of S W F L

Focus on the Arts

852 5th Ave South | Naples, FL 34102 | 239.262.2128


Collier | Lee | Charlotte Sarasota |
4 FOCUS of SWFL 2010

FO C a g a z i n e M

6 DJ Drager About the music


Heart to heart about what he hopes to accomplish through his music.

8 Renée Rey An Artistic Journey
Current work is something entirely different from anything she’s ever attempted Get a relaxed quiet panoramic view of Punta Gorda

10 WYVERN Hotel 11 Amber is the

14 Colours School of the Arts
Come taste and enjoy the beautifully crafted French macarons

Animals inspire her art, “birds, horses, and fish are my thing

color of her energy

Provide a positive option for young adults who may not have many opportunities

16 Gem of Fench Pastries 17 Rotorealism of an Artist
We all relate to nostalgia at some point in our lives

19 pace-‘Love That Dress’
Teen’s Fight Against Cancer

20A Story of Faith:

one organization that is dedicated in advocacy for girls

22 Facing

The fight against cancer, helped pull them together

A more sophisticated approach, real drama, and real challenges

Real World

FM = more


Publisher: Ann Gordon Cover by: Dan Myricks Design: Contributors: Daniel De Brun, Tami Garcia, Chay D. Baxley, Dan Myricks, PJ German, Tyler Gibson

Focus Magazine of SWFL is published Bi-Monthly. Articles do not necessarily reflect Focus Magazine policy. © 2010 Focus magazine of SWFL, All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without permission is prohibited. Postmaster: Send all remittances and correspondences about subscriptions, undelivered copies and address changes to: Focus Magazine of SWFL at 105 Triple Diamond Blvd, Suite 101, Venice, FL 34275. Editorial, publishing and advertising offices.

of S W F L

usic is the one thing that no matter where you go the language is still the same, as music is that universal language. Music has the ability to transcend differences; whether it is culture, religion, political, economical, social issues etc. “Music for many people is the soul of life.” These are the thoughts of DJ Drager, the mind behind the Vinyl Music Festival, a three day event that features multiple deejays nationwide. “Vinyl means everything to me,” DJ Drager says. “I’ve had a very fortunate 20 years. The music industry has given so much to me. It is my way of giving back. Music has the ability to do what nothing else on this planet does. Music is the cure to happiness, sadness, victory and losses,” DJ Drager continues reclined in a relaxed mode, speaking more on his passion. DJ Drager spoke heart to heart about what he hopes to accomplish through his music. “I’ve played in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. I’ve played all over the place, and the one common factor in all of those, is that it doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, Jewish, Gentile, Christian, Muslim, whatever they’re there to listen to music. That’s the great thing about music. It brings people together who would normally not cross paths.” DJ Drager’s interest in music began when he was in the Marine Corps, stationed in Memphis. A good friend who
6 FOCUS of SWFL 2010


By: Daniel De Brun
was into mobile Deejaying invited him to check out his new art. He would play around on the turntables and as DJ Drager describes, “I took to it like a natural. “I was like, wow, this is pretty cool.” Now, DJ Drager promotes and plays music internationally. “When you lead the industry that you have so much passion for [people] know the influence you have and the ability to expose people in multiple countries to new music.” Due to the amount of promotional music that he receives, Drager goes through over 1,500 new tracks a week; of that, only 50 may reach his expectations. He admits he has a very clear focus on his own particular style of music that he plays. He envisions what people on the dance floor want to hear. “I want people to understand why I do what I do,” he said. “A lot of DJ’s will take a lot of music and throw it on their computer. But if the music is not going to excite people, and does not excite me, then I am not going to play it. DJ Drager uses a realistic approach to connect with everyone. “I close my eyes and ask myself what I would be doing if I was at the club,” he admitted. “I have to be excited about the music in order to play it, because you can’t get people excited about something that you’re not excited about yourself. I want hands up and people screaming. It has to be great.”

