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SRQ DAILY Dec 18, 2019

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

"I was inspired to share a perspective that will help others become more prosperous and feel more joyful."

- Mitchell Epstein, author of Mr. Lucky

[Movies]  Heather Graham Visits Ringling College of Art and Design, Weighs in On Sexism in Hollywood, Cult Movies, and More
John Witte, john.witte@srqme.com

Like Marilyn Monroe before her, flaxen-haired movie icon Heather Graham has received a lot of recognition for her on-screen look. But, just like Norma Jean, the sharpest tools in Graham’s toolkit are her impeccable comic timing and penchant for aesthetic experimentation. Well known for her turn as a Bond girl parody in the oft-quoted Austin Powers series, Graham spent the 1990s racking up an impressive list of cinematic accomplishments, working outside of the Hollywood mainstream with iconic independent filmmakers like Gus Van Sant, Paul Thomas Anderson, and David Lynch. Her characters often balance a sense of comic naivete and uncanny intensity that’s made her a favorite in numerous cult movies and big budget blockbusters.

In yet another boon for the Ringling College of Art and Design’s numerous film and production focused academic programs, Graham visited Sarasota on Tuesday for an “Inside the Industry” presentation and Q&A sessions.

She had good things to say about the town and its treasures. “You guys have great beaches,” she told SRQ with some relish. 

But Graham is here for more than just rest and relaxation. Meeting with students, instructors, and donors associated with the college, Graham made the rounds at the Ringling facilities, and took some time out to answer questions from the media.

“I’m a huge fan of cult movies, so I would love to be called a cult actor. I think it’s admirable to find the comedy in dark situations," She told SRQ.

She weighed in on a variety of topics, from franchise movies (she doesn’t like ‘em), Hollywood roles written for women (there’s not enough of ‘em), and sexism in the movie industry (it exists). She’s also excited for her newest project, playing Rita Blackmoor in CBS’s upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s epic-length psychedelic classic, The Stand. Often playing lamb-in-the-woods characters, Rita Blackmoor’s cynical middle-aged socialite is something of a departure for Graham.

“It’s a lot of fun getting to play different characters. There’s an obvious way you could play her, but I hope the character is more complicated than that, and there are things about her that are dark and things about her that are sympathetic. I hope."

Graham, one of the first actresses to come forward in the movement that came to be known as #MeToo, is no stranger to the specific challenges that women face in show business. The conversation inevitably moved towards her own experiences with sexism, and Graham addressed a stark reality.

“It’s so hard to get work as an actress, and when you do get to a place where you have a successful career, you’re still mostly just taking the jobs that you’re offered. I think I’m a feminist, but you’re not always getting those jobs of the strong female character.” 

Photo by Wyatt Kostygan

[Education]  Local Author Donates 100% of First Book Proceeds to Educational Charities
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

A retired entrepreneur and avid philanthropist, Mitchell Epstein decided to release his first published book, Mr. Lucky: My Unexpected Journey to Success, with 100% of its proceeds given to local charities. By donating the sales of his book, he hopes to support scholarships for less fortunate children and families in the community by choosing educational beneficiaries: Forty Carrots Family Center, Children First, V Foundation - Pediatric Cancer, New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art & Design and Delta Sigma Pi - Business fraternity. 

While mentoring two local men, young and homeless at the time, Epstein became inspired to write about his life’s stories and challenges through the perspective of  the fictional “Mr. Lucky." His viewpoint–presented in an entertaining and easy-to-read formatenabled him to take what a former associate called “the stupidest idea” ever, and ultimately build the foundation for a business that was so successful, it allowed him to retire at age  47. 

“How would you describe losing your house to a fire? Being held up at gunpoint? Falling off the roof face-first? You probably wouldn’t choose the word lucky, but I did!" shares Epstein. "I was inspired to share a perspective that will help others become more prosperous and feel more joyful." Whether just starting a career, launching a business or simply seeking greater satisfactions in everyday life, the Sarasotan author hopes his book will inspire young readers and prospective scholars during this holiday season, and beyond.

