, drawing or a sculpture, do that. If you have the space to host a living room, front porch or backyard show with musicians, book it. We can celebrate life even in this version of new normal.”
The recording studio and meditation have been a refuge for Regina Baker, also known as musician Regina Baker, Mvtha Cvla (pronounced Mother Color). The AKA Mvtha Cvla pandemic allowed Baker to slow down, work from home, take a step back from performing and focus on recording some EPs and collaborating with Bigtone Records in Bristol, VA. “I couldn’t have recorded with other artists. Baker’s musical style crosses genres from any music over the summer had it not been for my community of hip hop, soul, rap, R&B, blues, jazz, alternative and even fans,” Skot explained. “I’d encourage people to reach out more to meditative as she’s working on finishing a meditation EP. their friends in general and check on them, but especially those “I’ve spent most of my time writing songs, producing records, with connections in the arts. If you can commission a song, working on websites, doing graphics, editing videos and being painting, drawing or a sculpture, do that. If you have the space to a mom to my two sons,” she said. “When my meditation host a living room, front porch or backyard show with musicians, videos started going viral on TikTok, I realized that people book it. We can celebrate life even in this version of new normal.” needed that positivity, healing and manifesting mindset. It’s new content for me, but it’s just another side of me.” Although the pandemic has devastated nearly every facet of Pensacola born and raised, Simon Smiley, better known as Yung Smilez practically launched his musical career through the pandemic. When Smiley graduated from UWF and made the switch from football to music, he made his way to Atlanta to start building music connections. Like many artists, Smiley doesn’t describe his music using genres and prefers to keep his fans guessing. He kept busy building his fan base, recording music, shooting music videos and even doing a social distance show or two. As Smiley explained, he believes there is power in music for self-expression and healing: “For me, the hardest part of 2020 was the social injustice and seeing everything happening in our country—that left me feeling helpless at some points. I just want to help make it better and music allows me to express myself. Music is one of the most powerful things in the world that we all have in common. It touches every facet of life.” For local up-and-coming songwriter Hane Skot, the pandemic has altered the way they can book shows, earn a living and work toward establishing themselves in the music industry. Skot has balanced the emotional and creative blocks by meditation, buckets of tears, traveling into nature and the support of family and fans. They have also been in the studio working on an album
32 Pensacola Magazine
the art community from museums, galleries and art centers to visual artists, performing artists and musicians, it has also given this community an opportunity to slow down and pause, reexamining their mediums of creativity and outlets of presentation. COVID has singlehandedly impacted the way in which art is shared with the world, by bridging an accessibility gap with technological innovation. Hybrid virtual events and online streaming options are here to stay for years to come. The last year of eerie quietness and idle time has also reinforced how important the arts are to our lives, our community and our humanity. If the community wants to keep the arts alive in Pensacola, they will have to be proactive in their love and appreciation by directly supporting the arts. Together we can patronize events in person or online, donate money, purchase and commission artwork, share posts and fundraisers on social media and rally around the people and organizations that provide the entertainment, art and culture to our bustling city.
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Community Events Black Arts Matter: A Collaborative Show January 19-February 25
Join Artel Gallery in welcoming its vault display of the five artists who received notoriety for their amazing work on Pensacola’s Black Lives Matter street mural. Artel Gallery has invited them to showcase their artistry with them during the Celebrating Diversity Show. The show offer a big welcome to: Carter J. Gaston, Kenneth Burrell, Ashley Gibson, Alys Richardson and Bobby Booker.
Celebrating Diversity January 19-February 25
Diversity is beautiful. Artel Gallery has a diverse group of artists, a diverse selection of media, and a diverse array of exhibits all under one roof! Couple that with the gallery’s fresh new look and you have an amazing gallery experience! Come check out the exhibit and the winners in show.
Constant Coffee Open Mic February 2, 9, 16 & 23
Join Pensacola Poetry at the longest running open mic in Pensacola at Constant Coffee & Tea. Every Tuesday of the week at 6:30 pm, poets and creatives come to flex their voices through poetry, rap and spoken word. Come out and support the local arts community and hear a beautiful bricolage of words.
An Evening with Poet and Author Claudia Rankine February 4
Join the University of West Florida in an evening with Claudia Rankine, nationally renownedpoet and Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University. Rankine will be sharing from her work “Citizen: An American Lyric.” In “Citizen: An American Lyric,” Rankine boldly recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. As part of the Downtown
Lecture Series, attendance is free, and the event is held on Zoom from 6-7 p.m.
will be in place for the race and can be found on the event website.
