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A BRUSH WITH JAZZ AND BLUES

R.J. Hohimer's passion for jazz caught fire when he was a little boy growing up in Evansville, Ill.

"On the radio, in the evening, about bedtime, they played jazz," he said. "I always enjoyed going to sleep listening to music."

Hohimer, 68, lives in Fort Myers these days, where his colorful art (jazzpainter.com) often takes shape with favorite tunes playing in the space where he creates.

"I listen to music a lot," he said, "really, all sorts of music. I focus my imagery more on jazz and blues. Often, when I would be painting, the two kind of merged together, my love and joy for the music. Hopefully it translates through my arm and out the brush."

Hohimer's depiction of a brilliant sunset, throngs of visitors and the recently renovated Capitol Theatre fills the poster that organizers chose to promote the 35th Clearwater Jazz Holiday. His original acrylic painting will be auctioned during the festival.

'"It seems like a good thing if you can tie some of the local culture or landmarks in a poster," Hohimer said. "It kind of roots it there."

He has sold his works at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and will be in the Tampa Bay area for the four-day Clearwater event, which runs Oct. 16-19.

"The committee is really reaching out to young musicians and bringing great music to your area," he said. "My hat's off to them.

"Music's a wonderful thing, a divine gift."

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