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Mural Installed Across from Florida Theatre

A five-panel mural, featuring Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and other local musicians, created by a group of First Coast High School students, has been installed in Downtown Jacksonville across from the Florida Theatre.

The mural was produced by 25 students in the Behavioral Education and Social Skills Teaching program.

The program is for students who have emotional and behavior difficulties and have been removed from regular classrooms.

The students and five staff members spent eight weeks in art classes planning and creating the mural. It was installed July 11 outside Dos Gatos, which is across the street from the Florida Theatre.

The project was led by Kendall Barsin, Florida Theatre director of marketing and Cathedral Arts Project teacher Laurie Brown.   More


'Celestial Playground' Lets Weary Minds Play

Jacksonville International Airport has become an extension of an ever-growing and developing art scene with its 14 permanent installations and two galleries.

This month's exhibit features the work of Amy Cheng, who last week created and installed the mosaic mural, "Celestial Playground." 

The mural is made of glass, ceramic, and stone mosaic, with gold flowers made of brass. The "Celestial Playground" adorns the walls between the Sky and Haskell galleries. The brightness and colorfulness of the mural and its cosmic, sky and space influences were desiged by Cheng to make the viewer feel less stressed about the challenges of air travel such as security and flight delays.

"'Celestial Playground' was inspired by space and the sky — it is an airport — and the floor was blue so I mimiced that.  The piece is designed to give the viewer a sense of lightness, of joy,” Cheng said. “I wanted to give the travellers and facility something visually lovely and cheerful.”

Cheng, an artist in New York, was commissioned to complete her mural after competing with more than 90 other applicants.



Film Director Sets Eyes on JU

With film credits in Istanbul, California, New York and Iran on his resume, what was tempting enough to bring decorated director and actor, Bandar Albuliwi, to the Jacksonville area? 

Albuliwi's route to Northeast Florida began with a change from acting to directing — a result of being typecast as a terrorist too often. The New York native was displeased with the singular direction of his acting career, and, after a falling out with his agent, turned exclusively to directing. This choice soon became the catalyst for reshaping Albuliwi's professional life, which eventually included a teaching job at Rutgers University. This unanticipated opportunity opened the door to sharing his directorial philosophies with students.

So when Jacksonville University made the offer earlier this month, the timing was perfect because Albuliwi was looking for a place free of distractions and with a slower pace of life. The Sunshine State was not only a great opportunity, but also a nice escape from the heartbreaks in New York City.

At JU, Albuliwi plans on molding young minds in the new film department. But not in the traditional textbook manner. Hollywood stereotypes aren’t his style and infusing originality and spreading the idea of being open-minded are on his agenda. Directing and producing nontraditional films with mixed races that connect cultures are a key part of his vision.

“I want them to go out there, make their own movie, make their own mistakes, and learn from that," Albuliwi said of his students. "I want them to have more of a production-based environment than a classroom setting.”  

Being one of the youngest people accepted into the prestigious American Film Institute, Albuliwi got his Master of Fine Arts in Film Directing and met his righthand man, Faruk Ozerten. Ozerten and Albuliwi went on to create "Peace After Marriage," which won the Creative Promise Award at the Tribeca Film Festival in lower …   More


Freedom Fest

Michael W. Smith, Mathew West, Sanctus Real, Luminate and Jason Castro performed at Freedom Fest 2013 — a two-day Christian music festival held June 29-30 at Christ’s Church.

The big day came June 30 with thousands attending and more than 700 volunteers, Cullum said.

Francesca Battistelli, Peter Furler with Phil Joel, Jason Castro and Luminate led a singing-and-worship event on Saturday night.

Later in the afternoon, one of the anticipated acts, Luminate, had a meet and greet after their set.

“It’s awesome,” Sam Hancock of Luminate said. “Just what Freedom Fest represents is not only American freedom, but the freedom we find through Christ.”

Sam added that making the event free to the public was something special and gave even more meaning to the name.

Plum took the stage next and sang their praises, getting the crowd involved as the evening approached.

Sanctus Real came out after Plum and brought the upbeat sounds to get the crowd moving as anticipation for the headliners drew closer.

With the sun setting behind the overcast sky, comedian MC Bone Hampton came on between Sanctus Real and Matthew West to keep the crowd entertained with jokes. Hampton has played a prison guard in "My Name Is Earl" and a prisoner in "Medium."

Hampton brought out Matthew West to an eruption from the crowd as they began playing their upbeat set.

“Playing in Jacksonville, where they love their Gators and like to eat their ‘mashpotaters,” West sung, drawing laughs from around the crowd.

West played two videos from fans who sent in stories, inspiring him to write songs in their honor. He followed each video with the song that was inspired by the stories.

All the build-up led to Michael W. Smith, a legend in the Christian music industry who has been playing for more than 30 years.

With time an issue due to the delay, the fireworks extravaganza was rescheduled to be during Smith’s …   More


And the Nominees Are …

The PRI 48-Hour Film Project screens the best films as decided by the judges at 7 p.m. July 13 at the Florida Theatre.

“Pushover” by Dads has a chance for a sweep as the film is nominated in all categories, including best film.

Joining “Pushover” in the best film category is “One & Change” by Mad Cowford and “Goodnight” by Best Friends. The three Best Film nominees are also nominated for best direction.

Both “One & Change” and “Goodnight” won an audience award for their respective screenings in Group A and Group C.

Best writing nominees include “The Philosophy of Psychology Series Video No. 24 "Romance” by Yeeaarrhh, “Pushover” and “Goodnight.”

“One & Change” and “Pushover” join “Sisterhood” by Ruby Red Productions with nominations in best cinematography.

Rounding out the nominations are the big three in “Pushover,” “One & Change” and “Goodnight” for Best Sound Design.

Other awards to be given out include best actor and best actress, best ensemble cast. Tickets to the screening are $10.

All of the films entered were viewed by judges and the nominees have been decided. The winners will go on to represent Jacksonville at Filmapalooza and be up for Best 48 HFP Film of 2013.

Each movie had to be written, shot, edited and scored in 48 hours to enter.   More


More Than Skin Deep

Chamblin’s Uptown is taking the theme of July's First Wednesday Art Walk — "Body and Wellness" — literally. 

The Downtown Jacksonville bookstore is hosting the BodyArt Walk Tattoo Fashion Show July 3. Jennifer O’Donnell, the store's manager, came up with idea.

“We are promoting Art Walk and just trying to bring more people Downtown — more people and more diversity and maybe people who never usually come down for Art Walk," O’Donnell said. "We want to celebrate the tattooists as artists and the tattoos as art, because they are."

Chamblin’s has rented a cat walk to place in front of Snyder Memorial Church on Laura Street where those who wish to participate can strut their stuff. Those with tattoos are welcome to participate, no matter the size, color, placement or design. For those without tattoos, henna and body paint artists will be available. If you wish to participate in the BodyArt Walk, call 674-0868 by 5 p.m. July 3 to register.  

Spectators at the fashion show will help pick the winners, who will receive gift cards from local downtown businesses, including Chamblin's Uptown, Strght & Nrrw and Icon Boutique. Participants will walk the cat walk while emcee Wayne Wood, a genuine renaissance man and founder of Riverside Arts Market, highlights their body art.

“When Jennifer told me about the BodyArt Walk, I said it was a great idea, and that it would give an extra spark to the monthly Art Walk," Wood said. "It would be a new celebration of art that is not celebrated often.”

As of June 28, 45 people had signed up to participate.

“We are hoping to get 100 — at least!” O’Donnell said.

Local bands Fathom Sphere and Memphibians will perform. A photographer will shoot pictures of the participants and their ink, and the photos will be displayed in various businesses and restaurants Downtown. Dancers, hula-hoopers, a fire show and more will …   More


Keenen Ivory Wayans Takes on Paula Deen and More

In his first show at The Comedy Zone June 27, Keenen Ivory Wayans went straight for the jugular. From the moment he stepped on stage, he tore into Paula Deen's recent revelation that she had used racially charged languaged in the past.

Wayans sternly asked the crowd what they thought of Paula Deen and a few of the vocal fans yelled negative things about her. 

Wayans beautifully played it off like it was going to turn into a heated debate, then knocked it out of the park with repeated hilarious jokes about racism.

Wayans never stayed on the same subject for long; he kept the audience laughing as he smoothly transitioned through every aspect of his life. He discussed up his five children and how his daughters have changed from the “Daddy’s little angels” they used to be. He said he thought he would be that kind of dad that would threaten boys to leave his daughters alone. Now he is practically trying to give his daughters away. 

He talked about his marriage, divorce and dating as an older man. He recounted a time when he had a date and the day after woke up to 200 phone messages.

He joked that the messages start with "Hey, I'm thinking about you" and turned into "I know where you live!"

Jacksonville native Jeff Zenisek was the evening's host, and Josh Phillips was the opening comedian.   More


First Tee Exemption Player Wins JAGA Championship

One putt separated first and second place at the Junior Amateur Golf Association Jacksonville City Junior Championship for the boys 15-18 division held at Deerwood Country Club June 17-18, according to a press release following the tournament.

First Tee member Jake Nelson won the boys 15-18 division, gaining him a place in the Tour Championship in November. Nelson earned his spot as the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour allowed three exemptions for First Tee players.

Nelson had a one-shot lead over Chase Berlin through 14 holes on the second day, but was level with Berlin after a par at the 16th by Nelson was beaten by a birdie.

More drama ensued as the 17th hole saw Nelson go up yet again after Berlin made his par putt and Nelson birdied.

All the action led to the 18th where Berlin made things very interesting by sinking his lengthy birdie putt. Berlin would end on an even par with a total score of 144.

However, after a brilliant second shot from Nelson that put him only three feet from the hole, a victory was nearly certain. Nelson tapped in his birdie to secure the win and a spot in not only the Tour Championship, but a Florida Junior Tour event as well.

Kathleen Duperval won the girls 15-18 division; she shot 3-over-par for the tournament, winning by four strokes.

Duperval went into the second day down by two strokes but battled back against Nagisa Miura of Bradenton, Fla. Miura shot a 78 on the second day as her seven birdie total of the tournament was not enough to help her overall score of 7-over-par.

Ponte Vedra native George Eubank Jr. won the boys 11-14 division with an even par score of 144.

An impressive first day gave Eubank Jr. a score of 68. However, the second day was a hard finish for the young golfer with a 76.

Cody Carroll, another local golfer, was tied with Eubank Jr. at 68 after the first day. He struggled the second day with an 81, putting him 9-over-par for the day.

The HJGT continues with tournaments …   More


Craig Morgan Rocks Fernandina Beach

Despite the threat of thunderstorms, country fans showed up ready to rock at the Country Rocks the Beach concert June 22. The show featured Craig Morgan and special guests Dustin Lynch and The Lacs.

The gates at Ybor Alvarez Outdoor Sports Complex opened at 3 p.m. and several opening bands played as fans poured in.

The Lacs, a band from Georgia that has gained recent notoriety in 2011, played some of their hits including their first single, “Kickin’ Up Mud.” They played their set all while sipping on beer and taking swigs from a Jagermeister bottle.

Soon after, Dustin Lynch took the stage, performing all his well-known singles including “She Cranks My Tractor.” The single, which debuted in the Top 50 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs list, pumped up the crowd, especially the girls as he swayed his hips in his tight black jeans.

After these two outstanding opening acts, the crowd was ready for Craig Morgan to come on. As soon as the sound of the tractor played over the loud speakers, Morgan appeared and began singing his single, “International Harvester.” The song from his 2006 album, "Little Bit of Life," is one of Morgan’s most popular hits.

Morgan continue the party by performing some of his other well-known songs like “Redneck Yacht Club” and “That’s What I Love About Sunday.” Both of these songs are from his album, "My Kind of Livin,’ " which was released in 2005.

He played all seven of his top-10 hits, including his single “Almost Home” from his 2002 album, "I Love It." Not only did it top the country music charts, this song earned him a Songwriter’s Achievement Award from the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International and also Song of the Year at the Broadcast Music, Inc.

Morgan sang his most popular songs, but he also let the crowd be part of his history by performing a new song never before played in public. …   More


Rain or Shine, a Swashbuckling Good Time

Whether you want to sing a pirate tune with your mateys or enjoy some light-hearted comedy, the Colonial Crew Revue has a little something for everyone.

The variety show written by Scott "Grimm" Abrams takes place at St. Augustine’s Colonial Quarter every Friday and Saturday night. The versatile Picolata Players perform a musical based on the days when pirates still roamed the streets.

Although suitable for families, the show includes themes and innuendo for a pirate experience adults can enjoy as well. Unlimited refills of beer, sangria and wine are included for adults 21 and older.

The singing was great and each of the characters had different singing styles, but they all mixed together well. The character named El Comico, who was the goofy and funny heart-breaker, was chased around the stage and tripped over himself as scripted, yet sang perfectly the entire time.

The show got even better when Mayhem de Magnifico, the drunk and multi-talented trickster, awoke and started performing impressive magic tricks. The cast was very talented in many different aspects and it showed.

Easily the best part of the show was the audience interaction. The characters walked into the crowd almost every scene to have viewers add to the show and even join them on the stage at one point. The scene where Don Ramon Bellagrande and his “lovely wife” use the audience to tell the story of how they met would make anyone laugh.

Unfortunately, near the end of the June 21 show, it started pouring rain mercilessly. Some people left, but a surprisingly large amount of people, many without umbrellas, stayed to watch the end. The characters started throwing puns about rain into the show, which was obviously improvised. I thought that was wonderfully done and it let the audience know the actors and actresses recognized the sacrifice they were making to see the end of the show.

After the show, the cast members waited at the nearby Taberna del Caballo …   More