Florida Keys Special 2019 | Art Loft 713 Full Episode

Florida Keys Special 2019 | Art Loft 713 Full Episode


[Narrator] Art Loft is brought to you by, [Announcer] Where there is freedom, there
is expression. The Florida Keys and Key West. [Narrator] The Miami-Dade County Tourist Development
Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Cultural Affairs
Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners, and by the
Friends of South Florida PBS. Hi, I’m Jumaane N’Namdi. And I’m Lolo Reskin, and this is Art Loft. Art Loft curates the best of South Florida’s
diverse art scene through thoughtful storytelling. This is a special episode, highlighting the
Florida Keys. Surrounded by an ocean that is boundless,
the creativity of the makers on these islands is, too. Inspired by the chaos and the calmness of
the waters, five artists are gonna show us what it looks like when where you live influences
what you make. This is Art Loft. [Stephen] If you think you’re close enough,
get closer. [Valerie] I’ve thought that forever, I just
never had anyone put it into words or say it. I thought I was alone. [Jumaane] I saw some of the artists I recognized
from Wynwood. [Matthew] It is kind of haven for them. For those who can’t travel the depths of the
ocean, photographer Stephen Frink is the conduit. But do the same rules apply for photography
on the ocean floor? In his home waters of Key Largo, this artists
shows us that nose to fin is a good starting point. I can’t tell you how many queen angelfish
I’ve photographed over the years, but this is the one that of all of them resonates more,
and I think it is because the fish has personality. My name is Stephen Frink. I’m an underwater photographer from Key Largo,
Florida. I travel the world for underwater photography,
but this is my hometown. I’m also the publisher of Alert Diver Magazine. The fish was just turning into me, and I had
a hundred millimeter macro lens on it, and it was able to lock into focus, and the eye
contact is really good, too. It’s not like I had to chase this animal. I was there, he came to me, we had a moment,
and he was gone. For marine life photography, I think proximity
is one of the most important things, and I think you have to be able to project a benign
presence. You have to approach the animal in a fashion
so they’re not threatened, so that means not moving too fast so that you don’t push a big
force field of water. They have to believe in you, and we also have
to think a little bit about the behavior so that we know that a butterfly fish, for example,
is probably gonna be looking for a little crevice to find little crustaceans in, things
of that nature. If you know a little bit about the fish you
can predict where they may be, and you can place yourself in that position. There is an area where a fish may flee, the
field of flight, so I set everything before I enter the field of flight. So I’ll set the aperture of the shutter speed. I’ll think in my mind’s eye, how is this photo
meant to look? Where should my strobes be? So I try to do all of those things hypothetically
from about six feet away so I’m not inside that field of flight. People, I think, maybe think that I dive all
the time. I don’t, but I dive a lot in chunks of time. I’ll get on an airplane and I’ll go somewhere,
and I’ll dive real heavy for two weeks. I typically pick destinations by what it’s
particularly good for. For example, if I want to shoot great white
sharks, I would either go to Guadalupe, Mexico or South Australia. I think I spent many years looking at the
photography of other people, and looking at the composition and think, how did they do
that? So long as you have a good camera and good
lights, because color doesn’t really exist underwater in the absence of artificial light,
once you have the tools, you can get a serviceable photograph. I think what transcends a serviceable photograph
into art is composition and the eye of the artist. I teach underwater photo seminars, and that’s
probably the hardest thing. And what about color? Awareness that we try to bring to my students
at the outset that no photograph is worth damaging the marine environment. It should be no surprise to anybody that the
oceans of the world are in trouble. There’s just so many things that are affecting
the ocean that a visual communicator can bring to editorial awareness. One of the things that I think is really brilliant
about the whole Florida Keys, particularly the upper Keys, when you have a marine protected
area, the fish trust the divers. They know that we’re not here to spear them. We’re not here to pull them kicking and screaming
out of the water to a dinner plate. I think, in terms of the future of underwater
photography, I think we’re kind of at a threshold, so what’s gonna happen to make underwater
photography better? For as heavy and bulky as these housings are,
if it got smaller, that would be good. I think it’s become far more democratic. One of the reasons that when I opened my studio
here, I did well renting cameras was because nobody had them. In the morning I would rent my camera, and
if nobody rented it, I’d go diving, so that’s kind of how I started here. It’s exciting. If it were not for underwater photography,
I wouldn’t be a diver today, because I’d be bored. But I’m never, ever bored diving, because
even though it’s a, let’s say a French angel, and I’ve shot 12,000 French angelfish in my
life. This one’s different, but they’re still really,
really inspiring things. Want a closer look into this colorful world? Stephen Frink holds his master class each
summer. You can follow his underwater adventures on
Instagram, or make a stop in person to his Key Largo studio located at Mile Marker 101,
Bayside. Small tales and creatures of the heart have
