Category Archives: Events

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

First Magnitude Fundraiser Aids Satchel’s Crew

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The downtown brewery is stepping up to the plate this holiday season by throwing a benefit concert on Friday to help three employees whose jobs went up in flames during a recent fire behind Satchel’s Pizza.

The former site of Lightnin’ Salvage. (Photo courtesy of Satchel’s Pizza)

Longtime customers at Satchel’s Pizza recognize Jordan Borstelmann as the bartender donning a kilt, a bushy beard and a huge smile. For more than five years, he poured drinks and served food in Lightnin’ Salvage, the entertainment venue and gift shop/toy store situated directly behind the Gainesville pizza joint at 1800 NE 23rd Ave.

On Monday, Dec. 5, a fire engulfed Lightnin’ Salvage and destroyed one of Gainesville’s most iconic hangout spots, where collections of dead butterflies and pine cones shared a home with artwork made from recycled cameras, cellphones and other household items.

The blaze, which occurred when the restaurant was closed, also left Borstelmann, 36, and fellow Satchel’s employees Danny Lore and Judy Keathley out of jobs.

However, thanks to the generosity of First Magnitude Brewing Co., Borstelmann and his co-workers should still be able to enjoy the holiday season and beyond.

On Friday from 4-10 p.m., the brewery at 1220 SE Veitch St. will sponsor a benefit concert to raise funds for the three Satchel’s employees while Lightnin’ Salvage is being rebuilt.

“It’s a little surreal,” Borstelmann said. “You don’t stop to realize how much people care until something like this happens.”

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Dance Alive Continues ‘Nutcracker’ Tradition

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For the 51st year in a row, Gainesville’s professional ballet company presents the holiday spectacle — featuring Tchaikovsky’s iconic music — onstage at the Curtis M. Phillips Center on the UF campus.

Fhilipe Teixeira and Carla Amancio in Spirits of the Forest Photo by Monica Nielsen)

Dance Alive principals Fhilipe Teixeira and Carla Amancio in The Nutcracker’s “Spirits of the Forest.” (Photo by Monica Sue Nielsen)

When Gainesville’s Dance Alive National Ballet first performed The Nutcracker in the mid-1960s, Judy Skinner and Kim Tuttle were teenagers in the middle of all the action during the magical “Kingdom of the Sweets.”

The Nutcracker Prince Photo by Monica Sue Nielsen)

The Nutcracker Prince (Photo by Monica Sue Nielsen)

“Kim was ‘Russian’ soloist and I was ‘Spanish’ soloist,” Skinner said. “And we both danced ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ – my favorite at the time.”

Fifty-one years and hundreds of performances later, the sisters remain actively involved with The Nutcracker, albeit away from the spotlight. Tuttle is Dance Alive’s executive artistic director while Skinner serves as the company’s choreographer-in-residence.

Both will again be in the wings of UF’s Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, orchestrating three performances of The Nutcracker — Friday night at 7:30 and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2. Tickets range from $17-$45 and can be purchased at the Phillips Center box office or online at UF Performing Arts (

The Nutcracker, first performed in Russia in 1892, has been a Gainesville tradition for more than half a century — and for good reason, Tuttle said.

“The music, the story, the time of year,” she said. “Christmas is the biggest international holiday that is common to so many countries, so [The Nutcracker] is popular virtually everywhere.”

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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.


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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‘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.


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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‘Commander’ Just the Ticket This Political Season

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Can’t get enough political divisiveness these days? Try tossing an openly gay man into the presidential race and see what happens. The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre does just that in its latest production. 

From left,

From left, Ned Worley (Adam Lishawa), his partner Richard (Milo Brooks) and political consultants Frank (Michael Glover) and Zack (Joshua Evangelista) discuss campaign strategy in Commander. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

America took more than 230 years to elect its first black president. Now most indications point to the U.S. choosing its first female president within the next month.

Ned Worley Adam Lishawa) ponders his decision to run for president. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Ned Worley (Adam Lishawa) ponders his decision to run for president. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

And that raises a valid question: Does the possibility exist for an openly gay person to occupy the Oval Office?

Such is the premise of Commander, a dark comedy making its Florida debut this week at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre (ART), in the Historic Baird Center at 619 S. Main St.

The play has a $5 cash-only preview performance Thursday night at 8. Opening Night is Friday, when tickets are $15 ($13 for students, seniors, veterans and retired military). The play continues through Oct. 30 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and on Sundays at 2 p.m.

“It’s a wonderful time to do a play about an interesting candidate for president,” said Karelisa Hartigan, who is directing Commander. “We definitely wanted it to run before Election Day.”

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Dance Alive Set for Entertaining Season

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With their first half-century behind them, Dance Alive National Ballet is surging into the 2016-17 season, beginning with a Meet the Dancers event on Saturday at Pofahl Studios.

Many members of the Dance Alive National Ballet company at Pofahl Studios. (Photo by Gainesville downtown)

Members of the Dance Alive National Ballet company pose at Pofahl Studios. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

One of the first things that people familiar with Dance Alive National Ballet (DANB) will notice about the new season is that the company’s roster has grown from 12 to 16 principal dancers.

Kim Tuttle, left, Judy Skinner and principal dancer Jessie Dominguez.

Kim Tuttle, left, Judy kinner and principal dancer Jessie Dominguez Reyes. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Accomplished dancers have arrived from Brazil, Ukraine, Cuba and, yes, Virginia, to give the Gainesville-based professional dance company one of its strongest ensembles ever.

“They’re all wonderful dancers with beautiful techniques and lines,” said Kim Tuttle, executive/artistic director and choreographer-in-residence for DANB. “They also have great performability and are very hard workers. We couldn’t be happier.”

On Saturday at 2 p.m., the public can get up close and personal with many of the performers during the DANB’s annual Meet the Dancers event at Pofahl Studios, 1325 NW 2nd St. Tickets are $25 and available at the door, although seating is limited.

Attendees will be able to watch vignettes from upcoming productions of Dracula, Vampyra, Rhapsody In Blue and L’Amour plus a work created for DANB’s new Cuban principal, Jessie Dominguez Reyes, by Gainesville’s Ani Collier. A catered reception will follow.

Tuttle, who took over the DANB’s artistic reins 30 years ago, said the strength of her principal dancers is their versatility and balance.

“It’s hard to believe that there are people from all over the world here in Gainesville that are international award-winning stars,” she said.

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Thomas Center Exhibit Explores Womanhood

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EVE :: Woman from Archetype to Abstraction, featuring more than 35 works from a wide variety of local and regional artists, opens this week at the Thomas Center.

"Releasing Pink," by Amy Freeman

“Releasing Pink,” by Amy Freeman

In Amy Freeman’s large-scale painting titled “Releasing Pink,” more than a dozen flamingos have seemingly taken over the living room of an apartment.

Curator Anne E. Gilroy wipes down the frame of a painting.

Curator Anne E. Gilroy wipes down the frame of the painting “I Am No Bird,” by Brianna Angelakis.

A quilt pattern dominates the left side of the painting. On the right, a pregnant woman leans back against a wall and stares at the viewer, the exhausting task of imminent motherhood etched on her tired face.

“The woman is pregnant with a girl,” Freeman said. “The pink flamingos represent the weight of that child. The quilt pattern is taking over, creating this child.”

The captivating painting is one of 36 pieces that will be on display through Jan. 10, 2017, as part of the exhibit titled “EVE :: Woman from Archetype to Abstraction” in the Mezzanine Gallery at the Historic Thomas Center, 302 NE 6th Ave.

An opening reception for the exhibit takes place Friday night from 7-10 as part of Artwalk Gainesville. There will be open waltzing downstairs in the Spanish Court with the Gainesville Old-Time Dance Society and Thomas Royal at the piano. Refreshments will be served. The public is invited.

The exhibit spotlights 30 artists, including 11 from the Gainesville area. “EVE :: Woman from Archetype to Abstraction” includes paintings, sculpture, photography, mixed media, drawings, collage, mosaic, digital art and etchings.

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