The Dime: Shining Example of Change

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The owners took their time after it opened to finally give the business an official name, but the swanky little cocktail bar now known as The Dime is worth every penny to its patrons.

Daniel Schexnaydre behind the bar at The Dime. (Photograph by Lena Crane, Reflections of Light Photography)

Daniel Schexnaydre tends bar at The Dime. (Photo by Lena Crane, Reflections of Light Photography)

the dime and gramfest 004For all their business acumen in transforming the epicenter of downtown Gainesville into a hip place to be, Scott Shillington and Hal Mendez might have missed a great marketing opportunity when they finally got around to naming their “no-name” bar earlier this year.

As they pondered their decision, the obvious name was literally staring them in the face.

The Old Joe.

That’s the nickname of the much-maligned Confederate statue that stands sentinel directly across University Avenue from the bar. He’s right there, perched high atop a granite pedestal, his steely gaze burning through you from 50 yards away as you exit the bar’s stubborn glass door. Late at night, hidden in the shadows beyond the streetlights, you’d hardly know Old Joe’s there.

Yep, The Old Joe has a nice ring to it, evoking time-honored Southern values that still rally some folks but rankle most others.

Instead, after almost a year of anonymity—but not a lack of attention—the classy little cocktail bar is now known simply as … The Dime.
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Charles Bradley Concert to Re-Open Bo Diddley Plaza

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Closed since early this year for extensive renovations, the Bo Diddley Community Plaza re-opens Feb. 25 with a free concert featuring the Gainesville-born R&B singer.


Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley, a Gainesville native known for his soulful and captivating stage presence, will make his first-ever hometown appearance when the Bo Diddley Community Plaza re-opens on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

The free concert, from 6-10 p.m, is part of frank2016, an annual gathering of public-interest communicators sponsored by the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

The public event will also feature live art by 352Creates, performances by local bands and a variety of food trucks and micro-brews.

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Muralists Leave Lasting Impressions on Gainesville

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The 352walls project, involving a dozen internationally known street artists, has given the downtown area a dramatic facelift. Tonight’s Artwalk is a great opportunity to view the completed artwork.

A large section of the completed mural by 2Alas adorns the Hector Galley wall at 702 W. University Ave.

A large section of the completed mural by 2Alas on the Hector Gallery wall at 702 W. University Ave.

To passersby on Southwest 2nd Street, the large mural on the wall across from Volta Coffee could be almost any hard-charging football player. But the man who painted the image, Miami-based street artist Reggie O’Neal, knows exactly who the player is. Or, sadly, was.

Reggie O'Neal, also known as L.E.O. works on his mural, a tribute to slain teenager Richard Hallman on the Looseys wall.

Reggie O’Neal, also known as L.E.O., works on his mural, a tribute to slain teenager Richard Hallman, on the Loosey’s wall.

Richard Hallman never got to play college football like his cousin, current UF starting quarterback Treon Harris. That’s because earlier this year, the 16-year-old Hallman was shot and killed in Miami’s Overtown section. Two other teenagers have been charged in his death.

“I watched [Hallman] grow up,” said O’Neal, who uses the tag L.E.O. for his street art. “I wanted to paint something that related to Treon and to Overtown. It [the murder] happened in my neighborhood and took a huge toll on everyone there.”

O’Neal’s mural is one of eight recently added to the downtown streetscape by internationally known artists as part of 352walls/The Gainesville Urban Art Initiative. The last of the artists finished up work on Thanksgiving morning, leaving Gainesville’s downtown area more visibly appealing than ever.

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‘The Snow Queen’s’ Story Behind the Storytelling

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UF theatre professor Charlie Mitchell was not only commissioned to write an adaptation of The Snow Queen for the Hippodrome State Theatre, he was called upon to direct the play as well.

The cast of The Snow Queen

The cast of The Snow Queen. (Photo by Niall McGinty)

Following a recent rehearsal of The Snow Queen on the Hippodrome State Theatre’s mainstage, artistic director Lauren Caldwell applauded and cheered the cast and crew from her third-row seat. She then got choked up realizing her little “tribe of actors” had come of age.

“I love the fact it’s written and directed by one of our own company members,” she said of the play based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. “As an acting company, we become a tribe of people that understands each other’s needs and wants.”

That includes using the talents of company members such as Charlie Mitchell to their fullest, as she has done with The Snow Queen.

“This is very special because it comes from inside. It’s an emotional thing for me,” Caldwell said.

Mitchell is not only a Hipp Acting Company veteran but also a UF theatre professor. When Caldwell read Mitchell’s commissioned script of The Snow Queen, which is actually a story within a story, she fell in love with it. She insisted that he also direct the play.

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Hipp’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ Undergoes a Makeover

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Gregg Jones, best known for his 16-year stint in the role of Jacob Marley, takes over for the venerable Rusty Salling as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Hippodrome State Theatre’s annual holiday production of the Dickens classic. There’s also a new director this year in Niall McGinty.

Niall McGinty and Sara Morsey in the Hippodrome's "A Christmas Carol."

Niall McGinty and Sara Morsey in the Hippodrome’s “A Christmas Carol.”

Earlier this month, dozens of pairs of shoes in all shapes and sizes lined a long hallway outside the rehearsal room on the third floor of the Hippodrome State Theatre. The costume department had placed them there for the large cast of A Christmas Carol, the Hipp’s annual holiday presentation that opens to the public Saturday afternoon.

Gregg Jones will play Scrooge this year in the Hippodromes "A Christmas Carol."

Gregg Jones will play Scrooge this year in the Hippodrome’s “A Christmas Carol.”

This season, actor Gregg Jones will fill a particularly large pair of those shoes—at least figuratively speaking. He will be taking over the role of Ebenezer Scrooge from Rusty Salling, who had performed the play’s signature character for 24 consecutive years.

Salling is taking a well-needed break for health reasons. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with sinus cancer. The news sent shockwaves through the Hippodrome family.

“We took it very hard,” said Lauren Warhol Caldwell, the theatre’s artistic director and longtime friend of Salling. “But there was never a moment that we did not rally around him with every fiber of our being. Rusty is a fighter and was determined to do whatever it took to try and beat this.

“We promised to take care of him, and through his determination and perhaps some divine intervention—and lots of love to him—he did beat it.”

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Gainesville Native Wins Best of Show at Downtown Festival

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Virginia resident Cindy Grisdela, a GHS grad, made the most out of her annual visit to her hometown by winning the top prize at the 34th Downtown Festival & Art Show.

Cindy Grisdela poses with her Best In Show ribbon and her paintings titled "Promenade," top, "Skyscrapers," left, and "Waters Edge."

Cindy Grisdela poses with her Best of Show ribbon and her fiber creations titled “Promenade” (top), “Skyscrapers” (bottom left) and “Water’s Edge.”

Cindy Grisdela has returned to her hometown of Gainesville each November for the past four years to participate in the Downtown Festival & Art Show. In her second and third years at the show, she was honored to win Awards of Excellence for her contemporary art quilts.

This year, however, she hit the jackpot.

On Sunday, Grisdela won Best of Show at the 34th Downtown Festival and Art Show, wowing judges with her colorful and intricate decorative-fiber creations.

“I am speechless!” Grisdela said shortly after learning of her top prize, which included a large rainbow-colored ribbon and–even better–a $2,000 check. “It’s the biggest thrill to win a big award like this in my hometown. Also, it’s tremendous because fiber artists don’t often win the top awards at these shows.”

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A Public Art Show — Every Day of the Year

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The Downtown Festival & Art Show is an amazing celebration of the arts. Unfortunately, the festival lasts only two days. If only art could be displayed along Gainesville’s red-brick streets 365 days a year. …

Oh, wait. It is!

Local painter Milan Hooper, left, and Nava Ottenberg in front of "The Painter" by Hooper. Photo courtesy of Nava Ottenberg)

Local painter Milan Hooper, left, and Nava Ottenberg in front of “The Painter” by Hooper. (Photo courtesy of Nava Ottenberg)

In case you haven’t noticed—and, apparently many haven’t yet—there are more than 20 pieces of public art lining streets and walkways around the Hippodrome State Theatre and Union Street Station. All you have to do is look—and admire.

The sculptures are part of the Downtown Gainesville Public Art Initiative, started by Nava Ottenberg with assistance from Jasper North and Mary Rockwood Lane. The first sculptures installed three years ago were “Stag” and “Rooster” by famed Peruvian artist Victor Delfin.

Those metal sculptures, loaned by Euphrosyne Parker in memory of her late husband (noted architect Alfred Browning Parker), are located on Southeast 2nd Place in front of Persona Vintage Clothing and Starbucks, respectively.

Soon to follow were two sculptures by the late David Bell, “Star Burst” and “Love Palm,” and Ted Crom’s “Luna,” a towering man-in-the moon sculpture that watches over the corner of Southeast 2nd Avenue and 1st Street.

Additional sculptures from local and international artists have popped up on a regular basis on downtown sidewalks and walls and in the courtyard of the Sun Center. They include five pieces by metal artist Jasper North and two others by the late, great Lennie Kesl.

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Gainesville Roots Run Deep for Folk Artist

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Alyne Harris feels right at home during the Downtown Festival & Arts Show. After all, the 73-year-old painter lives only a few blocks from this weekend’s event, where 100,000 people will be able to view her work.

Alyne Harris displays a painting of sunflowers and bumblebees underneath a rainbow.

Alyne Harris displays a painting of sunflowers and bumblebees underneath a rainbow.

Folk artist Alyne Harris doesn’t have far to go to draw inspiration for her paintings. It’s a simple matter of sitting on the front porch of her home in the Porters community of downtown Gainesville and gazing skyward.

 “I look at the heavens and I meditate,” she said. “I think ’bout what God’s made. I get myself quiet and I think. Ideas start coming to me.”

Those ideas might include the wonders of nature, such as flowers, birds and bumblebees, or memories of her early childhood or perhaps growing up in the segregated South before Civil Rights.

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The Art Show Must Go On, Without Piper in Charge

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Linda Piper has seen the Downtown Festival & Art Show grow by leaps and bounds in her 22 years as events coordinator. This year’s 34th annual festival will be her last before retirement.

Linda Piper displays two Festival posters by Harriet Huss, one from this year and one from 1995.

Linda Piper displays two Downtown Festival & Art Show posters by Harriet Huss, one from this year and one from 1995.

In her spacious second-floor office at the Historic Thomas Center, Linda Piper is surrounded by proud mementos of her two babies. We’re not referring to Piper’s natural children, although photos of her beloved daughters, Nicole and Rachel, adorn her desk.

No, in this case, Piper’s “babies” are the two Gainesville events—the Downtown Festival & Art Show and the Hoggetown Medieval Faire— she has nurtured for more than two decades as events coordinator for the City of Gainesville’s Cultural Affairs Division.

Those two events alone annually draw upward of 150,000 people to Gainesville and have helped put the city on the map as a cultural destination.

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