Sunday Spotlight: Feb. 19, 2017

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Patchwork, the five-women band that plays everything from original Florida folk, country and bluegrass to ’40s swing and rhythm & blues, performs along the promenade at Depot Park, 200 SE Depot Ave. 3-5 p.m. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket for sitting on the hill. This is a free event sponsored by the City of Gainesville.

Also today, The Who’s Tommy continues at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, Matt Pryor performs at High Dive and Vägra headlines a show at the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Nancy Nau Sullivan speaks at the Headquarters Library and the Hippodrome Cinema shows a marathon of Oscar-nominated short films. …

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‘The Who’s Tommy’ Ready to Rock Acrosstown

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The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, in collaboration with the Afterhours Youth Players, presents an authentic version of the rock musical, featuring the music and lyrics of Pete Townshend.

The cast of The Who’s Tommy, opening this week at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre. (Photograph by Gainesville Downtown)

For Ted Lewis, the theater arts teacher at Buchholz High School, directing The Who’s Tommy at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre is the culmination of a dream that began almost a half-century ago.

“The first album I ever bought as a kid was Tommy,” he said. “That was in 1969, when I was 10 years old. I bought it with my saved-up allowance.”

It’s no wonder then that Lewis, now 58, said directing The Who’s Tommy is “a labor of love.”

For the next three weekends, the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre and Gainesville’s Afterhours Youth Players will present The Who’s Tommy onstage at the ART, 619 S. Main St. (in the Historic Baird Center). Performances will take place Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through March 5.

Tonight is a preview performance in which all tickets are $5. Regular tickets prices are $15 but discounted for students, seniors, veterans and active military. Continue reading

Cinema Verde Film Mission About Sustainability

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The eighth annual environmental film and arts festival begins tonight with a reception and awards program at the Hippodrome as well as the first of 45 films from 14 countries to be screened over a four-day period.

A scene from Atlan, an Iranian documentary about a horse trainer facing a dilemma.

Growing up in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, Trish Riley enjoyed exploring the forest down the street from her family’s home. During her college years, however, developers bulldozed those trees and replaced them with more houses all in the name of progress.

Trish Riley

“It was so sad,” Riley said. “I loved those woods.”

With that loss of precious green space on her mind, Riley turned to journalism to help others better understand environmental issues and sustainable solutions. Her books include The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Living and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Greening Your Business.

In 2010, Riley took her cause one step further by creating the Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival. Today, the eighth annual festival begins four days of screenings and other events in and around the Hippodrome in downtown Gainesville.

The film festival will feature 45 films from as far away as the Philippines, Australia, China, Denmark, Pakistan and Iran. Topics will include everything from climate change and fracking to animal rights and societal issues. The films will be presented in two-hour blocks, with each block costing $10. An all-access festival pass is available for $125, but reservations are still needed for each film block because of limited seating.

For a complete list of films and screening times, visit the Cinema Verde website. Continue reading

Artists Donate Time, Talent for Sake of Education

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The eighth annual Musical Chairs Fundraiser takes place tonight at the GFAA Gallery on South Main Street to benefit the Friends of Elementary Arts.

Alfred Phillips and the gator bench he created for Musical Chairs, as well as his painting “Teresa’s Sunflowers with Troll” as part of the GFAA Gallery’s current Whimsy art exhibit. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Alfred Phillips hasn’t been a student for quite a few years now, but the 70-year-old artist still values the importance of arts and music programs in public schools.

Gator chair, by James Bates.

That’s why the Gainesville resident decided to contribute his time and talent to the Musical Chairs Fundraiser, a silent auction to benefit the Friends of Elementary Arts. The organization was formed in response to state and local public education budget cuts that reduced funding for grade-school art and music programs.

“One-hundred percent of the funds we raise go to Alachua County schools for all of the arts, not just visual arts,” Phillips said. “It’s really a wonderful cause.”

The eighth annual event takes place tonight from 6-8:30 at the GFAA Gallery, 1314 S. Main St. Members of the public are encouraged to browse the gallery, where more than 60 chairs, wooden boxes, mirror frames and lazy susans—each painted or handcrafted by a local artist—will be on display and available for bidding.

Bids can be submitted on clipboards accompanying each piece. Winning bids will be announced at the end of the evening.

Refreshments, including wine, will be served by SweetBerries Eatery and Frozen Custard. Ample parking is available in the Winn-Dixie parking lot on the south side of the GFAA Gallery.

