THOM 8 | Spring / Summer 2017

ThomArts

Volume 5 | issue 1

SPRING/SUMMER 2017


Volume 5 | Issue 1

Spring/Summer 2017

Editor & Publisher

Michele Arwood

CREATIVE Director

Haile McCollum

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Production Manager

Margret Brinson

Marketing Liaison

Ronnie Stripling

Advancement Director

Jenny Dell

copy Editor

Jennifer Westfield

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Lindsey Strippoli

Photographers

Kelli Boyd

Andrew Cebulka

Weiss Eubanks

Abby Mims Faircloth

Gabe Hanway

Chase Lee

Alicia Osborne

Jo Anne Richardson

Ronnie Stripling

Lean Timms

Jay Trevino

85

Writers

Alison Abbey

Ben Brown

Andrea Goto

Natalie Kirbo

Callie Sewell

Amanda Sieradzki

Jackie Zantow

Interns

Tan Dang

Igor dos Santos

thomasvillearts.org

600 E. Washington St.,Thomasville, GA

229.226.0588

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contents

Spring/Summer 2017

VISIONARY

7 Paint Without Borders

Audra Pittman

7

PLACEMAKERS

11 HOLY WATERS

Saints of Old Florida

CREATORS

17 COLLECTED WORKS

Erin & Kent Smith

HEADLINERS

23 TRUE GRIT

Turnpike Troubadours

29 THOM GUIDE

79

CONNECTORS

79 LEAPS AND BOUNDS

Leapfrog Public Relations

TASTEMAKERS

85 A TASTE OF STORYTELLING

The Farmer & The Larder

MUSICMAKER

91 A STAR IS REBORN

Jo Smith

97 Featured Artists

91

Cover photo by Gabe Hanway


Letter From

the Editor

One of the more fascinating aspects of the work we do at the Center for

the Arts is the chance we get to explore the edges of emerging trends when

they are still a bit blurry. It’s a natural part of our work as we seek out early

movements that are piquing the interests of the culturally curious.

Lately, there’s a rise in chatter among thinkers in the arts about the

evolution of ideas and why some never become a reality, while others seem

to be propelled by an extraordinary force of nature. It’s not a new topic but

one that continues to cycle in and out of discussions as we all adapt to our

rapid fire world of ideas.

It’s fairly clear we’re marked for a new era as more delve into the power of

a catalyst.

In the laboratory, a catalyst is the ingredient that gives a molecular

collision the energy it needs to reach a transition state faster than it

would if left alone. In our communities, catalysts can be people or factors

that speed up the reaction rate for ideas that would otherwise move

inconveniently slow. It is the force that makes an idea happen. And, get

this, they return to their normal condition after a reaction is complete. I

like to think this means they don’t just fade away after the first reaction –

they can be powerful forces time and time again.

THOM

The Center was born from an idea set in motion by

our founders thirty years ago. They were the change

makers – catalysts – of their time for our organization

and many others in our community. Theirs was an

incredible power that drove the preservation of the

historic assets that make Thomasville a unique place

to live. We’ve come a long way since their vision for a home for the arts

was first introduced and have felt a deep sense of responsibility to carry

forward their work while we cultivated an environment where the diverse,

creative facets of our culture can thrive.

THOM began with an idea to create a space to share the work of people

who are shaping the creative life of our community. It was a thought that

It was a thought that was propelled by

the power of passionate people with

determination to make it happen.

3


was propelled by the power of passionate people

with determination to make it happen. Little did

we know when we designed the first issue that it

would be become the “chemical agent” that would

lead our organization to set a new vision for the

next era. TCA just wrapped up an exhilarating,

long range planning process that allowed us the

time to explore where we have been, where we are

today and where we hope to be over the next few

years. The essence of THOM continued to be at the

forefront of our discussions as we set a vision for

the work we plan to do in the future – work that is

grounded by creativity, collaboration, community

and that honors our broad culture.

We’re aiming to design an organization that is more

nimble – one that will allow us to innovate in order

to respond to the evolving needs of our community.

We have long served as a place to connect with

each other through the arts, but changing market

needs and new modes of engagement are pushing

us to discover further ways to make an impact.

We’re stepping outside the boundaries of a

traditional arts institution and shifting our work

to catalyze the future of arts education, artistic

expression and the creative economy. Driving this

new mission is a very clear and energizing vision:

to inspire our community.

With this new vision, we’ll reach beyond providing

the artistic programs that you have always

counted on and work alongside our community to

encourage the development of fresh approaches

to build on what our predecessors did to make

Thomasville great.

talented people who we are certain do not fully

grasp the tremendous role their ideas have played

in changing a mindset or marketplace.

As you enjoy the latest stories, we hope you will be

intrigued by the possibilities that lie ahead. Watch

us as we shift from merely enriching our creative

life to being that extra ingredient that helps our

community bring new ideas to life!

In this issue – our 8th! – we take a look back at the

evolution of THOM and how it has influenced the

Center’s new direction. We also introduce you to a

few catalysts in their own right: creatives who have

fueled movements in their industries, cities and

the workplace. They are remarkably humble and

Michele Arwood

Executive Director

Thomasville Center for the Arts

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TCA MISSION:

to serve as a catalyst for artistic

expression, arts education and

the creative economy.

TCA Vision:

to

inspire our

community

Fall 2013

Volume 1 - Issue 1

partners support

39 THOM’s launch –

part magazine, part guide,

part documentary – THOM

profiles the people shaping

our creative life.

January 2013:

21

of the South’s

hottest young

talents from SCAD

Atlanta help design

the first concept.

THOM has become a touchstone for how Thomasville Center for

the Arts envisions the work we will do in the future: creative,

collaborative, connected, community driven, and, above all, inspiring.

5


2016 marked

30

years

for Thomasville

Center for the Arts

over the last

8 issues

of THOM

{

Fall 2016:

Volume 4 - Issue 2

THOM wins the Gold Addy Award for Magazine

Design and 1 of 3 Judges’ Choice Awards

given by the American Advertising Federation

of Tallahassee and will move on to the regional

competition.

65

72

writers, designers

and photographers

thinkers, artists,

visionaries, muses,

connectors, tastemakers

and collaborators

Thomasville Center for

the Arts reaches more than

85,000

people

each year.

6


VISIONARY

paint

without

borders

Written by

Amanda Sieradzki

Photographed by

Jo Anne Richardson

Audra Pittman is prepared to

practice what she preaches. Situated

geographically on Thomasville Road, she

stands and ponders the outside wall of

her home that faces the well-trafficked

street. Her husband insists on piano

keys while she’s interested in more

abstract images. They always circle back

to the fact that they could paint over

whatever the wall might become – after

all, it’s just paint.