See more at - type in “VMF”

DJ Drager


About the Music

FOCUS of SWFL 2010 7


Renée Rey
An Artistic
As two of Renée Reys’ prized paintings went crashing to the ground of her one room studio in North Naples, the only utterance of ill manners she could muster up was a dainty but declarative “Oh shoot.” In a moment Renée’s surprise had been softened by her continuously optimistic attitude, leaving only a simple statement behind in tribute to the pile of canvases on the floor, “Such as life.” For Renée Rey, an artist in both passion and profession, the journey of self exploration began in the early 1990’s when she was a young newlywed living in New York City. During this initial phase of her work Renée’s paintings were generally inspired by events from the outside world. Her works encompassed subject matter regarding social and political issues of the time. Rescue of the Ethiopian Jews and Building a Better World are two of her paintings from this period which reflect her deep concern for the world around her. “I used to work in more literal terms,” said Renée in explanation of her earliest pieces. “I often focused on contrast in society, the haves and the have-nots or abundance versus starvation.” Then came her divorce, bringing with it a new, darker flare to Renée’s creative style. One of her major pieces during this time was a series she left untitled. Twelve different paintings for the 12 months of the year, all
8 FOCUS of SWFL 2010

Journe y

By Chay D. Baxley

representing the same concept: Are we trapped in a continuous cycle of forlornness by our own blind tendencies? “ So would you say that this series helped you cope and find closure regarding your divorce?” “ Wow… yeah, I guess I would definitely say that,” Renée answered, sounding surprised as she confirmed, “Good question.” This period in Renée Rey’s journey also inspired a series of self portraits called Define Defiance. In the mid 1990’s a breast cancer scare left Renée’s world reeling. In a desperate attempt to manage her anxiety while awaiting her test results she began works regarding women’s issues. Several emotional series resulted from Renée’s trials, including What If You Could Change The Order? Any Woman Can Wear This Dress, and What Is The Color Of Kindness?. Thankfully, her test results came back negative. The ordeal had a lasting effect on Renée and resulted in many of her paintings being shown in a Miami art exhibit. Drawing from her Japanese roots, Renée’s current work is something entirely different from anything she’s ever attempted. “I’m at the point where I know I can accurately paint the human figure,” so she’s trying for more - more spirituality, more spontaneity and more creativity. This series is called In.2.It. Literally the title can be seen as “into it;” that Renée’s into the paintings and

the process that takes her there. But it can also be translated in a deeper light; the paintings are very intuitive and spontaneous, which is exactly how Renée feels when she’s creating them. Along with her many accomplishments in the world of painting, Renée has recently created her own line of wearable sculpture that has met the market place with great success, and is part of the actor, Johnny Depp, personal collection. On her past and future, Renée leaves the door wide open for interpretation. “I feel like there’s a thread that links all my work together and I’m just now seeing. Like synapses running through the brain. My challenge now is finding who I really am today and relating that to who I was then. I think it’s a problem many artists have to face.”

FOCUS of SWFL 2010 9


place to be that sets Wyvern Hotel apart from the others. Sit by the bar and have a cool desert, best of all you can just relax along the skyline and do nothing at all. This gets even better after you watch the sunset, as the beauty of the city lights creates a roof top atmosphere for a wonderful evening for two.


oted the number one place to stay for several years running; the Wyvern Hotel is one unique place with a view, spacious rooms, a super friendly staff and a short walk to boating and city events. You would think that would be it, but this hotel offers more than a central location within the heart of Punta Gorda.

The Wyvern Hotel 101 East Retta Esplanade Punta Gorda, FL 33950 Phone: (941) 639-7700

“You don’t get voted number 1 for only your rooms.”
A large meeting room for personal and business events, Lulu’s restaurant has a premier flare of Latin Fusion. During your stay, get a relaxed quiet panoramic view of Punta Gorda. Take a dip in the roof top pool, that your whole family can enjoy. This is the most exciting

10 FOCUS of SWFL 2010


Amber iscolor of her energy the
characters, and was always into art. Since I was little I always said “I’m gonna be an artist like daddy.” Her dad attests, “she’s been drawing since she could hold a crayon. To keep her quiet in church, I would give her the little tithe envelopes to draw on.” Amberose also credits Craig Seidell, her high school art teacher, who helped her develop into a blossom-

By: Daniel De Brun

Women. Amberose shows her personality in her work. For example in “Tropical Companions” she painted a bird that had feathers that looked like pineapple leaves by accident, so “I just started morphing them into pineapples.” Her paintings are big and beautiful. “I find that I like working in a large scale to blow up and show the beauty of my subjects instead of just doing this small little art piece. I look at the small stuff and it kind of makes me yawn.” Being so talented and artistically creative, one would assume that Ringling School of Art or Full Sail would be first on her list of colleges to attend; however, Amberose decided to go to Florida Gulf Coast University to develop her networking and social skills outside of art, instead of an exclusive art school. “I’m not sold on what I want to do with my life. I’m very open for change.

