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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.

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The 12th annual Art Basel in Miami Beach was met with more enthusiasm and communal excitement than ever before. Outside of the main event at the convention center was an endless landscape of street art, galleries, pop up shows and other major fairs.

The Moksha family art fair, which takes place at 7th Circuit Studio in little Haiti, is a high point every year. A heady tribute to Terrance McKenna, "Return To The Dreamtime," featured a live reading by Dennis McKenna and a film made by Ken Adams with wildly psychedelic computer graphics and a cosmic, earthy soundtrack woven into video-taped interviews with Terrance dating back to 1989.

Alex Grey presented an original spoken word piece accompanied by didgeridoo, percussion and electronic loops. North Florida's own electronic jam outfit Greenhouse Lounge played the main Moksha event on Saturday night, which included live painting by Alex and Allyson Grey, Mark Henson and others.

Florida Mining Gallery owner and artist Steve Williams succeeded in unifying dozens of ambitious North Florida artists to a produce a multi-building, multi-media art experience called "North of Modern." Partnering with Global Investments and Majestic Properties, Florida Mining Gallery was able to transform six unused and abandoned retail spaces and curate a high quality pop-up art shop.

A theme of re-purposing unused space into social centers seemed to prevail and was perhaps best expressed in Kedgar Volta's installation "Urban Impositions" and Quintron & Miss Pussycat's wild set, which took place in deep in recesses of the abandoned building.

The "North of Modern" presentation and Moksha's Return to the Dreamtime prove that grassroots efforts and teamwork involved in more intimate art fairs are a refreshing oasis in an untamed wilderness of hype and hysteria that often abound in the art world.   More

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Julio Iglesias thinks nearly all his songs are “sexy.” And he made sure to introduce them as so.

For the 1,400 fans clapping and laughing March 2 in Downtown Jacksonville, Iglesias probably couldn’t turn that charm off.

In between songs, he took a seat on his stool to talk and joke with the audience.

He asked only for a small favor, “If you make love tonight and you get pregnant, name [the baby] Julio.”

Julio Iglesias’ charm reflected in both his singing and his on-stage delivery, energizing about his fans at the Moran Theatre in the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

He thanked the audience again and again for coming to his concert on Oscar night.

Iglesias sang in Spanish, French and English. He drew the biggest reaction with his rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Two ballroom dancers added an extra kick as they danced throughout many of Iglesias’ Spanish songs. They had an electrifying chemistry, and Iglesias later explained that they were married. He then asked the man, “Can I kiss your wife?” before he proceeded to kissed her.

One of the most defining instruments in the performance was the saxophone. Even Iglesias remarked, “If I played the saxophone like you, I would invite all my girlfriends to bed and play for them.”

Iglesias is so natural on stage that one can’t help but think it is second-nature for him. The entire performance seemed like it was improvised, yet it flowed so smoothly and seamlessly.

Iglesias might have surprised some with his exit. After an hour and a half, he walked off stage, the band finished, and the lights turned on. That was the end of that.

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The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville’s “Contemporary Classic: Artisan Edition,” a fundraising gala to benefit MOCA’s educational endeavors, is 6-11 p.m. April 6.

Tickets for the gala are $200 for the “Classic Dinner,” which is seated in the galleries and will feature dishes made by local chefs with local ingredients.

Tickets are $50 for the “Classic Party” after dinner with dancing, interactive art experiences and Jacksonville-brewed spirits.

Dinner will kick off at 6 p.m. in the galleries and the party will follow at 8 p.m. in MOCA’s Teresa and Arthur Milam Lobby.

Proceeds from the ticket sales will support MOCA’s exhibits, educational programs and outreach initiatives. Among these programs is “Voice of the People,” which features recorded accounts and descriptions of works of art by students and adults; and “Rainbow Artists,” which promotes social interaction among children with autism through artistic activities.

The featured exhibit during the gala is “SLOW: Marking Time in Photography and Film.” This exhibit focuses on still photographs, films and video works that explore questions of time and duration. The exhibit features the works of seven artists whose methods in addressing the concept of time complement and challenge one another.

MOCA Jacksonville is located at 333 N. Laura St., in Downtown Jacksonville, next to the main library.

To purchase tickets call Director of Development Jason Kirk at (904) 366-6911, ext. 202, or visit mocajacksonville.org/event/cc.   More

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Legendary singer-songwriter, poet, actor and cultural phenomenon Bob Dylan arrives in May, but for those who want tickets, the time is now. Dylan performs with support from Dawes, 7 p.m. May 5 at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The $40-$60 tickets go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. March 22 at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and the amphitheater. Those who bought tickets to the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival have a pre-sale opportunity, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 20, only at the amphitheater box office. Members of the nonprofit Friends of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre may purchase tickets 10 a.m.-10 p.m. March 21 at fosaa.org. 1-800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com, findmytix.com.   More

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One local man aims to keep local creative people in town with his music video countdown show "Music 4 U" (M4U). The show premieres 7:30 p.m. April 7 on CW17 with an emphasis on local music, fashion and art.