charmed their way to Islamorada. These whimsical cartoons are the conceptual
designs of the artist Seth, who lists Dr. Seuss and Key West’s own Shel Silverstein
as inspiration. I’ve seen people cry in here, not once, not
twice, but many times. My name is Valerie Perreault. I am the owner and studio artist here at Portside
Studio and Gallery in Islamorada. It’s so beautiful to watch. You look at it and it’s like a merry. There’s one that has two creatures, and he’s
sending a love parade from out of his chest into his needy friend’s chest, which to me,
what love is all about. When someone’s low, you give them what you
have from your own heart, refill them. He’s trying to reach something in a person,
and they are being reached. These illustrations that Seth makes, he calls
them conceptual cartoons. One of them is handdrawn pen on paper, that’s
The Creatures of the Heart, and the other one, it’s abstract paintings that he starts
off with, and then he digitizes them and then uses them to collage digitally to create the
final pieces, along with his little pieces of poetry that are on each piece. The current was strong and the tide was great,
but this is what she was made for. I like that Harriet’s just facing off with
the ocean. Specifically, for the Small Tales show, the
pieces need the poetry. They work hand in hand. At everyone’s core, we all have the same feelings
and concerns, and we have the same hearts beating in our chest. We’re all striving and wondering and trying
to make our way in this world, and that’s what he speaks to in his art, is those universal
themes. Specifically, Seth says he wants the art to
be simple enough that a child gets it, but yet complex enough that it reaches an adult. All of the wording that you see on Seth’s
pieces, that’s all his handwriting. The words are by him, the shapes of the letters
are by him, the art is by him, the frames are picked out by him. They’re so whimsical. When I describe him, I say he reminds me a
lot of a Shel Silverstein, Eric Carle kind of mix, and when I told him that, he totally
agreed. He was like, I see that. I think that these are probably influences
of mine, and they’re artists that I really respect. Coincidentally, Shel Silverstein has roots
in Key West, and Eric Carle is a regular visitor of the gallery here at Portside, and he also
has a home here in the Upper Keys. The number one thing that he wants to get
across is that he spent the first 22 years of his life thinking he wasn’t an artist. He didn’t know how to draw formally. He felt like an artist in his heart, but he
thought, what business do I have making art if I’m not classically trained? And so he was doing it as a hobby, and when
he stopped at some point, he stopped trying to be something that he thought other people
wanted and started doing the things that made him fulfilled. The last time I spoke with Art Loft, I was
working and selling out of a tiny little downstairs apartment. I moved over to an actual, real gallery space. The way I have the gallery set up is that
one side is all my own art, and then the other side of the gallery is where I bring in my
featured artist, so every three months I bring in a new featured artist. When we had the grand opening, he was friendly
and accessible. You could also see he was paying attention
to what people were doing. I kept thinking, oh, he’s gonna write this
down. It’s gonna be his next piece. With good writing or with good art, what the
artist does is it makes the familiar new. I really think that that’s what Seth does. You look at it and you’re like, yeah, I feel
that. I’ve thought that forever, I’ve just never
had anyone put it into words or say it. I thought I was alone. Visit Portside Gallery, located at Mile Marker
81.5, Oceanside in Islamorada. Now, the gallery also stays open late for
the Morada Way Art Walk, happening every third Thursday. I’m with Matt Sexton. He is the owner of Otherside Adventure Park
in Keys Cable. I know you have a lot of amazing things happening
here, but you also incorporate art. I would love to say that I’m an artist, but
I was actually a professional athlete when I got into what we’re doing here. I mainly did action sports, so through different
events and traveling around the world, kite surfing, skydiving, wake boarding, I ended
up meeting a lot of really awesome people. You know, artists, street artists. I ended up contacting all these guys that
I had worked with over the last 10 years, and I’m like, man, everyone needs to come
and get together at this spot and see what we can create. So my partners and I started with a wake board
park, and then it turned into a botanical garden, an organic farm, an art installation
place for different guys that were kind of running out of Wynwood at the time ’cause
of what it’s blown up into. I saw some of the artists I recognized from
Wynwood over here, and I was thinking and wondering, does this really allow them another
space, another place to go that’s kind of organic? So, Wynwood was this awesome place of expression
and evolution of different things with street art, and then all of a sudden it was like,
whoa, you can’t just tag that. All these people that used to be able to freely
express themselves there, where do these people go to do the things that they want to do in
the raw, organic, counterculture way that they did? So to have this down here, it is kind of a
haven for them. So, are you the curator as well? Yeah, I’ve actually never even noticed that,
but yeah, I’m the curator here. I bring in different artists, friends of mine,
or people I’ve actually never met that I do like their work and feel like they would be
a great fit for the park. Every year we have an Earth Day festival and
