Art & Culture Features

Frieseke in Florida

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Frieseke in Florida

A new exhibition at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens celebrates a noted American Impressionist painter and shines a light on 1880s Jacksonville. Frederick Carl Frieseke moved to northeast Florida in 1881 at the age of seven. He lived just outside the Jacksonville city limits along with his father and sister. The young boy was enchanted with his new surroundings. His family stayed four years before returning to Michigan. Although he would not return, Frieseke never forgot his time on the First Coast. Later in life, while living near Giverny, France, he created a series of watercolors and paintings inspired by his childhood. He exhibited the paintings in Paris at the Galeries Durand-Ruel in 1926 and the Salon des Tuilleries in 1927, then in New York at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1927 and at the Macbeth Gallery in 1929. Assembled from the Cummer’s permanent collection, the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, and private lenders, the exhibition brings together 16 of Frieseke’s 18 Florida watercolors and five of their companion oil paintings. Shown alongside a series of historic photographs, the exhibition is a charming snapshot of our city’s past through the eyes of a child who ultimately became an internationally respected artist.

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New Art on the Block: Margaret Street Studios

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New Art on the Block: Margaret Street Studios

Over on Margaret Street in Five Points is a collaborative space of six artist studios owned by well-known local power couple Fitz Pullins, of Fitz Pullins Interiors, and Steve Williams, artist and CEO of Harbinger. The focus is on artistic collaboration. “Community over competition is so important,” says Pullins. “Having a house full of creatives helps you to be more creative as an artist and opens your mind to other possibilities.”

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Restoring Debs Store

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Restoring Debs Store

A huge piece of local history is being resurrected in downtown’s Eastside neighborhood, just north of TIAA Bank Field. The Debs Store and the Davis Rooming House next door (now razed) were built by Edward D. Mixson in 1913. The red-brick, neighborhood grocery store on the corner of 5th Street and Florida Avenue was opened in 1921 by Lebanese immigrant Nicolas Debs and closed 90 years later in 2011. Debs Store was a part of the fabric of its community and the Debs family a staple. Nicolas’s sons, Nick and Gene, knew nearly everyone who walked into the store, and once they both passed away, the family made the difficult decision to shutter it.

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Forging a Bold City One Sculpture at a Time

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Forging a Bold City One Sculpture at a Time

Probably most famous for the photograph that appeared in national news during Hurricane Matthew, “Spiritualized Life” was created by Charles Adrian Pillars to honor those lost during World War I. The piece was privately commissioned by the Citizens Committee in 1920 and unveiled in Memorial Park on Christmas Day, 1924. It is one of the first pieces of public art in the city and still stands as one of the most iconic sculptures in Jacksonville. 

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Jacksonville’s Bicentennial Year is Here

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Jacksonville’s Bicentennial Year is Here

We live in a city whose location we did not select, that we did not design or build, dependent on technologies that we did not invent, speaking languages that we did not create. And yet, the city is now ours. Our daily lives transpire in a place that we have inherited. That makes us just like the people of every other city, although we (and Jacksonville) are different from other cities. It also makes us the stewards of Jacksonville’s future.

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A City’s Bicentennial Only Comes Around Once

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A City’s Bicentennial Only Comes Around Once

In 2020 protests over the tragic death of a Black man named George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman reignited a long-running national debate over the significance of Confederate monuments in public places. Some discussions widened to consider the names of schools, streets, parks, and even a city itself. Suggestions for renaming Jacksonville have included Jaxson, Duval, Cowford, and even Durstville, after Fred Durst, lead vocalist for the local band Limp Bizkit.

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The Life Scrolls

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The Life Scrolls

Some would say the story began in 1918 when, just after the announcement that the Huns had surrendered their fight in the Great War, a group of businessmen in Jacksonville … well, more on that later.

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Statue of Limitations 

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Statue of Limitations 

The ongoing process of racial reckoning that’s been taking place around the country over the past few years has occurred on many different fronts, be it the classroom, the pulpit, or the streets of hundreds of cities from coast to coast. This process has peaked (so far) with the social protests we saw sweeping the nation after George Floyd’s murder in 2020. Locally, there were protests here in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, the Beaches, and beyond. 

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Leading Ladies  

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Leading Ladies  

Christine Hoffman; Atlantic Beach reelected Mayor Ellen Glasser; and Neptune Beach’s Mayor Elaine Brown was currently in office. This meant that history had been made—for the first time all three Beaches communities had female mayors. This lady triumvirate has become a synergistic team, leading their respective cities as well as bolstering each other and cementing close professional and personal relationships. These three women have different backgrounds and priorities, but as you’ll see from the interview below, there is also a lot of common ground. Perhaps their biggest strength and commonality is that they are contented Beaches residents themselves. In addition, they share an ability to read the needs of their fellow Beaches citizens, aligning their priorities. 

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It was Crooked. It was Blurry. It was Mad

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It was Crooked. It was Blurry. It was Mad. 

Local author Tim Gilmore, Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) English professor, historian, and creator of jaxpsychogeo.com, knows a lot about bizarre, local lore and our city’s most idiosyncratic characters. Virginia King is certainly one of those—she spent decades feverishly documenting 1960-80s Jacksonville by word and photo, ultimately writing some 8,000 pages by hand in an effort to “capture the city,” as Gilmore puts it. Gilmore wrote a book about King in 2015, titled The Mad Atlas of Virginia King, that has now been adapted into a play by the same name.

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