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THE FLOG

The Place to BE(ACH)

Every May brings salty air, sunshine and booze. Most important, though, May 20 brings us Dancin' in the Street. For those who don't know, Dancin' in the Street (DITS) is a local street fair that's quite familiar to the inhabitants of the Jacksonville beaches. This daylong event, stretching from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., takes place smack-dab in the middle of official event sponsor Beaches Town Center, with an epicenter at the ocean end of Atlantic Boulevard. Funds raised at DITS help beautify Beaches Town Center and the event itself promotes local shops and businesses while creating a fun environment for residents to kick back and enjoy a Saturday.

Included in the fray are a multitude of local bands, tasty grub, alcoholic beverages and opportunities to purchase jewelry and artwork. Musical acts to perform include Bay Street, Briteside, Five O'Clock Shadow, Party Cartel and others. A detailed schedule and information on various stations for services and purchases can be found on the Beaches Town Center website.

This year ushers in new additions such as updated fencing, tighter security and a bigger and more interactive Kids Zone. The Kids Zone has now been moved to the parking lot between Hawker's Asian Street Fare and Mezza, allowing a wider space and more opportunities for fun. Another new feature is the nonprofit area. As explained by Patsy Bishop, one of the event's founders, there will be "about 10 nonprofits that are from the beaches that are going to be talking to people about what they do." Attendees who are 21 and older should take note that this year, beer stands have been relocated from Atlantic Boulevard to Ocean Boulevard.

A number of committees led by individuals throughout the community put much effort into putting on this event. Bishop believes that the committee leaders "play a key role" in contributing to the occasion. She also explains that the planning begins in January and doesn't end until the event itself has concluded.

After telling me …   More

THE FLOG

'Meat and GREET'

Adam Putnam's large blue and red tour bus pulled into the Angie's Subs parking lot in Jacksonville Beach at 6 p.m. on May 17. Currently Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture, Putnam announced that he was running for governor from the steps of the Polk County Courthouse earlier this month. The first high-profile Republican to declare his candidacy for the 2018 governor's race is in the midst of a 10-day, 22-stop bus tour of the state to introduce himself as a candidate. This meet and greet, or "meat and greet," hosted by the owner of Angie's Subs, Ed Malin, was the second stop Putnam made that day, the first being his hometown of Bartow.

A jam-packed restaurant greeted Putnam in Jax Beach. Attendees included local politicians, such as Vice Mayor Scott Wiley of Neptune Beach, former Congressman Ander Crenshaw, state Rep. Cord Byrd and Atlantic Beach Mayor Mitch Reeves. As he made his way around the room, he shook some hands and exchanged a few words with potential constituents. Crenshaw introduced Putnam as he made his way to the small stage, which could or could not be evidence of the grassroots nature of his campaign.

Putnam, a fifth generation Floridian and father of four, began his political career in the state House of Representatives at the young age of 22, later going on to the U.S. Congress before being appointed the Commissioner of Agriculture.

Putnam spoke to the gathering at Angie's Subs about the platform of his campaign featuring the state of Florida as a springboard for the "American dream." He also talked about what he saw as worthy causes and how he, as the "next governor of Florida," plans to prioritize what matters to him and what he believes should matter to the people of the Sunshine State. He promised to invest in education and said that he intends to "put students first and empower parents to make the decision on where to put their kids in school." He spoke openly about the school system and used a personal example about his own …   More

THE FLOG

Creative CAPACITY

The arts are fascinating and compelling in part because the membrane separating art from the “rest of life” is so permeable. In Jacksonville, a city that struggles to maintain private galleries and art spaces, that permeability is especially important because it makes room for independent spaces like Space 42, a recently cleaned up warehouse in Riverside, to open its doors. The space and the idea behind it—arts incubator—have much promise.

It is a hopeful beacon.

On April 28, Space 42 inaugurated the space with the work of Michael Alan. Alan, an NYC-based artist stages live drawing events. For this April night, it was hosted in conjunction with a show of Alan’s small works.

