Charlotte County Jazz Society awards five scholarships

The Charlotte County Jazz Society was pleased to award scholarships in the amount of $11,500 to five graduating seniors from three local high schools in 2022.

Shown left to right, with their high schools and college choices are:

  • Hunter Fisher, Charlotte High School – accepted at Florida State University
  • Nichlas Nease, Port Charlotte High School – accepted at Duke University
  • Julia Sloane, Port Charlotte High School – accepted at Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Xavier Gauthier, Port Charlotte High School – accepted at Florida State University
  • Matthew Grannan, Lemon Bay High School – accepted at Florida State University

Presenting the awards was Ennis Bisbano, Scholarship Committee Chairman

Congratulations to these students and their families.  We wish them the very best as they pursue higher education in their chosen fields.

Charlotte County Concert Band’s 2021 high school scholarship winners

The Charlotte County Concert Band proudly announces the 2021 high school scholarship winners. Even though the pandemic kept the band from performing, our scholarship committee, headed by Bev MacMahon, was able to choose winners. This year’s recipients are Anne Marie Arthington from Charlotte High School and Baoshi Caren from Lemon Bay High School. Port Charlotte High School had no applicants this year. Students who apply must be actively involved in their high school bands and be quality students.


Sea Grape Gallery announces 2021 art scholarship winner

Sea Grape Gallery is pleased to announce Anabel Dent as our 2021 scholarship winner.  Anabel is a 2021 graduate of Lemon Bay High School and has lived in Florida since she started her freshman year, having moved from Albrightsville, Pennsylvania.  Anabel has been drawing and painting ever since a young age.  Currently, she focuses both on 2-dimensional art and 3-dimensional sculpture pieces.  As Anabel states, “I focus a majority of my work on the journey of outer-body experiences, representing the external and internal feelings of these experiences”.  Many of her 3-D creations are designed around her passions for the environment.  Anabel has spent time looking into her cultural identities and seeing how she can explore the representations of her experiences being of Filipino and Romanian descent.  Anabel plans to attend the University of Florida in the fall, double majoring in Art and Business.
Sea Grape Gallery is proud to display several of Anabel’s art, both 2-D and 3-D, at the Gallery starting June 5 through the entire month of June. Please stop by the Gallery to view the beautiful artwork created by this talented artist.
In addition, Sea Grape Gallery will be hosting a reception for this wonderful young artist on June 17 from 5:00 to 6:30 at the Gallery.  The public is invited to come meet this creative young artist and enjoy her art. Sea Grape Gallery is located at 113 W. Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda and can be reached at 941-575-1718.  The Gallery’s summer hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Anabel’s art and the artwork of all Sea Grape Gallery artists can be viewed at

Peace River Painters

A Personal Note, Farewell and Thank You from Sharon Yarbrough

As some of you already know, I am stepping down as Coordinator/Director and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer of Peace River Painters.   My nine years with PRP has been marked with milestones of learning and creativity and sharing the joy of plein air painting with many artists who have passed through our proverbial gates.   Through all the challenges and successes, my one aim was to create a place where painters of all skill levels and interests could congregate, learn and flourish in an atmosphere of camaraderie.

Together we’ve learned and laughed and maybe even cried a little.  The annual shows, quickdraws, demos and Plein Air with a Pro workshops expanded our horizons as artists and improved our community through promoting art.   Thank you to all the artists, teachers, judges, and sponsors who took part.  We got to experience the beauty of this paradise we call home through our weekly plein air excursions up and down the coast.  Many artists told me they would never have known about a location if it weren’t for Peace River Painters.

It’s gratifying to look back over the past nine years and see what was accomplished and too it makes it difficult to say farewell.  I’ve always welcomed change and know it’s time to move on.  I can do this knowing Peace River Painters has a strong foundation and will continue to serve artists under the guidance of Susan Hoffman who will be taking over the reins next season.

So, keep art front and center in your life and I hope I’ll see you in the field.

Peace River Painters is on hiatus for the summer months.  Monday morning sessions will resume in October 2021. Visit website for more details on locations.  Anyone with a desire to paint outside may join us any Monday. There are no fees and no instruction. For those who wish, at 11:15 a.m. paintings are shared and discussed.

Zimmer Named CCIL Managing Director

Longtime Charlotte County educator Christine “Chris” Zimmer recently was appointed Managing Director of the nonprofit Charlotte County Imagination Library (CCIL). She has been a member of the CCIL Advisory Council since 2012 and has taken a leadership role with data analysis, the United Way, grant writing, marketing, and speaking to community groups. She will do doing those things and more as Managing Director.

The Charlotte County Imagination Library is an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which mails one free, age-appropriate book to registered children each month until the child’s fifth birthday. All children under age five are eligible to be registered at no cost.

Worldwide, the Imagination Library has grown to serve over 1.5 million children across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom Australia, and the Republic of Ireland. In Charlotte County, 2,234 children are enrolled in the program, 2,619 children have graduated, and 119,922 books have been mailed.

“I am humbled and honored to expand the work I can do to help CCIL reach our goal of serving all the preschool children in Charlotte County,” Zimmer said. “I’ll be speaking to community groups, writing grants, attending events, communicating with our directors and donors, and helping wherever I can to reach that goal. Right now, we are serving about 50 percent of the preschool population.”

Zimmer’s new, part-time position was created by CCIL founder Shawn Gilstad and Charlotte Players Executive Director Sherrie Moody. Gilstad and Moody joined forces when the CCIL was launched in 2011.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., who has called Charlotte County home since 1985, Zimmer has a doctorate in Educational Leadership. She has worked in Charlotte and Lee County public schools, Edison Community College (now Florida SouthWestern State College), and Florida Gulf Coast University. Now retired, she spent most of her career in the Charlotte County Public School system, where she taught Spanish and Social Studies, served as Dean of Students at Charlotte High School, and was principal of Murdock Middle School.

The CCIL is part of a collaboration with the Punta Gorda Symphony, Charlotte Community Foundation, Charlotte County Government, and several other groups participating in “Arts in the Park” events for families this summer.

Carmel Kisiday is the newest member of the CCIL Advisory Council. A longtime friend and colleague of Zimmer, Kisiday is the Director of Preschool and Elementary Learning for Charlotte County Public Schools.

“Her expertise and contacts will be very valuable to CCIL and the families we seek to serve,” Zimmer said. “Also, we are saying a fond farewell to former school superintendent Dr. Doug Whittaker, who was responsible for creating the partnership with CCIL and Charlotte County Public Schools.

For registration, additional information, or donations, visit the Charlotte County Imagination Library website at [http://www.charlottecountyimaginationlibrary.%20org]www.charlottecountyimaginationlibrary. org. The CCIL is a 501(c)3 organization in partnership with Charlotte Players, the oldest 501(c)3 in Charlotte County.

Century: A People’s History of Charlotte County

Century: A People’s History of Charlotte County

This 270-page volume includes more than 500 full-color photos, charts, maps, and graphs. James Abraham, editor and publisher, produced Century as a labor of love to commemorate the county’s 100th anniversary.

The book is what Abraham calls a cafeteria-style read. Information is delivered in four ways: his own narrative, a chronology, essays from other historians or community experts and elected officials, and an assortment of full-color visuals. The forms not only complement one another but offer discrete entry points for readers to absorb history at one’s own pace and inclination.

Century” is available on Amazon, at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, or by contacting Abraham at 941-258-4920.

Charlotte County Centennial Events

Charlotte County was created on April 23, 1921, when Gov. Cary A. Hardee signed a bill passed two days earlier by the Florida Legislature that divided DeSoto County into Charlotte, Hardee, Highlands, Glades and DeSoto counties. Learn more about the county’s history and events to celebrate the anniversary at

An Inspiration for Everyone

“We love you, everybody loves you.

You’re loved by millions of people you’ll never meet.

You’re not a stranger to anyone.

These flowers are from everyone.”

— Michael Gittes


On July 26, Michael Gittes was featured on the television program Sunday Morning. Michael, an artist from Los Angeles, had painted a flower for each of the 1,800 employees at the Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn. The non-profit hospital was selected because its intensive care unit is treating coronavirus patients in an underserved community.

Watch the Sunday Morning interview

Seasons postponed

Punta Gorda Symphony: The symphony is “working to re-imagine how we’ll engage together this year. . . Due to safety and health precautions for both our audience and our musicians, we are continuing to explore possibilities” for the 2020-21 season. Principal Percussionist Dean Anderson will perform Paul Creston’s Concertino for Marimba in the 2021-2022 season! Until then, please enjoy these short snippets and get inspired for the future.

Lemon Bay Playhouse 34th season: After long deliberation and in light of the best advice regarding the pandemic from all avenues of information, the Board of Trustees has decided it is in the best interest of our patrons, staff, and volunteers to delay our opening until January 2021.

Charlotte County Jazz Society:  The non-profit organization, dedicated to preserving and promoting jazz music, has cancelled their events and will reschedule their 30th anniversary dinner celebration from Oct. 24 to either March or October 2021. The directors have passed a resolution that all current members of CCJS will automatically have their memberships extended for one year from the time jazz society performances can safely resume.

Peace River Painters Plein Air: The programs will resume in the Fall when the weather is more cooperative. Contact if you would like to suggest a location. These programs are open to anyone with a desire to paint outside. They are held on Monday at 8:30 a.m. There are no fees and no instruction. For those who wish, at 11:15 a.m. paintings are shared and discussed. This group meets at different locations.

COVID-19 Diversions

This 10-day free online event will showcase feature films, shorts, documentaries, music, comedy, and panel discussions. “We are proud to join with our partner festivals to spotlight truly extraordinary films and talent, allowing audiences to experience both the nuances of storytelling from around the world and the artistic personalities of each festival,” Cannes Film Festival executives said in a statement. The festival will feature programming curated by the Berlin International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Tokyo International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Venice Film Festival and more. All viewers will be able to make donations to the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
The mission of the wildlife rehabilitation and education center in Punta Gorda is to rescue and rehabilitate native wildlife and to educate the public. A 2021 calendar will be created — featuring donated photographs — to help educate the public about Florida’s native wildlife and the work of the center. You can donate up to three photographs of wildlife native to Florida by August 31 for consideration. Learn more.
With so many of our cultural partners temporarily closed, let us bring the humanities directly to you! Tapping into the immense talent and knowledge of our Speakers Directory, Florida Humanities is excited to announce its new weekly Florida Talks: At Home series! Tune in with your computer or smart device as we connect you with some of our state’s preeminent historians, authors, storytellers, and scholars.
Above & Beyond: JFK and the Florida U-2 pilots During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Thursday, May 14, Noon
Best-selling author, Michael Tougias, discusses the little-known story of U-2 pilots who flew from Orlando to Cuba to secure photographic proof that the Soviets were installing nuclear missiles on Cuba, sparking an international crisis that brought the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. One pilot was fatally shot down.

Oh, Florida! Wednesday, May 20, 6 p.m.
To some, it’s a paradise. To others, it’s a punchline. It’s actually both, as you’ll learn from veteran journalist and New York Times best-selling author, Craig Pittman. Pittman’s book, Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, embraces those contradictions and shows how they fit together to make this the most interesting state in the union.

Documentaries funded fully or in part by Florida Humanities with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities are available for viewing on the Florida Humanities website.
The challenge: re-create your favorite art using just three objects lying around home, photograph your re-creation, and share it through social media. Thousands of re-creations later, we’re in awe of your creative powers and sense of humor. The challenge was inspired by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and a brilliant Instagram account called Between Art and Quarantine, but adapted by the Getty Museum with the invitation to use digitized and downloadable artworks from Getty’s online collection. The only tools you need for this activity are your imagination and a picture of a work of art you like or find interesting. Browse any online Getty Museum collection or other free great online collections, including LACMA, The Met, Cleveland, Indianapolis, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walters, the National Gallery, or do your own online search.
New York Times has compiled locations where verse is happening on Facebook, Zoom, in people’s notebooks, and in our earbuds. Some highlights are a sound artist who is making an audio collage of haikus about the pandemic, weekly book release readings from Copper Canyon Press, and the option to book a live video call with a poet through the Poetry Society of New York.
The husband and wife team of Rachel and Brendan transformed a back bedroom closet into a makeshift theater. Following the philosophy that theater only requires actors, the text and an audience, these professional actors get back to the basics with the help of A-lister playwright pals, writers with projects in development, and students of all ages submitting material for them to read for LIVE audiences via Facebook for free on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 p.m. (The link is to a Facebook site.)
Florida Rep has launched a free weekly series, every Friday at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom. The live series is limited to 100 participants per session, but they’ll post a recorded version of all sessions the following week.
Browse this site to find diverse cultural life from around the world.
For example, digital stages have been opening their archives and broadcasting legendary past performances featuring star actors, boundary-pushing directors and incredible sets and costumes. These online streaming theater, dance and opera shows ensure you have best view in the house, and it’s often for free.
Virtually visit museums and art galleries
The Google Art Project partnered with more than 1,200 cultural institutions from around the world to archive and document priceless pieces of art and to provide virtual tours of museums using Google Street View technology. (After following link, scroll to about the middle of the options to find the museums and galleries.)
Listen to music online
As more festivals, performances and concerts are canceled due to the coronavirus shutdown, musicians of all stripes and sizes are taking to social and streaming platforms to play live for their fans. NPR Music is compiling a list of live audio and video streams from around the world, categorized by date and genre, with links out to streaming platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Some will require registration or a subscription, but most will be free, often with digital tip jars and opportunities to directly support artists by buying music and merchandise.

2020 National Art Exhibition Winners

2020 National Art Exhibition Winners

Winners of The National Art Exhibition (NAE) were announced at an Awards Reception Thursday, February 13 at the Visual Arts Center of Punta Gorda. Judge Dawn Emerson presented awards and shared her remarks about why she selected each winning entry. Many of the award recipients came from Southwest Florida and surrounding areas and attended the event with family and friends. Don’t miss this prize-winning art ensemble, on display February 7 – March 25 at the Visual Arts Center.

2020 National Art Exhibition Winners:

  • MERIT AWARD: “Red Coat” by Rebecca Witter of Englewood, FL
  • MERIT AWARD: “The Chalk Artist” by Kathy Simon-McDonald of Bradenton, FL
  • MERIT AWARD: “Harmony” by Oscar Vargas of Deerfield Beach, FL
  • MERIT AWARD: “Marabou 2” by Lee Andre of Boynton Beach, FL
  • MERIT AWARD: “One Step Forward” by Cheryl Fausel of Cape Coral, FL
  • EXCELLENCE AWARD: “Local Catch” by Donna Nyzio of Beaufort, NC
  • EXCELLENCE AWARD: “L’il Fred” by Gwenneth Barth-White of Placida, FL
  • EXCELLENCE AWARD: “Reawakening” by Elizabeth Weiss of New Orleans, LA
  • BOWLES AWARD FOR PORTRAIT EXCELLENCE: “Potlatch” by Claudia Selene of Ypsilanti, MI
  • AWARD FOR ABSTRACT EXCELLENCE: “Walls and Windows” by Daniel Remmel of North Palm Beach, FL
  • THIRD PLACE: “Yin and Yang” by Sandra Kuck of Boca Raton, FL
  • SECOND PLACE: “Reflections I” by Gerard Huber of Dallas, TX
  • FIRST PLACE: “No New Friends” by Corinne Forrester of Daytona Beach, FL

The NAE is free to view during regular hours, Monday and Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, Saturday: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. The Visual Arts Center will also be open the following Sundays from 10:00am – 2:00pm: February 23, March 1, March 8, and March 15.

Guided Docent Tours will happen on the following dates at 1:00pm:

    • February 18
    • February 29
    • March 3
    • March 13

Poetry Night March 4, 7:00pm

Join us for an evening of art and poetry! This free event will feature readings of selected poems inspired by NAE paintings.