we’ll invite anywhere from four to 12 artists to come by and paint a big piece, and each
piece is in line with human effects on the environment. So, how long will the murals stay up when
artists do them? There’s no end date to any of these walls,
so now we’re actually creating movable walls. So on a eight by 16 foot marinegrade plywood,
we’re having artists paint these and we’re gonna set ’em up all the way around the park,
all the way around the lake to create a huge, halfmile art walk. [Jumaane] Really? [David] Yeah. So, you have a few murals up yourself, right? Yeah, I have two in the building we’re sitting
in right now. One is a flamingo that’s showing its skeleton. I was kind of brainstorming with Matt Sexton
one day and we were like, man, what should we paint on this wall? So many people are gonna see it on US1. How are we gonna make this very unique and
eyecatching and pull people into the park to ask questions, like why is its skeleton
showing? Matt was like, and do you know the story about
plumers back in the early 1900s in the Keys in South Florida? They’d just blast all these flamingos and
take their large plumes for high fashion hats in New York City and other major cities. I was just like, awesome. I’m gonna run with that. I knocked it out in I think three days. I love the turquoise, the glow. It’s almost like it’s speaking to its ancestors. For the Earth Day festival I just finished
a sawfish, which is critically endangered here in South Florida and all over the world,
really. What I ended up doing inside the body of the
sawfish was adding native Florida wildflowers. Mosquito fumigators and things like that all
over the Keys are destroying all these wildflowers. What is this piece about here? This piece is by Ivan Roque, and it’s a clever
little play on waterfront dining. He just added that at the end, and we were
like, whoa, this is awesome. [Jumaane] I love the way everybody puts their
spin on the situation. It’s great, because a lot of these artists,
too, are going back to Miami or Broward, and they’re starting on their new conversations
in their communities, too. Tourism is the big industry here, so you only
got 70,000 people that live in all of the Florida Keys, but we get about five million
visitors a year, so how do you explain it to people where it doesn’t seem random and
you can give it in a story? People who want to know more about you guys, DaveL_Art on Instagram, and OtherSideBoardSports
as well. All those on Instagram. Come on out to Marathon. You guys are, meet these awesome guys and
have a great art experience while you’re saving the world. On this unassuming street lies an art collective
that is anything but traditional. One of the artists in particular at the Stockyard
Studios is making intricate glass designs, and is one of only a handful of artists still
using this handpainted technique. It is a complete original. I will never make this pattern again. I wanted it to look like her hair is just
fluid, washing everywhere. I do each individual pattern. I use velum paper so I can see my drawing
under here. That way, I can see all the striations in
the glass into what I want it to look like. Then I get to cut it out. All I’m gonna do is follow my lines, and you
can see all the scrap. Mosaic artists love that. Now once you have your piece, it doesn’t necessarily
mean that piece of puzzle is gonna exactly fit, so you have a lot of fitting to do, even
after this. See that burr? That’s what I’m doing. I’m just trying to get off what didn’t break
off. And when I get this done, then I copper foil
it. See, that’s gonna be hair. This was this pattern, so, see? She goes in. I started out as being a professional ballerina. Then I messed up my hip really bad, so I was
home maybe a year in retirement, so to speak, and was going nuts, and started working on
stained glass. I’ve taught myself a lot. I started out with bathroom windows, cabinet
doors, transoms, that kind of thing. I did go to class to learn how to do the bigger
pieces. When you’re doing an installation window,
those are different. I knew how to paint, and went to a few classes
to learn how to do the painting on glass. There’s not very many of us that do the hand
painting on the glass, because it’s such a process. It’s very difficult. It’s very time consuming and very costly. You have to have a kiln and you have to have
all kinds of equipment to be able to do that. It takes anywhere from eight to 12 hours for
each firing, and then if you mess up one little thing, you have to start all over again, ’cause
it’s permanent. You can’t just wipe it away like you can on
canvas. Once I started doing that, the churches really
started picking up a lot. I restore church windows. A while back while living in Louisiana, Katrina
hit. A gentleman that lived in Alexandria, Louisiana,
he showed up on my doorstep one day with these two pieces wrapped in sheets. They were covered in mud, and the bulldozer
while cleaning up after Katrina found these two pieces in a ditch about two or three blocks
away. The story was, his greatgrandmother had made
those two windows, so because they were so destroyed, he brought me pictures of what
they looked like, and I put new glass that matched it as best I could and totally gave
him two brandnew windows again. And on this piece, the customer had the back
of the house renovated to have three windows across the back of the house. When the sun goes through the back of her
house, and it comes around, the sun hits a beveled piece, and you see there’s several
in here. The fish, the shells, it throws prisms and
rainbows all over inside the house, and I think she’ll enjoy that aspect of that. It started out as a little drawing with this,
and she chose from three or four different ones. You can see I give the clients different drawings