"Trying to make sense of failure, loss, love and the unexpected paths that open to us, is a worthy and honorable endeavor, one that Mitchell has undertaken to serve those less fortunate," says Rosanne Cash, multiple Grammy Award winning musician and author in a review.   

Pictured: Mitchell Epstein with Jeron Thomas, one of the young men who inspired him to write Mr. Lucky: My Unexpected Journey to Success.

The book is available now on Amazon and will be in local bookstores soon.

[The Community Foundation of Sarasota County]  Building the Community We All Want To Live In

Each of us identifies through our interests, experiences, and relationships. With a strong sense of belonging, we are inspired to create new things

Recently, the Van Wezel Foundation has embarked upon an outreach campaign for its community engagement program focusing on a future Sarasota Performing Arts Center, engaging in community-wide discussions to learn how the future center can be a beacon of arts programming for generations to come. Recognizing the importance of listening to diverse voices within our community, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has enhanced the campaign through a $50,000 grant.

Belonging and Culture is about building the community we all want to live in by ensuring every one of us feels like we can belong and thrive. This goes hand-in-hand with supporting organizations and programs that: strengthen families, bridge generations, unite the community, support cultural development and the arts, and build support and capacity for our nonprofit partners.

Learn more at www.CFSarasota.org/belonging-and-culture

Click here for more information

[Safe Children Coalition]  A Spotlight on Foster Parents

James and Kristi have been licensed as foster parents in Manatee County since December of 2017.  Together, the couple and their four biological children:  Jordan (16), Tyler (14), Alex (11), and Mason (8M) have opened their hearts and home and provided safe, loving care for three children brought into foster care due to abuse and neglect in our local community.  In the nearly three years that they have served as foster parents, and have distinguished themselves by truly embracing their role as partners with each child’s biological family members and healers of the family unit.  James and Kristi expressed that they best thing about being a foster parent, It is a blessing and an honor to create a safe and loving environment for children placed with us as well as be a support system and encouragement to their family as they walk through the foster care system.  Our goal is to make genuine connections with the families and help build healthy relationships between the families and their children for a successful reunification.”  In addition to working in cooperation with each child’s professional team and attending numerous staffings and court hearings, the couple have worked directly with parents and relatives to support these important relationships and enhance each child’s chance of safely returning to their families of origin.  Furthermore to making a positive difference in their own foster children’s lives, the couple also serve as mentors to other local foster parents, providing support and guidance on what can at times be a difficult journey for substitute caregivers. Thank you James, Kristi, Jordan, Tyler, Alex, and Mason for your dedication and service to the children and families in our community!  

Safe Children Coalition

[Philanthropy]  Suncoast Connector will Encourage Economic Growth & Development, Revitalize Rural Communities

Ahead of the third Suncoast Connector task force meeting, which will be held today, in Perry, Florida, local and statewide voices came together in support of the proposed corridor. The Suncoast Connector, which extends from Citrus County to Jefferson County, is one of the three corridors being studied as part of the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program.

The M-CORES program, as detailed on the Florida M-CORES website, “is intended to revitalize rural communities, encourage job creation and provide regional connectivity while leveraging technology, enhancing the quality of life and public safety, and protecting the environment and natural resources. The program was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on May 17, 2019.”

In addition to the Suncoast Connector, the other two regional corridors being studied are the Southwest-Central Florida Connector and the Northern Turnpike Connector.  According to the Florida M-CORES website, “the task force will summarize the results of its analysis in a final report by October 1, 2020.”   

[Business]  Sarasota Bradenton International Announces Newly Elected Board Officers

 At its November 25, 2019 Regular Board Meeting, the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority unanimously elected Commissioner Kristin Incrocci as Chairman for 2020.   Chairman Incrocci served previously as Vice Chairman in 2019.  She was appointed to the board in March of 2017 to Manatee County – Seat 1 and reappointed in January of 2019 by Governor Rick Scott. Chairman Incrocci stated, “I appreciate the opportunity to serve as the next Chairman of the Airport Authority and look forward to continuing the significant air service growth and developmental improvements we have achieved this past year at SRQ.”   
Completing the officers for the Airport Authority board will be John Stafford as Vice Chairman, and Doug Holder as Secretary. 

