by Suzanne Fox Sevel
A renaissance of creativity is booming on the Space Coast with the upswing of popular galleries, home grown community theater, new art and local indie music. Creative types are drawn to the sea, beach culture or the laid-back small-town feel of Brevard County. Artists, from painters and sculptors to glass artisans and musicians, even theatrical and performance artists, are all making their mark locally and globally.
So if you’re craving culture, you don’t need to drive to a big city to find it. 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 new arts scene.
Gary Marchesano, Fine Artist, Gallery Owner
Hang Ups Art Gallery, Titusville, HangUpsArtGallery.com
In a shop on a modest street in Titusville, Hang Ups Art Gallery is helping revitalize the local arts scene with an important mix of contemporary and fine art. On a display pedestal in the center of the room rests a female head made of aluminum, paper, wavy metal hair and tiny halogen lamps for eyes. “It’s one of mine,” says Gary Marchesano, artist and gallery owner. “Called ‘Approaching the Singularity,’ this piece represents the point where humans and machines merge,” he explains. Another exploration of surrealism, “The Intersection of Time and Space” is a row of bar stools that appear to be sinking into a wooden floor. “I’m stretching the boundaries of the commonplace – of space and matter. I like metaphysical themes,” he smiles. Hang Ups represents a range of artists with interesting conceptual work as well as traditional paintings and sculptures. From life-sized wire sculptures to large wooden cutouts, abstract oils and acrylics, glass and fabric art, there’s a wide range of art at Hang Ups. “This is a very creative little town. There’s a truckload of talent right here,” Gary says. Look for Hang Ups at the Spectrum Art Show, an international showcase of contemporary art for collectors and art enthusiasts in Miami, December 3-7, 2014.
Gary helped SpaceCoast Living create this month’s cover. To see how it was done, click here.
Bradley Daryl, Musician
Bradley Daryl (Bradley Burton) is a musician whose life has always revolved around music. His mother, Tamara Echols, was a singer in the band Night Bird and music was always part of his life. With influences such as ‘80s Motown, R&B, punk, rock and reggae, the soft-spoken, soulful musician has a unique musical style and melodic pop quality all his own. Bradley Daryl was selected by ReverbNation as one of the top new artists at the 2014 Florida Music Fest in Orlando. After giving up the violin, the former choir boy picked up the guitar, joined a band and began writing music. In 2007 he played guitar and sang in a band called A Fool’s Conspiracy and opened for headliner bands such as Drowning Pool.
His songs, “Live for Love,” “Someone Like You” and “I’m Not Messing Around,” explore themes of love and life experiences. His music, a causally spun indie/alternative folk style, has a universal appeal that stretches far beyond his 28 years. He has a breezy voice and a laid back demeanor that strikes a positive chord with audiences. Bradley Daryl plays around town at Long Doggers, Rum Island Grill, Lou’s Blues, Debauchery, Open Mikes, The County Line as well as in festivals such as the Florida Music Festival and Runaway Country.
Ryan Speer, Digital Artist
Ryan Speer is known as a creative director for the Speerbot agency. While he is gifted in designing logos and creating websites, Speer is also establishing a name for himself through his original digital artwork, music and mixed media sculptures, where he uses anything from string and metal to plastic tubing, aerosol cans and pieces of cloth.
“My style is beautiful, cute and a little bit creepy,” he says with a smile. Science-fiction, beauty and sometimes religion show up as themes in his art as suggested by his digital paintings “Atom and Evo,” “Bim Bom” and “Fashion Royale,” which depicts a woman in a suit wearing a gas mask. His metal robot sculpture, “Speerbot in his Natural Habitat,” is a figure with a clear capsule over a head, with a metal torso and pipe hands. Ryan’s wide range of talents includes singing and creating music videos for his band, Konglom. Even as a young child, Ryan was always drawing, painting and making things out of clay. He has a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Florida. Today, his art pieces can be found in local galleries as well as the Standard Collective at the Melbourne Square Mall.
Natalie McKnight Palmer, Founder
For people who aspire to learn musical theater, Better than Broadway is a performing arts school in Rockledge that specializes in acting, dance (tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop), voice training, musical theater and more. Using a conservancy approach, Better Than Broadway is founded by Natalie McKnight-Palmer, a singer and an actress whose successful theatrical resume includes such coveted roles as Julie in “Carousel,” Rosemary in “How to Succeed in Business,” and Rusty in “Footloose.” She was also in leading parts in “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the Las Vegas production of “Jersey Boys.”