Kiss of Death Valentine’s Murder Mystery Dinner Show
Gordon Open Mic
Come out and flex your artistic muscles at the newest open mic in town at The Gordon Community Art Center in Belmont DeVilliers. Every second Thursday of the month from 7-10pm is an open mic rich with musicians, poets, writers, comedians and a diverse crowd of performers and listeners. Whether you want to bare your heart or lend your ears, this is just the spot. The Gordon is following social distance protocol with mask usage at events.
Seville Quarter and Improbable Cause Mystery Theatre Presents: Kiss of Death Valentine’s Murder Mystery Dinner Show. Catch the newest show on Feburary 5th and 6th in Heritage Hall (Seville Quarter). Doors open at 6:00pm, show begins at 7:00pm. Purchase tickets through this event for $59 (includes service charge, tax not included). Ticket also includes choice of two entrees - see menu at checkout
200 South Small Business Saturday
Join 5eleven Palafox on for a night of painting and wine with the girls! This handson painting class includes: A full painting session with Uniquely Creative (materials included) and your beautiful creation to take home; a drink of your choice; access to full cash bar. So, bring your best gal pals, put your smocks on, grab a glass of wine, and have a fun night painting with the girls! Doors open at 6:00PM and the class starts at 6:30PM!
On the first Saturday of each month the 200 South will host the Small Business Saturday Promotion. This is an initiative to support local business friends and those that support them by buying their products, food and drinks. Bring in a receipt from a purchase made from another downtown business (it can be ANY downtown business) and receive 10% off your bill here at 200 South. This is redeemable at Graffiti Pizza, World of Beer, Taco Agave and Blend Lounge. *Must be a receipt dated that specific Saturday and can only be redeemed that same day.
2021 Double Bridge Run February 6
Pensacola Sports is pleased to announce that the 2021 Double Bridge Run will go on as scheduled with a modified start and finish area. The 15K, 5K and 6K races will begin in front of the Gulfside Pavilion on Pensacola Beach. The 15K will run east toward Portofino, turnaround and run over Bob Sikes Bridge into Gulf Breeze. Registration is open at doublebridgerun.com. A complete COVID-19 safety plan
Ballet Pensacola Presents: Voices of Art February 12-14
Join Ballet Pensacola as they bring together the arts of Pensacola for a repertory evening of dance, music, and art. Joining Ballet Pensacola will be members of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Little Theatre, and Artel Gallery, to name a few. Enjoy an evening of bringing the arts together in Pensacola!
Valentine’s Comedy Date Night February 13
Come celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend with comedy at the the Rex Theater,
Community Events laughing the night away. Featuring standup comedian Byron Trimble and comedy magic from the The Illusionist, Tom Coverly. Perfect day night for only $35 per couple. Grab your tickets today.
assistance and services needed to support efforts including prevention and protection education, identifying and rescuing victims, safe houses, and services to help with rehabilitation and recovery for victims.
concerts are just what youâ€™ll need to brighten up your afternoon. New for the 2021 season, you can either attend these concerts in person at the Opera Center, or you can livestream them right from the Pensacola Opera Facebook page.
Saenger Theatre Presents Encounters of Hope
Saenger Theare Presents: One World Many Voices
Since 2007, a group of committed volunteers, including dancers and choreographers of the Chaddah Dance Company have performed its signature multimedia live program entitled Encounters of Hope for audiences in communities across the United States. The mission of Chaddah is to educate, activate and connect people within a local community so they can unite and fight for victims of trafficking in the cities where they live. For each performance, Chaddah invites local organizations to set up in the lobby. These organizations provide
One World, Many Voices celebrates the diversity and possibility of our musical world. This choral concert is everything but traditional, and it features music of renown composers from around the world. Showtimes at 1:30 and 4:30.
Presented by Studer Community Institute and Clark Partington Attorneys at Law, this symposium will help attendees learn their values, personality type, needs, habits and emotions, and how they affect your actions and the actions of others. Through a hybrid approach of speaking (learning) and interactive activities (practice/doing), speakers will help attendees communicate effectively, manage stress, make better decisions and ultimately lead others to do the same.
Pensacola Opera Presents: Brown Bag Opera February 23
Join Pensacola Opera each month during its season for a FREE mid-day performance by Artists in Residence. Featuring favorite arias, duets, and popular songs, these
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Celtic Woman Celebration February 25
The four fantastic Celtic women soloists – Tara McNeill on fiddle and Irish harp who weaves her magic around the spine-tingling voices of Mairéad Carlin, Éabha McMahon and Megan Walsh – touch the hearts of a global audience with the centuries-old Irish tradition of telling stories through song: stories of the land, stories of love, and stories of dancing that bring a piece of Ireland to audiences everywhere. Get tickets to the show at the Saenger Theatre.
