RICH MAN, POOR MAN

Referred to as “the working son in the family of rich Florida playboys,” Jacksonville is retooling itself for the 21st century. With a strong technology core and its first black major, Jacksonville is remaking its image. Founded by the French and named for Pres. Andrew Jackson, Jacksonville still proudly retains parts of its French heritage and Southern roots.

West side High School

Westside High School was formerly Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the Klu Klux Klan.

Jacksonville is a city with a history of paradoxes. The Kingsley Plantation on nearby Fort George Island was home to Zephaniah Kingsley, who was a slave owner and the husband of a Black woman. Fort Caroline also on Fort George Island stands guard over the city’s most precious natural resources. Fort Caroline according to Art & Cultural Scene, is also the site of the first Thanksgiving in 1564

Jacksonville guardian of the past and heir to the future.

Fort George Island.

My favorite place to paint is at Fort George Island.

While Tourists on I-95 bypass the Jacksonville for warmer climates, attractions and faster lifestyles, Jacksonville outranks many Florida cities. It was recognized in the 2014 list of Money Magazine’s “More Big-City Values.” The amenities and ambiance of the downtown neighborhood, Avondale, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places brought attention to the city.

In addition to its stellar rating, Jacksonville has stellar golf courses. The Player’s Championship and the World Golf Village are home to the area. In addition to great golf, the city has pristine beaches, outstanding fishing and numerous out-door recreational opportunities. The jewel of the city however, is the Cummer Museum and Gardens.

The Cummer Museum holds one of the finest art collections in the Southeast, with nearly 5,000 objects in its Permanent Collection. The Museum’s 2.5 acres of historic gardens are unique examples of early 20th century garden design, featuring reflecting pools, fountains, arbors, antique ornaments, and sculptures. Art Connections, the Museum’s nationally recognized interactive education center, enhances the cultural learning of visitors of all ages by offering educational programs and interactive opportunities, both in and out of the Museum, allowing visitors to gain a better understanding of works in the Collection. ( http://www.cummermuseum.org/)

WORDS FROM A RECOVERING GRINCH

Santas Workshop

Build-A-Bear rebrands itself as Santa’s Workshop for Christmas.

Christians need a make over.

We complain about Christmas and the commercialism and refuse to participate in the most joyous of seasons.

toys on display

Reindeer replace bears in this display.

Instead of thanking God for His unspeakable gift, we complain about the commercialism and traffic. True, Christmas supersedes every holiday, but isn’t that really how it should be? God supersedes everything; the heavens cannot contain Him.

Christmas decorations at Potential Church.

Christmas decorations at Potential Church.

Businesses realize their bottom line won’t make it without Christmas and neither will this world make it without Christ. There is no substitute for Him, no matter how hard we try. “365 days of Christmas” is not enough; God is bigger than that. We are not called to relegate Christmas to a season. May our love as Christians shine throughout the year and may God’s glorious kingdom be without end!

Christmas kick off sign.

Christmas kick off sign.

 

NOT ANOTHER TATOO

Imagine a little boy at the grocery store puzzled by the etchings on someone’s arm. He turns and asks his mother what this means. This is not about a child of today but a child born maybe in the 1950’s who grew up in South Beach and sees numbers etched on some one’s arm that had been a victim of the Nazi concentration camp.

My Miami Beach Art Deco workshop for my “Splash and Color” coloring book is about the people and the buildings of South Beach. Buildings were made by people—for people. Without them both there is no story to tell.

A sign posted to save the Coral Rock House.

A sign posted to save the Coral Rock House.

As I looked over my planned Art Deco workshop, I saw that it did not include the true history of the buildings. I became aware of the blanks after attending a “Learning through the Holocaust” workshop. When presented with more information and the true story of this young boy, I began to wonder who the residents of the buildings were. Some were obviously immigrants from the Holocaust. But did they come directly from Europe or the US. What was their story?

The Coral Rock House before restoration.

The Coral Rock House before restoration.

I knew and read on the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s website that many of the buildings in the Miami Beach Art Deco District of the 1930s and 1940s were designed, built and operated by Jews. I knew Barbara Capitman, a Jew, started the Miami Design Preservation League that established the Art Deco District and that the residents of the buildings were mostly elderly. Yet, so many of my questions remained unanswered.

The Coral Rock House after restoration.

The Coral Rock House after restoration.

 

Book Wisdom from a Five Year Old

When faced with an unfamiliar project it is common to seek a subject matter expert for guidance. When I began the task of illustrating my Miami Beach Art Deco coloring book, I sought the advice of my five year old grandson. As I worked on my thumbnail sketches, he noted “Grammy, books have spines.” This was the first of his insightful remarks.

When I came back with my drawings he noted, “You don’t have any people in it. You need to draw some kids doing fun things.” “Well, I do see people walking their dogs…” “Yes, what about a parachute…this sky looks empty.” “I don’t see parachutes at South Beach but I do see para sails.” “What’s that?” he inquired.

Not sure that I could explain it, I drew a sketch. “Cool!” he replied. “I guess I could draw some clouds in the sky,” I offered.
“I want to draw on this robot.” I decided to include dashed lines for tracing instead of making it a static object. “This building needs something.” “I did leave out some windows,” I explained. So much for my first edit…

edited drawing of the Breakwater Hotel, Miami Beach Florida.

Young editor’s notes om my drawing of the Breakwater Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida.

drawing of the Wrestler sculpture.

Notes of the revisions needed for the “Wrestler” drawing. The original sculpture by Dudley Vaill Talcott can be found in the FIU-Wolfsonian in Miami Beach, Florida.

I literally went back to the drawing board and returned with the changes he suggested. “Where’s the parachute?” he insisted. “Well, I drew clouds instead.” He wasn’t impressed and maybe a bit disappointed. Still, he said it was much better than before.
“These kids need helmets on their heads. They could get hurt!” “But they look so much cooler without the helmets,” I protested. “These kids need helmets!” “Alright,” I agreed.

“What should I do about the front of the book? I’ve seen a mermaid on a building I could draw.” “No, because people will think it is just for girls.”
“What should be the ages for the coloring book?” “Four to nine year olds. Little kids ‘scribble and scrabble’ and I’ve seen nine year olds color.”

“What should I call it?” “Teen Coloring book.” “Do you know what a teen is? “No!” “Well, I’m not calling it that.” I decided on “Splash and Color” without telling him. My ego had taken enough beatings.

Finished Drawing of the "Wrestler".

The finished drawing of ” The Wrestler”.

splash-and-color.

The finished version of my coloring book, “Splash and Color.”

A few weeks later, I returned with what I hoped would be the final edit. “Good job, Grammy. I am proud of you,” he beamed. “Wow! Thanks grandson.” Now to get it printed I thought…
As I read the publisher’s guidelines, I breathed a sigh of relief. My grandson had prepared me well.

I LIKE THE WAY YOU MOVE

splash-and-color.jpg small

My coloring book. “Splash and Color,” was lifeless and without movement until my grandson breathed his child like wonder into it. I liken the experience to the one depicted in Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam.” God reached out to man and with His touch man became a living soul.

miami beach post office drawung

My coloring book illustration of the Miami Beach Post Office. This building was constructed under the FDR’s WPA.

Miami Beach Post Office

Photograph of the Miami Beach Post Office.

Through my 5 year old grandson’s eyes and heart, I began to see beyond the buildings. I began to notice the life rhythms of the South Beach Historic Art Deco District and to see its soul. I watched the residents of today and wondered about the residents of the past.

Since then I have learned a little about the artists, architects and everyday people of the era. And so it was because of my grandson’s counsel, my coloring book became what it is. A coloring book with a soul.

I wrote this dedication poem to my grandson in my coloring book, “Splash and Color.”

Splash and Color

A splash of color
A dash of fun.
People and dogs on the run.
Bikes to ride
Scooters to thrill.
Pirates on land,
Pirates on wheels.
Skaters zooming by.
Parasails in the sky.
A beach to swim in
Or just to float.
And those funny buildings
That look like boats.

GOTTA RUN NOW

fort myers beach

A quiet moment at Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

Gotta run now! Just look at that sentence. Everything is an imperative. That’s me everything is urgent. Never in the moment, always planning for the next big thing. Chasing my dreams literary and figuratively.

That’s what I miss about the beach. Moments of solitude. Listening to the hush of the ocean and the patter of my heart. Quiet moments with God.

I almost captured it the other day when I paused to look at a butterfly with my grandson. In awe we watched the Florida state butterfly—the Zebra Longwing. My grandson said that he had never seen one before. I agreed. But maybe it was there and we missed it in the busyness of our day. Oh well…on to the next big thing! Gotta run now!

HIDDEN IDENTITY

the mound house

The Mound House is Estero Island’s oldest structure. It sits atop an ancient Calusa Native American Mound.

Never thought I’d sit in a trash dump. No less, one 2,000 year old. But here I sit inside a mound of oyster shells and other discarded shells at the Mound House site. Like thieves digging through a trash dump looking for someone’s identity, archeologists study this Native American shell mound to get an understanding of the life and culture of the Calusa tribe in Florida. I never thought about how much your discards reflect who you are and what you are known for.

Tours of the Mound House are free.

Tours of the Mound House are free.

 

Mound House trail.

A trail leading to the Mound House.

The Calusa were fierce warriors known for fatally wounding Juan Ponce de Leon somewhere off the southwest coast of Florida. Mounds and accounts from a captured Spaniard’s journal reveal the complexities of their society.

artist depiction of Calusa life.

A depiction of Calusa life.

A mural depicting the life and times of the Calusa tribe and artifact samples are inside the Calusa mound located at Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island. A video is also part of the free tour.

Calusa mound layers

Layers of the Calusa mound.