[Staff Change]  Premier Sotheby's International Realty Welcomes New Associates to Its Sarasota Area Office Locations

Premier Sotheby’s International Realty has announced that the following associates have affiliated with the company’s Sarasota area office locations: 

  • Brian Chapman, Lakewood Ranch
  • Paul Hendricks, St. Armand’s, Sarasota
  • Liz Newgard, The Plaza, Sarasota
  • Alexis Reback, St. Armand’s, Sarasota

“We are very happy to welcome these new associates to Premier Sotheby’s International Realty,” said Judy Green, chief executive officer. “Their real estate industry experience, deep knowledge of the Sarasota region and commitment to excellent customer service lead to making clients for life. We are so pleased to work with these talented associates.”

[Education]  Winter Reading Challenge Returns with New Goal in January

Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources will accept the Winter Reading Challenge, a national reading competition, for the third year starting in January.  Penguin Random House's U.S. children's publishing divisions, Random House Children's Books and Penguin Young Readers will sponsor the third annual Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge in support of public libraries and school systems throughout the United States. If the participating libraries reach this goal, the 2020 Winter Reading sponsors pledge to donate $50,000 in prizes, including author visits and new books, to be shared among the winners.  

[SOON]  GALLERY: The Peter Max Retrospective: Celebrating the Pop Art Movement, Music and Artistic Vision , December 16 – December 26

A Retrospective collection, with a significant nod to music, the arts and the legacy of the Pop Art genre from the studio of artist legend, Peter Max, will be on exhibition and available for acquisition in a limited engagement presentation at Chasen Galleries, Sarasota’s premier pop art gallery. The exhibition opens with an evening preview event on Thursday, January 16, 2020 from 5-8 pm. The Exhibition extends through Sunday, January 26. Two limited engagement, not-to-be-missed Gallery receptions for the public will take place on Saturday, January 25 from 6 to 8 pm and Sunday, January 26 from 1 to 3 pm. All receptions complimentary and open to the public with RSVPs suggested; 866-900-6699.

Chasen Galleries, 1830 S Osprey Ave suite 102, Sarasota, FL 34239

[SOON]  MUSIC: The Perlman Music Program Sarasota Winter Residency and Celebration Concert , December 21 – January 4, 5pm

Each season, The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast hosts The Perlman Music Program (PMP) Sarasota Winter Residency. Founded by Toby Perlman, and with a world-renowned faculty led by her husband, internationally acclaimed violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman, PMP augments its seven-week summer school program in Shelter Island each December with a 17-day winter residency, December 21, 2019 - January 4, 2020, in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The residency provides valuable mentoring and performance opportunities for approximately 35 young international string musicians, ages 12-20+, and offers 20+ free and low-cost musical events on the campus of USF Sarasota-Manatee. Each year, the winter residency culminates with the Celebration Concert, January 4, 2020, with Itzhak Perlman conducting the PMP String Orchestra and Patrick Romano leading the PMP Chorus at the Sarasota Opera House.

USF Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota 34243

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Manuel Álvarez Bravo: Specters and Parables , December 8 – March 1

Born and raised in Mexico City, where he spent most of his career, Manuel Álvarez Bravo (Mexican, 1902-2002) was one of the most important figures in 20th century Latin American photography. Although he took art classes at the Academy of San Carlos, his photography was mostly self-taught, but he was savvy to the emerging international artistic avant-garde. Considered to be one of the founders of modern photography, his work extends from the late 1920s to the 1900s. He was a key figure from the period following the Mexican Revolution—often called the Mexican Renaissance—in which arts and literature flourished. This “Renaissance” owed to the happy—though not always tranquil—marriage between a desire for modernization and the search for an authentic national identity with Mexican roots, in which archaeology, history and ethnology played an important role. Support for this exhibition has been provided, in part, by the Ringling Endowment at the Florida State University Foundation. Paid for in part by Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues. 