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Haiku Death Match February 27
Join the Poets Roundtable, The West Florida Literary Federation and The Asia Project at Emerald Republic Brewing Co. from 6-9pm for a haiku slam like no other. Come watch as local and regional poets go head-to-head in a rapid-fire poetic competition. The winner of the competition takes home an Emerald Republic Brewing Co. gift card.
PetlandPensacola.com February 12-14, 2021 Pensacola Cultural Center
Ice Flyer’s Schedule February 14 Macon @ Pensacola. Game starts 4:05. February 19 Macon @ Pensacola. Game starts 7:35. February 20 Birmingham @ Pensacola. Game starts 7:05. February 21 Huntsville @ Pensacola. Game starts 4:05.
Pensacolaâ€™s Endless Battle with Homelessness The homeless community both nationally and locally was in crisis mode pre pandemic. The shutdowns, virus and Gulf Coast hurricanes only further increased the local homeless communityâ€™s needs.
52 Around the Region Find out what is happening in business, government and cultural news in the greater Pensacola area and Northwest Florida.
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Pensacola’s Endless Battle with Homelessness by Gina Castro
The country has been in crisis mode for more than a year. Although many have lost loved ones and jobs, others are experiencing a crisis within a crisis. The homeless community both nationally and locally was in crisis mode pre pandemic. The shutdowns, virus and Gulf Coast hurricanes only further increased the local homeless community’s needs. Many organizations that benefit the homeless community are struggling, too—which only makes serving the homeless more challenging. Manna Food Bank, Waterfront Mission Rescue and Alfred Washburn Center experienced a shortage in volunteers, increased need and damage from hurricane Sally. These issues directly affected the organizations’ ability to assist the homeless population. Manna had to close its food pantries in both Santa Rosa and Escambia counties and focus its efforts on reinforcing existing partnerships and programs as well as add a dozen more community partnerships. Several of the partnerships directly benefit the homeless population such as Waterfront, New Hope Church and St. Vincent De Paul. The pandemic caused Manna to have an 87 percent decrease in volunteers at a time it needed support the most. Compared to 2019, Manna had an 81 percent increase in the number of people they served in 2020. From March to
September, Manna served 26,684 people—a 123 percent increase as compared to that timeframe in 2019. Waterfront flooded during hurricane Sally, and it wasn’t able to shelter overnight guests until it reopened on Nov. 1. The shelter sustained $700,000 in damages. However, Waterfront Senior Vice President of Public Relations and Development Angie Ishee stated Waterfront’s insurance did cover most of the cost. As part of an effort to reduce the spread of the virus among their guests and better serve the community, Waterfront decided to stop providing its day services and focus on its shelter and drug recovery program. “As we rebuilt and reopened, we put a focus on those services that were not offered in the community,” Ishee said. “That is why we put a focus on overnight shelter and the recovery program because several others are providing those day services.” When COVID hit the area, Waterfront suspended its drug recovery program to focus on its shelter or rescue program. Starting April 1, Waterfront will be launching its new and improved drug recovery program: Life Builder Recovery Program. This program approaches drug recovery holistically by considering the mental, physical and spiritual well being of the men. Equipped with a dedicated staff and space at the Herman Street campus, the 90 day Life Builder program puts an emphasis on education, accountability and rebuilding a life. Ishee explained that drug addiction is a life dominating issue that often leads to homelessness. For this reason, Ishee said that Life Builder is both a preventive to homelessness and helps reduce the homeless population.
Waterfront has seen a decrease in the nightly average of homeless guests at the shelter. In 2019, the nightly average was 66. In 2020, the average declined to 44, and now it’s 46. “Back in 1949, when Waterfront started on the waterfront in Pensacola, they began serving the fishermen who would come in from a day of fishing. As that journey progressed, they realized there were underlying issues that had to be addressed,” Ishee explained. “They began helping them with addiction issues, drugs, alcohol and other life dominating issues. We realized that we were just slapping a bandaid on. We weren’t addressing the true issue. By offering a hand up, we were just giving a handout. So that became the dual purpose of Waterfront 71 years ago.” Since Waterfront and the Washburn Center, a day center, are on the same floodplains, Washburn Center also flooded due to Sally. The center spent more than $55,000 on repairs, which are still being completed. Washburn Center Director Michael Kimberl explained that the damage to Waterfront as well as the closure of its day center caused the center’s number of clients to increase dramatically. The center had almost 300 individuals in need daily. It’s difficult to determine if the number of homeless individuals in Pensacola has increased as a result of COVID-19. DeDe Flounlacker, Executive Director of Manna Food Bank, explained that many nonprofits, including Manna, are so overwhelmed with the need from the community that the organizations haven’t been able to track demographic information such as an individual’s housing status. Ishee explained that Waterfront has seen a decrease in the nightly average of homeless guests at the shelter. In 2019, the nightly average was 66. In 2020, the average declined to 44, and now it’s 46. “Many of them [homeless guests] are telling us ‘We know it’s a lot safer outside.’ So on the last freezing night, we had 69 people in the building,” Ishee continued. “That number certainly jumps, but on a regular night, when the weather is tolerable, these guys know they’re safer from the virus if they’re outside. So they are simply not coming to stay overnight with us like they did pre pandemic.” Even though Waterfront is practicing social distancing at its shelter, Ishee stated that individuals in the homeless community have told Waterfront that they are choosing to stay outdoors to avoid catching the virus.
