Friday Spotlight: Dec. 9, 2016

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INSTRUMENTAL SHOW
flat-landThe Wooly
, 20 N. Main St., hosts an all-local concert tonight headlined by Flat Land and including Locochino and the Savants of Soul. Even better, the event includes an instrument donation drive in support of Future Music Makers, a local nonprofit. Each donation earns a complimentary beer at the bar. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets $10.

Also today, the Hippodrome Theatre presents The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) at 8 p.m., the Hippodrome Cinema debuts The Dressmaker and Cyclops Cinema begins The Eyes of My Mother. Meanwhile, its the second night of the Gainesville Homegrown Local Playwrights’ Showcase at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre. …

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Acrosstown Theatre Puts Playwrights in Spotlight

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Six stage readings, all created by local playwrights, will take place over four days this weekend at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre on South Main Street.


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Fans of local theater are in for a treat beginning Thursday when the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre presents its fourth annual installment of the Gainesville Homegrown Local Playwrights’ Showcase.

The Showcase gives local playwrights an opportunity to see how their plays work with real actors and real audiences so that they can tweak them before submitting them for consideration as mainstage events.

“It’s an opportunity to be the first ones to hear a new work that hasn’t been spoken anywhere else,” said Meagan Reagle, one of the organizers of the four-day event held at the theater at 619 S. Main Street, in the Historic Baird Hardware Center.

Reagle is also directing one of the plays, Bond, which is scheduled for Friday night at 8. Written by Aliza Einhorn, Bond is a tragic comedy about family dynamics following the bizarre death of a family pet. The play stars Reagle, Adam Lishawa, Wilfredo Gonzalez and Carolyne Salt, who happens to be president of the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre.

Although Reagle didn’t provide any spoilers, she did say that in Bond, “Everyone’s waiting for this one moment to happen, and when it does, it’s ‘Thank you!'”

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Holiday Artwalk Features DNA Gallery Reception

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Nava Ottenberg and Eric Bushnell will be among the artists showcased tonight during Artwalk Gainesville. They will have an opening reception at the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery. 


Fishbone sculpture, by Eric Bushnell, on display at the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery.

Fishbone sculpture, by Eric Bushnell, on display at the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery.

If not for Nava Ottenberg and Eric Bushnell, it’s quite likely that downtown Gainesville would be void of public artwork. Together, they were instrumental in the installation of 22 sculptures that grace the sidewalks and courtyard of Union Street Station and the Sun Center.

Horses II, by Nava Ottenberg

Horses II, by Nava Ottenberg

Tonight, Ottenberg and Bushnell will collaborate again — this time for an art exhibition of their own works. An opening reception will take place for their show at the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery, 218 NW 2nd Ave.

Ottenberg will display 40 of her paintings, many of which were created during a three-month visit to Italy earlier this year. Bushnell, a metal fabricator, will display nine sculptures he fashioned out of steel, aluminum and other materials.

“The exhibit is my way of thanking these two wonderful artists for all they have done for beautifying our community,” said Gerard Bencen, a lawyer who opened the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery earlier this year.

The exhibit is one of the highlights of Artwalk Gainesville, which is taking place at 16 galleries and art spaces tonight around the downtown area. The self-guided tour combines visual art, live performances and other events.

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Gourmet Sandwich Shop Keeping It All in Family

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Three longtime Gainesville area chefs — all related — are combining their talents to open Piper Gi’s, specializing in hand-crafted soups and sandwiches. The restaurant will open for business in mid-December.


From left, Jacon Riesch, Tommy Newman and his wife, Shanti Riesch-Newman, are the co-owners of Piper Gis. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

From left, Jacob Riesch, Tommy Newman and his wife, Shanti Riesch-Newman, are the co-owners of Piper Gi’s. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Take three chefs with almost 50 years combined culinary experience, put them together in a restaurant kitchen with quality ingredients and their imaginations, and — voila! — you have the recipe for success.