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Lights In Bloom , December 14 – January 4, 6pm-9pm

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens lights up the holiday season with Lights In Bloom. Over two million lights will illuminate the gardens and walkways will be transformed into sensory light tunnels. Visitors will have the opportunity to stroll through magical gardens filled with beautifully lit flowers, radiant rainforest butterflies, dragonflies and more. The tropical holiday paradise includes nightly visits from Santa (before Christmas Eve), children’s arts and crafts activities and games and special entertainment. Grilled foods will be available for purchase from the Michael’s on East grill including a cash bar. The Selby House Cafe will also be open with its full menu. In its 16th year, Lights In Bloom has become a tradition for residents and visitors to celebrate the holiday season in Sarasota.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  MUSIC: The Perlman Music Program Suncoast Super Strings , December 28, 7pm

The Perlman Music Program Suncoast Super Strings is presented as part of a public orchestra rehearsal during the PMP Sarasota Winter Residency. Super Strings promotes the interaction of local young musicians with international students of The Perlman Music Program and world-class faculty. Forty-five string players from across the state of Florida join the PMP String Orchestra on stage, for a special one-time PMP Sarasota Winter Residency event, to perform the 1st Movement of Felix Mendelssohn's String Sinfonia No. 2 in D Major, under the baton of Itzhak Perlman. Tickets $10 at Perlmanmusicprogramsuncoast.org

USF Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34243

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: 9th Annual New Year's Eve Bayfront Fireworks , December 31 – January 1, 12am

Ring in the New Year at the Sarasota Bayfront Midnight Fireworks Spectacular! See one of the best fireworks displays Southwest Florida has to offer. Make your reservations now by calling Marina Jack at (941) 365-4232. Proceeds benefit Suncoast Charities for Children.

Bayfront Park, 5 Bayfront Dr, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  GALA: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens New Year's Eve Gala , December 31 – January 1, 8pm-1am

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is proud to present Sarasota’s most sophisticated and diversely entertaining New Years Eve experience; a black-tie event featuring a private journey through tropical holiday light displays, passed hors d’oeuvres, a seated four course dinner, special performances by The Sarasota Ballet Studio Company and Trainees from the Margaret Barbieri Conservatory and dancing at Michael’s on the Bay. The countdown to the New Year culminates with a champagne toast and a perfect view of fireworks overlooking Sarasota Bay.  Celebrate the New Year in style.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  SEMINAR: SWAC Lecture: Jamal Abdi , January 14, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Join the Sarasota World Affairs Council for the next program in its 2019-20 Lecture Series, “The Politics of Hate Have Driven the U.S. and Iran to the Brink,” featuring Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council. Mr. Abdi will describe the background and mission of the Iranian-American Council, as well as provide an update on the current Iranian-American relationship and international efforts to establish prospects for peace in the region. Each SWAC lecture is followed by a members-only reception with the speaker in a historic building on Sarasota Bay. The lecture is free, but reservations are suggested.

Mildred Sainer Pavilion, 5313 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning (SILL) , January 7 – March 26, 10:30 am

Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning (SILL) is preparing for its 49th year of extremely popular global issues lectures and musical conversations. In 2020, these programs will begin in January and continue through the end of March. Speakers of global issues lectures are well-known, highly experienced experts, and guests on musical conversations are internationally renowned musicians, singers, and performers. SILL is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization. In its 49th season, its programs will include 96 lectures and musical conversations presented in Sarasota, Venice, and Lakewood Ranch. SILL audiences mostly consist of highly educated and intellectually curious seniors living on the Suncoast year-round or during winter months. SILL also simulcasts some of its lectures to selected senior communities. Last year, attendance at SILL events exceeded 40,000. Single tickets to SILL events are only $10 at the door when available, and a season ticket for 12 same-day lectures cost just $85, which represents substantial savings. For program schedules, venues, speaker bios, and ordering season tickets visit sillsarasota.org

First United Methodist Church, 104 S. Pineapple Ave.