42 NWFL’s Business Climate
Mayor Grover Robinson explained that he wasn’t sure if the number of homeless people increased in the city, but he believed that there has been an increase in visibility. “I don’t know if we’ve seen a census increase [of homeless people], but we’ve seen an increase of people out and about more,” the mayor explained. “That’s one thing for sure. Part of that is because many places either quit conducting services or at least significantly curtailed them.” The Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) made an attempt to reduce the number of homeless people and panhandlers downtown. Although addressing the homeless population downtown isn’t directly stated in DIB’s mission statement, DIB Executive Director Walker Wilson explained that the DIB was established to enhance the district’s quality of life and economic success. Since the homeless community is an issue for downtown business owners—the DIB wanted to help solve the issue. “We get pushback from store owners or property owners when we have our homeless residents downtown sleeping in their doorway, or in the unfortunate chance that maybe they use the restroom in the doorway of their business or in the back alley of their business,” Wilson said. In December, the DIB distributed posters to downtown businesses that encouraged customers and visitors to donate to organizations that benefit the homeless community rather than giving to panhandlers downtown. Business owners were given the choice to hang the posters on their shop windows. Wilson explained that the DIB thought to create these posters after having a meeting with City staff and about 40 to 50 downtown business owners on the issue of homelessness downtown. Meeting attendees shared ideas such as adding public restrooms and water fountains. The posters were inspired by the previous fundraising campaign “Better way to give.” The 2012 project redesigned old parking meters to encourage downtown visitors to donate change to the meters rather than give to panhandlers. “It all stemmed from that meeting that we had with City staff where we had everybody in the room, and we thought, ‘Well, here’s some maybe low hanging fruit that the DIB
could try and jump on.’ Something that wouldn’t cost us a ton of money, but we could get the message out.” Many residents expressed outrage over the posters on social media. Kimberl, who expressed his opinions as an individual and not as a representative of the homeless organizations he works for, shared photos of the DIB posters on Facebook, and the post quickly went viral. The issues Kimberl had with the posters was that the information presented on the anti-panhandler posters were not accurate. The poster stated that a $30 donation to Manna could provide 18 hot meals to people in need. However, Flounlacker of Manna confirmed that Manna has never given hot meals. Manna only gives groceries. The poster also stated that a $30 donation to Waterfront could provide a homeless person three nights at the shelter. However, individuals will be charged $10 a night to stay at the shelter no matter if people donate to Waterfront or not. “We have people on the streets that have immediate needs that are not being addressed. Why would we give money to these organizations that are overwhelmed, overworked and not addressing the immediate needs of the community? Not that they’re bad organizations,” Kimberl explained. “It’s just that they’re not addressing those needs. Our community does not provide the adequate amount of help, versus the amount of people we are seeing needing help. If we criminalize or shame people for asking for help—which is essentially what panhandling is—while we are not helping them, I think that makes us criminals.” Later, Wilson spoke with Kimberl as well as the organizations featured on the posters and decided to have the posters removed. The DIB hopes to recreate a different poster with a similar message sometime in the future. “I messed up. I did not give those organizations a final look at the poster before it was posted. We had told them that we were creating something, but they did not see the final thing,” Wilson said. “They were getting calls from some of their donors and getting pushed back. Once I heard that, I said, ‘I’m going to take them down. We’re going to regroup, and we’re going to try and come up with something else that’s a little better.’” Owner of downtown business A&J Mugs Dan Lindemann chose to not hang up the DIB posters, but he said he didn’t find the posters offensive. “When I found out that Walker Wilson hadn’t talked to anybody at all, that they were telling people to contribute money to these organizations, instead of giving money to the panhandlers, I thought that was kind of—it blew my
