Sunday, October 19, 2008


This weekend was the fall's first without a football game (which is a big deal here in UF town) so it was jam-packed with events.

My dad came to visit so after dinner, we went to the Downtown Community Plaza for a free outdoor concert of a local Irish band. I love traditional Irish music but was a bit disappointed to see no fiddle! It was fun to watch all the little babies dancing around. People-watching in general at these weekly summer concerts is usually what draws me in the first place.

Then we walked over to Volta, a newish coffee shop that opened downtown. I'm not a big coffee drinker so I was excited to see all the different varieties of tea and hot chocolate available. I ended up with a jamaica agua fresca. I've only had a horchata agua fresca (basically rice milk with cinnamon) so I don't know how "authentic" it was, but it sure was tasty! Jamaica is made from the hibiscus flower and it's extremely tart. It reminded me of pomegranate juice but with a sweeter aftertaste. I'll definitely be going back to try their different agua frescas of the day and also their white hot chocolate which has this description: "a white drinking chocolate that impresses everyone. Lemon myrtle, indigenous to Australia, imparts flavors reminiscent of lemongrass and kaffir lime. Lavender flower yields a floral bouquet while the citrus notes of lemon myrtle cut the sweetness of white chocolate."

The next morning we walked over to the Friends of the Library Book Fair. It only occurs twice a year for five days each and somehow I end up going every one of those five days and buying new books each time. I can't really complain about the money since I bought seven books yesterday for $4.00. It's the best deal in town and possibly the most popular outside of Gator sports and the art festivals.

Then we headed over to The Kanapaha Botanical Gardens for their Annual Fall Plant Sale. I had never been but this year admission was free. I rent in a house I don't plan on staying in for long, so I only bought an African Violet for my kitchen window, but the gardens were beaaauutiful! I was impressed by how large the grounds are and the diversity of the plants. I also liked how almost all the plants you saw had labels with the common and scientific names and sometimes even descriptions and historical information about the plant. There was a scenic overlook onto Kanapaha Prairie, which I had heard about plenty of times but had never seen it. My parents love gardening and collecting plants so I've grown up going to plenty of gardens and have to say that Kanapaha definitely ranks up there with the best of them. The next plant-loving visitor who comes to stay with me will be getting a trip here!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Liquid Muse

Yesterday coming back from the library, I stopped in at The Thomas Center because its gallery is currently showing "Liquid Muse". The show is put together by a professor at the local community college and focuses on the The St. John's River. All of the works of art showcased focus on either the eocsystem or cultural importance that the river has on this region. I really enjoy art on the natural areas of Florida and recognized some of my favorite local artists.

One of them is Margaret Ross Tolbert. She mainly creates abstract paintings of the springs that are so prominent in the North-Central Florida landscape. She came to speak to one of my classes at UF a few years ago and I saw her show at The Harn.

I think this image is from the showing at The Harn, but if not, it was very similar to this one. The intention is to recreate being in a spring, as the paintings surround you on multiple sides.

This is one of her paintings of a spring. The blue in the middle is the spring and you can see the trunk of a cypress tree with some knees up at the top. I love how she uses color. The variety of the the colors you see in the pools of water astounds me every time I visit one. I also think she has the best job ever. She gets to go to springs all over the state and paint all day and then swim when she's done, or really probably she gets to swim any darn time she feels like it. I know I would.

I hadn't heard of Jim Draper before my visit to the gallery, but he was also one of my favorites of the show. I'm not sure if this is the exact painting that was there but if not, it was very similar.

There were plenty of other paintings that were amazing and I definitely recommend this show to anyone who is interested in Florida nature or even just looking for some good art.

When I walked in the room I was surprised to see a sign with instructions on how to use your cell phone as a tour guide. When I called the number listed, there was a recorded introduction on the history behind the topic and then I could dial a different number for each painting to hear about the subject and also the author. I thought this was genius because normally I go to art shows and my opinion is based solely on my aesthetics. This time the viewer can hear about the meaning behind the paintings and understand how they all fit together. However the person whose voice was recorded for this was a bit monotone and I found myself not wanting to stand there listening to the artists's entire biography. I closed my cell phone after the first couple of recordings and wandered around with my own thoughts instead.

Unfortunately the exhibit only lasts until October 19th, so get there while you can!