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Newest Gallery in SoMa Makes Artwalk Debut

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The Gainesville Arts Studio, owned by Iris Coe-Gross and her husband, opens its doors tonight on South Main Street with an Artwalk reception that includes paintings by Aaron D. Coe, live music and refreshments.

Iris Coe-Gross and her husband, Mike, in their new Gainesville Arts Studio. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Two-and-a-half years ago, Iris Coe-Gross received a diagnosis that every woman dreads: Stage 4 breast cancer. It was a cruel joke considering that Coe-Gross, then an oncology nurse at Shands, had helped countless cancer patients cope with their disease.

Snowy Owl, by Aaron D. Coe.

While undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Coe-Gross received a gift from her Aunt Delores that included some watercolors and postcard-size paper on which to paint.

“We started to do Christmas cards with the postcards and just kids’ watercolors,” Coe-Gross said. “Then I kept doing more and more, playing around with it, and it opened the door for me.”

Today, despite a 1-percent chance for remission, Coe-Gross is defeating her cancer, retired from nursing and happily moving on to the next phase of her life. To no one’s surprise, that next phase involves art.

Tonight, Coe-Gross swings open the doors to the Gainesville Arts Studio (GAS) at 618 S. Main St., adjacent to the Freewheel Project and LEJ Pretzels. There will be a reception and open house from 7-10 p.m. during the monthly Artwalk Gainesville. The public is invited to attend.

Artwalk is a self-guided tour of galleries and other art spaces in and around downtown Gainesville. The first Artwalk of 2017 includes some 19 stops that feature visual art, live performances and/or art-themed events.

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Thieves Guilde Spearheads Hoggetowne Invasion

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Visitors to the 31st annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire can expect another rollicking show from the Gainesville-based performance troupe as it puts an epic spin on the battle between England and France.

Thieves Guilde members battle with swords during a rehearsal for the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

When you watch the Thieves Guilde rehearsing for the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, you might think you’ve dropped in on an episode of WWE SmackDown or perhaps a live taping of The Jerry Springer Show.

The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire is always full of surprises.

There’s enough arm-twisting, eye-gouging, hair-pulling, head-butting, backstabbing and crotch-kicking to make you cringe and groan.

However, the Thieves Guilde makes things a little more interesting by adding swords, daggers, double axes, quarterstaffs, morning stars, spears and other combat weapons to the mix. Think World of Warcraft meets Game of Thrones — but all for fun and fun for all.

For the next two weekends, the Thieves Guilde and numerous other performance groups and individuals will be entertaining the masses at the 31st annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. The family-friendly event takes place at the Alachua County Fairgrounds off Northeast Waldo Road, adjacent to the Gainesville Regional Airport.

The Faire is open Saturdays and Sundays on Jan. 28-29 and Feb. 4-5 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. as well as Friday, Feb. 3, from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is $17 for adults and $7 for ages 5-17. (Children under 5 free.)

“It’s a chance for the community to experience the thrill, excitement and fun of medieval times,” said Sunshine Andrei, the first-year director of the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. “People of all ages idolize shining knights, beautiful princesses and the pageantry of it all.”

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Exhibit Bolsters Gainesville’s Cuban Connections

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The Thomas Center Galleries debuts its new Main Gallery exhibit titled “82° W / Six Degrees of Separation,” spotlighting the work of eight Cuban artists as part of the city’s ongoing Bulla Cubana cultural celebration.

Detail from Osmeivy Ortega’s mixed-media installation titled With the humidity of my bones. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Here’s a geographic quirk that ties Gainesville with Havana, Cuba. Both cities are located along the same longitude: 82° West. In fact, as the seagull flies, Gainesville is 451 miles due north of the Cuban capital.

In terms of latitude, Gainesville is at 29.6° North, Havana at 23.1°. That’s a separation of 6 degrees.

Now it makes perfect sense why the newest exhibit at the Thomas Center Galleries, featuring the work of eight contemporary Cuban artists, is ingeniously titled 82°W / Six Degrees of Separation. Get it?

What’s even more impressive, however, is the artwork itself.

“The craftsmanship across the board is phenomenal!” said Anne Gilroy, who curated the exhibit along with Gabriela Azcuy.

The public is invited to an opening reception for the exhibit today from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the first-floor Main Gallery of the Historic Thomas Center, 302 NE 6th Ave.

