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SRQ DAILY Jun 17, 2015

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"I kind of miss the smell of the shrimp boats and the mangroves. I heard Stephen King has a place in the area and wouldn't mind enjoying a Mai Tai with him on the beach."

- Dan Myrick, The Blair Witch Project director

[Recognition]  Balsley Earns ASLA Design Medal
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

The landscape architect who reimagined Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa as a modern cultural treasure now joins an elite group of professionals recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Thomas Balsley, founder of Thomas Balsley Associates in New York, will receive this year’s ASLA Design Medal, the greatest career recognition in the field. “It’s one of those things that seemed way beyond my reach,” Balsley told SRQ. “I never dared to dream that far. It’s the highest honor an individual designer can ever achieve.” 

Balsley came to Sarasota this year as a guest of SRQ Media to give a keynote speech on modern park design as part of the SB2 community conversation series. He toured the Sarasota Bayfront with tourism officials during the visit and continues to follow the visioning process on the future of the assembled land there. Balsley was unaware he was being considered for the award, and only learned after his selection for the award that his own staff had been in communication with the ASLA about the possibility. His office submitted information on Balsley’s most important park projects from his career. Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa was among that work, as were waterfront parks he helped plan in New York City.  

As for what the award means, Balsley said he cannot imagine any other professional achievement to which he can aspire. “But I joked if this is your way of getting me to retire, it’s not going to work,” he said. “It’s really the pinnacle of a person’s career in terms on name recognition. You can get all the press you want but it doesn’t mean much until your peers tell you you are worthy.” From here, Balsley said he will continue pursuing new projects. “Hopefully those great projects will win awards and enjoy the warm embrace of the communities they serve.”

Watch for an exclusive interview with Balsley in SRQ Media Group’s newest magazine, Modern Home, available July 1. 

[Film]  From Longboat to Blair Witch

Growing up on Longboat Key wouldn’t inspire a dark side in many, but for Dan Myrick, director of The Blair Witch Project, a childhood on the Suncoast led to a life of Hollywood horror. Myrick was among the most anticipated guests at this year’s inaugural Skyway Film Festival and was welcome to all questions on his Sarasota heritage, current projects and success. The creek in his backyard served as a setting for a Bigfoot hoax where he attempted to fool all of his friends. He described a certain mischief that fostered his creative genius for what became the The Blair Witch Project.

“I have always had a love for art,” he says. But It wasn’t until he received a book about moviemaking that he realized there was an entire industry behind film, and he started working with his own camera when he was 13. After experimenting with film for a few years, he applied to the inaugural film class at the University of Central Florida. That’s where he met the people and gained the skills to make The Blair Witch Project a success.

Since the success of his film, Myrick has branched into fields beyond horror. He has a love for sci-fi and is currently working on a comedy to be pitched to HBO. Of course, his thriller roots are never far. He just finished shooting his next release, Under The Bed, a creepy thriller based on true events. The Los Angeles resident admitted he could see himself retiring back to the Sarasota area. “I kind of miss the smell of the shrimp boats and the mangroves,” he says, “I heard Stephen King has a place in the area and wouldn’t mind enjoying a Mai Tai with him on the beach.” 

Read an extended interview with Dan Myrick at SRQBacklot.com

SRQ Backlot

[Good Bite]  Eat No Lean At Baker and Wife
Kate Warr

Where can you go to find a charming neighborhood café with craft cocktails, exceptionally good homemade pizza, innovative dishes like Octopus Soppressata and delectable desserts like a Salted Caramel “Pot de Crème” worth fighting over? Baker and Wife, located on Siesta Drive, manages to offer something for everyone while still retaining its own charm and style. The décor is architecturally artistic and the credo—“Inspiration is sourced globally, ingredients are sourced locally”—is evident on the varied menu. The establishment boasts a perfect five-star rating on Facebook, its admirers a roster of Sarasota’s foodie fanatics (Nicole Hancock, everyone’s favorite concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, says the Salted Caramel “Pot de Crème” is last-meal worthy). And there’s still time to become a regular—the café has only been open since March! Head to Baker and Wife tonight and enjoy a Cucumber Basil Gimlet with the aforementioned Octopus Soppressata (get there early, this stuff is fresh and has been known to sell out).  

Baker and Wife, 2157 Siesta Dr., Sarasota, 941-960-1765

[Exec Moves]  Neal Signature Homes Hires Ulmer

Neal Signature Homes, a Lakewood Ranch-based luxury homebuilder, recently hired Jeannie Ulmer as a home sales associate at MiraBay, where she will handle all aspects of selling new homes. A Florida native, Ulmer has more than 25 years of experience in the real estate industry, including as a sales consultant, broker, marketing representative and owner and operator of her own real estate office – Ulmer & Associates in Winter Park, Florida. 

Neal Signature Homes

[Opening]  Uncle Maddio's Pizza Heads to Southwest Florida

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, the popular build-your-own fast-casual pizza restaurant, signed a franchisee agreement for three units in the Sarasota area. The first restaurant is expected to open in the Cocoplum Village Shops in North Port in Nov. The franchise agreement is a family affair, and sisters Rise Johnson and Marsan Hewett, along with their husbands Leighton and Terry, have partnered to build the three restaurants. 

Uncle Maddio's Pizza

[Recognition]  Ferguson, Skipper, Gans Named Super Lawyers

James O. Fergeson, Jr., J. Ronald Skipper, and Richard R.  Gans, shareholders in the law firm of Fergeson, Skipper, Shaw, Keyser, Baron & Tirabassi, P.A., have been named to the 2015 list of Florida Super Lawyers. Fergeson specializes in tax law and has been recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer each year since 2008. Skipper and Gans specialize in wills, trusts and estates, and have been recognized as Florida Super Lawyers since 2007. Super Lawyers recognizes attorneys who have attained a high degree of peer recognition, met ethical standards and been recognized for their professional achievements. Only the top five percent of those nominated in more than 70 practice areas are chosen for the list. 

Fergeson Skipper

[Exec Moves]  Hartmann Joins Save Our Seabirds Board

Save Our Seabirds announced the addition of Lisa Hartmann to its Board of Directors. Hartmann has a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Miami with an emphasis on Marine Biology and a Masters of Professional Accounting from Rutgers University. She has been a dolphin and sea lion trainer at the Miami Seaquarium and a Zookeeper in the Marine Mammal Division, as well as a member of the Behavioral Enrichment Department at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. She has worked as an accountant for KPMG in both the United States and England. 

Save Our Seabirds

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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