mind,” Lindemann said. “They don’t coordinate. They don’t talk to each other, and that was a little bit disturbing to think that we’d go to that extent. But I didn’t take any offense to them at all. I didn’t think they were bad, but I never hung them up because I sensed there would be backlash. I didn’t find them offensive at all. I thought it was kind of a nice little eye opener.” Lindemann has been sharing his concerns about the homeless downtown to the City since Ashton Hayward was mayor. He attended the DIB’s meeting with business owners in November. Back in August 2020, Lindemann expressed his frustration to Mayor Robinson when the DIB opened its Puppy Pit Stop downtown. Lindemann believed public restrooms were needed more. The DIB spent $50,000 on the dog park. “On that morning, when they announced the dedication to the puppy pad, I had someone come by and relieve themselves on my front door with me in my building,” Lindemann said. “I sent a text immediately to the mayor. I was just a little bit put out when I saw that the DIB made this big, huge deal about making a puppy pee pad as if it would be such a great asset to downtown. It just didn’t make any sense. It set me off. Why would we spend money on something like that when for years, the business owners downtown had been complaining about people relieving themselves in their doorways or behind their buildings?” Although Wilson didn’t take on his current role in the DIB until Oct. 1, Wilson explained that the DIB wants to bring public restrooms downtown. The DIB submitted an application to IMPACT 100 for a Portland Loo, a self cleaning public restroom, that would have been placed in the location the Puppy
632 people homeless on a given night in Escambia & Santa Rosa Counties
31,030 people homeless on a given night statewide
35% People unsheltered nationwide Information provided by National Alliance to End Homelessness was published in 2018.
Pensacola’s Endless Battle with Homelessness homelessness. A decision has yet to be made. At this meeting, the council discussed bringing homeless consultant Dr. Robert Marbut for recommendations. The City paid Marbut $30,000 in 2014 to present a list of recommendations addressing Pensacola’s issues with homelessness. Marbut and the Task Force on Improving Human Services presented recommendations to the city council, after briefing former Mayor Ashton Hayward and his staff. The full document can be accessed at bit.ly/39RAEOD. Those recommendations were:
1. Move from a Culture of Enablement to a Culture of Engagement 2. Transform Home Management Information Service (HMIS) from a “Score Keeper Model” to a “Proactive Case Management Tool” 3. Increase the number of emergency housing units for families-with-children 4. Establish a true 24/7 “Come-as-you-are” service center at Waterfront Rescue Mission Pit Spot currently is. However, that application was rejected, and the DIB didn’t have enough to fund the estimated $90,000 for the Portland Loo. Wilson said the DIB needs a partnership with the City and county to bring public restrooms downtown. “I get the frustrations of some of the folks that took concern with that, especially if they were following the process and thought that there was going to be a public bathroom put in there. And then maybe they didn’t get the full story of what they did. We weren’t successful in getting that grant that we thought we would get, so that’s why the bathroom went away then this Puppy Pit Stop went in, “ Wilson explained. “Again, with a budget that we’ve got, which is just a little over a million dollars, and you take out what we pay for the cleaning service every year, you take out what we pay to fund the police that we have down here every year, and you start kind of chipping away at some of the things that we we do that everyone enjoys—there’s not much left over for us to provide a public bathroom downtown. So we would have to find partnership with the city or county to try and make something like that happen.” The City has a couple of ideas addressing homelessness in motion. The city council had a workshop Jan. 13 where the Mayor discussed using $200,000 out of the City’s remaining $500,000 budget to address
44 NWFL’s Business Climate
5. Modify Existing Ordinances to be Pottinger compliant. 6. Repeal Sections 8-1-22, 8-1-23 and 8-124 of the Code of the City of Pensacola There has been some movement toward completing the recommendations. The Better Way to Give initiative and the DIB’s December posters made efforts to support the first recommendation. Downtown Improvement Board distributed these posters to downtown businesses but later removed them due to backlash.
