The performing arts such as theater, music and more are alive in the Jacksonville area. From the Jacksonville Symphony to the Florida Theatre, the choices are endless. But what does it take to put on these performances? It takes talent, heart and passion to create these encore-worthy performances, and we have those kind of people in Jacksonville.
“Everybody has a nine to five job here,” says Sadie LaManna, a volunteer at Players by the Sea, “We don’t get paid. So you have to be here because you love it. And that passion is what makes us all work, makes all the moving parts from, from the people that you see on stage to the creative side, the directors, we’re all volunteers.”
Players by the Sea hosts many different performances and features actors in the local area. For over 50 years, they have been working with volunteers in all of their shows. They’re currently rehearsing for their newest show, Godspell which will open on December 4th.
“That’s what I really love about theater, is that it causes you to think, you can be entertained, you can cry you can laugh it evokes all these different emotions you might not be in touch with day to day,” says LaManna.
Not far from Players by the Sea, is a well-known dinner theater that has hosted local talent and celebrities for almost 50 years. The Alhambra Theatre and Dining is the longest running dinner theater in the United States and is the oldest Equity Actor’s Union theater. It takes almost 100 employees to run the Alhambra, from the wait staff to the stage crew.
“I grew up going to theater and watching musicals. While kids were watching Barney, I was watching My Fair Lady and Brigadoon and really old classic movies,” says Kelsey Clifford, stage manager for the current show at Alhambra, “I started performing and I got really lucky and I got to work [at Alhambra] and it’s been a dream come true. I’ve gotten to do everything that most people only dream about doing. It’s something I would love to do for the rest of my life.”
Clifford has worked at the Alhambra for three year. However, she has done every job possible at the theater. From stage crew to main star, Clifford has had a piece of everything. While she was in many shows growing up and worked in the administrative side, stage-managing a show has always been her passion. ”I love being in charge of creating the show. The show can’t go on without the actors and the stage manager to run the show and I love making that creative atmosphere happen,” says Clifford.
When it comes to music, Jacksonville is the birthplace of many notable groups. As the starting point for classics like Lynyrd Skynyrd – and more contemporary bands such as Yellowcard – the list of prominent musicians that hail from Northeast Florida only begins in the Bold City.
While many bands are known for getting their start in Jacksonville, some solo artists aspire to reach the same heights on their own. Savanna Leigh Bassett is a local musician who hopes that her unique twist on country music both locally and on a national scale.
“I’ve played in several local cities, and to be able to be successful through my music would be a dream come true,” Bassett said.
While her goal is to make it big through her music, Savannah is also humbled by getting the opportunity to play at several different venues in her hometown of Jacksonville.
“Jacksonville is an interesting market,” Bassett said. “The public here really values live music.”
While music has become a career for solo acts like Savannah, other musicians, such as Fletcher High School’s own “The Implications” started as a group aspiring to do one thing – play the music they love for the people they love.
“It’s just awesome to get to play all this music with my friends, for my friends,” Lane Pittman, one of the guitarists in the band, said.
The Implications have made a name for themselves by going to local venues and packing them – as well as rocking them.
“It’s funny, when he [Lane] told me we had a show at Mellow I was super pumped, and it actually was a really good turn out for the people,” said Christian Pittman, the band’s drummer, as well as Lane Pittman’s younger brother.
From solo acts like Savanna, to groups like The Implications, the primary goal is to create perpetual sound, while inspiring those around them to do what they love – just as they’ve done.
Art work is all around us. You don’t even have to visit an art gallery to see exquisite paintings. All over Jacksonville beautiful colorful murals cover buildings and local businesses.
Scott Briggs, one of the many local muralists prides himself on his spray painting art and recently worked on a mural in Downtown Jacksonville at 1904 Music Hall.
“Its a much bigger, much more in demand scene than it was even when I started. There’s more people open to public art and murals. I only use spray cans on murals, for the main reason that I don’t think any one can afford to have me out there with a paintbrush because it would take like three times longer for me.”
Scott isn’t the only artist who finds painting large-scale to be fun. Jessica Becker also has work spread all over Jacksonville.
Becker’s most infamous mural is displayed on the patio of Taco Lu, an extremely popular restaurant on Beach Blvd. She also has murals at other local businesses including Backyard Pops and Caribbean Connection.
“Our art scene is definitely expanding, now that we have the elbow district, which is like the art district, its hopefully getting better.”
It took Becker 16 hours to finish the large scale mural at Taco Lu that now gives them a better ambiance and experience for the outdoor seating area.
Coloring our city everyday, local artists are bringing life to our area through their designs. So the next time you’re out and about take a look around and you might find yourself in front of a masterpiece.
When it comes to art, food probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But here at the Florida State College at Jacksonville Culinary Institute, food is an art that is close to many people’s hearts and stomachs.
“A recipe is just a guideline. it’s a guideline to get you started and then it becomes your own,” Chef Joseph Howard, culinary professor at FSCJ said. “You have, you start out with a plate and that becomes your canvas, right. And that canvas, you design the food, right. whether it be symmetrically put on the plate, different colors, different flavors, obviously different whether it is crunchy or whether it’s soft. So it does become a canvas just like an artist. It is art, it’s not just throwing stuff on a plate.”
The pieces of art here present themselves as dishes. It requires the hands of a lot of skilled and dedicated artists to create the final masterpiece.
“I am so grateful for FSCJ and for Chef Harold, for this opportunity to come full circle in my life,” Phyllis Parker, FSCJ culinary student said. “Everyone can take the same ingredients and still get a different flavor from them, unless you do an exact recipe. That’s why it’s important to have a primary recipe in a kitchen. Because my style gonna come out, his style gonna come out, and that’s where the art comes in with the situation.”
The tools here aren’t brushes or microphones, they are knives and spices. Every little decision made can greatly affect the the overall presentation.
“I think food is an example of art because people put a lot of work into it. They think about how these flavors interact together, how they are going to take all these individual flavors and make one main one, one big one. How are they doing to make something special of all these little ingredients. It’s like a sculptor looking at a marble. He sees the sculpture inside of it, all he’s got to do is figure out how to get to it. Well that’s exactly what putting ingredients together is,” John Perritt, FSCJ culinary student said. “It’s like you know what you want, you just gotta get there. And if you do it right, it is an exact representation of where you’re from, or who you are. It’s an expression. And, and you can eat it. So that’s cool too.”
There’s a lot that goes into the art of cooking. While it is fun learning how to create these tasty creations, the best part is getting to eat them. The people who eat the food are the critics of the culinary arts. Although chefs cook for their own reward, it comes down to other people’s approval.
This art looks so good you could eat it, and luckily, that’s what you’re supposed to do. So, next time you sit down to a delicious meal, remember the creativity and effort that went into the art on your plate.