Arts & Culture » Culture 2 Go



;Avalon Island

; Wipe the word DMAC out of your mouth. Ford Kiene's historic building at South Magnolia Avenue and East Pine Street has a new identity: Avalon Island. Originally known as the Rogers Building, the freshly refurbished two-story eye-catcher is now under the management of Jeff Shonkwiler — the "lord of Avalon" is his preferred title. He's the driving force behind the Florida Artists Registry ( as well as a board member of the Downtown Arts District and other local arts organizations. In other words, Shonkwiler is well-networked with the downtown arts machine. The plans for Avalon are relatively simple in that they mirror Kiene's original vision for his property, before the DMAC detour.


; The first-floor Gallery at Avalon Island will continue to open monthly exhibits with a reception on Third Thursdays (Earth-toned paintings by Jackie Holland Berkley and Terri Burris just went up last week.) Shonkwiler reports that he has almost a year of exhibits booked already.


; The adjoining coffee shop on the first floor will return as Guinevere's in another couple of months, with decisions still to be made about exactly what refreshments will be on the menu.


; The movie theater on the second floor will remain in use, starting with screenings for the third annual OLA FEST (Orlando Latin American Film & Heritage Festival), coming Feb. 14-18 ( Films are just part of the cultural celebration, which also mixes together poetry, music and art.


;; The second floor also will be the new home for Voci Dance (, offering the modern dance troupe a regular space to rehearse, hold classes and stage small performances. Voci's larger productions will be held elsewhere, including the CityArts Factory, just down the block. At the respectably attended Emerging Artists reception Jan. 18 at CityArts Factory, which featured the Thread collective, Voci's executive director, Kelli A. Cummins, and artistic director, Genevieve Bernard, were excited to share plans for their upcoming move as well as Voci's participation at Nude Nite. (8 p.m. Feb. 15-17 at Epic 1, formerly Cruises Only, 1011 E. Colonial Drive; $15, passes available;


;;— Lindy T. Shepherd

;;‘Tuesdays With Morrie'

;; Written by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie is a slip of a play based upon Albom's wildly popular book of the same name. The inspirational best seller (12 million copies sold worldwide) was made into a 1999 movie featuring Jack Lemmon in his final screen performance. The story follows Albom's weekly conversations with his former college professor, Morris Schwartz, who dispensed pithy homilies and sage aphorisms as he lay dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. It is currently being performed by the Orlando Theatre Project, the professional troupe that specializes in small-cast dramas.

;; While I admit to being in the hard-hearted minority that never read the book (I'm not much of a fan of sentimental guides on how to lead a more meaningful life. I prefer my chicken soup in a bowl, and I've always been skeptical about encouraging messages proffered by seagulls), it is difficult not to be moved by Michael Edwards' sympathetic portrayal of Morrie, the wise alter cocker (Yiddish for old man) who struggled to embrace life even as the wasting disease was robbing him inexorably of his bodily functions. Richard Width, who plays Albom, the hard-driving, acquisitive student, serves mainly as a foil for Edwards' tender recriminations.

;; Director Jim Howard has directed his two actors with suitable élan, although a staging faux pas mars the overall effect. For some incomprehensible reason, Howard has placed the immobile Morrie in a downstage corner of the playing area and out of view of most of the audience for a full half-hour of the performance. Since 90 percent of the play's impact depends on Edwards' depiction of Morrie, it might be wise to move him to a more visible spot. It's hard to weep into one's hanky while standing on a chair. (8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 11, at Lowndes Shakespeare Center; $24; 407-491-1397;


;;— Al Krulick


;The KatRita Wood Project


; Chainsaw artistry may be a lesser-known genre, but what Mother Nature wrought in the form of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana a little more than a year ago certainly boosted its profile as well as caused a stockpile of raw material. The nonprofit KatRita Wood Project (, headed by Amy Canada, formerly of New Orleans, organized a group of carvers dedicated to making art and furniture out of the uncountable number of downed trees in their area of the woods. The idea caught on here as well, and the Seminole Cultural Arts Council will feature art works created by Central Florida woodcarvers out of our own detritus at its exclusive, second annual Hearts Gala with music by Michael Andrew and Swingerhead.


;;(Feb. 10 at a private home; Seminole Cultural Arts Council; $125; 407-262-7774;


;— LTS


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