Golden Memories for the holidays

Flagler Memorial Church in St. Augustine, Florida

My painting “Golden Memories. “

Recognized as one of the 20 most beautiful churches in America, Flagler Memorial Church lives up to its reputation. Located in St. Augustine, Florida the church was built by Standard Oil magnate Henry Flagler. It was constructed in 1889 in honor of Flagler’s daughter who died in childbirth. The Tiffany-style stained glass adorns this magnificent edifice. 

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the shortness of life can not dissuade us from its pleasures

My painting eat, drink and be merry.

My painting, “Eat, Drink and Be Merry,” will be on display at the St. Augustine Art Association through May 28.

“The shortness of life can not dissuade us from its pleasures nor console us for its pains.”

This quote by Luc de Clapiers sums up the life and legacy of Henry Morrison Flagler. The brevity of  life did not spare Flagler sorrows nor limit his dreams. A millionaire developer and co-founder of Standard Oil, Flagler suffered the loss of two daughters, a grandchild and a wife who died of tuberculosis.

Flagler’s life and accomplishments were part of the inspirations for my Trilogy: Flagler Mortality series.

My Flagship painting ” You can’t it take it with you” is of the Memorial Presbyterian Church. Splashes of gold and color droplets allude to wealth and the brevity of life.

Flagler built the Memorial Presbyterian Church in St Augustine to honor his daughter who died in childbirth. Flagler, his first wife and daughter are entombed in the church building.

My colorful and festive painting ” Eat, Drink and Be Merry” captures the essence of Flagler’s Alcazar Hotel. The hotel offered accommodations, dining and expansive recreational facilities. It had a casino, bowling alley, tennis courts, Turkish and Russian baths, Swedish Massage services and one of the world’s largest indoor swimming pools.

My third painting, “Behind Every Rich Man,” is of Grace Methodist Church and Wiley Hall. The muted colors and lack of details depicts the lack of recognition often given to key players.

Located behind the Flagler’s glamorous Ponce de Leon Hotel, both buildings are reminders of those who contributed to Flagler’s success. Flagler’s executives used Wiley Hall to conduct business. Grace Methodist Church relocated and sold Flagler the land on which he built the Alcazar.

TGIF: St. Augustine First Friday Art Walk

Statue of Henry Flagler.

The exhibit “Gilded: Impressions of the Flagler Era” is on display at the St. Augustine Art Association.

Experience an evening of art, live entertainment and light refreshments during St Augustine Art Walk tonight, 5-9 pm. Catch one of the free trolleys to visit all of St. Augustine’s art galleries.

Enjoy art that captures the glitz and glamour of the Gilded Age at the opening exhibition, “Gilded: Impressions of the Flagler Era.” See these works fresh off the canvas at the St. Augustine Art Association on 21 Marine Street. Over 50 Plein Air artists showcase original art during this juried exhibit. The exhibit pays tribute to the legacy of Henry Flagler. Flagler, millionaire developer and co-founder of Standard Oil, put St. Augustine on the map as a major tourist destination and winter retreat.

Under Flagler’s tutelage, the city became a resort for the rich and famous. The Vanderbiilts, Rockellers, and Presidents stayed in the exclusive and glamorous Ponce de Leon Hotel in the heart of St. Augustine. The stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Thomas Edison’s “new fangled'” electricity marveled guests. Because guests thought they would we be executed, Flagler had hired staff operate electrical switches.

Flagler’s vision transformed the city and the state. He constructed railroads, local roads, homes, churches, hospitals to facilitate guests and employees throughout the state.

Note: Street parking is free after 5 pm, so arrive early.

Vacation with a Purpose in Miami

Volunteer at Cape Florida.

Volunteer to cleanup Cape Florida, Key Biscayne.

Eco tourism and volunteer tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel market. Vacation and volunteer in sunny Miami at “Baynanza” on April 16. Join thousands of volunteers who gather to clean up the Biscayne Bay. “Baynanza” is the highlight of Miami’s month-long environmental celebration.

A couple of years ago I joined a group of volunteers for a trip to Henry Flagler Monument Island near South Beach. After a hearty and healthy breakfast courtesy of Whole Foods, we began our journey. We departed by speedboat from Maurice Gibbs Park for Monument Island. A few souls braved the bay on kayaks donated by South Beach Kayak.

View of Monument Island.

View of Monument Island.

At Monument Island, Ecocom’s Luis Rodrigues talked about the impact of plastics on our environment. I learned that plastics are photodegradable. Even when plastic disintegrates into smaller pieces it attracts other chemicals and contaminates the water and disrupts the food chain. The tiniest piece of plastic makes a huge impact because it is consumed more easily by wild life. As we trekked through the island, we found an abundance of trash like sanitary items, Styrofoam cups, paper plates, liquor bottles, Styrofoam blocks, etc. By the end of the venture, we filled 40 bags!

Pioneer statue

“Pioneer” Statue surveying the Island.

During the outing, I must confess to taking a few snapshots of the memorial to Henry Flagler. The monument had four statues—Pioneer, Education, Industry, and Prosperity—representing what I consider the four pillars of Flagler’s character. A Standard oil tycoon, Flagler, built a railroad from Jacksonville to Key West to transport the rich and famous. Not only a man of great wealth but also of great generosity and vision, Flagler built schools and churches along Florida’s east coast. His legacy as the Father of Florida tourism continues today in the Sunshine state.

Biscayne Bay is a lagoon approximately 35 miles long. In 1975, the bay was designated as a Florida aquatic preserve. A second preserve was soon added off of Cape Florida on Key Biscayne. These two preserves are now managed by the state under the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves. For more information, visit


Monument Island with high rises in the background.

Monument Island with high rises in the background. Monument Island stands as a tribute to Henry Flagler.


According to the National Women’s History Museum’s website, Julia Tuttle is recognized as the only female founder of a major US city. Tuttle persuaded Henry Flagler to extend his railroad to South Florida after he suffered financial losses during a major freeze in North Florida. Flagler, the father of Florida tourism, extended his railroad to Miami and beyond. Because of Tuttle’s foresight modern day Miami emerged. She envisioned the city of Miami as a center of trade for South America. Her dreams are still being realized.