Upon entering the building (after paying a $20.00 entry fee), the first thing to notice was the scent of spray paint hanging in the air—that delightful chemical promise of a migraine. Visitors milled around as paint and detritus covered models moved slowly on a de facto stage area; one playing a makeshift didjeridu in front of a wall that seemed as if it had been spray-painted to ape the organic nature of years of graffiti. Turgid music sounded in the space and the overall effect was one of the “art scene” in a movie that perhaps took cues from “Wolf of Wall Street.” It felt contrived with overtones of cupidity.

The idea, as clues suggest, was that this was to be a drawing marathon, and in fact some people did bring their drawing materials with them. But the real take away is (one guesses) that Alan stages these events, which through obfuscating the models’ figures (male and female), he is able to then further mediate these forms in his own works. Observing the drawings he had on display including Darth Vader in Me, it seems that he prints out still images from these events, and then in a style that recalls early, early Basquiat (when Basquiat was actively riffing on Peter Max) noodles, doodles, and collages on and …   More

THE FLOG

Emotional Gooeyness and A Little SNARK

When I opened my email this morning I got notification that the current show, Mommy, featuring the works of Polina Barskaya, Larissa Bates, Louis Fratino, Sarah Alice Moran, Louise Sheldon, Cynthia Talmadge, and Caleb Yono; at Monya Rowe Gallery in St. Augustine is only up for one more week.

Damnit.

This show is, simply put, very compelling. Like the best poetry or story-telling, the various iterations that stem from the springboard word “Mommy,” range from the deeply personal (with a little snark), to caustically nightmarish and outsized. Of the seven artists in the show, there are two whose works exist in a kind of emotional high relief: Caleb Yono and Cynthia Talmadge.

Caleb Yono’s photograph Untitled Illusion (2017) is like a dark-mirror snap of a barely remembered Joan Crawford portrait. In its unsettling “head-shot” style presentation, Yono’s face has been painted a yellow-tinted white, eyes outlined in yellow-haloed murple, with outsized lips painted a glossy black. It reads as Fauve, but also as ’90s-era Limelight club-kid where gendered presentation is fluid and therefor capable of destabilizing an overarching heteronormative societal narrative.

In many ways, if Yono’s work is the promise of club kids realized—brilliance and fearlessness and wit—as filtered through a sophisticated engagement with ancient myth and fashion tropes, it is too a way of being in the world that champions the power (creative and destructive) of WASP-y ideas of beauty. This is especially present in an installation of his drawings. These 22 small images project the dreaminess of Chagall, the fashionable emotional gooeyness of Elizabeth Peyton married to Schiele drawings, all bound to horror/delight at the act of transformation.

Cynthia Talmadge has two pieces in Mommy, a painting and a small installation. The painting, Mild Nausea (2015) rendered in a pointillist style and depicting decorative sections of …   More

THE FLOG

PROSECUTING A Pillar

Ten-foot high windows afford expansive views of downtown Jacksonville in the tenth-floor federal courtroom where the former congresswoman will learn her fate. From this vantage none would call the cityscape majestic; the hulking JEA building figures prominently in the frame, a great rectangular thing of institutional brick flanked by shorter structures, some regal, most as ugly and utilitarian as the power company headquarters.

But Corrine Brown and her court are not permitted even the small pleasure of this unimpressive view; grey shades block out all but glimpses of the downtown skyline between the slats.

For days, the audience of media, a smattering of courthouse staffers and Brown’s supporters—mostly female, all black—have endured government pews, artificially chilled, dry air, and lights flicked on and off, as the feds make their case. Witness after witness, exhibit after exhibit, details read into the record from emails, checks and recollections. Save for the odd amusing or surprising factoid—a drink called the Queen Corrine served at a soirée (strawberry Bellini with a sugar rim, no word whether it was made with bourbon or brandy), an eyepatch on a prominent, well-coiffed citizen called to the stand—the chum has been bland, dry, pedestrian. “Do you have exhibit 35F, ma’am?” “No objections.” “The United States calls—“ “Nothing further, your honor.” “All rise for the jury.” Click. Submit. Excuse. Click. Testify. Excuse.

In the background, fingers on keyboards eagerly record word after word, hoping the next is better than the last, that the following phrase will burn brighter on the screen than all those before it, a palpable collective ache for something spicy and salacious for the evening broadcast or tomorrow’s copy. No luck yet. Witness after witness, detail after detail, all add up to the same: money solicited, communications …   More

THE FLOG

“Fund Our Kids, Not CHARTER Corporations,” Advocate Says

Florida lawmakers are notorious for attaching significant and expensive education policy bills to the final budget document at the “conference” stage in the legislative session, that is, when the state House and Senate begin negotiating on the budget. Critics call these add-on bills “trains,” and charge that they’re intended to circumvent public input, which is supposed to happen earlier at various committee public hearings.

Fund Education Now co-founder Kathleen Oropeza warned two weeks ago that House’s “Schools of Hope” bill, which created a $200 million pot of money for charter schools, would ultimately appear in a “train.” She was right.

The Miami Herald reported this morning that Florida’s Senate Appropriations Committee took just nine minutes yesterday to pass SB 796.  SB 796 was sponsored and amended by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) as a companion to the House’s “Schools of Hope” bill (HB 5105). At least one senator, Bill Montford (D-Quincy) called for immediate public input on the measure so that it can be fully vetted before session ends May 5.  Once SB 796 hits the floor as part of a negotiated budget bill, the Herald reports, it won’t be amendable.

But there’s still a lot missing from Bean’s bill, Oropeza says. Echoing the criticism of at least three school superintendents of large Florida districts, Oropeza wants lawmakers to adopt the elements of Sen. David Simmons’ bill (SB 1552) that will provide additional help to students in struggling schools, instead of threatening “takeover” by charter schools. 

“Instead of focusing on unmitigated charter school growth, the Senate and the House have an opportunity to turn their sights directly onto poverty and its well-documented effects,” Oropeza said.  

Simmons’ proposal includes a longer school day, healthcare services, …   More

THE FLOG

The Non-agenda-fied MOMENT

Trading in the nostalgic without descending into schmaltz or getting sidetracked into on-the-nose-literalness is not easy. Artist Joshua Short is able to do this by transmuting things understood to somehow be quintessentially American into objects and experiences that evoke a kind of patched-together’d authenticity married to the specific liminal weirdness of being on the road.

Currently centering his practice around Bomb Shelter Radio which is housed in Lucille Valentine, a mobile, pirate radio station he built into the bed of a 1978 Chevy LUV truck, Short works across multiple modes‑as if he is knitting together, with haste and wit, elaborate tales culled from his travels. During his first residency in Jacksonville, with Long Road Projects in November 2016, Short broadcast live from Lucille Valentine on BSR multiple times over the course of a week.

Parked in the back yard of Nighthawks in Riverside, Short played a range of music‑Richie Valens to the Dead Boys‑as locals and artists drifted in and out, drinking beer, eating chicken and snuggling the resident cat. It was relaxed, in lieu of the often socially fraught art opening. It was as if instead of relentless social jockeying, “witty” observations, or posing for a perfectly thoughtful selfie in front of a piece of art, those gathered could enjoy the luxury of time. As if, by simply creating a non-linear space Short was able to create a non-agenda-fied moment…people moved through the performance and were able to be tangentially affected and time stretched out. Which is to say that it seeped into the consciousness and unconsciousness of the attendees and the vibrations of the night(s) were deeply good.

For his current show Josh Short - Wild One 66 USA Exhibition, at CoRK West Gallery, the artist uses sounds, fabrics, drawings, found objects and small built structures that span 2012 to 2017. Short has also released a limited edition mix-tape and silk-screen print in …   More

THE FLOG

Spice Level ONE

I take full responsibility for the fact that I anticipated Anthony Kiedis to sound like he did 20 years ago. I also take full responsibility for thinking Intuition Ale Works wouldn’t be a complete shit show before the concert. These two things made last night’s Red Hot Chili Peppers concert experience at the Veterans Memorial Arena sub par.

Let’s start from the beginning. I’ve been a fan of RHCP since the mid-1990s when I discovered the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik and even sang “Under the Bridge” with a bunch of my girlfriends at the eighth grade talent show. Clearly, we -- nor the administration -- realized that the song was about heroin. I stayed with the Chili Peppers through One Hot Minute (1995) and Californication (1999), but then went off to college and kind of forgot they existed.

That is until lately.