The show will feature Kentucky-born Kojo Robinson the show’s host and creator, as he presents a weekly viewer-chosen, top-five music video countdown, as well as a fashion segment from “Mz London,” or Shadae Myers. Kojo will speak with Northeast Florida artists, entertainers, athletes and personalities during the half-hour show.

Jake McCain of CW17 spoke about the year-long process the station and the show's creators went through to get to this point.

“We worked with Kojo and made suggestions and changes to get it to the quality of which we could air the show,” McCain said. “We gave constructive criticism throughout, and it was a back-and-forth process. As revisions were made, they implemented those suggestions, and we moved forward towards the green light.”

Kojo said that the process was a lengthy one, but it has been fun pursuing his dream.

“The main purpose is to show viewers that Jacksonville has a lot of talent that people aren't aware of,” Kojo said. “Many artists have to leave Jacksonville to get exposure. We want to stop that. We want to keep our talent and even bring talent from surrounding areas here.”

Strongly supportive of local music, artists and Jacksonville, Kojo said that he plans to keep the show here even if it he’s able to develop a national following.

“We are having a lot of people contacting us and sending us their videos,” Myers said. “It's a great feeling to get that support. We would love to eventually go national with the show, while keeping M4U right here. We want to make sure Jacksonville becomes that place where artists go to get their music to the masses.”   More

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Comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias and his Stand Up Revolution Tour attracted more than 2,000 spectators to the Times-Union Center’s Moran Theater on March 24.

Fellow Stand Up Revolution comedians Martin Moreno, Lance Patrick, Alfred Robles, Rick Gutierrez, Thai Rivera and G Reilly opened the show, each delivering a short set. After a short intermission, “Fluffy” took the stage.

Iglesias joked about raising his stepson and his three Chihuahuas and shared stories of traveling to the Middle East to tour and perform for a prince. A set that he promised would be 45 minutes lasted more than an hour to the delight of his fans.

The spectators were all ages — even to the surprise of Iglesias. “Fluffy” was shocked by the screams of a 4-year-old girl in the audience who seemed to enjoy the show whether she understood all the jokes or not. 

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Two Jacksonville University theater students received national recognition for excellence in acting.

Nick Boucher and Elaine Tyson were nominated for the prestigious Kennedy Center Irene Ryan Award for their work in the recent one-act comedies “Laundry & Bourbon” and “Lone Star.”

The nomination places the actors in the regional and national competitions for the American College Theatre Festival.

“I think our acting program at Jacksonville University produces student actors with a firmly rooted acting process and technique, and also provides them with the tools to pursue further training on the graduate level,” said Deborah Jordan, an assistant professor of theater at JU who directed the plays, in a press release from the university.

Since 1972, the Irene Ryan Foundation awarded scholarships to outstanding student performers at each festival. This year, the foundation is giving 19 regional awards and two fellowships consisting of 16 $500 scholarships, two $2,500 scholarships for the winners at the national level in Washington, D.C., and a cash prize of $250 for the student that is awarded the Kingsley Colton Award in national auditions.

The late Irene Ryan played Granny Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”   More

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Americana music lovers camped beneath the live oaks at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park for the 17th annual Suwannee Springfest March 21-24.

The first two days of the festival lucked out with fair weather. There were memorable performances by Spirit Family Reunion, Tornado Rider, Scythian, Von Grey, Keller and the Keels, Elephant Revival, Peter Rowan, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Whetherman, Leftover Salmon, the Travelin’ McCourys and countless more off-stage in the campgrounds.

Day three’s weather was not so kind to Springfest. Thunderstorms cancelled many of the day’s shows. Park employees had to bring in bales of pine straw to counteract the puddles and mud.

Despite the heavy rains and tornado-worthy winds Saturday, headliner Old Crow Medicine Show’s set still went on. The 6-piece string band kept the rain-soaked crowd’s spirits high by playing their hits “Wagon Wheel” and “Tell It to Me”. Fiddle player and vocalist Ketch Secor revealed it was not the band’s first time in Suwannee, they had played there 11 years before.

Covering Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ songs seemed to be a popular choice throughout the weekend. Keller and the Keels did a rendition of “Breakdown” and Old Crow Medicine Show played “American Girl.”

Artists came together for jam sessions throughout the weekend. Peter Rowan joined Keller and the Keels for a number, as did the Travelin’ McCourys. Violinist Darol Anger played with Leftover Salmon at their Friday set on the amphitheater stage. 

Festivalgoers who stuck it out in the rain Sunday morning enjoyed a sunny and warm afternoon of music by The Mosier Brothers, Donna the Buffalo, Peter Rowan & Friends, Jerry Douglas and Nikki Talley.

Springfest attendees can share their experiences and recommendations on the Suwannee Springfest Facebook page.

 

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