Recommendation 4 has yet to make headway. To stay at Waterfront’s shelter, guests can’t be intoxicated. The recommendations 5 and 6 are in reference to the City’s ordinances on homelessness. Marbut stated in the document that the ordinances were not Pottinger compliant (see Pottinger vs City of Miami). In 2017, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida filed a lawsuit against the City of Pensacola shortly after the City passed an anti-panhandling ordinance. The City repealed the ordinance and settled to pay the ACLU $10,000 for legal fees. The City and county have made efforts to improve housing, too. In the 2016 to 2017 Escambia County and Pensacola State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP), the county utilized ESG funding to support Loaves and Fishes. The SHIP Local Housing Assistance Plan outlined ways the county and City address rapid rehousing and homeless prevention. The City administers HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers County‐wide to help house homeless veterans. The City is working with AMR at Pensacola, INC., a state-certified
Community Housing Development Organization, to build Pensacola’s first tiny home community. The Phoenix Project, which recently received a $106,000 grant from IMPACT 100, plans to create 14 tiny home communities consisting of 12 homes each. The goal is to reduce poverty concentration in neighborhoods by spreading affordable housing throughout the city. In 2019 Marbut was appointed director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). Shortly after there was push back from housing advocates condemning Marbut’s approaches to homelessness. Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, called Marbut’s methods “dehumanizing and ineffective.” Marbut oversaw the development of the New Orleans “transformational campus” Haven for Hope, which was established after Katrina. The facility helps 1,500 people and has a range of services offered 24 hours a day. An issue advocates had with this facility was that guests had to sleep on mats outside in the courtyard if they didn’t follow the facility’s curfew or participate in job and education training. Marbut explained, as he does in the recommendation to the City, that these methods prevent enabling the homeless population. The Pensacola City Council has not made an official decision to work with Marbut on another set of recommendations. Some of Pensacola’s issues with addressing homelessness, especially during COVID, can be traced back to the U.S. federal government. When Congress drafted the $2 trillion CARES Act back in March, Congress mandated the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) formula for calculating homelessness aid be temporarily altered so that it would consider a given area’s actual homeless population. For years, HUD has been calculating aid for homelessness without accounting for the number of homeless people in a given area. This change in HUD’s formula resulted in millions more dollars being allocated to areas with larger homeless populations. The Arizona State University Howard Center for Investigative Journalism found that if HUD had used this one-time CARES Act formula since 2011, Escambia County would have received $313,545 more in homeless assistance grants from 2011 to 2020. In that time span, HUD awarded Escambia $1,004,954 in direct Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG). Had HUD considered Escambia’s homeless population during that time frame, the county would have received $1,318,499, an increase of 31.20 percent. Nonetheless, HUD awarded the City of Pensacola the first allocation of $452,160 from the CARES Act Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Mayor Grover Robinson confirmed the CDBG is the only grant from the CARES Act
that will be used toward the Pensacola homeless population and the programs that support the homeless community. The Howard Center also found that more than four months after Congress passed the CARES Act, HUD had dispersed less than one-third of the money allocated to homeless specific programs. HUD has yet to disperse the CDBG to the City of Pensacola. Although the City has yet to receive its funding from HUD, the City of Pensacola will be using the first allocation of $452,160 mostly to benefit homeless prevention methods, which doesn’t benefit the current homeless population. The City Housing Director Marcie Whitaker explained that the first CDBG check will go to a contract with Legal Services of North Florida to assist individuals facing foreclosure or eviction; subsistence payments to include utility payments, rent payments or mortgage payments; and senior services, to include the Council on Aging Meals on Wheels feeding program for the elderly and disabled. As for the second allocation of the CDBG, Whitaker said it will be put toward homelessness or nonprofits who benefit the homeless community, but she isn’t certain of the specificities yet. “The second allocation—I really haven’t gotten specific as to what that activity is going to be for, either a food bank and/ or for a homeless outreach activity,” Whitaker said. “I just see that those are needs in our community. So we’re beginning that planning process now, and it’ll probably be conducted over the next three to six months. Once we put that plan together, it’s taken to the city council, so the council approves it, and then it goes on to HUD for their approval.” Although there doesn’t seem to be a silver bullet to end homelessness, there are some things individuals can do to benefit the organizations that serve the homeless community. Manna is currently accepting grocery donations once again. Washburn Center, Waterfront and Manna are in need of volunteers and monetary donations. If you’re in a position to give, visit these local nonprofits’ websites. One way individuals can directly benefit the homeless population is by acknowledging them. “One of the number one things that we battle here in the homeless community is apathy. If people are insulting you, ignoring you, or treating you like you’re a lesser human being, that wears on you,” Kimberl said. “If you gave them pride, they would have pride. We are the recipients of our own actions.”
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Around the Region direction for Innisfree’s “Hive” corporate responsibility program, which seeks to utilize profits to give back to the people in the communities where Innisfree team members live and work. Through its Hive program, Innisfree has invested in a diverse group of endeavors, including early childhood education, community gardening, work opportunities for persons with disabilities, vocational opportunities for non-violent teenage offenders and opposition to offshore drilling.
Innisfree Hotels Brings on Rusty Branch as VP of Community Engagement Branch to spearhead community initiatives with a vision toward the future Innisfree Hotels, the largest beachfront hotel owner-operator on the Gulf Coast, has appointed Rusty Branch to the position of vice president of community engagement. The role is newly created, and as the first to take its title, Branch will focus on bettering and giving back to the communities where Innisfree does business. “Innisfree is working hard to create generational changes in the communities where it does business—and beyond,” said Julian MacQueen, founder of Innisfree Hotels. “We wanted to create a role that was solely dedicated to moving our community-based initiatives forward, so we can create tangible, positive impact in people’s lives.” As VP of community engagement, Branch will help craft the strategic 48 NWFL’s Business Climate
In his new role, Branch will be responsible for developing a process by which the Hive program’s initiatives can be optimized to create the most effective change possible. This includes a focus on engaging government and public entities to advocate for the communities’ broader tourism needs. “From the beginning, we have felt that the best way to lead our business is to put the right people in positions that can help bring our vision for social change to life,” MacQueen explained. “Rusty’s background, along with his experience working with community leaders, public officials and every day citizens, make him a natural fit for this role.” Branch has had a long track record of working for the betterment of his community. In his previous roles with
Lakeview Center, Inc., Branch spent 15 years advocating for behavioral health, vocational education, and child protective services. Most recently, Branch worked as the Escambia Destination Marketing Organization’s executive director, attracting visitors to the county to support the local economy. “I am excited to help guide Innisfree’s organizational effect on the world for years to come,” said Branch. “The organization has built a strong foundation, and I am eager to unleash the talent that already exists within the Innisfree team and empower our associates to become change agents within their communities.” Branch has served as a board member for CareerSource Escarosa, the YMCA, and Global Connections to Employment. He has also mentored underserved youth through Take Stock in Children and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Additionally, Branch is currently an active member of the Pensacola Civitan Club where he has twice served as club president. To learn more about Innisfree Hotels’ corporate responsibility program, the Hive, visit www.innisfreehotels.com/ corporate-social-responsibility-program.
Around the Region The University of West Florida Launches Black Alumni Network The University of West Florida’s Black Alumni Network was established in 2020. The Network was created to facilitate engagement and networking opportunities for Black graduates from the University of West Florida. The UWF Black Alumni Network unites the presence of alumni and students through efforts with UWF Alumni Relations, establishing relationships, connections and opportunities for Black alumni of the University of West Florida. The Networks mission is to advocate for the concerns of Black alumni, students and friends in the
UWF campus community. Promote greater participation from Black alumni with their time, talents, gifts and their service, as well as to elevate the work and accomplishments of Black alumni and preserve their legacy at UWF. Develop programming of interest for Black alumni, faculty, staff and students, along with supporting the advancement of Black students at UWF and providing resources that contribute to their success. The Network will be confirming their council members by July 1, 2021. If you are interested in being a part of this dynamic council, please contact UWFBAN@gmail.com. The Network will officially launch in February. Stay up to date by following the Facebook page West Florida Black Alumni.
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ON THE MARKET A Real Estate Section By the Numbers: A Look at Decemberâ€™s Market Highlights page 52 Get Organized for and EnvyWorthy Garage page 54 Discover Nature-Inspired Paint Trends for a Calming Home page 62
BY THE NUMBERS
A LOOK AT DECEMBERâ€™S MARKET HIGHLIGHTS
Avg. Days on Market
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Median Sale Price
MARKET HIGHLIGHTS Total sales rebounded 24 percent compared to November
52 ON THE MARKET
Fourth Quarter sales were 15 percent ahead of the same period last year. Total sales for the year were up 7 percent over 2019
We began the year with 2633 Single Family homes and 177 Condo units in inventory and ended with 1755 and 286 respectively
December median sale price edged up slightly compared to November, to $245,000
Decemberâ€™s pending sales improved 14 percent from November, and were 45 percent ahead of last December
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Start by sorting. Garages tend to accumulate a lot of stuff, some of it useful and much of it not. Begin your garage clean-out by sorting your belongings into groups. The items you no longer need can be divided further
54 ON THE MARKET
into sell, donate and trash piles. For the things you’re keeping, try to create groups of like items, which can make it easier to organize later.
Empty as much as you can. Cleaning out the garage is one of those jobs that typically gets messier before it gets cleaner. Removing as much of the contents of your garage as possible can make it easier to reach all the nooks and crannies for a more complete cleaning.
Give it a power scrub. Clean every surface to remove dust, dirt and debris. This means everything from sweeping floors and wiping down counters to brushing away cobwebs from the
ceiling. If possible, use a hose to clean the floor thoroughly and remove buildup tracked in from your vehicle tires. Be thorough and use a critical eye. Don’t overlook details like light switches or the wall behind the trash can.
Make storage easy. With a clean slate, it’s the perfect time to rethink your organization and put things in place with storage units designed to stand up to the wear and tear of the environment. One option is the ProGarage line from ClosetMaid. This customizable collection of professional-quality garage and workspace storage is made of 24-gauge steel cabinetry for maximum durability. You can choose from a variety of cabinet sizes with floor mount and wall mount options, as well as worktable or tabletop. Each piece features full-length extruded aluminum handles for easy opening and closing, adjustable legs to keep cabinets
level on sloped floors, caster wheels for portability and a lock and key for security.
Put things back in place. If you take the time to separate items as you sort and purge in the beginning, this last step will be quick and painless. Now that the space is clean and you have storage space ready to fill, it’s time to begin moving everything back into place. Put similar items together. Keep the things you use most often in easy reach and stash others on higher shelves. Before you close the doors and call it a day, be sure to show everyone, including the kids, where things belong. Your garage may get dirty again quickly, but with some help from the family, you can at least keep it picked up and usable longer. Find more helpful tips for keeping every part of your home organized like a pro at ClosetMaid.com.
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319 Panferio Dr, Pensacola Beach
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DISCOVER NATUREINSPIRED PAINT TRENDS FOR A CALMING HOME When it comes to home design, color can change everything. From understated, clean hues and calming neutrals to soft greens and mid-tone colors with artistic qualities, a whole new style is just brush strokes away. With the right color palette, you can transform your space to highlight contemporary trends while creating your desired ambiance. These curated Clark+Kensington color palettes, showcasing on-trend looks for 2021, are heavily inspired by nature and natural materials like raw cotton, linen, wood tones and soft, peaceful greens. The colors invite the best of the outdoors inside so you can design a personal refuge where you’re free to relax and unwind. Each of these three collections, assembled by the experts at Ace Hardware, can help conjure a sense of calm and offer inspiration so you can thoughtfully incorporate color into your home. MINDFUL LIVING If you want to bring new layers of wellness to your life, the calming neutrals and soft greens that make up this refreshing and cleansing palette may be just what you’re seeking. The muted tone of Fair Isle is a soft neutral that pairs well with a wide range of colors, such as the inviting Blue Spruce green that resembles a richly treed mountainside. Additionally, Swiss Coffee and Natural White offer neutral 58 ON THE MARKET
options that lend a surprising sense of coziness while Smokey Taupe and Playas de Cancun provide alternatives to bring bolder, but still soothing, color to your space. UNDERSTATED IMPACT If minimalism and clean lines reflect your desire to simplify your surroundings, you’ll likely be drawn to a “less is more” approach to design. This uncluttered sensibility allows you to focus on key elements of a room that are impactful yet edited. To achieve this look, build your palette around slate-like hues of gray and blue, such as Gothic Iron or a cooler take on slate with Magic Fountain. Options like Silent White and Abstract Gray lend neutral warmth while an earthy burgundy like Red Tulip or the deep, not-quite-black tones of Midnight Stroll are ideal for creating a focal point. CREATIVE ESCAPE This palette of mid-tone colors with artistic qualities may be best suited for someone who embraces traditional crafting techniques and delights in
working with his or her hands. Striking slate blue Midnight Oil is reminiscent of waves crashing in the dark of night while Subtle Gray offers a softer take on the slate-like tones. As the name suggests, Fiddlehead Fern brings lush vegetation to mind while Act Naturally and Caramel Apple deliver pops of color consistent with streaks of an orange-kissed sunset. The most subtle of this collection, Beach Cottage, features a slightly peach-to-pinkish tint that gives
unique character to a neutral selection. Any color in these palettes can be selected and ordered from the comfort of your home online using in-store pickup, curbside pickup or delivery from your local store. Start with color samples to test your colors on your walls in different locations and under different lighting then order your gallons and painting supplies when you’re ready to complete your project.
1301 Panferio Dr • Pensacola Beach 115 Ft Waterfront • Studio Apt 5 BD/4 BA • 2,416 SF • Pool $1,599,000 • MLS# 582032
343 Panferio Dr • Pensacola Beach Fully Furnished Cottage 3 BD/2.5 BA • 2,224 SF $769,900 • MLS# 582161
74 Baybridge Dr • Gulf Breeze Waterfront Condo 4 BD/3 BA • 2,216 SF $499,900
1612 E Hernandez St • Pensacola Quiet East Hill Neighborhood Detached Guest Suite • 3 BD/2.5 BA 2,066 SF • $545,000 • MLS# 578456
600 E Wright St Pensacola Downtown Living 3 BD/2.5 BA 1,600 SF $379,900 MLS# 581031
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7665 Key West Dr • Navarre Beach Caribbean Isle Lot Gulf & Sound Views $169,000 • MLS# 581376
Home & Auto go together. Like you & a good neighbor. Michael Johnson, Agent 3127 E Langley Avenue Pensacola, FL 32504 Bus: 850-478-7748 www.michaeljohnsonagency.com
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