I heard the band were coming to Jacksonville and have been hearing their new stuff on Flagler College’s WFCF station, so I thought, “Let me go relive my youth!”

Whether it’s a band, boyfriend or pair of skinny jeans, it’s very difficult -- if not impossible -- to relive your youth.

I realized this first at Intuition as it took 30 minutes to get a beer while some golf-shirt wearing Jabroni next to me kept leaning over the bar, shouting to the bartender, “Hey, a little love over here.” Dude, that’s not going to help you get a frosty IPA. After waiting a while for some food, which was insanely tasty, my friends and I headed to the show.

Two of us had media passes and two had VIP tickets left at Will Call by Anthony Kiedis himself. She had waited on him the night before at The Floridian in downtown St. Augustine and he called the restaurant the day of show to see if anyone who worked there wanted to go. What a super solid, famous-rock star move.

I went to my non-VIP seat and anxiously waited for the show to begin. Kiedis, bassist Flea, drummer Chad Smith …   More

THE FLOG

HONESTY Matters

These are contentious times. 

While the deafening events of April 7 in Hemming Park are now fading into quiet meetings in lawyers’ offices, this mother is still heartsick. I saw scared kids—same age as my own—shell shocked and horrified by Officer Friendly’s alter-ego. 

The numerous videos that were posted online immediately after the anti-military-action rally weren’t fun to watch. Police officers using force—punching, pulling, tackling, and throwing down other human beings—is always a horrifying sight. 

Now that the dust has settled, we know that a progressive protester, wearing a mask, ran behind invading Trump supporter Gary Snow.  Whether the action was accidental or intentional may be a question of fact for a jury, but we know the masked man snagged the speaker cord to Snow’s bullhorn, tangling the gigantic Trump flag and angering Snow.  Then all hell broke loose.

And our young, mostly suburban, white protesters saw with their own eyes what happened when their “nation,” for a brief moment, turned into “a colony.”

Author Chris Hayes, in his new book, A Colony in a Nation, describes it this way:

“Depending on who you are, the sight of an officer can produce either a warm sense of safety and contentment or a plummeting feeling of terror.”

Our daughter felt the latter as her college town, Cleveland, prepared to welcome then-nominee Donald Trump for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Troops moved into the campus’s empty summer dorms, and the students were told to go home. Classes were suspended. 

The “big, burly men with guns” unsettled her, she said.  She told me she felt like her college campus had been transformed into an occupied military zone. I was glad she’d be coming home.

 And then I was heartsick—for her, for her brothers, and for all of our young people. Our …   More

THE FLOG

The Things We VALUE Dearly

Malcolm Jackson’s show It Is What It Is, currently on view at Brew Five Points, is a succinct reminder of the immediacy, satisfaction and power that can be found in documentary photographs. Revealing and preserving the immediacy of Jackson’s experiences, the works recall Gordon Parks, Walker Evans and, in terms of access, Ryan McGinley.

Gordon Parks bravely used his camera as a weapon against what he hated most about the universe: “racism, intolerance and poverty.” Like Parks, Jackson uses his lens to tell the story he is most interested in; right now, that story is about spaces that might otherwise go unnoticed and unseen.

“We know more about the NYC story than our own area,” says Jackson as he reflects on the ways in which the Springfield area of Jacksonville has changed, and some of the lingering ideas that continue to shade the neighborhood. “…[Growing up in the aughts] I had Springfield and the Springfield I had was ‘you didn’t come down after dark,’ but that was just a stereotype—though there was truth there,” he says, then pauses, “I don’t get down with exploitation.” As an artist who parses his language carefully, there’s quite a bit Jackson has left unsaid in the space between an idea of truth and the idea of exploitation. In salacious assumptions of danger and vice in neighborhoods like Springfield, there is a continuation of a narrative that allows racist and classist ideas to take root and flourish … and those ideas can be transformed into images that reinforce those preexisting ideas.

Looking at Jackson’s images spanning five years, from 2012 to 2017, it is clear that he does not seek to varnish or sensationalize the truth. “I’m always trying to stay as close to anonymous as possible,” he says. Jackson shot with a Leica M6 on film, and his images, like McGinley’s, offer access to a world that’s …   More