Jim Johnson moved to the Jacksonville beaches from Chicago in 1967 to take the post of choirmaster and organist at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church (SPBTS). Finding a dearth of classical music in the beaches area, Johnson sought to change that. He founded the Beaches Fine Arts Series (BFAS) in 1972, offering free concerts in the church’s acoustically renowned sanctuary and built on his “belief in the power of great music to positively affect all people.” Fifty years later, BFAS continues to offer North Florida the chance to enjoy free performance seasons featuring world-class music and dance concerts, along with visual art by regional artists. Programming includes an eclectic mix of styles from classical to contemporary, jazz to world music, and traditional to avant-garde. BFAS’s mission is to be inclusive, diverse, and artist driven.
“Past, Present and Future: Rivers, Threads, Pockets and Bubbles” is a concept store opening at The Corner Gallery in celebration of Jacksonville’s bicentennial. This is the latest Moving the Margins: Artist-in-Residence project, and the store will feature photography, graphic design, drawings, and paintings by artists Dustin Harewood, Malcolm Jackson, Toni Smailagic, and Jordan Walter. While three of the four artists were born and raised in different communities of Jacksonville, each is seeking to sell their unique perspective on what the city was, is, and can be. The overall concept highlights Jacksonville as a collection of communities, cultures, places, and spaces. Contemporary creations, from remixes of historic Jacksonville photography to streetwear apparel, pay homage to local businesses and institutions, while contemporary portraits of figures from different eras feed directly into the exhibition name,”Past, Present and Future.”
When individuals are exposed to art, it can be a transformative experience. An experience that lasts a lifetime and which deepens and furthers their personal connection to the people, places, and things around them. Since opening in 1990, the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida has been a cornerstone of the North Central Florida arts and culture ecosystem and is dedicated to providing these art experiences through free admission.
Irish artist Maud Cotter came to Northeast Florida in July to install her first commissioned artwork in the United States for the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville’s Project Atrium. Cotter is a prominent contemporary sculptor who lives and works in Cork, Ireland, where she cofounded the Irish National Sculpture Factory and is a member of the venerated Irish Association of Artists Aosdána. She has exhibited internationally and lectures extensively in architectural and arts colleges throughout Europe and America.
There have always been talented artists of color in Jacksonville. But their ability to access opportunity and recognition has often been challenging. Few things are more affirming than access to support, so a barometer of the ascension of local BIPOC artists over the years could be one of the city’s oldest continuous arts philanthropies: Art Ventures, an initiative of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. While this year’s initiative saw the largest and most diverse pool of applicants in Art Ventures history, The Community Foundation decided to review Arts Ventures grantmaking over time to see just how BIPOC artists had fared since the program began in 1990.
Driving through the five-way intersection of Seminole, Plaza, and Sherry Roads in Atlantic Beach, one sees artwork at every turn. A large, concrete arc sculpture sits near the picturesque city government buildings and next to Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Station 55. Created as a site-specific piece by Brad Tallery, “Elements” is described by Atlantic Beach City Manager Kevin Hogencamp as “interactive and interpretive—lay the arc down, it represents sand; stand it up, it represents wind; flip it over, it’s a wave.”