Architect, poet highlight Morean events
Over three evenings, patrons of the Morean Arts Center delighted in several events that featured a recent collaboration between Tampa architect Albert Alfonso, who designed the Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg, and poet Edward Mayes.
The two met in Cortona, in Italy's Tuscany region, where they are neighbors; their homes sit on the same hillside. Mayes is married to Frances Mayes, author of the popular memoirs Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany and Every Day in Tuscany; she was muse and critic for the poem-a-day/painting-a-day project between the architect/artist and poet/scholar, as she calls them.
The work began nearly a year ago. As Alfonso writes in the catalog for the exhibition, on view through Dec. 31 at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg: "In the early morning hours, (Edward's) words would arrive and after meditative contemplation, a painting would be birthed. The partnered poems & paintings would then receive critique by our provocateur, the writer Frances Mayes. And so, a body of work grew and continues. The process feeds off of shared memories, trust and mutual respect as artists."
Says Frances Mayes: "The collaboration was like watching a brush fire started by children."
The arts center called the three-day celebration a "Tuscan Festival of the Arts." On Thursday, Dec. 2, introduced by Morean executive director Katee Tully, Alfonso and the Mayeses talked about friendship, fate and the genesis of their project. The Mayses read from their works, Alfonso gave a visual presentation of some of the paintings, and Al Hurley played music he composed for the exhibition. That event, including a question-and-answer session, took place at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.
The next evening, Old Southeast residents Coda Roberson and Jack Hadad opened their home to more than 100 patrons who were able to visit with the creative team; and still more guests attended the exhibition's opening night at the Morean on Saturday, Dec. 4.
For nearly half a century, St. Petersburg's Christmas Belles have blended good cheer and generosity in an event that gathers dozens of women dressed in holiday finery and many sleighs filled with gifts for beneficiaries of the Christmas Toy Shop.
More than 250 guests attended this year's party, held in the home of Dr. Elizabeth Crist Hyden, who greeted everyone and thanked them for their attendance.
Even as busy as the jolly old elf is during the holiday season, Santa usually drops by to visit with the Belles to make sure that their packages go straight to the toy shop. There was much murmuring among the group that Dr. Hyden's brother, Gov. Charlie Crist, also might make an appearance. He was not able to be there, but blue-eyed Santa, tall and fit, looked as though he might be related to neighbor Tom Strickland.
Belles who organized the annual coffee include Mary Wyatt Allen, Marion Ballard, Lennie Bennett, Lynn Cox, Elizabeth Curry, Tina Douglass, Dawn Fisher, Ashley Gairing, Kally Harvard, Rosemary Hempel, Susan Hicks, Judy Holland, Shannon Knowlton, Anne Long, Laurie Lowe, Evelyn Moorefield, Glenn Mosby, Lynell Owen, Carol Piper, Nancy Rutland, Iris Salzer, Bethy Shamas, Judy Stanton and Patsy Wheeler.
The ballroom in the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront glimmered in silver, blue and white at the Junior League of St. Petersburg's Partnership Ball, a cooperative effort that benefits both the league's community projects and this year, Vincent House.
"Winter Wonderland — A Wish of Hope Under a Starry Night" was the theme, and league president Laurie Lee and Vincent House executive director Elliott Steele had messages of expectation. The league, in case you don't know, is a volunteer organization that identifies needs and works to serve them; Vincent House, in Pinellas Park, works with persons who have mental illness who are trying to improve social and vocational skills.
The event committee included chairwoman Kristin Connell, chairwoman-elect Stephanie Sikes, Jenna Worden-Brooks, Judy Cunniff, Katie Hatcher, Mollie Holden, Jessica Lowe, Denise Oglesby, Elise Schreiner and Nikki Soda, with help from Donna Mainguth, Tirrah Switzer, Anne Vickstrom, Tiffany Webb, Gigi Fleming, Mary Ann Will, Maria Rawls, Kally Harvard, Maria Chapman and Marianne Monoc.