Brevard County has something for theater buffs, fashion fans, art aficionados; the list goes on and on. Here are just a few of our very own artists exhibiting their talent in a variety of disciplines to help shape the Space Coast’s blossoming arts scene.

jeff-filipskiJeff Filipski – Important Expressions 

Provocative, evocative and colorful are three words that Jeff Filipski uses to describe his art. The prolific artist has been painting for 45 years and is considered one of the most abstract artists in Brevard County.

Born in Buffalo, New York he knew his parents had other career plans in mind for him when he was growing up. He had other ideas in mind and after earning a degree in fine arts from the State University of New York at Buffalo, he has considered himself a fervent student ever since.

“I don’t deal with pretty,” Jeff said. “I don’t want people to feel comfortable around it. Art has to instigate thought.”

The thoughts that he hopes to stimulate are lately centered on socio-political subjects; he manages very serious topics using the Florida tropical pop of colors. He relocated to Florida in 1993 and is currently an artist-in-residence at Off Center Art Center in Eau Gallie, painting full time working with and mentoring other artists.

His style is likened to Abstract Expressionism and Dada, working mainly with acrylics, oils and mixed media. His collaborations with other artists have brought more attention to the talent that lives locally.

rose-jeffersonRose Jefferson – A Life of Art

From the time she was a young child, painting has played a large role in Rose Jefferson’s life. “I am an impressionist with quite an imagination,” she said, describing her art with the words “colorful” and incorporating “movement.” The Melbourne artist was encouraged by her mother, a middle school teacher who enjoyed artistic culture, cultural music and the visual arts. 

“She just knew I had a talent for painting and always encouraged me by buying art supplies, “Art Class” magazine, anything she could get to encourage me as a kid.” 

Growing up Rose continued painting as a hobby, but upon her mother’s passing 16 years ago, she began painting seriously. “When she passed, I dedicated my time and life to painting.” 

Rose, who draws her inspiration from observation and life experiences, said she used painting as a healing process at the time, and still uses it to express her emotions. She focuses her art on the human figure. “I’m always observing people. I like to watch people and people in action.” Her painting, “Flight of the Capoeira” exemplifies her ability to make a painting move. The painting depicts her deployed son showing off his Capoeira skills, and captures the brilliant color and fluidity that she seamlessly accomplishes in all of her work. 

Though she took some classes at the San Francisco Institute of Art, she is mostly self-taught. She works with various mediums and is beginning to create more works with mixed media. “I took a break this summer ‘cause my grandkids are young and I want to spend time with them, but I’m focusing on folk art.” Rose’s work is displayed at Off Center Art Center in Eau Gallie and at invitational and juried shows in Florida and Georgia. 

“I’m looking forward to creating story telling art in my golden years.”

by Adeline Morgan

not-quite-right-comedy-impro-troupeNot Quite Right Comedy Improve Troupe – Cheaper Than Therapy

The sounds of laughter fill the halls of the Derek Gores Gallery in Eau Gallie the first Saturday of every month. Rousing the laughter is energetic and outgoing Jessica Taylor, teacher at Edgewood Junior/Senior High and founder of Not Quite Right Comedy Improv Troupe. The University of Florida graduate sprang into the world of improv via the university’s own improv troupe, Theatre Strike Force.

Jessica began acting at the Henagar Center and Melbourne Community Theatre and taught improv classes for adults and summer camps for kids in 2001. Since then, she opened her studio at the Derek Gores Gallery in the Eau Gallie Arts District for performances and weekly classes. A few years ago she contacted some friends and got back together. Since January they’ve sold out the first-Saturday show.

“Our little slogan is that it’s ‘cheaper than therapy,’” said Jessica. “And I really believe it.” Her classes are not only a place to let go and have fun, they provide training on how to interact with other people.

“The basis of all improv is listening to what the other person in your scene is telling you. It’s a listening and responding exercise.” Jessica’s studio also provides corporate workshops, an idea that came to her last year. “There are a lot of rules of improv that translate to life and the work place.”

by Adeline Morgan

anythony-solandAnthony Soland – Create.Inspire.Evolve. 

A Satellite Beach native, Anthony Soland’s love of surfing, skateboarding and fashion come together in a unique boutique and art gallery in the Melbourne Square Mall. The Standard Collective, which opened in October 2010, is a collective of art, music, fashion and the local people that make it. The art gallery features artists from Brevard County and the clothing and jewelry are mostly locally designed or Florida brands. 

“I wanted to create a standard in the industry,” Anthony said. “It is not just board shorts and flip flops.” 

Working for Hurley as a marketing manager, Anthony traveled around the world but his love for his hometown drew him back home.  

“I love where I grew up,” he said. 

Anthony hand-makes leather goods for the boutique as well as paints with oils and is a graphic artist. He designs four different clothing brands featured in the store – Standard Collective, Vision Quest, Whisky and Water and Infinite Love Ritual.  

He’s passionate about supporting the community and the people who live here and credits the ocean, his love of surf, skateboarding as his influences, along with music. 

“My love of music has a huge influence on what I do and who I am.”  

eliza-dopiraEliza Dopira – More Than Just Music

Eliza Dopira, a classically trained vocalist and instructor of concert choir, string ensemble, and fundamentals of music at Florida Tech grew up in a very musical home. “It was never strange to have family sing-a-longs in the car.” She started taking piano when she was five and violin at the age of eight. Her violin teacher also taught voice, so she started singing at 10. Five years later, Eliza began taking voice lessons from a teacher at Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State College.) “That’s when I got serious about possibly majoring in music,” she said. 

After earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in voice and graduate performance diploma in opera from Peabody Conservatory of John Hopkins, she began her performance career, becoming an apprentice artist at the Sarasota Opera in 2005 and at the Lake George Opera in 2007. She decided to begin teaching as well and returned to the place where she got her start, Eastern Florida State College. After teaching at EFSC, she moved on to Florida Tech.

Eliza enjoys both teaching and performing and has watched the music program at the technical school continue to grow. 

“Our numbers are expanding every semester, we’ve added group piano and group guitar classes. We continue to bring in world-class artists to work with the students. I think it’s headed in the right direction just continuing to expand and continuing to do the bigger standard repertoire.”

by Adeline Morgan

carla-funkCarla Funk – Art for Everyone

“I entered college thinking I was going to study literature then I took an art history class for fun and I just fell in love,” said Carla Funk, Director of Museums at Florida Institute of Technology. This includes the Foosaner Art Museum and the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts. Despite her formal education and knowledge, it was not a matter of choosing a career in the arts, she said, “the arts chose me.”

“I’m constantly learning; you never know everything,” she said. “I’m always learning every time there’s a new exhibition.”

Just as she is always learning; Carla’s schedule is always changing. “I don’t have a typical day,” she said. “I get to meet with people in the community, I go back and forth from campus to my office in Eau Gallie, I meet with artists and collectors, and sometimes people come in with an item they’ve found in their attic and want us to look at it,” she said. “However, I meet with my staff regularly, which is important, and the only regular part of my schedule.”   

What does she say to the people who may ask, why would a technological university like FIT be such a strong advocate for the arts that she loves so much? 

“President Catanese often says that FIT wants to educate the whole brain, meaning the right and left side, the creative, analytical, cultural and scientific being fully rounded. We want the students to be exposed to as many aspects of history as possible; building and supporting the museum is indicative of that.” 

“Even a technological university requires creativity. Looking at art gets people to ask questions that don’t necessarily have answers.” 


tony-macaulayTony MaCaulay – Totally Tony

After the success of “Build Me Up Buttercup” at The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, Tony Macaulay will once again present a brand new show that he has written specially for the local theater.  

The author, composer and songwriter has sold more than 52 million records/CDs of his songs worldwide. Twenty-four of his songs were Top 20 hits in the United States and four topped the charts. Among his greatest hits are “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You,” “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” and “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All.”

Tony Macaulay and his wife, Sara, were first introduced to The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse 10 years Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 4.09.05 PMago. The playhouse went on to present two seasons of “Windy City,” a 1982 musical Tony co-authored and composed. Astonished at the quality of the playhouse’s presentation of his play, the songwriter decided to write the theater a brand new show. “Build Me Up Buttercup” debuted in February of 2013 and was a success from start to finish. 

The new show “Sherlock in Love” is entirely different though. “I didn’t want to repeat myself,” Tony said. It tells the story of the great detective’s hunt for the most infamous killer of them all, Jack the Ripper, and how Sherlock Holmes came to fall for his one great love – theater star, Nell Valentine. The two are thrown together when The Ripper returns to wreak havoc on Victorian London. The plot is mesmerizing, the music is memorable and the characters are familiar in the best way – a recipe that will no doubt mean another success for The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse. 

This article appears in the September 2015 issue of SpaceCoast Living.
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