In addition to having experience on a national stage, Natalie is an exceptional teacher. She worked as a youth administrator for the Palace Theater in New Hampshire and has been a theater/dance instructor at McNair Middle School. Earlier this year she received the Gary Cunningham Award. Natalie grew up in Rockledge where she sang in her church and acted for the Cocoa Village Playhouse. Her students have gone on to experience their own success; seven have been selected for New York’s Creative Jar Institute, a workshop that involves Broadway workshops and intensive studies. “I enjoy helping kids achieve their dreams. It is rewarding to see the results when it all clicks for them,” she says proudly.
Art: The Combination of Spirit and Life
Rafeal Picon, Fine Artist
Originally from Andalusia, Spain, Rafael Picon is an artist and sculptor who works in a variety of mixed media but is partial to bronze. The Rockledge artist recently completed the 10-foot, 1,500-pound bronze statue of Ponce de Leon which now resides in Melbourne Beach. To research for the sculpture, Rafeal went to Spain to study Spanish facial features and uniforms. “It’s hard to imagine what a person may have looked like 500 years ago, but after being in his village, it just came to me,” he says. “You have to see it in your mind before you can make it into clay,” he adds.
This artist also sculpts in steel, wrought iron, ceramic tile, glass, gold, copper, wood marble, and cast iron, and in two-dimensions with oils and acrylic. Some of his art is abstract (his Salvatore Dali and Genesis of the Universe), while other pieces are more life-like. His award-winning artwork is in residences all over the country as well as Spain and the London Museum of Art. Locally, his work is at the King Center, Busch Gardens, St. Mary’s Catholic Church and in local galleries. Rafeal has been sculpting since he was six and studied Art and Industrial Arts in college in Madrid.
A Fresh Approach to Local Theater
Elizabeth and Joseph Lark-Riley, Performers
miR Made in Rockledge, MadeInRockledge.org
In 2013 Elizabeth and Joseph Lark-Riley launched a company dedicated to creating and producing original theater. Both artists have worked in professional theater in New Orleans, New York and Chicago. They started the miR (Made in Rockledge) with the idea of pushing the limits of new art forms: to offer rich regional stories about the area and tell those stories in fresh ways. “We want to change the conversation. You don’t have to be in New York to get original theater,” said Joseph.
The company, miR is committed to exploring universal themes as well as finding and celebrating what is unique about our town. Using set designers, costumers, writers, actors, composers and puppeteers, miR has all the components for success. Their debut play, “Cereus Moonlight” (January 2014), was a huge hit. Each play is original and has a storyline rooted in Brevard. “We bring in playwrights, immerse them in the culture and history of Brevard and see what they come up with,” says Elizabeth.
Elizabeth has a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts and Theater Administration from NYU. “You have to have a willingness to make theater your life,” she says. “So far the response has been overwhelming. Our work has heart; it’s artistically beautiful. It speaks to everyone.”
John Emery and Jerry Preston, Stained Glass Artists
Preston Studios, PrestonStudios.com
Jerry Preston started making decorative glass with a Ronco Bottle & Jar cutter in the 70’s. Today Preston Studios’ stained glass lamps, windows, accents and entrances have become coveted objects of art. Each project is as unique as a painting, with subtle shading using different pieces of colored glass to form a composition. John Emery and Jerry Preston studied Louis Tiffany but perfected their own style and copper foil technique. A Preston lamp is intricate and lifelike. With nature scenes such as irises, calla lilies, angel trumpets, birds, fish, sea turtles or cultural themes such as the Renaissance, Egypt, or Japan, each piece reflects light in unexpected ways. Their stained glass art is in libraries, chapels, hospitals and estates throughout the world, including castles in Denmark, Scotland, Canada, and a home in Tortola. Tinted or opaque, textured and beveled, their glass entrances offer a distinct and sophisticated look. John and Jerry are the go-to-glass artists for luxury builders and interior designers. Recently featured in American Art magazine, the International Builders Show and in Modern Luxury, where a Preston lamp fetched a handsome price at an auction at the Hearst Castle.
Known for its exquisitely crafted work, Preston Studios has carved a niche all its own with collectors worldwide.