Guest artists Lisandra Ramírez and Osmeivy Ortega, as well as Azcuy, will speak informally at 7 p.m. in the gallery space. The topic will be “Cuba Ahora — the Next Generation.” Meanwhile, guitarist Raymond Lohengrin will perform during the reception. Light refreshments will be served.

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The Wait is Over for A-town’s ‘Waiting for Godot’

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The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre is staging Samuel Beckett’s absurd classic beginning this week. According to director Jessica Arnold, it’s a play that might make you question your very existence.

Pozzo (Esteban Alvarez) has a whimsical encounter with Vladimir (Adam Lishawa) and Estragon (Dean Carvalho) in a scene from Waiting for Godot. That’s Lucky (M. Reagle) face down on the ground. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown).

When playwright Samuel Beckett introduced his tragicomedy Waiting for Godot to audiences in Paris in 1953, it created an uproar in the literary world. The play was so different and intriguing to critics that they coined the phrase “Theater of the Absurd” to describe it and similar plays that followed.

Dean Carvalho (Estragon), left, and Adam Lishawa (Vladimir) reunite onstage in Waiting for Godot. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

The minimalist play features two eccentric characters, Vladimir and Estragon, who spend the entire performance under a withered tree on a remote path waiting for the arrival of someone named Godot. While patiently waiting for the play’s namesake to arrive, the two men engage in lively conversations about everything and nothing. They also encounter three other characters.

Beginning this week, the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre presents its own take on Waiting for Godot starring Adam Lishawa as Vladimir and Dean Carvalho as his long-time friend, Estragon. The play is directed by Jessica Arnold.

Performances begin tonight with a $5 preview at 8. Opening Night is Friday at 8. Tickets are $15 for the general public with discounts available for seniors, students with IDs, veterans and active military. The production continues through Feb. 5 with performances on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 and on Sunday afternoons at 2.

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Satanic Sock Puppet Rules Hilarious ‘Hand to God’

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The Hippodrome Theatre’s outrageous stage production, which opens this week, might make you wince or laugh with guilty pleasure. Just be sure to leave the kids at home!

Jason (Jon Kovach) and his sock puppet Tyrone don’t always see eye to eye. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

If Tyrone, the foul-mouthed antagonist in the play Hand to God, were a child, his disruptive behavior simply wouldn’t be tolerated. Under normal circumstances, he surely would spend most of his days alone in time-out.

The cast of Hand to God, including evil Tyrone. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

But these are not normal circumstances, and Tyrone is not a child. He’s not even human. He’s a sock puppet who speaks his mind without a filter. And, oh, that temper!

In the Hippodrome Theatre’s newest production, which opens Friday night, Tyrone transforms from Elmo cute to Chucky ugly before your very eyes. Whether you grin or grimace at his antics might just reveal the kind of person you are — or at least the mood you’re in at the moment.

“If you were to ask 15 people what they thought the play was about, depending on where we are in our lives, I think you’ll get 15 answers,” said director Lauren Warhol Caldwell. “That’s really great writing. And this is a really smart play.”

Leading up to Opening Night, Hand to God will have preview performances tonight and Thursday at 7. The production continues through Feb. 5 with eight performances a week. Tickets range from $30-$35, with discounts for students, seniors and military. (All tickets for the Tuesday, Jan. 17, show are only $10.) Continue reading

Downtown Clubs, Eateries Ready to Ring In 2017

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Gainesville’s official New Year’s Eve party returns to Bo Diddley Plaza this year, but several clubs and restaurants will also have special celebrations as we say goodbye to 2016.

There will be a full range of food and entertainment options available on Saturday night as downtown Gainesville prepares to ring in the new year.

Most of the activity will be centered around Bo Diddley Plaza, where The Couch Messiahs and Wild Blue Yonder will provide a free concert beginning at 9 p.m. and continuing past midnight.

The Couch Messiahs

Here is a list of New Year’s Eve events in downtown Gainesville:

Downtown Countdown: The Couch Messiahs, a Gainesville-based rock-and-roll band, will pay tribute to the music of The Allman Brothers, The Band, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Young and The Rolling Stones during a New Year’s Eve celebration concert at Bo Diddley Plaza, 111 E. University Ave. The evening begins at 9 p.m. with a performance by popular local band Wild Blue Yonder. Downtown Countdown begins at 9 p.m. and continues until midnight, when there will be a countdown to the New Year, along with the sounds of noisemakers, which are passed out to the audience earlier in the evening. The event is sponsored by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department and WIND-FM. For further info on the concert, read our University & Main blog. Continue reading