and what they would look like, and she chose, of course, the mermaid swimming across the
windows, and then I had to draw it to scale. You can see my notes all over it, what goes
where. We have to flip it over, each piece here and
solder the back. Then we have to do the same process again
and flip it back around and then I have to glaze it. Then you have to polish it and clean it, and
it takes me hours to detail one, just because when you put this much into a piece you want
it perfect before it leaves. Located just outside of Key West, the Stockyard
Studios are open to the public during Art Walk, every second Saturday. You can see more of their intricate designs
and meet the artists in person. Jews headed many of the smuggling networks
that emerged. To the migrants whose lives were saved and
families restored, these criminal organizations served a humanitarian purpose. A migrant who followed this route later told
his story under the fictitious name Louis Kurland. We lay in the boat like herring in a barrel,
Kurland said. It was very hot and the heat from our bodies
made it hotter. I am ready to go to Hell if I have to. It cannot be any worse than that day in the
boat. We’re here in Key West with the author Arlo
Haskell. So, tell us a little bit about how you evolved
as a writer. I really came up as a poet, and then about
10 years ago I had started to do a little bit of historical research looking into the
kind of literary histories of writers who had spent time in Key West, and learned that
I kind of loved getting into archives. In addition to being a writer and historian,
I’m the Executive Director of the Key West Literary Seminar. I get to make sure that literary Key West
is not just part of the past. I also run a small press, Sandpaper Press,
and we publish poetry, a little bit of fiction. I’m sort of always working on one book or
another. Your latest book is called The Jews of Key
West, Smugglers, Cigar Makers and Revolutionaries. Jews have thrived in this climate since the
1820s. Even where they have been forgotten or where
anonymity was essential to their survival, Jews have shaped the island we know today. Their history is the history of Key West. I am fascinated by untold histories, and this
book is full of that. My first phase of research was kind of trying
to fact check these family stories like that. One of the things I found surprising and had
no idea about was that Jews were part of the industry of cigars down here. The cigar industry is one of the more popular
components of Key West history, and it’s always told as a Cuban story. You know, it’s certainly a big Cuban story,
but actually, in fact, the cigar industry in Key West was pioneered by Jewish manufacturers,
particularly a guy named Samuel Seidenberg, who capitalized on a tariff structure that
made it financially advantageous to produce cigars domestically in the United States,
rather than on the island of Cuba. So, one of the main characters that features
in your book is named Louis Fine. Louis Fine was a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant,
and he was a real catalyst for the community. He was not an ordained rabbi, but he was the
defacto rabbi for the community. So, we’re here in the Jewish section of the
cemetery at Key West, and this place sort of is one of the beginnings of organized Jewish
life down here. [Arlo] This is the place that brings you the
furthest back in time, as far as a physical place you can visit. [Lolo] And in your research, did you see a
lot of these names popping up? Yeah, absolutely. I would sometimes come here to, as a research
visit, I found that it would help me, thinking about the people I was writing about. So, around the same time as this was established,
was around when the first synagogue was established, right? [Arlo] That’s right, yeah. The cemetery was established in the 1890s,
and then in the first decade of the 1900s, Louis Fine and others purchased a wood frame
building and established the first formal synagogue. There’s a restaurant there today called Sara
Beth’s, and B’Nai Zion is the temple that continues in Key West today on United Street. [Lolo] And that’s the one that opened in the
late 60s. Into this thriving, multicultural, multilingual
community of Key West in the late 19th century comes a very pivotal figure in Cuban history,
Jose Marti, who was the one to kind of successfully crystallize the decadeslong struggle for Cuban
independence. Jews like Louis Fine, they lent their support
the cause. He carried this family legacy of having been,
his family having been persecuted by the Spanish during the Inquisition. What surprised me is how much that story and
others had disappeared, even from oral history, in Key West. Where can people find out more about the Jews
of Key West? There’s a website, JewsofKeyWest.com, and
if you’re interested in this history, and interested in the book, I would say go to
your local book store or your local library and ask for a copy. Thanks so much for joining us for this special
edition of Art Loft in the Florida Keys. To find out more about some of the artists
featured in our pieces, connect with us online at artloftsfl. And from Art Loft and South Florida PBS, hope
you have a great summer. Now remember, art imitates life, so live a
beautiful life. [Narrator] Art Loft is brought to you by, [Announcer] Where there is freedom, there
is expression. The Florida Keys and Key West. [Narrator] The Miami-Dade County Tourist Development
Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Cultural Affairs
Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor, and the Board of County Commissioners, and by
the Friends of South Florida PBS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *