Last night, Sun-Ray Cinema premiered "The Florida Project," a film by Sean Baker. After the screening, Sun-Ray hosted a Q&A with Kevin Chinoy, one of the film's producers. Chinoy is also a native of Jacksonville.
Baker's films often focus on people from specific regions and their economic challenges. In "The Florida Project," Baker, through the every day life of a six-year-old, tells the story of those who live in Orlando and reside in motels on the outskirts of Disney World. These individuals are technically considered homeless because they have no permanent place of residence.
The movie stars Willem Defoe, who does an extraordinary job playing the role of the motel manager. In "The Florida Project," as well as in his previous films, Baker casts locals and non-actors in many of the supporting roles. This casting choice creates an air of authenticity in Baker's films. As a storyteller, Baker does a fantastic job exploring complex topics in a manner that does not feel exploitive.
Unconditional love can only blossom as a result of being honest with ourselves about the subject for which we harbor our emotions and feelings. Romanticized ideas cannot be sustained or developed to unconditional levels if we are not willing to fully accept a person, place, or thing for everything that it/they are while also being acutely aware of everything that it/they are not. We have to chisel away any facade that prevents us from seeing a person, place, or thing for who/what they/it truly are, blemishes and all.
Writer Tim Gilmore has a deep connection with Jacksonville, both past and present. The deeper Gilmore delves into the complexities of Jacksonville's history and identity, the stronger his voice becomes as he advocates for the city he calls home. But, as much as Gilmore advocates for Jacksonville, he is also critical of its improvable shortcomings and vocal about topics and events that sometimes make others uncomfortable. As a purveyor of history, Gilmore refuses to tuck away the darker side of Jacksonville's history into crevices where they can never be discussed or analyzed further.
Yesterday evening, FSCJ's Kent Campus Gallery hosted an opening reception for "Indirect Constructs," a two-person show featuring new works by Lily Kuonen and Tonya D. Lee. While I'm friends with Lily and familiar with her work through studio visits, it was my first time experiencing both artists' work in a gallery setting.
Last night I went to the midnight performance of "Evil Dead: the musical," produced by the 5 & Dime. When the production ended, I left the theater with my face hurting as a result of laughing and smiling so much.
Last night I attended the opening reception for "Gardens, Temples & Gods," a two-person show featuring the mixed-media collages of Dustin Harewood and paper-cuts (kirie) by Hiromi Moneyhun. The exhibition features new work by the duo and is on display at Bold Bean Coffee Roaster's San Marco location.
Harewood, who has also grown to become a close friend, and Moneyhun are two of my favorite artists in Jacksonville. I own one of Moneyhun's miniature pieces and I own two pieces by Harewood, one of which was the first piece he created in his peony series.
Last night I conducted a studio visit with Princess Simpson Rashid. In July 2017 I conducted a 10 Questions interview with Simpson Rashid. During my studio visit, I chatted with Simpson Rashid about recent life changes, the inspiring works of Gary Vaynerchuk, and her upcoming two-person show "Lift Under Construction," which opens November 4, 2017 at Yellow House Art Gallery. The show will feature new works by Simpson Rashid and Keith Doles.
Lily Kuonen is a visual artist who works in between painting, drawing, installation, and constructed elements. She has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions on three continents, in four countries, and in 18 different U.S. states. In less than 15 years of actively showing her work, Kuonen has participated in 85+ exhibitions. This figure is even more remarkable when you take into consideration the fact that for nearly seven of those years Kuonen was an honor student pursuing an undergraduate degree from the University of Central Arkansas followed by a graduate degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. And, since 2011, she has worked full-time at Jacksonville University, where she is now Associate Professor of Art and Foundations Coordinator.
As an artist, Kuonen casts tradition aside. She continuously examines and redefines the mediums and processes through which she creates. In 2009, Kuonen coined the term PLAYNTING (play + painting) to characterize her studio practice, which involves integrating painting with additional forms, materials, surfaces, and actions. Kuonen has worked with a number of non-normative materials, including saw dust, ratchet straps, peg board, and cinder blocks. Her fascination with a material typically continues even after a series is complete. It isn't uncommon for materials from one series to be repurposed for a future series.
This evening I was invited to a preview of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville's current exhibition, Call & Response. The exhibition reinterprets the museum's permanent collection. As part of the exhibit, MOCA invited a limited number of artists to engage with the collection and then create and present pieces of artwork to be shown in context to items from within the permanent collection. It's a remarkable exhibit and I was pleased to be a part of the evening.
One of the most impressive and captivating pieces on exhibit is a piece by TEAMLAB, a collective interdisciplinary creative group from Japan. The piece is titled "Impermanent Life." It is a digital piece that was created in 2017.
Last night The Space Gallery, located in downtown Jacksonville, hosted their season opening exhibit, titled "On Being." The exhibit featured the work of four modern representational figurative artists, Kevin Arthur, Jason John, Christina Grace Mastrangelo, and Jeff Whipple.