At least that is what Jacob Riesch, Tommy Newman and Shanti Riesch-Newman anticipate when they open Piper Gi’s later this month at 204 SW 2nd Ave., next door to High Dive. Riesch-Newman said the eatery is shooting for a Dec. 14 soft opening and a Dec. 15 grand opening.

The carryout restaurant, with a tropical decor that extends to its pastel-colored picnic tables, will specialize in hand-crafted sandwiches, soups, salads and side dishes.

“I would say that we’re bringing the love back to sandwiches and the love back to food and to actual cooking,” said Shanti Riesch-Newman, executive chef at Emiliano’s Cafe for the past five and a half years.

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Giving Thanks Where Thanks is Due

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thanksHave you taken a look around downtown Gainesville lately? New eateries and other small businesses are opening on an almost-weekly basis. Fascinating exhibits are on display at museums and galleries. Memorable performances are taking place at local theaters.

There is also excitement in the air with the opening of Depot Park and the reopening of Bo Diddley Plaza this year. People are gathering downtown like never before.

Simply put, downtown Gainesville is a better place today than it was a year ago not because of large corporations and big money, but because of individuals who are passionate about what they do.

Today we recognize some of the individuals who have made and continue to make downtown Gainesville worth visiting and enjoying. (We have listed them alphabetically so as not to show favoritism, but we love them all!)

If we have left someone out, our apologies. Please let us know who also deserves our thanks! Continue reading

Hippodrome Holiday Treats Worth Savoring

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Matthew Lindsay spreads some Christmas cheer in The Ultimate Christmas Show Abridged).

The Hippodrome Theatre presents Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for the 39th consecutive year and The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) for the first time, just for laughs.


From left, David Patrick Ford, Matthew Lindsay and Mark Chambers offer tidings of good cheer during The Ultimate Christmas Show Abridged)

From left, David Patrick Ford, Matthew Lindsay and Mark Chambers offer tidings of good cheer during The Ultimate Christmas (Abridged) at the Hippodrome Theatre. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

No one can accuse the Hippodrome Theatre of being part of the so-called “War on Christmas.” Not when both holiday shows opening this weekend have Christmas in their titles.

On Friday night at 8, the Hippodrome debuts The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged), a madcap comedy about three men scrambling to stage a Christmas variety show after the scheduled performers pull a no-show. On Saturday afternoon at 2 and 4, the Hipp continues a Gainesville holiday tradition with the opening performances of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) will have seven performances a week through Dec. 18. A Christmas Carol will have two performances each Saturday through Dec. 17 and then have six additional performances Dec. 19-22. (The company also performs the play 15 times for Alachua County schoolchildren on weekday mornings.)

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Final Weekend Ahead for Market Street Pub

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The bar and nightclub on Southwest 1st Avenue will close its doors following Saturday night’s one final burlesque show.


dscn3055The owners of Market Street Pub & Cabaret, home to weekly burlesque shows and an eclectic mix of other entertainment for the past two years, have decided not to renew their lease.

The club at 112 SW 1st Ave., next door to Loosey’s, will close Saturday night after the Market Street Revue burlesque troupe performs one final time under that name.

“It’s going to be sad,” said Market Street Pub co-owner Tony Grezlik, who said it cost upward of $10,000 a month to run the place. “Money is the biggest issue.”

Grezlik and Jill Dumas took over the location in March 2015 and were determined to take the historic building and create a bar space where performance art thrived. They succeeded by lining up burlesque acts, circus sideshow acts, aerialists, magicians, puppeteers, comedians, live bands and singing troupes.

The only problem, Grezlik said, was that people generally visited Market Street Pub only during shows and didn’t patronize the bar at other times. Karaoke and trivia nights never generated strong interest. Also, a weekly comedy show struggled to find an audience.

“If we didn’t have a show, that space did not make money,” he said.

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‘Telling Gainesville’ Brings War Stories Home

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Just in time for Veterans Day, the Actors’ Warehouse offers a stage production in which five Gainesville area residents — none with formal acting experience — share their heartfelt military experiences.