“We’ve let go of the fact that anything

has to be permanent in order to go up,”

remarks Audra. “I think it would be a

fun stepping stone from Tallahassee to

Thomasville.”

What was once a comical discussion

is now becoming a real possibility as

Audra looks to friends and colleagues

who might just bring their concepts

to life. The unstoppable team at Street

Art Tallahassee, Chiara and Daniel

McCluskey, are proving that you can

work all kinds of magic with just a few

7


VISIONARY

8


VISIONARY

buckets of paint – with Audra aiding them at the

helm of Tallahassee’s cultural renaissance.

In addition to being the executive director of

Tallahassee’s Council on Culture & Arts (COCA),

Audra serves on the Board of Trustees for the

Thomasville Center for the Arts and is on the

Advisory Board for the Savannah College of Art and

Design (SCAD), after serving there as chair for the

Department of Professional Education for four years.

She’s motivated by the unknown, which draws her

close to sculptors and muralists alike, as they create

larger-than-life pieces out of unlikely materials. The

famous Wynwood Walls in Miami were unfamiliar

to Audra until she met Chiara and Daniel, whose

hand in transforming that cultural district left them

bursting with ideas for Tallahassee’s forgotten nooks

and crannies after relocating.

With Audra’s initiative, the city took special notice

of the duo’s idea to transform a barren underpass

on South Monroe Street. Coordinating for months

between city managers and CSX to ensure the

project’s funding and approvals, international artist

BirdO’s smoothly spray painted egret emerged from

neon geometric cubes in a mere two days.

“That mural was a game changer that said things are

happening down here,” says Audra. “Concrete is not

forgiving and just the application of paint makes you

stop and want to take a picture to be a part of it.”

One by one the walls have acquired eyes, noses,

ears, entire faces; human and animal, natural

and supernatural, whether realistic or abstracted.

People began asking questions about the pieces

with palpable excitement, garnering them online

attention and media coverage. Audra reflects on

how these changes have invigorated local artists,

expanded their definitions of canvas and learning

new techniques, and given makers and creators a

reason to return to their hometowns.

Her “pie in the sky” dream is to see Tallahassee’s

landmark locations like the business corridor

between Railroad Square and Cascades Park

metamorphose into works of art. She remembers

smiling as her daughters watched in wide-eyed

wonder at artist Reinier Gamboa’s creation of the

Music Alley Mural at the Centre of Tallahassee;

she feels it’s important to normalize experiences

9


VISIONARY

“There’s no red velvet

rope blocking you from

interacting with a piece

or finding one you can

connect with – it’s just

there for you.”

of watching, meeting and working with artists like

Gamboa, proving that public art is for everyone.

“A lot of times people are hesitant to express

interest in the arts because they don’t understand

them,” says Audra. “Public art transforms the

ordinary, banal, dirty stuff you pass by and makes

you slow down to look at it in a new light. There’s no

red velvet rope blocking you from interacting with a

piece or finding one you can connect with – it’s just

there for you.”

As momentum for public art grows, Audra is

simultaneously in awe of Thomasville’s burgeoning

public arts scene. Temporary murals have covered

historic buildings, pop-up shops have helped the

Sturdy Brothers expand their business and a yarn

bombing event has spurred business for the Fuzzy

Goat. She likens Thomasville’s atmosphere to

SCAD’s, where everything feels on the cutting edge,

open to new ways of thinking and not getting stuck

for fear of change.

“The Center for the Arts has proven that art

transforms a community,” states Audra. “They’ve

done it in a way that honors the historic properties

downtown and introduces the new, hip and youthful

energy.”

the dialogue, as public art installations and cultural

districts are sparked on either side of the Florida-

Georgia line, and take any qualms out of investing in

these works. Audra emphasizes how far a little paint

can go to portray stories as rich as Tallahassee’s

Smokey Hollow neighborhood or as iconic as

Thomasville’s heritage and traditions.

“The point of public art is to invoke discussion,

invite conversations and to get people excited,”

affirms Audra. “Music is a soundtrack to our life and

art is the soundtrack to a city. Public art brands a

community because it’s a story everyone can tell.”

Wanting to connect the two cities that are “just a

drive away,” Audra looks forward to working with

the Center to break bread with business owners, city

administrators, commissioners and local artists at a

future “Art on the Line” event. She hopes to continue

Dr. Audra Pittman

Executive Director

Council on Culture & Arts (COCA)

tallahasseearts.org

10


PLACEMAKERS

holy

waters

Written by

Natalie Bristol Kirbo

Photographed by

Lean Timms

“This is a fishing village, first and foremost. Life here revolves around the water,”

says Christina McDermott, the eldest of the three women behind the Saints of

Old Florida book, and the self-professed cook of the group. She sits on her front

porch and sips a hard-earned beer. You can do that in the middle of the day at

the beach.

We are chatting after lunch, after a morning Christina spent mowing the lawn

in front of her cottage in Port Saint Joe, Florida. “From my viewpoint,” she

says, “having grown up in a very different culture, this place is unique and it

fascinates me. I wanted to share my experience here.”

The daughter of a businessman, Christina was born and raised in Mexico after

World War II before moving to Texas in high school. Later in life, Atlanta was a

landing place, which is where she met Melissa Mitchell Farrell, who introduced

her to Port Saint Joe.

Port Saint Joe became her refuge, a place to escape from the city. Now retired

and calling it home, Christina spends her time pedaling her green and pink

beach cruiser around town, and driving down Highway 98 to take pictures,

which she later transforms into watercolor paintings.

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There is a true holiness

to be found, whether in

the midst of clinking

glasses and candlelight

or on an old truck

tailgate, when sinners

and saints gather round.

12


PLACEMAKERS

“Melissa is the connection

between most everyone

involved with Saints of

Old Florida,” Christina

says. Melissa brought

Christina into her fold,

both personally and

professionally. Although

Christina was an artist

and a teacher by trade,

Melissa eventually hired

her to help out at her

lovely little shop, Joseph’s

Cottage, where their

friendship and the idea

for the book bloomed.

Melissa, a Thomasville

transplant to the coast,

has had a long-term

relationship with Old

Florida. Her greatgrandparents,

Emmett

and Lil Mitchell, along

with friend Vereen Bell, Sr.

and his wife, Flonnie, had

a fishing camp in Panacea

called Rock Landing.

She spent her childhood

visiting the coast.

When I ask why she

ultimately moved here,

Melissa’s response is a

memory. After bouncing all over the country, she

was home from Seattle for a week, visiting nearby

Saint Theresa with her mother. On the drive to the

Panama City airport, she distinctly remembers

looking out the window at Saint Joe Bay and

thinking, This feels like home.

A few years later, after a move to Charleston, then

back to Thomasville as a newlywed, PoJo – as locals

affectionately call it – became her home and she’s

never left.

As all locals do, she had to get creative when it came

to making a living. Blessed with a keen eye for color

and design, she opened Joseph’s Cottage, named for

her firstborn, in a tiny wooden house downtown.

She has since settled into a historic building on the

main drag, Reid Avenue. “My business has rooted me

here,” she says. “I love the idea of making something

tangible; becoming a part of the community.”

In many ways, Melissa has done more than become

part of the community here – she has built her own

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PLACEMAKERS

– which culminated in this book. Each customer

is a new friend and Joseph’s Cottage is a place to

swap recipes and stories, to pick up a gift or treat.

Whether you stop by her shop or you see her out

and about, a trip to PoJo without seeing Melissa is

unusual. And more often than not, whatever it is

she’s doing, she’s liable to invite you to tag along.

That’s just how it is with the Saints. This place and

its people welcome you in like an old fishing buddy,

no matter your story (but they’d like to hear it, if

you’ve got a good one).

“It was true synchronicity,” Christina explains; she

arrived back from Santa Barbara, inspired to get to

work on their book project. Emily’s arrival in the

meantime was the product of truly divine timing.

The three women promptly set to work on the

monumental task of capturing the spirit of a place

between two covers.

Breaking Bread

From then on, many hours were spent around

Christina’s dinner table, cooking, eating, drinking

wine and writing down recipes, names and stories.

Emily Raffield, the born-and-raisedhere,

5th generation heir to a family

fishing legacy, and youngest of the

three, describes home as “a place

where things are fully understood,

no explaining or justifying is ever

needed.” That goes for you, too.

You’re given space here – as Emily

describes it, grace here – to be who

you are and do what you want.

Now a twenty-something

tastemaker, splitting her time

between PoJo and Atlanta, Emily

spread her wings after high school,

leaving Saint Joe Bay behind

and moving to Tallahassee, then

Atlanta, attempting to embrace the

corporate hustle and buzz of the

big city. After a while, though, burnt

out and worn down, she realized it

was time to follow her true North

and fly South: “Who I am is partly

where I’m from,” she says, “and it

was time to reconnect with that

part of me.”

Upon setting foot back on squeaky

white sands, and in Christina’s

extended absence for her

daughter’s wedding, Emily took

up stead at Joseph’s Cottage, too.

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PLACEMAKERS

“We’re attracting people who can appreciate it, which

helps. I grew up in this historic home that my dad

basically saved from being torn down – we have a

history here of seeing value in something and saving it.

We want to see people with that same spirit here, no

matter where they’re from.”

15


PLACEMAKERS

Providing a bit of initial inspiration was a gift from

Melissa’s father, a collection of colorfully written

fishing logs belonging to her great-grandfather

Mitchell – pen set to paper by self-proclaimed “4th

Mate,” Pete Yorkman. Written in 1945, the accounts

provide a glimpse not only into the rambunctious

excursions themselves, but also perhaps into why

Melissa, Christina and Emily felt compelled to

continue the tradition of recording the stories of this

place, its food and its people:

"The speckled beauty they gaffed was much admired by

those aboard the mother ship. Libations were certainly in

order and many toasts added to the frolic of these famous

tours. The cuisine was as usual excellent and rounded out

another happy log in the annals of Mitchell Tours. It may

be well to note that our famous sea-sick remedy, 'Lilflon'

was not required, which in itself spoke highly for the

rugged fortitude of our guests."

Rather than write a story about the seafaring

adventures of her great-grandparents and their dear

friends herself, Melissa connected with Vereen Bell,

Jr., now an English professor at Vanderbilt University,

and asked him to write about the families’ fishing

ventures instead. “To have him write it from his

perspective was a way to preserve his family history,

too,” she says.

And so, with every turn of the page, you get the

feeling that you, too, are sitting right there at a very

long table, eating, laughing – maybe a little too hard,

thanks to a couple Lilflon cocktails – and listening

to the stories of the Saints. This book is a storybook,

yes, but it just wouldn’t have felt right without the

recipes scattered throughout its pages. After all, no

matter where you are, we all know that the best

stories are best told in between bites.

Do This in Remembrance

Like the contributors to this book, each of these

three women has their own story to tell and their

own reasons for their reverence of Port Saint Joe.

Christina, Melissa and Emily come from three

different backgrounds and represent three different

generations and three different perspectives. What

these three do share is what we all share – a wish to

preserve a place, to create a record of what it was in

order to serve as a sort of guidepost for what it will

be.

"When the ice box was full, the skipper headed for home,

directly into the face of the setting sun which was fast

sinking over the horizon and whose rays, blending with

the deep shadows of the evergreens along the shore, gave

a picture of peaceful solitude and served a fitting climax

for a golden day never to be forgotten."

–from The Logs of Mitchell Tours

SAINTS OF OLD FLORIDA

saintsofoldflorida.com

16


“We’re a lot of things

to a lot of people, and we

absolutely love it”

Coll

Written by

Jackie Zantow

Photographed by

Ronnie Stripling

It’s a characteristically warm January in Savannah when I get in touch with Kent

and Erin Smith, a couple who effuse the essence of cool, even over speakerphone

after landing three time zones away, in sunny Los Angeles.

If you’ve ever met them, you know that one word isn’t enough to get to the

center of the Smiths. Every piece of Kent and Erin is like a different, multicolored

facet – tattoos, high fashion, classical art, hip-hop, family values, heavy metal,

17


ected

18


CREATORS

“It’s totally a

family business.”

19


CREATORS

kitschy phrases, porcelain teacups – and each piece

is as compelling and extraordinary as the next. It all

pulls together into this kaleidoscopic monolith that

gets to the core of the Smith kind of cool.

When we catch up, they’re running on fumes from

their first holiday season as purveyors of Smith

Collective, an artist-centric Thomasville storefront

that offers every item you never knew you needed,

like a baby doll sconce or the snarkiest handpainted,

gold embossed tea cups to ever come this

far south of the Mason-Dixon line. Situated on South

Broad Street next to Grassroots Coffee, the blacks

and whites of Erin’s displays entreat the eye like a

visual charcuterie under glass, welcoming visitors to

one of the many outward expressions of the Smith

family mosaic.

“We’re a lot of things to a lot of people, and we

absolutely love it,” says Erin. “We want to bring

you that cool new beauty thing or the fun new art

supplies and quality, unique home décor. I could go

on. All of it is such a blast to pull together.”

Fitting a bill of this size requires connections and

know-how, two resources the couple has cultivated

with every passport stamp and road trip, many of

which have been memorialized on Kent. “I think

I had one tattoo when I started, and through the

travel it’s just continued,” he says, laughing. “It

becomes almost like a scrapbook of where you’ve

traveled to, where you’ve been in your experiences.”

Work and pleasure have given the Southern-grown

pair their fair share of travels, with the Smiths

having touched down in almost every corner of the

globe, due, in part, to Kent’s work with Illustrated

Monthly, his revolutionary art reference publishing

20


CREATORS

any top fashion executive. She

and Kent joke that it’s often

difficult to visit a city without

knowing somebody there, as

every trip mixes inspiration

with a dose of business,

whether it’s in finding new

artists or spotting upcoming

trends.

“We truly enjoy finding

amazingly talented artists and

bringing them all together,”

explains Erin. “Thomasville and

everyone who is coming in the

store and shopping us online

are responding in a positive

way to the goods and style

we’re bringing in.”

As humble as Kent and Erin

may be, the local positivity isn’t

just a product of quality goods.

There’s a sense of passion and

purpose behind every facet of

what they do, a testament to

Erin’s lifelong affinity for sales

and Kent’s uncanny artistic

sensibility – not to forget

their unwavering, but still

approachable, persona of being

both in vogue and out of vogue

at the same time (and not

really caring either way).

company that’s produced 180 e-books and eight

physical publications and boasts over two million

online followers.

Erin’s impressive fashion and retail background

contributes to her side of the duet. From styling for

music videos, live television and even the Grand Ole

Opry, to running national merchandising teams for

international brands, she has a contact list worthy of

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve

been obsessed with business and retail,” says Erin.

“My grandfather was a professor and a missionary

but always had a penchant for fashion, so he

moonlit at a local department store in Birmingham.

I remember it, being just three, and watching

him sell on the floor, watching suits get tailored,

watching people merchandise, mannequins being

changed, putting things on the floor, and I absolutely

adored it. And I remember, when I decided to go to

21


CREATORS

“Thomasville and everyone who is coming in the store

and shopping us online are responding in a positive

way to the goods and style we’re bringing in.”

school for retail and textiles, my family said, ‘Oh my

god, what are you doing? You’re never going to do

anything with that.’”

Defying those die-cut odds, the Smiths combined

their talents into a three-part web of creations,

with Smith Collective serving as the brick-andmortar

storefront, Illustrated Monthly keeping up

with the artisan world and Catapult, their social

media marketing company that punts the ventures

forward.

But, at the end of the day, the Smiths are a family

affair. Kent and Erin have two children, Asher,

age three, and Stella, age eight, both of whom are

natural fits on the sales floor and already have a

strong sense of style.

“Stella is excellent at selling,” stresses Erin. “It’s

totally a family business, and Stella can’t wait to go

to markets with me. But hey, I wish she could come

some places because that’s our current and future

customer. She’s got her finger on the pulse just as

much as anyone, in a lot of ways.”

The Smiths take care to nurture their children’s

budding artistic and entrepreneurial spirits, with

the little ones having an upstairs play area in Smith

Collective. Kent even turns some of Stella’s work

into high-quality prints, with a portion of the print

sales benefiting children’s charities in Thomasville.

Although Asher is still gaining his storefront sea

legs, he’s occasionally found alongside Stella on

Saturdays spent at the shop.

“It really was always our dream to be in a space

where we could work and travel together,” says Erin.

“We always knew we wanted to work together, and

I think this has exceeded our expectations. We have

so many fun projects coming up and new people

reaching out to us all the time. We really think 2017

is going to be even cooler than 2016.”

And what’s in store for this year? The couple is

confident that Thomasville and beyond will be

ready for their next waves of honest, crafted art and

modern, conceptual products.

SMITH COLLECTIVE

120 Broad St, Thomasville, GA

shopsmithcollective.com

illustratedmonthly.com

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23


HEADLINERS

Written by

Andrea Goto

Photographed by

Jay Trevino

When I ask R.C. “The Rooster” Edwards, bassist of The Turnpike Troubadours

and an Oklahoma native, if he feels that the rest of America may be looking

toward the center now, more than ever, in large part to better understand who

we are as a country, he pauses thoughtfully. We’re on the phone, but I imagine

him rubbing his thick beard or rearranging his cowboy hat before he replies in

a warm, country twang, “I hope so. It’s easy for the people who aren’t here to

forget about people like us. Maybe they are paying more attention.”

But if we look into a microscope positioned over Oklahoma, what will we

discover?

“We’re definitely in a very gray zone where the Midwest meets the South,

meets the Southwest, even,” Edwards explains. “We’ve always just been such a

The music is authentic, complex and

perfectly imperfect, just like the

characters who live in their songs. Not

surprisingly, these characters are culled

from real men and women trying to find

their way in modern, rural America.

24


HEADLINERS

hodgepodge culture from the Indian removals to

the land runs. It’s definitely like a middle-America

melting-pot situation.”

The melting-pot metaphor also perfectly describes

The Troubadours’ red dirt music, which draws its

name from the bright red soil that cloaks one million

acres in Oklahoma.

Of the Earth

A composite of country, rock, blues, Cajun, punk

and funk in varying proportions, red dirt resists

definition and instead relies on place and a list of

influences to describe it. Edwards notes how red dirt

musicians such as Woodie Guthrie, Tom Skinner,

Cross Canadian Ragweed and Garth Brooks shaped

The Troubadours’ gritty sound.

Some critics argue that red dirt is too baggy a term

for classification, while others believe that the

name best characterizes not a particular sound, but

rather a spirit that’s not bound by industry rules

or trends. In the case of The Troubadours, their

music is what it wants to be – sometimes more

funky than folksy, sometimes more political than

social – and sometimes everything all at once. The

music is authentic, complex and perfectly imperfect,

just like the characters who live in their songs.

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Not surprisingly, these

characters are culled from

real men and women

trying to find their way in

modern, rural America.

While The Troubadours’

four studio albums – the

most recent of which

debuted at number three

on Billboard’s country

chart – sold-out venues,

and tour stops from

Denver to Thomasville,

the band manages to

exist mostly unaffected

by the slick and polished

big music world of Los

Angeles or Nashville.

Perhaps, in part, because

The Troubadours remain

physically and spiritually

rooted in Oklahoma.

Deeply Rooted

Edwards, along with the

other members of the

band, singer and guitarist

Evan Felker, Fiddler

Kyle Nix, guitarist Ryan

Engleman and drummer

Gabe Pearson, all agreed

early on that they would

keep eastern Oklahoma as

their home base.

“Why leave when we

can tour a different

direction every week from

Oklahoma and have a

six-hour head start on

the guys from Austin

or Nashville?” Edwards

asks. “I don’t know why

more bands aren’t living

DUE SOUTH presented by

Three nights of the sights, sounds and tastes of the South –

woven together to create an engaging tapestry of artistic

expression inspired by our shared heritage!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Brew South

at Sweet Grass Cheese Shop

5:30PM — 10PM | No Ticket Required

Due South weekend kicks off with live music, giveaways, craft

beer and a curated Brew South menu at Thomasville’s own

Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop!

friday, April 21, 2017

Rhythm & Roots: Songwriters in the Round

at The Biscuit Company

supported by Thomasville Entertainment Foundation

7PM — 9PM | $65 | BYOB – Dinner Included

Meet us for a casual night of music in the round featuring Jo

Smith, Mark Nesler, Brett Jones and Brent Anderson. These

prominent singer-songwriters will share the stories and tunes

that influence their lives and work. Bring your favorite beverage

to enjoy along with a delicious dinner by John Thomas Catering.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

DUE SOUTH Concert

at Thomasville’s New Amphitheater

4PM — 11PM | General Admission $20 | All Ages

Gates Open: 4PM

••

Entrance at the unvacant lot – 217 W. Jackson St.

••

Handicap accessible between 114 – 118 S. Madison St.

••

Bring a chair or blanket, enjoy snacks from the Food Truck Fest

and Beer Garden and check out the pre-concert

activities including public art supported

by Hurst Boiler and a welcome

wagon by Flowers Auto Group.

On Stage:

5PM New 76ers

6PM

8PM

Cordovas

Turnpike Troubadours

26


DUE SOUTH Sponsor Exclusives

Presented by Thomasville National Bank

Saturday, April 22, 2017

5PM — 6PM | New! Happy Hour Sip & See

at Studio 209 Warehouse

Supported by Proof Brewing Co.

View the photographs of Lean Timms, originally published

in Saints of Old Florida, while savoring fresh oysters from

Harper’s Seafood, signature cocktails by Liam’s and Cathead

Vodka, and craft beers from Tallahassee’s Proof Brewing.

6PM | Dinner Bell

New! Southern Supper on Studio 209 Lawn

Supported by Ashley HomeStore

Food alchemist Jovan Sage and CheFarmer Matthew Raiford

from Brunswick’s The Farmer & The Larder, will bring a fresh

food experience to the Due South dinner table on the lawn!

The Cordovas will take the stage during dinner and fill the air

with their unique Nashville sound.

6PM | New! Sponsor Lounge

This sponsors-only area provided by our presenting partner,

Thomasville National Bank, opens with the Southern Supper

and lasts throughout the night. Enjoy complimentary beer

and wine and indulge in a signature cocktail provided

by Liam’s and Cathead Vodka. Laid-back seating, indoor

bathrooms, late night bites and preferred concert viewing

make this the place to be!

8PM — 11PM

On Stage: Turnpike Troubadours

Preferred Viewing

Get up close to enjoy the kickin’ blend of rock, Cajun,

bluegrass and folk music influences that create the unique

red dirt sound of Oklahoma’s Turnpike Troubadours. Bring

your lawn chair for a chilled-out experience.

in Oklahoma or Kansas,

honestly.”

I think we know exactly

why musicians venture

away from their middle

American roots – because

the shiny “out there” is so

tempting, so tightly tied to

the notion of “making it.”

But the risk is always that

when you go “out there,”

you may forget the place

from which you came. You

risk being absorbed by the

mainstream, diluting what

made you unique.

By contrast, The

Troubadours take the red

dirt sounds of Oklahoma

and unapologetically

present them to the

world. They do not alter

their performance,

whether they’re playing

to a sold-out crowd

at Cain’s Ballroom in

Tulsa or a moderately

populated punk rock club

in Scandinavia (both true

stories). They share the red

dirt of Oklahoma with a

world that otherwise might

never know about it.

Then they come home.

Looking Inward

Oklahoma’s red dirt gets

its color from iron oxide,

but the pigment carries

a special meaning to the

people who have built

their lives atop it. It gets

27


HEADLINERS

“I think we know exactly why musicians venture

away from their middle American roots – because

the shiny ‘out there’ is so tempting, so tightly tied to

the notion of ‘making it.’ But the risk is always that

when you go ‘out there,’ you may forget the place from

which you came.”

under the nails, ground into clothes and even stains

the skin. But to be marked by the soil goes beyond

the physical; the land also colors the identity of its

inhabitants.

The red dirt and all that it historically signifies –

including the violent relocation of Native Americans

during Westward Expansion, the rush of the land

runs in the late 1800s, and the toil to endure the

Dust Bowl during the Depression – undoubtedly

bleeds into the unrestrained and unaffected sounds

of The Turnpike Troubadours. It’s a sound, a history

and a place worth paying attention to, because we

might just learn something about ourselves.

turnpike troubadours

turnpiketroubadours.com

28


“One place understood

helps us understand all places better.”

-Eudora Welty


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ONE TWENTY

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SOUTH BROAD

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Art Supplies Sketchbooks Home Accessories

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Prints Jelly Men’s Grooming Socks

Local. Global | www.ShopSmithCollective.com


CONNECTORS

leaps

and

bounds

Written by

Callie Sewell

Photographed by

Andrew Cebulka

“Can you call Vogue and check to see if we got in?”

Jackie Thomson had just asked me. She then proceeded

to casually explain that the fashion magazine of all

fashion magazines had called Leapfrog to fact check,

but nothing was a guarantee until the book went to

print. And by now, it should be at the printer.

All I could think was, Can I call Vogue…can I call Vogue?

VOGUE.

“Sure,” I said, backing out of Jackie’s little office,

attempting to hide my nervousness. I’d called plenty

of people on behalf of Leapfrog, during the public

relations internship I had secured in Charleston, South

Carolina, after graduating from the University of

Georgia, but never had I called Vogue.

I dialed and spoke with the Vogue fact checker. Sure

enough, Leapfrog’s client, Jane Pope Jewelry, was going

to be featured in the March issue.

79


“As long as

you care – like,

genuinely care –

about your client

and the success of

their business, it

always translates,”

Jackie says

today. “I do, and

I always have.”

80


CONNECTORS

When I went back to share the good news, excitement

electrified the office and I remember how cool it felt

to be part of that moment – how smart these women

were, in this little space off of East Bay Street. Maybe

this public relations field wasn’t just about press

releases and presentations, after all.

Fast forward to almost a decade later – I’m sitting down

with my two previous bosses from my most favorite

internship. Jackie Thomson and Libba Osborne, the

partners of the creative planning firm Leapfrog, are just

as chic as ever, both in skinny jeans and ballet flats.

Their entrepreneurial ride has taken them to a new

office that is not so little; it is a vibrant co-working

space within a historic building, with pops of melon

and turquoise, stained cement floors and sleek

modern desks mixed with rattan wingback chairs and

a matching bar cart. Leapfrog is celebrating its 20th

anniversary this year; Libba and Jackie are celebrating

nine years as co-owners.

“As long as you care – like, genuinely care – about

your client and the success of their business, it always

translates,” Jackie says. “I do, and I always have.”

“You get pulled into these small businesses, far beyond

the marketing needs,” Libba echoes. “I will ride that

entrepreneurial roller coaster with them – plus, we’re

riding our own. Our firm is really based in things that

make life more fun, more joyful. We truly work with

lifestyle businesses.”

Leapfrog’s clients range from established to emerging

brands across the South – some, like Schermer Pecans

and Blackberry Patch, hail from our area.

Leapfrog has helped these lifestyle brands become

household names. Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, one

of Libba’s clients, grew from owner Carey Morey

vacuum sealing biscuits in her laundry room, to a

robust wholesale business with two storefronts and an

invitation to cook in Bon Appetit’s test kitchen when the

biscuit brand turned ten.

Jackie launched rising swimsuit designer Marysia

81


CONNECTORS

“Everyone has gotten

more of an education on

the South in the past five

to eight years. They’ve

been forced to think of it

outside the box a little bit –

they’re seeing beyond the

stereotypes.”

Reeves and positioned her luxury swimwear brand,

Marysia, as a beach and poolside staple. Today,

Marysia’s famously scalloped-edge suits are in over

100 retailers and are a fashion magazine and celebrity

favorite, seen on the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Lupita

Nyong’o, Jessica Alba and more.

Both Jackie and Libba are storytelling experts. They

not only know how to tell a story, but can identify

the best angle at the right time and punctuate it with

great packaging, killer photography and strategic

thoughtfulness.

“We love working with brands that are relatively new,

trying to find a new niche or are wanting to rebrand,”

Jackie shares. “We love telling their stories – pulling out

those things that are really different and interesting –

and helping them develop content. This is where we’ve

seen our business evolve, on the brand development

and consulting side.”

Libba gives the example of Thomasville’s very own

Schermer Pecans, which celebrated its 70th anniversary

last year. “It was a great way to revisit how the company

was founded, and we got to go back and tell that

story of pride in a deeper way,” she says. “There was

nothing better than partnering with them and seeing

them acknowledged for what they’ve done. I have

82


CONNECTORS

Interested in a creative planning firm for your

business? Here’s a bit of advice from Libba:

“It has to be a good fit for both sides. From the potential client’s standpoint, he or she has to have a

sales channel and be ready to let go of a piece of their business. They should be looking for someone

to trust and who will represent them in the way they want to be represented.

From our standpoint, we are looking at the whole package – whether they will they be a good

standing partner, if we could win with their product and whether it works with Leapfrog’s overall

brand. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when selecting partners – it is really a dual interview.”

83


CONNECTORS

from them. I love nothing more than making kind,

thoughtful connections that can help another

business or person – that is one way I feel like we

can give back.”

Libba and Jackie’s hands-on involvement in the

Southern C Summit, a niche multi-day Southern

conference with networking, and educational

opportunities, is a testament to this.

These Southern lifestyle brands and their behind the

scenes masters are helping tell another, bigger story

about the South itself, whether it’s for a client or

through a kind connection.

“The spotlight on Charleston has been exciting on

one hand, but as a local, somewhat frustrating at

times,” Jackie expresses. “But now, when we send

pitches to the media and they see we’re from

Charleston, there’s an instant interest. That’s

something that wasn’t there five years ago. I think

people now see a PR firm can be in Charleston,

representing awesome brands, and that there is

enough of those here that deserve representation.”

“Everyone has gotten more of an education on the

South in the past five to eight years,” Libba says.

“They’ve been forced to think of it outside the box a

little bit – they’re seeing beyond the stereotypes.”

so much respect for the family and what they’ve

accomplished.”

Part of Schermer’s brand evolution stemmed from

connections and collaborations activated by the

Leapfrog team. “We are connectors – that is a huge

part of what we do and you can’t quantify that,”

Jackie says. “We are communicators and we pride

ourselves on having a large and vast network of

interesting people in the Southeast and nationally.”

“We have a lot of wonderful people and assets at

our fingertips,” Libba says, “and it’s nice to be able

to make those connections and see things come

Libba goes on, with a smile. “I think you will continue

to see a focus on Southern regional towns. The

media has heard about these towns, but they’re not

sending editors there. But now, I think editors are

out exploring; they need to see the sophistication

that lies in cities amidst rural areas – cities like

Thomasville.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Libba Allison Osborne, partner

Jackie Tyler Thomson, partner

Leapfrog PR – Charleston

leapfrogprco.com

84


Written by

Ben Brown

Photographed by

Kelli Boyd &

Jovan Sage

85


TASTEMAKERS

a

taste

for

storytelling

Jovan Sage and Matthew Raiford are on a mission. The goal: to recapture

and reconnect us to the stories that food can tell.

Those of us who grew up with Southern cooking don’t have much trouble

seeing the links between the tastes we remember and the stories we tell

of home, family and region. Stories, after all, begin rooted in a place and

in a set of conditions disciplined by geography and refined by social and

economic life.

Less obviously – and this is where Jovan and Matthew have honed their

storytelling – is the way stories are made more complex and compelling

by infusions from elsewhere. Places and their stories don’t stay put. They

migrate over oceans and mountains and time; so, over time, traditions

born in distant fields and kitchens are stirred into the tastes and memories

of the local, preserving and transforming what is carried and what is found

at the same time.

86


TASTEMAKERS

Even in the South, says Jovan,

“the story of food is not

just one story. It’s different

everywhere food touches.”

“I grew up in the Midwest,” says Jovan, “but my mother is

from Memphis, and my father is from Texas. So, my food

experiences are distinctly Southern. For me, as a black

woman, the story of Southern food is the story of my family’s

migration.”

Matthew, whose family has been farming the same land in

coastal Georgia near Brunswick since the 1870s, was born

into the other end of the migration pattern. His experience

of Southern cuisine “is indicative of a port city and all

the people who’ve come through it,” he says. “Spanish,

Portuguese, West African, Native American.”

Even in the South, says Jovan, “the story of food is not just

one story. It’s different everywhere food touches.”

Jovan and Matthew discovered what they had in common

through their own, separate migrations. When they met

at a conference in Turin, Italy, in 2012, Jovan was already

established in a career as an advocate for sustainable

agriculture in all forms. Part of that experience was a stint

in New York City as director of Slow Food USA, an affiliate of

the international nonprofit group supporting farm-to-table

networks that assure access to safe, local, fresh food.

Matthew added to his hands-on experience in the farm

part of the farm-to-table process through formal training

in ecological horticulture and sustainable food systems at

the University of California, Santa Cruz. The table part was

boosted with a degree in culinary arts from what may be the

best known chef training school in the country, the Culinary

Arts Institute in Hyde Park, New York.

Accidental Restauranteurs

Jovan and Matthew are in demand as speakers and

consultants, worldwide. But it was inevitable that a

commitment to promoting the community-connecting

87


TASTEMAKERS

88


“Some days, it’s

chaotic,” says

Jovan. “Other

days, we’re

humming

along.”

89


TASTEMAKERS

power of local food traditions would, sooner or later,

require a community-connecting demonstration

locally. So, in 2015 came The Farmer & The Larder

restaurant in downtown Brunswick. It’s already

achieved multi-star status in foodie circles, though

that wasn’t the near-term ambition of the owners.

“Jovan says we’re ‘accidental restauranteurs.’ We

began thinking we’d be doing farming and teaching

a few cooking classes,” says Matthew. “But if you’re

in the community, you

have to be involved.

And if you’re involved,

you have to be

listening to what the

community is talking

about.”

What they heard was a

plea for something in

Brunswick’s downtown

that happened to

mesh with the couple’s

experience and

training. So they soon

found themselves

simultaneously

running two of the

riskiest, most time

and energy consuming

businesses there are –

a startup restaurant and a working farm.

Thursday through Saturday nights, they serve

dinner till 10 p.m. at The Farmer & The Larder.

Brunch goes from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Many days, Jovan and Matthew are up in the

early hours to tend the two acres of crops and the

chickens and hogs that supply the restaurant and

local markets. In their spare time, there are cooking

classes, speaking engagements and consulting

duties all over.

“Some days, it’s chaotic,” says Jovan. “Other days,

we’re humming along.”

Beyond Comfort Food

While many of us think “comfort food” when we

describe what we remember from our youth and still

seek out in adulthood, we may be disadvantaged by

our lack of exposure to older and broader versions

of traditional cuisine. “We like to coax people at

least a little out of their comfort zones,” says Jovan.

Sure, there’s that “double oink” bacon-wrapped pork

chop entrée on The Farmer & The Larder’s menu.

But there are also

plentiful in-season

veggies, wild-caught

fish and shrimp

and – one of Jovan’s

specialties – pickled

vegetables, jams and

spices.

“We never put it

out that we have

all these vegan and

vegetarian choices,”

says Matthew. “So,

people are surprised.

But this just goes

back to where all this

food comes from and

how it’s grown. It’s in

our nature to want to

taste the best things,

the freshest of the

fresh. In the past 100 years or so, we have gotten

away from this.”

Which, it turns out, opened up a clear career path

for Matthew Raiford and Jovan Sage in recovering

and re-teaching the traditions. It seems a mission

they were made for – and a story, says Jovan, worth

“shouting from the rooftops.”

The Farmer & The Larder

1523 Newcastle St, Brunswick, GA

farmerandlarder.com

90


MUSICMAKER

“Everything was

lining up: I had a

great song, the best

promotional staff

in town. Six

months later, I was

cleaning toilets in a

Ruby Tuesday.”

Written by

Alison Abbey

Photographed by

Weiss Eubanks

91


a

Star

is

Reborn

92


MUSICMAKER

When South Georgia native Jo Smith packed her

bags to take a chance at fame in Nashville, she

didn’t plan to fail.

“It was such a foreign thing to me – the music

business – that I really thought that you just were

discovered,” she says, laughing. “I thought I was

going to be the next big thing.”

And why would she think otherwise? Jo was a star

from an early age. And she was the first to tell

people so.

“I started singing in public when I was three,” she

says. “I sang in church and then my mom put me in

a beauty pageant when I was five. The judges asked

me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told them,

‘Well, I already am a professional country music

singer – I just don’t get up on stage much.’ This was

all in my five-year-old head. I don’t even know where

I got that! They played along and said, ‘Why don’t

you sing us something?’ So, I sang ‘Have Mercy’ by

the Judds, which is a cheating song.”

The spontaneous performance paid off. “I guess

they liked me because I did end up winning that

pageant,” she says.

The early attention only whet her appetite for

the musical spotlight. After her freshman year at

Auburn University, a Music City snake oil salesman

told her she could get her big break by joining an

all-girl group looking for a singer. She dropped out,

packed her bags and moved to Nashville.

“I promptly got fired – they flaked out on me,” she

explains. “So, I’m up here, living in some random

lady’s attic apartment with no job, no band, no

nothing.”

But, ever the determined Southerner, Jo pulled up

her bootstraps and called on an old friend: an upand-coming

Georgia boy named Luke Bryan.

“Luke was the only person I knew in Nashville,”

she says. “We didn’t grow up together, but Luke’s

granddad and aunts and uncles

all lived [nearby] and he used to

come over and go fishing with my

dad. I had a massive crush on him.

It’s funny now because he’s the

biggest thing in country music, but

at the time it wasn’t that big of a

connection.”

The connection proved to be a

helpful one. Not only did Bryan get

her a job working for his thengirlfriend,

he gave Jo a piece of

advice that would change the course

of her career: Start writing songs.

In a pre-American Idol music

industry, catching the right

attention meant finding your voice

and having it heard. Bryan set Jo up

with his guitarist, Michael Carter,

a prolific writer in his own right.

(Carter went on to write hits for

Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell and, of

course, Luke Bryan.)

From there, Jo found herself

immersed in a new subset

of the music industry – the

songwriters – who have long been

a strong, supportive community in

Nashville.

“I started writing with the people

who were signed to Luke’s

company,” says Jo, which at the time

was Murrah Music Group. “Those

people had a big influence on my

career. Eventually, I got my own

publishing deal.”

With her songwriting craft honed,

it was time to get herself onstage.

She took to Nashville’s honkytonk

packed Broadway and busked

93


MUSICMAKER

with the best of them, including

onstage at the famed Tootsie’s

Orchid Lounge. But, she wanted

to take her career further and

made a cold call to Sony’s Artists

& Repertoire department. That call

led to a five-year deal, but despite

multiple singles and exposure, she

was dropped from the label.

“Southerners,

for better or

worse, are very

headstrong,

very confident.

Nobody tells us

we can’t. And I

was brought up

in that culture.”

“I had just moved to RCA under

the Sony umbrella and everything

was lining up: I had a great song,

the best promotional staff in town

– the head of promotion rented

out Yankee Stadium. They put

my picture on the jumbotron and

my name in lights at this swanky

showcase, and I kid you not, six

months later, I was cleaning toilets

in an Antioch, Tennessee, Ruby

Tuesday.”

And when the chips were down, it

was her Georgia-strong mentality

that kept her going. “It’s a very

Southern thing – that pioneer

94


MUSICMAKER

spirit. Southerners, for better or worse, are very

headstrong, very confident. Nobody tells us we can’t.

And I was brought up in that culture.”

Jo believed in herself. Now, she needed to find

someone else to.

Enter Nashville wunderkind Shane McAnally. The

Grammy-winning producer and writer has worked

with every major talent in country music, including

Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan.

“I had met Shane years before, very briefly,” Jo says. “I

remember, in that soul-crushing period after leaving

my deal, thinking I needed to set some clearly

defined goals for what I wanted to do. More than

anything, I needed a soulmate of a producer.”

She saw Shane in the crowd at a K.T. Oslin show

(“one of my favorite singers and biggest influences”).

“I didn’t speak to him there, but it just started to nag

at me. I thought, if he is here at this show, he’s going to

get what it is that I’m trying to do.

95


MUSICMAKER

So, I spent two

months trying to

figure out how to

reach him and let him

know that I wanted to

work with him. One

day, I was just driving

down the road and

I said, ‘Dang it, I’m

going to call him.’ I

thought, If his number’s

in my phone I’m going

to call it. It was one of

those things you feel

– it was a god thing. I

looked in my phone

and it was there. And

I don’t know where

it came from! I truly

don’t. I called and left

this long message:

‘Shane, I don’t know

if you know who I am,

I don’t know if this

is your voicemail…’

I poured my heart

out and he called me

back two hours later

and said, ‘I’m headed

to the Grammys, but

when I get back, let’s

meet.’”

They did, and now Jo is signed to McAnally’s

publishing house, SMACKSongs. Her first EP,

“Introducing JoSMITH,” dropped last fall and

features Jo’s signature sound, one distinctly born of

the South.

“A lightbulb went off when I realized I was leaving

out this chunk of who I was – that R&B and

Motown sound. Because that was how we grew up,”

she says. “My high school was 75 percent African

American. Those are my best friends. I listened

to their music. The guys on the football team were

driving around —black and white —listening to Nelly

and ‘A Country Boy Can Survive.’”

Her lead single, “Old School Groove,” is a perfect

example of her musical mix, and she’s about to take

it on the road as she preps for her first tour in years.

“I’m like a caged animal,” she jokes. “I cannot wait to

be back onstage doing what I’ve done my whole life.”

One important stop: Due South’s new Rhythm and

Roots event on April 21.

“The Thomasville show is perfect timing,” she says.

“The folks in my hometown near Thomasville never

stopped believing in me, and it’s so important to me

to kick off these shows down there with them.”

It will also give her a chance to reconnect with the

things she most adores.

“I love everything about Southern culture. I love little

country churches. I love gospel hymns. I love family

and I love food. I just love that pioneer spirit. It’s all

wrapped up in that Southern personality.”

When she reflects on the ups and downs of her

13 years in the music industry, she can’t help but

compare herself to another famous Southern belle.

“I was talking to somebody the other day and ‘Gone

with The Wind’ came up. I can so relate to that

movie and those characters. There’s something

about Scarlett being prissy and being able to sit

on the front porch and not lift a finger and talk

about people. I’ve lived that,” she says. “But at the

same time, when times got tough she got going.

You couldn’t defeat her. There was this grit and I

think that it is just instilled in us. It’s who we are as

Southerners.”

jo smith

josmithmusic.com

96


FEATURED Artists

BEN BROWN Ben is a former

newspaper and magazine

reporter and editor whose work

has appeared in a broad range of

publications, from USA TODAY

and The Wall Street Journal, to

Southern Living and Garden &

Gun. He’s authored or co-authored four books,

including Saint Bobby and the Barbarians, chronicling

a season with Bobby Bowden’s 1991 Florida State

University Seminoles in pursuit of a national college

football championship. Since 2008, Ben has been a

communications consultant with the planning and

design firm, PlaceMakers, LLC. A native of Tampa,

Florida, Ben and his wife, Christiine Gardinier, live in

Asheville, North Carolina. benbrown828@gmail.com

JO ANNE RICHARDSON

Jo Anne is a photographer based

in Florida. Her subjects include

athletes, chefs and families. She

also creates modern fine art

prints inspired by the natural

world.

A Southerner by birth and disposition, Jo Anne has

lived, studied and worked in Tallahassee, Charleston,

Seattle, Miami and London. In her free time, Jo Anne

enjoys long walks, good bourbon and enlightening

conversation. joannerichardson.com

Amanda Sieradzki

Toeing the line between writer

and mover, Amanda is an

interdisciplinary dance artist

and educator. A native Floridian,

she traded sunny beaches for

New York City’s polar vortex and

an incredible dance experience at The Ailey School

before moving to Tallahassee. As a feature writer for

Tallahassee’s Council on Culture & Arts, her articles

appear weekly in the Tallahassee Democrat and USA

Today’s syndicated publications. She will graduate

this spring with an MFA in Dance Performance

and Choreography from Florida State University.

absieradzki@gmail.com

RONNIE STRIPLING

After attending Oklahoma

City University as a Dance

Performance Major, Ronnie

performed for audiences in

over 30 countries as a featured

aerialist, soloist and production

dancer for Royal Caribbean International Cruises.

In 2013, Ronnie got his coveted Actor’s Equity card

after being cast in "Beauty and the Beast: Live

on Stage!" at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.

Over the next several years, he performed at the

Hollywood Studios’ Theatre of the Stars, climbed

the ranks of the dance cast and took on multiple

leadership positions there.

As an up-and-coming photographer, dancer, singer

and branding sensation, Ronnie is in demand

throughout the southeastern United States.

ronniep0p.com

JACKIE ZANTOW A highereducation

public relations

professional by trade, Jackie

works as a freelance writer,

photographer and social media

coordinator in the historic city of

Savannah. She enjoys using her

talents as a writer to help tell the stories that may

otherwise go unnoticed, and she is a proud advocate

for the liberal arts. In her spare time, Jackie blogs

about pop culture, gaming, cheap wine and her

beloved (but utterly insane) tortoiseshell cat, Juno.

She has been published twice as a poet and has

fallen asleep no less than three times in yoga class.

BECOME A FEATURED ARTIST

Illustrators, Photographers,

Writers and Graphic Designers

Please contact:

Thomasville Center for the Arts

(229) 226-0588

thom@thomasvillearts.org

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