Amberose is a young artist who knows how to make bold splashes of colors featuring the beautiful shapes and intelligence of various animals in her art work. “Birds, horses and fish are my thing” she says. “They have such a flow to them. It’s hard to explain, it’s all in my head. “Horses were my love when I was little, that’s all I drew. Everybody teased me for being ‘the horse drawer,’ but that was my passion.” Amberose also paints pictures of people like the “La Virgen de Guadalupe- Mother of all Mexico,” in which she always wanted to redo since she was a child. “This had always been my goal and now I have the talent, I did it.” It went to the Epiphany Cathedral 50th anniversary gala. I donated a giclee reproduction to the Epiphany Cathedral 50th anniversary gala fundraiser. The painting was auctioned to raise money for the school. The piece now hangs in the corridor of the school I attended for 8 years. It’s my interpretation of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it means a lot to me. I used amber roses to represent the flowers that appeared in Mexico on the hill of Tepeyac during the winter of 1531. Amberose Courville grew up in, Sarasota, FL, attended Epiphany Cathedral and graduated in the top seven in her Venice High School class of 2009. Her father is a local architect and artist. “My dad has his Bayou Buddy cartoon

ing young artist. She is opposite the reserved artist that locks themselves in a room for hours to create the next masterpiece. Owning a very bright, optimistic personality she creates art that is extremely colorful and full of energy. Her pieces have won local awards, and have been recognized nationally. Her depiction of a cocky rooster, “Tyson”, won the Congressional Art Award, and it is hanging in the tunnel between the White House and Congress. Another nationally recognized painting produced by Amberose is a brilliant blue horse, “Blue Rider”, which won second place in the 2009 National League of American Pen
FOCUS of SWFL 2010 11

Naples – Ft. Myers

12 FOCUS of SWFL 2010

Ft. Myers

Councilman Forrest Banks (City of Ft Myers), Mayor Randall P. Henderson, Jr (City of Ft Myers) and Jim Griffith (Chairman) came out in support for the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center (


Ft. Myers

Lee County YMCA kids at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center participating in the Doors of Opportunity.


Naples Princess hosts and Shelley on an evening cruise with the SWFL Florida Attractions Association.

Ft. Myers

Daniel Navarrete, Jayme Neto (Telemundo) and Isabel Martinez (NBC Universal) at La Feria Dela Familia


Ron, Greg and Steve of TecMark Corporation (racing) prepare for another fun trip to the race track.

Sarasota – Punta Gorda


FOCUS of SWFL 2010 13


Ringling School of Art graduate posing for a picture with Matt Orr during the opening night for the Vinyl Music Feastival at Ceviche. The energy for this charity event ran thoughout the weekend.

Punta Gorda

Cardboard boat races at Laishley Park Municipal Marina; part of the Flatsmasters Redfish Festival.


Supporters for Dig the Beach volley ball tournament at Siesta Beach taking a break to pose for a photo.


Ringling Artist involved with his painting at the Art Center by Muncipal Auditorium.


Steve “Hammer” Hoffman and Dave “Salty” Betts (Muscle Racing) at the 2010 Super Boat Grand Prix.



Colours School of
and teach so that the students really learn.” Colours School of the Arts asks for a $50.00 fee every month from their students, but few can consistently pay that. Generally, a good month would mean approximately 20% of the schools’ members find a way to come up with the tuition. The remainder of the cost is covered by an annual grant from the county and from the founders’ own pocket. “Our main goal is to provide a positive option for young adults who may not have many opportunities because of economic reasons,” explains Hill. Thankfully Sharon is not alone in her vision for a brighter, more creative future for her students. She is now co-managing Colours School of the Arts with Christine Peete, a long time friend with a degree in Drama from FAMU. “It’s our desire and passion to continue doing this work,” said Peete. Sharon Hill and Christine Peete’s organization offers many different recreational activities for young adults, but what makes Colours School of the Arts a truly unique attribution to Lee County is their latest phase of creative endeavors.