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From left, veterans Victor Lopez, Scott Camil, Rafe Johnson and Andrew Moore “recite the oath” during Telling Gainesville. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Every soldier returning home from war has a story to tell. Andrew Moore will tell you about attending 20 memorial services in three weeks for fallen comrades in Iraq. Victor Lopez will tell you how he was scared of being shot in Afghanistan. Rafe Johnson will tell you about the racism he encountered serving his country in the Navy. Scott Camil will tell you how he defended his country with honor in Vietnam only to feel betrayed by that same nation upon his return home.

Sue Dudley

Sue Dudley gives the perspective of a military wife during Telling Gainesville.

Now, all Gainesville has to do is sit. And listen.

The four U.S. war veterans, along with former military wife Sue Dudley, will be on stage sharing their stories beginning this week in Telling Gainesville: A Soldier’s Narrative of War, a series of performances at the Actors’ Warehouse, 608 N. Main St.

There will be a preview performance Thursday night at 8. Opening night is Friday. Five additional performances will take place over the next two weekends. Free tickets are available by reserving them on the Actors’ Warehouse website. (Only Friday night’s performance is sold out so far. Seating is limited.)

Each two-hour performance will conclude with a discussion moderated by Dr. Paul Ortiz, director of the award-winning Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at UF.

Presented by the UF Center for Arts in Medicine and the UF Center for European Studies, Telling Gainesville is the latest effort of The Telling Project. The national organization uses theater to further the understanding of the military and veterans’ experience.

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Downtown Festival Attracts Best in Art, Artists

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The 35th Downtown Festival & Art Show will not only showcase 240 visual artists competing for $20,000 in prizes but also put the spotlight on a variety of performance artists on four stages.


"Life Imitates Art," an acrylic painting by Miriam Novack.

“Life Imitates Art,” an acrylic painting by Miriam Novack, will be on display this weekend.

Miriam Novack said being an artist is “a solitary job.” Working in a studio can be a lonely task with little interaction with other people.

Jim Harrison's poster design.

Jim Harrison’s poster design depicts a sand hill crane.

That is why Novack and many other artists enjoy displaying their work at art festivals such as the 35th Downtown Festival & Art Show, which takes place this weekend on the streets of downtown Gainesville.

“It’s the payoff,” she said. “It’s so exciting because people are generally kind and appreciative and make you feel like a million bucks. That’s why I never get tired of doing shows.”

Novack will be one of some 240 artists displaying their works in all mediums during the Gainesville show, which is consistently ranked among the top art shows in the nation. Upward of 100,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event, which is open Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

“And it looks like the weather is going to cooperate!” said Sunny Andrei, events coordinator for the City of Gainesville and in her first year in charge of the art festival. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

The forecast calls for clear skies with high temperatures in the 70s both days. A light breeze might give the air an autumn-like chill.

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Alpin, Tamal Add Flavor to Local Restaurant Scene

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Are you sure about building that wall? In the past two weeks, a pair of family-owned eateries have expanded downtown Gainesville’s dining options well beyond our borders. 


Rachel and Nicholas Iannelli in front of their former food cart at Tamal. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Rachel and Nicholas Iannelli behind their former food cart at Tamal. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Unbeknownst to each other, two determined couples spent the long, hot summer putting love, sweat and tears into a pair of dining establishments that are now helping to give downtown Gainesville more of an international flair.

Romain Challandes in the open-air kitchen he built inside Alpin. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Romain Challandes in the open-air kitchen he built inside Alpin. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Alpin, a French bistro owned by Romain and Sita Marlier Challandes, opened earlier this month at 15 SW 2nd St., in a space formerly occupied by the Motor Room lounge.

Tamal, a storefront tamale shop owned by Nicholas and Rachel Iannelli, is now open for business four days a week at 439 Main St., in the complex that also includes the Civic Media Center and Wild Iris Books.

“This is Mom and Pop comfort food — nothing fancy,” Rachel Iannelli said about her 15-seat eatery that opens at noon Thursday through Sunday and closes each day whenever the last tamale is sold.

During the first two weeks of operation, Tamal has sold out of that day’s supplies of handmade tamales by 5 p.m.

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