[SOON]  THEATER: Gruesome Playground Injuries , December 31 – January 4, 7:30pm and 8pm
Doug and Kayleen met at age eight in the nurse’s office at their parochial school. Over the course of 30 years, the two build a complex connection over a lifetime of injuries, both physical and emotional. Doug is a daredevil jock with a bit of a death wish; Kayleen struggles with her own internal demons. Moving back and forth in time, the play follows the difficult path of friendship, love and adulthood. Truly a different type of love story, this dark comedy will leave you smarting from its sharp humor and sharper insights.

Cook Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

[SOON]  THEATER: FSU/Asolo Conservatory and the Hermitage to Host Mime Workshop with Bill Bowers , December 21, 11am-12pm

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the FSU/Asolo Conservatory are teaming up to present an open class with renowned mime artist Bill Bowers. The class will take place Saturday, December 21, from 11 AM – 12 PM, in the Jane B. Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for Performing Arts. The workshop is free to attend but reservations must be made through the Asolo Repertory Theatre Box Office. Bill Bowers will spend a week working closely with FSU/Asolo Conservatory students, who will assist him in this hour-long workshop in the Cook Theatre. Bowers will demonstrate basic pantomime technique and perform selections from his solo plays. The students, who have been studying with Bowers, will share work from their week-long residency with him.

Jane B. Cook Theatre, FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

[SOON]  THEATER: The Sound of Music , November 13 – December 28, 7:30pm and 8pm evening performances and 1:30 and 2pm matinees

Like a breath of fresh Alpine air, this beloved musical masterpiece sweeps onto the Asolo Rep stage just in time for the holidays. Maria, a young nun causing trouble at the abbey, is sent off to be governess to Captain Von Trapp’s seven troublesome children. She brings much-needed love and joy to the family – and the widowed captain – and transforms their world and hers through the power of music. But the looming threat of Nazi Germany’s invasion of their native Austria darkens their future. Overflowing with some of the most iconic songs of all time, this heart warming family musical will be helmed by Josh Rhodes, returning on the heels of his spectacular production of Evita in 2017.

FSU Performing Arts Center, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Syd Solomon: Concealed and Revealed , December 15 – April 26

Concealed and Revealed offers a unique selection of paintings by the artist, along with numerous objects from the Solomon Archive on view for the first time. Syd Solomon (American, 1917-2004) described himself as an “Abstract Impressionist” alluding to the fact that his work infused impressionism into the processes, scale and concepts of Abstract Expressionism. Solomon moved to Sarasota in 1946 with his wife Annie. His was the first work of contemporary art to be collected by The Ringling in 1962. His paintings were greatly influenced by climatic factors and reveal a fascination and concern for Florida’s aquatic environment. Solomon incorporated his experience as a camouflage designer during World War II into his painting. It is not well-known that he was also an accomplished graphic artist, who in his early years designed commercial signage for prominent hotels and businesses in Sarasota. Like his work in camouflage, Solomon’s calligraphic skill was essential to the development of his later gestural abstraction.

Syd Solomon: Concealed and Revealed is presented in partnership with the Estate of Syd Solomon and is accompanied by a 96-page publication with essays by former curator at The Ringling Michael Auping, George S. Bolge, Dr. Gail Levin, and Mike Solomon. The exhibition will include artworks from private collections and The Ringling’s permanent collection.

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota

[SOON]  FILM: Sun Xun: Time Spy , August 11 – February 16

A mesmerizing 3D animated film by Chinese painter and draughtsman, Sun Xun incorporates traditional techniques including ink painting, charcoal drawing and woodblock printing. He uses analog and digital technologies to explore pressing concerns of the time.

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

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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.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. 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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