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Black Communities Through a Camera Lens, Louis Armstrong and More Dance: Culture Worth the Miles

| September 8, 2011

Ellie Lee Weems's photographs at both the Crealde School's main campus and the Hannibal Square Heritage Center.

A Photographic View of Three African-American Communities

I seldom use the word “important” when it comes to an art exhibit, but when one of Florida’s finest photography curators decides to take on the subject of 3 African-American communities in Florida prior to desegregation and the Civil Rights Era – this exhibit is IMPORTANT.  Picturing a time of strict segregation, the exhibit Mid-Century: A Photographic View of Three African-American Communities will be held at both the Crealde School’s main campus and the Hannibal Square Heritage Center. 


It will open on September 9 and run through December 30, and will include Ellie Lee Weems’ images of Jacksonville’s LaVilla community – called the Harlem of the South; Gordon Parks’ photographs of Daytona Beach’s Midway neighborhood; and family photographs of Winter Park’s Hannibal Square community selected from The Heritage Center’s permanent collection. Mid-Century is curated by Crealdé Director and photographer Peter Schreyer and opens on September 9, with a panel discussion from 6 to 7 pm at Crealde, after which the reception moves to the Hannibal Square Heritage Center from 8:30 to 10 pm for a live jazz performance by the Chuck Archard Trio, featuring music from the 1940s and ‘50s.  For information, call the Crealdé School of Art at 407.671.1886 or 407.539.2680 or visit

Satchmo at the Waldorf – the World Premiere

Bringing us the ‘real’ Louis Armstrong, the drama Satchmo at the Waldorf will have its World Premiere at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre opening on September 15Dennis Neal stars in this one-man theatrical tourdeforce about the most famous jazzman of all time. Neal will portray BOTH Armstrong and Joe Glaser, the trumpeter’s controversial manager as their actual words present the complex relationship between the genius from New Orleans and the tough-talking ex-gangster who made him an international icon. Opening September 15 and running through October 2, Satchmo is created by playwright Terry Teachout, drama critic of The Wall Street Journal; director Rus Blackwell; and Dennis Neal, a familiar face in film and television who brings his special insights to BOTH roles. Teachout’s biography, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the ten best books of 2009; Satchmo at the Waldorf is his first play. Teachout had unique access to tapes made by the trumpeter, containing candid recordings of his private conversations. These tapes served as the inspiration for much of the dialogue in Satchmo at the Waldorf, in which the offstage Louis Armstrong is revealed. Stachmo at the Waldorf will be performed at the Shakespeare Center at 812 East Rollins Street in Orlando. Call 407-405-8091.

Third Thursday’s Art Exhibits Part I

There are always good reasons to attend the series of Gallery Openings that take place in Downtown Orlando on the 3rd Thursday of each month, but THIS month offers two shows at two different galleries, which offer works from many of Florida’s finest Artists.

Click on the image for larger view.

On September 15, the Gallery at Avalon Island presents Dresses: Objects of Art in a reception from 6 to 9 pm.  Running through October 14, the featured Artists include: Dina Mack, Donna Dowless, Henry Sinn, Meridith Olinger, Robin Maria Pedrero, J.Virgil Rice, Gena Semenov, Cindy A. Anderson, Martha Lent, and Lynn Whipple. The exhibit, produced by Donna Dowless, features painting, sculpture, fabric, mixed media and folk art created in celebration of women and their choices, their feelings, their statements as women. The Gallery at Avalon Island is at the corner of Pine and Magnolia Avenues in downtown Orlando. Call 407-312-0708.

Third Thursday’s Art Exhibits Part II

Also opening on September 15 is another group show – this one curated by Artist Chad Pollpeter – called Twelve. Pollpeter, working in his hauntingly expressionist-surrealist mode, has put together a group of Twelve talented artists at The City Arts Factory at 29 South Orange Avenue. The Artists – Emily Coleman, Brian Dinsmore, Holly Earheart, Mike Marras, Dave McLeish, Cameron Moore, Loaf Ninja, Steve Parker, John Pierro, Chad Pollpeter, Michael Sanborn, and Aaron Vaaler represent a wide range of media, styles, and subject matter, but with Pollpeter’s fascination with symbols and emotional triggers, each of the works promises to give us a visual to “build up, support, break down or possibly even change our views or values.”  Twelve will be exhibited at the City Arts Factory through October 15.  Call 407.648.7060

YES — They CAN Dance!!!

As we watched them split, turn, jete, and lift each other on TV, the ‘Top 10 Dancers’ from the hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance have introduced us to new choreography and new styles of dance through their hard work over the past several months. Now those Top 10 Dancers are set to visit Orlando as their first stop on a national tour that brings their amazing ‘moves’ to the Amway Center on September 17. The group is the strongest troupe of dancers in the show’s history! The level of talent is so high that the dancers would often forget they were competing against each other as they created breath-taking moves that were both artistic and acrobatic. Now the competition is over, and they can perform together as the super-talented group we’ve come to know. The performance at the Amway will include several of the favorite pieces of choreography from the TV competition along with some surprises thrown in. If there’s some choreography you don’t care for, most of the pieces are short, and there will be something spectacular coming up within minutes. For tickets visit or call 800-745-3000.

And not to be missed …

No one handles the combination of music and satirical comedy better than the wacky crew at the Winter Park Playhouse, making their current musical – The MUSICAL OF MUSICALS a not-to-be-missed performance.  Running through September 17, The Musical! takes satirical shots at the ‘styles’ of famous composers with a wildly talented cast who are graced with great voices AND a gift for funny. Call 407-645-0145 or visit

Tony Robbin: A Retrospective at the Orlando Museum of Art (running through October 30) is the ‘real-deal’ in computer-generated Art. Including four-dimensional objects on canvas, brilliant water color prints, and a sculpture, the works are complex (but oh-so-pleasing) layers of geometric forms. Call 407 896 4231 or visit

'Street Scene' by Gordon Parks, part of the exhibit, 'Mid-Century: A Photographic View of Three African-American Communities.' Click on the image for larger view.

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