Relocating to SW Florida from New York City in 1990 was an eye opener for Sharon Hill, who quickly began missing the cultural happenings of the Big Apple. Shortly after her arrival, Hill set out on a mission to change the way her new community looked at the fine arts and each other. “I wanted to bring something special here. The people at the old recreation center in Lehigh Acres allowed me to come in and start my own after school program. So I taught what I was comfortable with – West African dance. By 1995 Hill’s pet project had blossomed into a complete artistic movement and was dubbed Colours School of the Arts. Fifteen years later and fully incorporated into a nonprofit charitable organization, Colours School of the Arts offers after school programs for children and adolescence ranging from Ballet to Tae Kwon Do. Each year the selection of courses may vary depending on the talents and skills of the volunteers willing to spend their time and energy instructing. To ensure that her students get the best possible results from their experience at Colours School of the Arts, Sharon Hill says “We try to get professionals who are interested in working with underserviced people to come in
14 FOCUS of SWFL 2010

the Arts
powerful production.” The second half of Maafa Suite begins with preenslavement and ends in modern times. Filled with contemporary music and plenty of dancing, the play has an uplifting feel despite its severe context. As for the future of Colours School of the Arts, Peete says “It’s our desire and passion to continue doing.” Sharon Hill agreed with a smile...
By Chay D. Baxley

Since 2001 the school and its members have been putting on an annual production of Maafa Suite for the community. Maafa is a Kiswahili term used to describe tragedy and disaster. Colours School of the Arts has applied the phrase as a definition and title of their theatrical rendition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In preparation for Maafa Suite, the 80 person cast has been working around the clock. Unlike most of the schools programs, Maafa Suite is not just for youngsters. The production involves a group of performer’s ages 5-76, all eager to tell a story of mankind’s common history. “It’s important for people to know that this play is not about race; it’s about human on human brutality. People do terrible things to each other for ridiculous reasons,” said Hill. “Getting the word out has been the major issue for us,” explained Peete. “I don’t think people realize that this isn’t just some kids play, but a

FOCUS of SWFL 2010 15

Gem of French Pastries
The co-owners, from Provence, France; Rosalie Guillem and her daughter, Audrey Saba Guillem, announce the opening of Le Macaron, the ideal location for hand-made, gourmet pastries called macarons. The macaron, perfected in France, has a long history dating back centuries in Europe. Macarons are small round cakes that fit in the palm of your hand. They are lightly crisp on the outside, smooth and creamy in the center, filled with ganache (chocolate), rich cream, home-made fruit jams or other quality ingredients. Not to be confused with macaroons; the more familiar, American coconut cookie, macarons have gained a new level of interest in France and around the world. Currently, there are sixteen flavors of macarons: Vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, lemon, black currant, licorice, pistachio, walnut, crunchy praline, ginger-chocolate, ginger-bread, basil, creme-brulee, passion chocolate, white chocolate-mint & coffee. Each season and month, new flavors will be introduced to complement the collection. Dine in or take - out, gift boxes, favor boxes, and custom orders are available. Come taste and enjoy the beautifully crafted French macarons at Le Macaron. Other delights include: croissants, pains au chocolat, french madeleines, cakes, famous Norman Love chocolates, coffee, espresso & cappuccino from Nespresso; and the “assiette café gourmande” an assortment of various pastries with your choice of coffee or tea. If you’d like more information about le macaron, custom designed specialty items or delectable dessert catering for galas, weddings or other significant occasions, please contact Rosalie Guillem, 941.552.8872.

16 FOCUS of SWFL 2010

Rotorealism of an Artist


If you have not yet seen Michael Beauchemin’s artwork then you have not seen all there is to art. Michael’s work is best described as unique and non-traditional with a splash of autobiographical inspiration and a pinch of psychedelic flavor. Michael describes his own work as “semiBy Ann Gordon autobiographical; an examination of real life events rendered non-referential, as time and space is skewed in order to illustrate simultaneous observations and emotional reactions to the subject matter.” Others have described his artwork as a marriage of photorealism with altered states of consciousness. The truth is his work is an anomaly. Why? Because of the nostalgic thread throughout many of his pieces, and we all relate to nostalgia at some point in our lives we have had a longing for the past or the “good old days.” But is this really true? Do we really long for the past and was the past that perfect? This is the irony and these are the conversations that Michael Beauchemin’s work explores that lead him to the coinage of “Rotorealism,” where reality rotates around dream miscalculations. Michael’s work presents juxtaposition; both thematic and on canvas as his colors are fierce in contrast but as the same time there is a unique synthesis and control. Born in Connecticut, Michael was inspired by his father who was also an artist and a draftsman. Michael remembers at an early age sitting in front of the TV drawing his favorite characters from Saturday morning cartoons. As early as twelve he participated in his first art show in Mystic, Connecticut. He graduated from high school and was awarded with the Rufus Rose Scholarship and attended Massachusetts College of Art. He later moved to Fort Lauderdale and worked for an ad agency. His first body of work consisted of six-foot high canvases depicting Frankenstein’s monster and bride, and a montage of sci-fi horror movie images outlined in menacing black shadows. Barbara as a Blonde Michael has received national recognition which provided opportunities to meet Bob Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Peter Max and Jim Dine. Michael also met Elton John who once purchased one of his pieces. Michael, who is usually gregarious, for the first time said he was tongue-tied. Subsequent art shows in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica afforded him an opportunity to meet other celebrities. Michael’s work gives us an exploration of many things; truth, surrealism, inspiration and humor. He now resides in Southwest Florida where there is increasing interest in the arts and so much community involvement for special events that enrich everyone’s life.
FOCUS of SWFL 2010 17

18 FOCUS of SWFL 2010

pace - “Love That Dress!”
Walking into the lobby of the Embassy Suite Hotel in Estero, you couldn’t help but feel the warmth in the atmosphere as you entered into this exquisite event, “Love That Dress!”, in benefit of the PACE Center for Girls. If you are not familiar with PACE; it is an organization that provides young women an opportunity for education, training and personal growth. With 17 locations throughout Florida the PACE organization is one that is dedicated to the advocacy for girls. Their goal is directed towards the individual voice and potential of each and every young woman. One of many reasons for its success is the direct involvement of the board members, who assist the girls with support all the way to the college level. Christin Collins and her daughter Meghan Collins were among the greeters that welcomed all the guests at this special event. Many supporters and sponsors came to this sold out event, such as Dona Noce of White House Black Market, Norman and Mary Love of Norman Love Confections, Sonya Sawyer of Home-Tech, Kellie Burns of NBC-2, Wendy Bennett of For the Bride, to name a few. The event was filled with beautiful designer dresses, shoes and precious custom jewelry of quality, to benefit disadvantaged girls. “Love That Dress!” has brought together so many supporters from around Lee and Collier Counties to raise awareness of PACE. You only need to walk around to see the various supporters and sponsors throughout the two floors. This event happens once a year and becoming involved in this good cause, is one way to see how rewarding it really is. Contact Melissa Simontis at 239-425-2366 ext. 25, to find out how you can assist PACE and make a difference. You may have missed a fantastic evening of “Love That Dress!” event but you can always find a way help your local PACE center.
by Dan Myricks


Cornerstone Lenders
Provides a single low cost, solution for commercial loans from $5M - $1B Dollars.
Preliminary Commitments are issued within as little as 48-72 hours.

Group, Inc.


FOCUS of SWFL 2010 19


A Story of Faith:
Teen’s Fight against Cancer
Written by: Tyler Gibson She recalls her experiences of how family members would try to explain to her what everything meant, and how she refused to listen to the heart-breaking news. Soon after, Donnelly prepared to fight a strong fight, undergoing three types of chemotherapy and a tune up chemo treatment eight days later, for a duration of three months. She went through five surgeries, while dealing with the common side effects from the chemo treatment, which included nausea, mouth sores, back and leg pains, and “the taste of metal every time I ate.” She also needed shots in her arm to help build up her white cells after receiving treatment. While most celebrate their sweet 16 with parties and hanging with friends, Donnelly began to fear the inevitable, when she started losing her hair on her birthday. She later shaved it off on Thanksgiving. “I was scared. I wondered what people were going to think about me when I lost my hair, and how people would act towards me. I feared that cancer would win,” she said. Donnelly admitted that she and her father were never that close, but the fight against cancer, helped pull them together. “He was there when I needed a shoulder to cry on,” she said. “And he would tell me, ‘Kerri I’m so proud of you’ and ‘bald is beauti-


I wondered what people were going to think about me when I lost my hair,
20 FOCUS of SWFL 2010

“I would be lying if I said that cancer didn’t impact my life, because it makes me who I am today,” Kerri Donnelly, a recent North Port graduate once said. People say life isn’t fair or that everything happens for a reason. But, during difficult situations, you always ask yourself, why it had to be you, or why you had to be the one to go through it. She described her childhood as good, filled with a loving family, and great memories to cherish. On Sept. 7, 2007, Donnelly was given the news that changed her life, “You have cancer.” She was 15 years old when diagnosed with Stage 2A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She admits, “I was in so much shock because I went to the doctor’s appoint for a checkup and they found the lump in my neck.”

ful, don’t ever forget that.’” She admits many people have supported her throughout her battle with cancer, but her family and boyfriend AJ Mazzone, helped her a lot during the difficult times. Despite the challenges of battling cancer, Donnelly learned the importance of a positive attitude and outlook on life. “Because of this [experience], I realized not to take things for granted because you never know what life will throw at you. My battle through cancer made me a stronger person, helped build solid relationships, gave me determination to conquer and be successful,” she said. “I would be lying if I said I never think about my cancer coming back because it’s on my mind all the time. I feel like this fear will never go away. But I’m told that I have amazing people in my life, that if it does come back I know I won’t ever be alone.” Editor’s Note: To this day, Donnelly had remained cancer-free and in remission for over two and half years. Kerri went through a process called egg hasting, a procedure that enabled her to receive nine eggs, allow-

ing her the chance to have children in the future. She wants to thank everyone that donated and made it possible. Kerri graduated North Port High School in June 2010, and will be attending Hillsborough Community College in Tampa in the fall. **the third most common childhood malignancy. The U.S. has 800 new cases each year.

FOCUS of SWFL 2010 21




Real World
While some, like Johnson, will be staying close to home, Lashawnda Anderson, a Venice High graduate, and Alexeya Eyma-Manderson, from North Port High, will be traveling miles to attend school. The next four years will give them a taste of what the real world is all about.

or Erin Johnson, 17, her high school years were filled with new friends and friends that have become more like family, excitement, laughter, traveling, and just “plain ol’ fun” But soon she, among other recent high school graduates, will develop skills that will prepare them for what lies ahead.

Written by: Tyler Gibson

High school graduates will soon star in their own reality TV show. As the new school year progressed, the challenges and obstacles will ensure as they step into the scenes of the real world. No, not the hit reality show on MTV, but a more sophisticated approach, real drama, and real challenges, those attending college will be expected to face. But luckily, for some southwest Florida teens, they have their goals in mind and already have taken the first step to achieve a higher education.

“Don’t lose track of time, make sure you have ”

everything planned out and know your deadlines for scholarships and college applications.
Erin Johnson – Venice, Florida Graduate of Riverview High School Attending: State College of Florida

“My dance teacher exposed me to various different styles

of dance and pushed me to be open to new things. Because of her influence my passion for dance has grown and I have decided that dance is what I want to do with my life.”
Photos by: Tami Garcia

Alexeya Eyma-Manderson – North Port, Florida Graduate of North Port High School Attending: University of South Florida

on all the hard work they accomplished up to this point. I’ve learned you’ve been in the race for all your life, now it’s time to cross the finish line.”
22 FOCUS of SWFL 2010

“Senior year is the time where everyone wants to bail out

Lashawnda Anderson – Laurel, Florida Graduate of Venice High School Attending: Santa Fe College

FOCUS of SWFL 2010 23

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful