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THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

BLACK TIE

Social Studies: Susan McLeod PAGE 11 by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

INSIDE

Mallory Gnaegy

the box

FSU/Asolo Conservatory alumni Brendan Ragan and Summer Dawn Wallace will open The Urbanite Theatre — an edgy, hip, black box theater in downtown Sarasota. ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT COVER STORY CONTINUED ON PAGE 2


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DIVERSIONS

YourObserver.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

// ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT: THEATRE GETS REAL

INSIDE the box by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor (continued from page 1)

FSU/Asolo Conservatory alumni Brendan Ragan and Summer Dawn Wallace will open The Urbanite Theatre — an edgy, hip, black box theater in downtown Sarasota.

I

Mallory Gnaegy

“We have nothing now, we don’t have one brick laid down or one actor signed,” Brendan Ragan says. “But we have people buying in and believing in us, and as soon as we had that — that’s when it started feeling real.”

n February, Summer Dawn Wallace and Brendan Ragan sat around Wallace’s square kitchen table. They had a passionate and lively discussion over entirely too many cups of coffee. They both quickly realized they had a similar agenda for their future plans in Sarasota. The two professional actors didn’t know each other very well, but after this overly caffeinated brainstorm — they became business partners. Fast forward to six months later, and that fortunate meeting evolved into a groundbreaking reality as construction of their (pending) nonprofit black box theater company, The Urbanite Theatre, is underway. The duo hopes the 50-seat intimate theater a block north of Whole Foods, located at 1487 Second

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St., will open this fall or winter. dream accounting job in the area The partners are alumni of falls into Herren’s lap. The couple FSU/Asolo Conservatory — Wal- moved here last summer, just aflace was one year ter Ragan graduahead of Ragan. ated FSU/Asolo They had corConservatory. Black box theater dially chatted Ragan kept noun: A small room after shows and busy that sumwith no stage or proextended hallmer filming an scenium, with seats way greetings in independent arranged according to passing between film, “The Lucky the play. Productions classes, but that 6,” and making are unadorned and was it. Their stoa few other actsimple with minimal ry is in the early ing appearances. sets and costume stages of being Wallace had seen and a focus on script, written. him perform a lighting and acting. This is how it one-man show SYNONYMS: fringe starts. Wallace adaption of Homtheater, pub theater, moves to New er’s “The Iliad” in storefront theater York City to act January, at Home professionally for Resource. 11 months. She Wallace, imand her fiancé, Grant Herren, pressed, contacted him about go on vacation to Sarasota and a getting together for coffee. Cue

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THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

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// ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT BY THE NUMBERS

$1

what Ragan and Wallace will pay for a month of rent

$32,100

yearly savings from donated rent

5

years The Urbanite Theatre signed on the lease

Courtesy renderings by architect Gary Todd Yeomans

The unadorned simplicity brings the focus to the art of theater and encourages the audience to explore the themes along with the actor. Or as Wallace poignantly puts it, the audience can’t just sit in their seats and not respond.

not necessarily about going and doing great shows, which is a critical part … but it’s not as simple as that.” So when Wallace said she was serious, he started grilling her to see if she was ready. “Are you ready to focus lights, dust chairs, change garbage bags, clean bathrooms, build sets …” he demonstrates the types of questions he asked her. And Wallace was more than up for late nights in exchange for pursuing her passion. Plus, as Ragan says, “Her work ethic is unquestioned; she means business.” And they have a silent partner believing in the cause. He has given the duo a rent of $1 a month with a five-year lease and let them contribute to the design

ideal number of plays in the first season

of the space. The construction is set to begin early June. Now, all they have to do is raise their goal of $175,000 to get up and running and fund their first year of production. “Some people will catch on with our passion and believe in (and support it), and for others, it might take a little while,” Wallace says. So far, they haven’t seen the latter. And as business partners first and friends second, they think they can make it exactly the kind of place people want to go: where seasoned theater goers and new theater goers, retirees and young professionals can see new works, or works they haven’t yet seen. “Theater shouldn’t be an event you plan a month in advance,” she says. “But it’s something that on a Friday night you can think, ‘Oh yeah! I want to do that!’ and you can do it in your jeans and a T-shirt.” For more information, visit urbanitetheatre.com.

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approximate weeks each show will run (ideally)

$25,000 what it will take to outfit the theater with sound, lights and seats

$15,000 Approximate cost to produce one show

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seats (give or take 20 or so depending on the show)

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artistic directors (Ragan and Wallace)

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Baltimore to found Single Carrots Theatre in 2007. The group of “entirely too many people to open a theater” had $1,000 to start. Ragan thinks it only worked because they were passionate and young enough to have other jobs. Single Carrots, with fewer partners, is still functioning today. Ragan stepped out of the business to attend graduate school here. It was a lesson in learning. Opening a nonprofit theater is a thankless 24/7 job, and before you have staff, you have to do everything yourself. Ragan knows he has to do everything from sweeping the floor to networking with other organizations. “I learned that it takes a village to raise a theater,” he says. “It’s

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the kitchen table meeting. “We sat down and had a conversation about our goals and our bigger dreams for what we could do for ourselves,” she says. They were two young people with a big vision. Both wanted to make art, were on similar career paths and had a mutual respect for quality theater. Plus, Sarasota was lacking the type of venue they hoped to open: intimate, contemporary, producing lesserknown works, year-round. “There’s a huge gaping hole in Sarasota,” Ragan says. “Theaters are doing tremendous work, there’s nothing wrong with the work they are doing — but in a diverse theater community, you need a small, cutting-edge black box theater doing cutting-edge work.” Ragan knows about opening a small cutting-edge theatre such as this venture. Upon getting his bachelor’s degree in acting from the University of Colorado, he and 10 of his classmates moved to

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DIVERSIONS

YourObserver.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

// ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT: HIGHLIGHTS

by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

 Lauren Walsh with the secret garden décor she arranged.  Dancers in Sarasota Ballet’s company: Gabriela Johnson and Dagny Hanrahan

Sue Robinson and Sue Gordon

‘Secret Garden’ blooms at Friends of Sarasota Ballet Friends of the Sarasota Ballet met for an end of the season meeting May 2, at M i c h e l ’s On East. The theme was choreographer Will Tuckett’s “The Secret Garden.” The full-length ballet was commissioned to Tuckett, who will base it on the classic children’s story. It will premiere Aug. 8.

Sandy Cowing, speaker Sara Sardelli and Barbara Staton

Photos by Mallory Gnaegy

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THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

// ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT: HIGHLIGHTS

5

by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

Students present lessons learned

Briana Bozzie, Alyssa Miller, Jean Johnson, Avalon Jupsun and Lily Herndon perform what they learned in their tap class.

Gianna Mattison and Melanie Monroe

Mileey Monroe

Sage Leiber, 10, studied Jazz 2

Julie Monkley helps her daughter Ashlynn Monkley, 8, get ready to perform what she learned in acting class and youth singing.

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Avria Kuntz, 12, and Lacey Rinaca, 11, help each other apply stage makeup. Kuntz studied Lyric 1 and hip hop and Rinaca studied youth and teen singing.

Photos by Mallory Gnaegy

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Aden Rodriguez, 5, and Kayla Christensen, 5

The Players Theatre of Sarasota hosted a performance May 30 for its students enrolled in studio classes. Students ages 5 to 77 demonstrated knowledge they learned in classes such as stage acting, hip hop and tap dancing and youth and adult singing. The variety of classes led to a diverse End of the Year Showcase featuring everything from children singing “ABC” and acting in scenes from “Snow White” to tappers ages 9 to 77 sharing the stage in a dance. Studio classes are held year round at the theater, and summer classes begin June 9. For more information, visit theplayers.org.


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YourObserver.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

// ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT: REVIEWS

MUSIC

THEATER // ‘I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti’

// The Artist Series Concerts — Ollarsaba and Hill

“When all else fails, make pasta.” That’s the simple philosophy of Giulia Melucci’s memoir, “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti.” Jacques Lamarre adapted it as a onewoman play. It’s now simmering on stage in an Asolo Rep production, directed by Rob Ruggiero with Antoinette LaVecchia in the role of Giulia. And, yes, she makes spaghetti. A three-course meal, actually — which she serves up to seven tables of paying patrons close to the stage. (Critic’s note: Unless you plan to be one of these patrons, eat a nice meal before you come or it might drive you nuts.) As the play unfolds, Giulia cooks her signature Italian dishes from scratch. Along the way, she dishes about a long line of Mr. Wrongs. These include: a skittish MTV producer; a Charles Nelson Reilly-esque cartoonist; a Foster’s-chugging alcoholic/ unpublished writer; and a blunt, pot-smoking, barely published, Scottish writer. (If that sounds like a cross-section of the New York City creative scene, that’s no coincidence. The real-life Giulia works at Harper’s magazine.) Each bad boyfriend comes with a good recipe. Each anecdote is usually interrupted by a cell phone call from Giulia’s oldschool Italian-American mother. Ruggiero directs this lighter-than-air material with the rapid-fire timing of screwball comedy. Basically, we’re talking two-part comic monologue. Within that structure, LaVecchia delivers. She has the chops of a great stand-up comedian. LaVecchia does character voices, from Valley Girl ditz, to a nasal Charles Nelson Reilly, to a Scottish freeloader’s burr. She breaks the fourth wall, riffs with various

Tenor Jeffrey Hill and bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba, with pianist Avis Romm, appeared on the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota last weekend at the Historic Asolo Theater in a program that started and ended, cleverly enough, with a duet from “City of Angels.” At the beginning, they were pouting, “You’re Nothing Without Me,” but by the finale they were good buddies, singing, “I’m Nothing Without You.” In between, their music ranged from Lieder and art songs to arias and Broadway — some performed with more success than others. The singers and pianist seemed much more at home with the classical portions of the program. Ollarsaba’s performance of “Il modo di prender moglie,” a comic song in Italian by Schubert, was charming, funny and strong, with more overtones of the Count in Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” than the prolific Lieder composer. His renditions of Copland’s “Zion’s Walls” and Steven Mark Kohn’s “Farmer’s Cursed Wife” were stylish and hearty, while Hill’s delivery of two similar American songs by Hub Miller, “Spinning Song” and “Half and Half,” were tender and eloquent. Much of Hill’s choices of songs didn’t fit his light tenor. Several were too low for him, causing him to stretch the bottom of his voice to depths he doesn’t seem able to handle at this point in his career. And, when it came to the more trendy songs — “People” and “They Just Keep Moving the Line” from the TV show “Smash” — he just didn’t seem comfortable with the pop style. “Smash,” in particular, calls for a brassy, Broadway belt, something this

Courtesy

“I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti” runs through June 15, at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. Call 351-8000 or visit asolorep.org for more information. audience members, and throws in bits of improv. (The lights flicker, then come back on. “Oh! It’s a miracle!”) Like any good comic, she gets the audience on her side in a warm, engaging, authentic performance. And, let’s not forget. Along with killing the audience with this rapid-fire, “Sex and the City”-style innuendo, LaVecchia (in character as Giulia) is also preparing a complicated meal. When she “makes spaghetti,” she literally makes spaghetti — from scratch. A higher level of difficulty. It’s like watching a high-wire act. Cooking is an ephemeral art — and a nice juxtaposition to transitory relationships. You spend 90 minutes chopping up herbs, simmering sauce and kneading and slicing pasta; 45 minutes to enjoy the meal; then it’s over. Guilia’s bad boyfriends? She’s over them, too. The character keeps a hurt locker of mementos: a can of Foster’s, an ice cream scoop, a Stevie Wonder CD, to name a few. At the end of the play, Giulia trashes them. Having served her guests a great meal, she’s now eager to leave for a rendezvous with a possible Mr. Right. This time, he’s cooking for her. Risotto, in fact. She considers that a good sign. — Marty Fugate

Courtesy

Jeffrey Hill classically trained tenor doesn’t have. But Ollarsaba seemed as at home with the Broadway tunes as he was with opera. His performance of the Toreador Song from Bizet’s “Carmen,” an aria with a range similar to that of the “StarSpangled Banner,” which took the singer an octave and a fifth, from bottom to top, was stirring, as was his rendition of “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha.” The person who seemed the most discomfited by the range of repertoire was Romm, who was much more attuned to the songs and arias in the first half than the Broadway and pop tunes in the second. It’s hard to switch from one genre to another, and this program was so wide in its range, it’s amazing they were able to pull it all together as well as they did. Fortunately, the concert was billed as an entertainment, rather than a recital, and the performers managed to entertain the audience well with their differing styles, excellent diction and obvious love of the music. — June LeBell

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THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

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ASOLO REPERTORY THEATRE

// FOOD&COOKING: HIGHLIGHTS

JUNE 7– 29 PREVIEW JUNE 6

Photos by Mallory Gnaegy

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ALSO PLAYING THRU JUNE 15: I LOVED, I LOST, I MADE SPAGHETTI

Bon Voyage

with Café L’Europe by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor It’s safe to go to St. Armands Circle again. Tourist season is at a minimal lull, restaurants don’t have 1.5-hour waits and parking is findable. Café L’Europe, 431 St. Armands Circle, is one of the restaurants embracing this. During the month of June, it has four special menu selections in addition to the standard menu. One special menu that starts in June is the passport dinner series. The series, in its second year, features a menu inspired by a different country each month for the next five months. For those interested in this year’s itinerary, you can pick up a pass-

Cernia al Salmorglio (grilled florida grouper) with classic Sicilian lemon oregano sauce, and lemon scented risotto

port and venture to each of these countries (within Café L’Europe, of course). Every month, you get your passport stamped that you have been to the designated country, and those patrons that make it to all five will get a special to-bedetermined souvenir. The menu each month features a choice of two appetizers, three entrees and two desserts for $40 per person. The restaurant designated ambassadors for each country to help make sure the recipes were authentic: Giuliano Hazan, Italy; Francoise Mandonnaud Stotts, France; Andrew Vac, Greece; Daniel Perales, Spain; and Rainer Scheer, Germany.

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DIVERSIONS

YourObserver.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

// HOME&GARDEN: TRENDING NOW

by Heather Merriman | Black Tie Assistant Editor

INTERIOR ADDITIONS Adding new pieces to your interior should be as common as adding new pieces to your wardrobe. Just as your personal style requires a little redesign, a little keeping up with the times and trends, so does your interior style — and it doesn’t have to be costly or dramatic. It’s hard not to find something in a home décor store you’d want to add to you interior, so what’s holding you back? We stopped into Sarasota’s most on-trend interior stores to talk what’s trending and to find the coolest pieces to add to your home’s interior, without changing the style of your décor.

 Blue Ikate picture frame, found at Terra Nova

DECORATIVE ACCESSORIES Starting off with smaller décor pieces is the easiest way to add new style to your home’s interior. Stores suggest mixing in neutral colored (or random pops of color to your already neutral style) pieces to your tables and shelves.

 Hand-beaeded box, found at Melange Home

 Silver bark candle stems, found at Envie

 Handcrafted guilded flower, found at Pecky

 Decorative box, found at Melange Home

 Decorative box, found at Sarasota Home Collection

Photos by Heather Merriman

O

 Petrified wood tray, found at Melange Home

 Purple agate coaster, found at Envie

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THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

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// HOME&GARDEN TABLES

CHAIRS

Bringing in small decorative tables is an easy addition and can immediately add an up-to-date style to any room, while also adding more space to add some new decorative accessories.

Decorative chairs are an easy switch, and if matched correctly to other furniture pieces and couches in the room, mixing contemporary with traditional style, textures and color, can blend nicely.

 Burnt teak wood table, found at Pecky

 Charcoal leather chair, found at Pecky

 Alpaca pillow, found at Melange Home

 Distressed wood pedestal with raw nickel top, found at Melange Home

 Barrel chair, found at Home Resource  Aqua colored, Mercury glass lamp with acrylic base, found at Melange Home

LIGHTING AND RUGS

Though on the more costly side, rugs and lighting can instantly add a new dimension to a room, acting as a buffer of two types of styles.

 Glassblown lamp, found at Pecky

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 Black Bird Home Gallery

 Walnut base table with leather top, found at Home Resource

 Cowhide rug, found at Sarasota Home Collection

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DIVERSIONS

YourObserver.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

// BLACK TIE: BEACH READY

HOTFLASH

by Heather Merriman | Black Tie Assistant Editor  Switch up your summer look by wearing a pair of lightweight and stylish pants or shorts instead of the usual slip-on cover up. Throw on a loose tank with these bottoms and it’s as easy to throw on as your favorite tunic. Influence Style has a wide variety of these beachside bottoms.

by Heather Merriman

Black Tie Assistant Editor

GEAR UP FOR SUMMER

S

ummer days are here and Sarasotans are heading out to the beaches to enjoy it — but going to the beach isn’t as simple as just going to the beach. One needs the appropriate gear to spend a day in the sun and water, so BT shopped around town to find the best items to ensure that you are beach ready.

 Tervis Tumblers are perfect for sipping at the beach. Pick up a beach-themed cup (and add a matching lid) to keep your drink cool all day.

 Everyone needs a good pair of shades for the summer, and Sunglass Express and Optical on St. Armands has what you need to block your eyeballs from those sunny rays. Get a little funky with blue-mirrored Ray-Ban aviators or stick to more traditional eyewear and go with a pair from Chanel.

 A good looking and completely “beach” functional bag is sometimes hard to find, but Lilly Pulitzer has just what you have been searching for. The textured canvas leather (with a neutral, but very Lilly print) gives the bag the quality you need and is also water-resistant. The structured bottom ensures the bag won’t fall over in the sand (and makes it easier for bottom-bag fishing). There are also spaces for all your essentials inside the bag (a zipper to close it all in, a cup holder and a clip for your keys).  As much as we all love to relax at the beach, the iPad is still a beach essential (you know, for posting beach pictures, reading and Pinterest-ing). This Lilly Pulitzer pouch is a stylish and effective way to keep your iPad safe from the elements and heat.

 Sun hats are an essential, but the floppy brims make it uncomfortable when you’re lounging on a beach char. These wide-brimmed visors, found at Terra Nova, with a flat back are the most suitable hats for lying back in the sun.

Photos by Heather Merriman

 Light enough fabric to slip on to watch the sunset after a day spent on the beach (and long enough to cover your bum), this Spirit Shirt found at Natural Discovers is a comfortable beach cover-up.

 TKEES flip-flips (available in an array of colors and combinations), found at Influence Style, are a must-have beach sandal. The “appropriate for any occasion” sandal is comfortable and, most importantly, not bulky on your foot.

