By Suzanne Fox Sevel
Melbourne has become an artistic hub, a destination in itself, with various pockets of creative types living, working and making their mark not just in our city, but throughout the world. Just stroll down Highland Avenue, Cocoa Village or downtown Melbourne and you can see and hear the creative excitement. Talent, inspiration, genius and hard work are the fruits of labor given to us by these painters, sculptors, glass artisans, urban-style hip-hop dancers and singers. In this Fall Arts issue we meet some of the Space Coast’s most interesting established and up-and-coming artists.


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Sole 180
Palm Bay |
Nestor Funelas is the founder and CEO of Sole 180, a live show production company that specializes in bringing urban forms of art (break dancing, hip-hop dance and other theatrical styles) into the mainstream. Funelas employs the dancers, choreographs theatrical routines, creates special effects and live art. His dancers literally defy gravity with their “halo” moves, flips, spins, and fluid dance rhythms. “Our shows just come at you so the audience is immersed in the piece. Our main goal is to leave our audience with an experience,” he says.
Other members of his crew, Christian Normandia and Juan Betancourt, were former “America’s Got Talent” stars from the dance troupe, Fighting Gravity. Both have been on tour with Jennifer Lopez, and Pitbull. “We also trained and worked in New York and Los Angeles, but the Space Coast is where our heart is,” says Funelas. With Angela Roman as the vocalist and songwriter for their original musicals, Sole 180’s mission is to turn people’s lives around towards a different and positive direction.



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Ellen Pavlakos
Indialantic |
Originally from Athens, Greece, Ellen Pavlakos is an internationally acclaimed sculptor who works in clay, plaster, stone and bronze. Her work is both figurative and conceptual. Her technique captures the physical expressions of the human condition. She studied under Louis Montoya in West Palm Beach, and Bruno Lucchesi at the National Academy of Design in New York.
Growing up in Greece helped form her artistic perspective. “Ancient sculptures were very visible in my everyday life and had a profound effect on my awareness and love of art,” the soft-spoken artist explains.
“The artistic world is broad and unrestricted. When I’m making a sculpture, my excitement and passion is poured into the piece.  My new outlook is simplicity, concerned with the idea rather than the detailed form itself,” she says.
One of her most notable pieces, “Agonia,” is of a woman whose arms have turned into wings while her feet are roots in the stone. “It’s about the conflicts of life; wanting to fly to new paths, but being grounded in the familiar or in responsibilities.”  Another, “Censored, “ features a man’s face surrounded by barbed wire. Ellen Pavlakos’s sculptures can be seen in monuments, museums and art galleries all over the world.

PHOTO:  Ellen Pavlakos’s sculptures are in public places, galleries, libraries and museums throughout the United States and abroad including: Athens and Thessalonica Greece; Nicosia, Cyprus; Paris, France; Heathrow, Pennsylvania and in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center, the Fifth Avenue Art Gallery as well as The Foosaner Art Museum. She will be featured in “Sights, Insights: Ten Women in Art” at the Derek Gores Gallery Sept. 2 – Oct. 4, 2016.



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Evelina Petrenko
Melbourne | Evelina-petrenko
Born in Moscow, Russia, Melbourne artist Evelina Petrenko’s work is inspired by Russian folk art and nature. Petrenko’s love of abstract expressionism, use of vibrant colors, textures, lines, shapes and surfaces celebrate the beauty of the earth and life in a fresh and sensual way. Her art demonstrates the natural complexity and disorder of life brought to a new place of harmony and balance, using fused acrylic mediums. Her unique pieces are made by first creating a landscape of colors and shapes then adding layers.
“The art comes from my subconscious. It’s really just an existential force,” she explains. “I don’t plan my pieces.” With a master’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in theology from Baylor University, Petrenko, the artist and social worker, sees the therapeutic benefits of painting as a way of communicating feelings. Her artwork, acrylic on paper, wood and canvas is beautiful, playful and thought provoking. Evelina Petrenko’s work can be seen at the Derek Gores Gallery in Melbourne and the Avalon Island Art Gallery in Orlando.



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James Spiva
Merritt Island |
James Spiva, the frontman behind the popular local band Hot Pink, is at the helm of a group that is inspired by a wide variety of artists from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. He admires creative musicians who are not afraid to be themselves.
Hot Pink consists of Spiva and other Merritt Islanders: Spencer Croswell, Corey Johnson, Rizzo Wagner and Bill Erskine. Spiva got his start in musical theater at the Cocoa Village Playhouse and began playing in a band as a teen, after discovering the classic music of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
As a showman, Spiva’s velvety vocal range, charisma and energetic performances leave audiences wanting more, whether performing cover songs by Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury or the high-pitched Barry Gibb.
Hot Pink’s original music is alternative and funk. “Fallen,” “Arm Candy,” and “Sex and the Meteor Shower” are getting rave reviews. “Our music is a funky combination of rock and soul. It’s really cool and different.”
Hot Pink performs up and down Florida’s coast and is doing its first overseas gig in England in September.