Scratch a great collection of art and you will find a grand mélange of situation, opportunity, passion, and competition to rival any soap opera, with plot lines to intrigue and personalities to love, hate, loathe, or admire. Royals and the royally rich may get the most attention but none of it would have happened without businessmen and women. In Russia you find them all.
This year has called upon administrators, teachers, and students alike to be innovative, creative, and adaptive—three things that are embedded in the arts. It is no surprise that these schools are rising to the challenge with open minds and a great deal of panache.
Thirty years ago, in 1990, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida saw the fruits of their fundraising efforts blossom into its first Art Ventures grants.
So much has been written about the history of St. Augustine and its native peoples; Spanish, French, and English explorers and settlers; entrepreneurs; pirates; and pioneers. The history of the arts and the people who have lived here and painted here is also noteworthy.
Spread across Apalachee Bay, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), consisting of 68,000 acres, was established in 1931 as a wintering ground for migratory birds. Most of the roads, ponds, and levees in this refuge were originally built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), part of Roosevelt’s New Deal after the Great Depression. The ponds and impoundments range from fresh water to salt, accommodating the many species of migratory birds passing through Florida’s Big Bend.
In March, 2020, the world changed. Here in the United States, along with elsewhere across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses, schools, and even natural spaces like beaches and parks. With the exception of healthcare and other essential workers, most of us hunkered down and lived our lives moving very little and in small orbits. But, traumatic events were still unfolding as spring turned to summer, and new tragedies of racial injustice took place that sparked a surge in protests for equity. Within this swirl of inaction meeting action, artists everywhere were commenting on the times just as they have historically done.