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DIVERSIONS

YourObserver.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

// BLACK TIE: SOCIAL STUDIES

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by Heather Merriman | Black Tie Assistant Editor

SUSAN MCLEOD The semi-annual exhibition of the monumental structures has once again left the bayfront (only to return again in November), so there is no better time to take one last look at the installations and to get to know more about the woman behind it all. After strolling the exhibition with Season of Sculpture board Chairwoman Susan McLeod, we escaped the heat inside O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill, grabbed some iced coffees and talked about the loves of her life, her passion for the arts and, of course, Season of Sculpture.

level of artistic pursuit for most of my post-college life. I spent summers in Penland, N.C., sculpted with clay, I’ve blown some glass, had a small gallery on Siesta Key in the ’70s, had a major glass gallery on St. Armands in the ’80s, right in the beginning of the popularity of the American studio glass movement — it’s not new to me to be involved in the arts.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

is something that has also always been very important to me. In terms of the length of time I have been in Sarasota, I’ve been on the board of the Humane Society, I’ve served on the Asolo board, the

I WAS ASKED to be on the board of Season of Sculpture and I have been involved since Season II. I have been so impacted by the statement it makes and how loud we are able to make a statement of the artistic appreciation in our community and about the strength of the arts and culture core of Sarasota. For the last two years, the organization has functioned solely on volunteers. We’ve been through a period where visual arts enjoyed more financial support than we are seeing today, at least on a local level. Upwards of 80% of the funding required for this to exist is from personal donations. It’s one of the ways we know the public and the local people enjoy this exhibition. It’s very tough to be a tourist driving down U.S. 41, seeing the sculptures and not understanding the essence of what we are as a community. I think that’s why we’re all so passionate and dedicated to it. It’s a lot of work and it costs a lot of money, but it’s worth it. I’M A REALTOR and you know,

real estate is a 24/7 job, but it makes it easier for me to be able to do both real estate and Season of Sculpture. The phone is always

Heather Merriman

ringing and the computer is always open, but I can fluctuate my time back and forth.

WHEN I HAVE the time, I paint,

mainly with watercolors. When things get really hectic, that’s how I cocoon, the paintbrush. Reading, films, going to museums, I enjoy all of that — it pretty much all stays in the art world.

I ALSO LOVE to cook. I love to

have intimate dinner parties and cook for everyone. I like experimenting with food. A kitchen is a studio — where I paint is a studio, my kitchen is also a studio. It’s a fun place to experiment, but with

foods instead of paints.

TRAVELING IS another thing I love. I enjoy getting away and do a lot of exploring. I’ve had a wonderful trip to Africa, trips to Europe, trips to the islands and I’m planning a trip to the Bahamas soon. It will be a nice little getaway.

MY TWO grandchildren are the loves of my life. They are little artistic creations themselves. When my granddaughter was younger, she would borrow my camera and take photographs — she loved taking photographs, at such a young age. She’s now studying photography and has even won awards for

her work. It’s been my pleasure to have been an initiation in that. My grandson, whatever we are doing involves the water, most likely a fishing pole. We draw together in my studio, we are always painting and drawing. In fact, most of my office walls are covered in their artwork.

I’M LOOKING forward to seeing

what happens with the evolution of Season of Sculpture. I think it’s a turning point for us — I’ve been involved with it for a long time and we have some new avenues to explore, and who knows. I just know that I’m definitely going to the Bahamas soon.

by ck r Ba pula ! o nd P ma De

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I HAVE BEEN involved in some

Mote Marine advisory board, I initiated the capital campaign for the Children’s Rainforest Garden and, of course, Season of Sculpture.

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LIKE MOST people here, I have a Midwestern background. I was born in Michigan, moved to Tampa when I was in junior high, went to Plant High School and Florida State University. I moved back to Michigan when my husband got his M.B.A., then back to Florida. I moved to Sarasota in 1971, and at that point I became a single mom and the three of us have lived here ever since, well, until they graduated from college. My oldest son lives in St. Petersburg and my youngest son and his family live here. I have a golden; I always have a golden retriever. She’s 5 years old and her name is Samantha.


DIVERSIONS

YourObserver.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

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Diversions 6.5.14