Around Town: Recent hires are good news at FAU

Delray’s Fabulous Fashion Show: Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach – Jan. 17

Gordana ‘Gordi’ Adzic models beachwear from Kokonuts of Delray Beach on Jan. 17 during “Delray’s Fabulous Fashion Show” in front of the Colony Hotel on Atlantic Avenue. The fashion show was presented as part of Fashion Week by the Downtown Development Authority. Kurtis Boggs/The Coastal Star

By Thom Smith  

   Want some good news about FAU? You got it. Finally. For a change.
    So many problems in the past year: the brouhaha over the botched attempt to name the stadium after GEO, a for-profit prison company; President Mary Jane Saunders’ failure to deal with the GEO uproar that cost her the job; an instructor’s misinterpreted “Stomp Jesus” classroom exercise; the firing of Head Football Coach Carl Pelini for failing to report improper behavior (illegal drug use) by subordinates.
    Now, however, the road ahead seems brightly lit.
    GEO is history.
    New football coach Charlie Partridge, in from Arkansas, quickly filled his staff and on the first permissible day was off bright and early in search of new prospects.
    Academic freedom has been reinforced.
    Interim President Dennis Crudele performed admirably. Had he wanted the full-time job, the university’s board probably would have given it to him. As it is, Crudele will stick around for a few months to help the new boss, John Kelly.
    Kelly’s bona fides look good: In his 28-year tenure at Clemson University in South Carolina, he was Mr. Everything — vice president for economic development, head of Clemson’s public service mission and its cooperative extension service, and a major player in fundraising as the school rose in rankings among public universities from 78 to 21.
    Furthermore, he has been in the vanguard as Clemson hooked up with major international corporations to expand research and improve South Carolina’s economy. In the past seven years, as executive director of the Clemson University Restoration Institute, he was responsible for Clemson’s public service mission and built a highly collaborative team to educate students and direct research in energy systems.
    As for the man, here’s a taste.
    John Kelly was born in Greenville, not far from Clemson, and raised in nearby Easley. His undergraduate degree at Clemson was in horticulture as were his master’s and doctorate at Ohio State (which coincidentally is the alma mater of FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun). His first academic position was at Texas A&M.
    He has two grown children from a first marriage, and two youngsters, one born last fall, with wife, Carolyn.
    “First thing you need to know is that John Kelly is incredible,” a staff member at the Restoration Institute in North Charleston said. “He will do a fantastic job at FAU.”
    He is a voracious reader and is said to have a photographic memory. When he has time off, he prefers to spend it with his family.
    Kelly is also enthused about FAU’s relationship with Scripps and Max Planck institutes in Jupiter and the importance of developing research with private industry in a wide range of endeavors.
    So buckle up, folks. It looks like FAU is in for a wild ride.
    “Fun Facts: Loves going to the beach … Played college basketball at FAU and was thinking of turning professional and playing overseas … Favorite food is Japanese hibachi …”
    Beach? Basketball? FAU? Olympics? That little blurb on Team USA’s Winter Olympics website about Brittany Bowe seems a bit wacky. But Bowe is not your typical winter Olympian. Back in 2010 as she was winding down her career as a three-year starter at point guard, Bowe watched on TV as speed skaters circled the track in Vancouver. “I can do that!” she said.
    Blades or wheels, it was still skating, and the Ocala native, who turns 26 on Feb. 24, had won 12 world titles as an inline skater.
    Though she had never skated on ice, Bowe was confident she could make the transition.
    Graduating in 2010 with a degree in sociology and social science, she left balmy Boca to train in the snowy mountains near Salt Lake City. Last November, just 3½ years later, she covered 1,000 meters in 1:12.58, a new women’s world record by a tenth of a second.     
    “I’ve dreamed in my sleep about it,” Bowe said at the time. “When it becomes a reality and finally hits you, it’s a dream come true.”
    With her 2013 season success and world record, Bowe becomes a favorite in the 1,000, but medals won’t be easy. The Dutch, Japanese, South Koreans and host Russians are expected to be strong. The world will have a better idea on the morning of Feb. 13 when she skates in the 1,000.   
    Ah, yes, the times they are a-changing. Each year, Clay Glass Metal Stone Gallery in Lake Worth hosts a concert by local musicians to pay tribute to major figures in folk music. This year to salute his 95th birthday, the Feb. 8 show at Lake Worth Playhouse will salute Pete Seeger.  Words to Seeger’s music will be projected on the walls so the audience can sing along.
The same day, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team plays the Russian National Team at FAU’s beautiful stadium at 3:30 p.m. It’s a “friendly.” Tickets at
    Good start for South Florida’s newest playhouse. The Wick, which opened in late September in the old Caldwell Theatre, received three nominations for the Carbonell Awards, which recognize the region’s best theater.
    Its inaugural production, The Sound of Music, was tapped for best musical and two South Florida veterans — Lourelene Snedeker in The Sound of Music and Missy McArdle in White Christmas — received supporting actress nominations.
    Audience response for The Wick’s third production, 42nd Street, has been so strong that the run has been extended another week to Feb. 15.  
    Absent from the generally positive reviews, however, was any mention of Loretta Swit. At The Wick’s gala opening last fall, she was introduced as a featured performer in 42nd Street but did not appear. According to the critics, she wasn’t needed. With the likes of Julie Kleiner and Petty Sawyer among the four Equity cast members and a talented ensemble of local talent exceeding all expectations for the difficult production, director Norb Joerder and choreographer Ron Hutchins, ably filled a tough order.
    Theater founder Marilynn Wick hopes to land Swit for Steel Magnolias, which opens April 3. Next up:  The Full Monty, with previews Feb. 20 and gala opening Feb.  21. (995-2333)
    Up in Manalapan at The Plaza Theatre, saucy Renee Taylor wraps up My Life on a Diet Feb. 9. One of the grand couples of show biz, Taylor wrote the show with longtime hubby, Joe Bologna, who directs. Patrons who want more “gossip and laughs” than Renee delivers in the show can ante up an extra 25 bucks to attend meet-and-greets after Friday and Saturday shows. (588-1820).
    The Plaza’s production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change claimed a Carbonell nod for best ensemble production/play or musical, as did Delray’s Arts Garage for The Longing and the Short of It.
    Theater definitely is alive and well in Palm Beach County, which claimed 62 of the 98 Carbonell nominations. The usual suspects — Maltz Jupiter Theatre (19), Palm Beach Dramaworks (13) and Delray’s Arts Garage (9) — led the way, but several other companies are making their presence known.
    Despite holding forth in the auditorium at West Boca Raton High School, Slow Burn Theatre Company’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal claimed 10 nominations, the most of any show in South Florida. Boca Raton Theatre Guild, which operates at the Mizner Park Cultural Center and the Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park and at two Broward County sites, collected five nominations, and Outre Threatre Company, which also uses Mizner, claimed one. Bravo!
    Manalapan could become livelier, now that the Plaza Theatre has leased an additional 8,500 square feet in Plaza Del Mar across the patio from its main auditorium. The space, formerly a fitness club, will provide for rehearsal, storage, a conservatory and cabaret and includes a second-story patio and bar that overlooks the Intracoastal. Other possibilities being considered by Producing Director Alan Jacobson include a piano bar, comedy and jazz shows.  
    Speaking of jazz, Jazziz heads into its second year with a hot spring lineup. Freddie Cole hits the stage Feb. 4-6 with the final show a benefit for Nat King Cole Generation Hope, which provides musical instruments to public schools (213-8209). Grammy-winning All-4-One follows Feb. 13 and 14, guitarist Al DiMeola Feb. 25 and 26 and Spyro Gyra in mid-April.
    Who knows, Tony Orlando may even drop in. From Feb. 7 to March 1, he’s performing private shows from Pembroke Pines to Port St. Lucie but mostly in the Boca-Delray area. He’s at Kings Point in Delray on Feb. 28.
    Face it, money is good on the condo circuit. Kings Pointers will twist away with Joey Dee and the Starlighters, Feb. 7, Jay Siegel and the Tokens, Feb. 26, Lucie Arnaz, March 7, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, March 9 and David Brenner, March 1.
For your Valentine’s pleasure:
    At the Delray Beach Tennis Center, enjoy a Valentine’s Dinner with the stars of the Delray Beach Open at 6 p.m., open bar, a box seat for the matches and preferred parking for $99 (330-6000).
    A few blocks east, Grammy nominee Roseanna Vitro performs a special Valentine’s performance at Arts Garage (Also Saturday at 2 p.m. 450-6357).
    The 2014 season of “Pop, Rock & Doo Wopp Live!” kicks off with a “A Valentine’s Evening of Love Songs” at FAU in Boca Raton, featuring The Duprees, The Dixie Cups, Lenny Welch, Emil Stucchio & The Classics and The Knockouts. Single show and series tickets available starting at $39 (693-3532).
    Not so many years ago, South Florida was regarded as a vast wasteland when it came to fine art. Granted, new residents from the Northeast, accustomed to world-class museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim in New York, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston and the National Gallery in Washington, had a case.
    Over time, however, the voltage of culture shock has been reduced, thanks to relative old-timers such as the Norton in West Palm Beach and the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, which have built national reputations, and some relative newcomers.
    Almost four years into her tenure as director at the Norton, Hope Alswang is making her mark. The museum still brings in major touring shows but it also produces its own, and they demand more than glances and oooh-aaahs. Visitors who see Phyllida Barlow’s Hoard, for example had best look twice, lest they miss the structure and form in what might initially seem to be junk and trash.
    To Jane Love Andy: Warhol’s First Superstar, (Feb. 2-May 25) capitalizes on the relationship of Palm Beacher Jane Holzer to pop artist Andy Warhol. It incorporates Warhol’s art, fashions from Holzer’s modeling career, photos from the likes of David Bailey and Irving Penn and even clips from films featuring “Baby Jane” to create a broader context.
    Over at the Four Arts, President and CEO Ervin Duggan remains full of surprises, not the least of which is his pending retirement in June after 14 years at the helm. Duggan, former president at PBS, transformed the Four Arts from essentially a members-only club into a cultural organization with broad community impact, through art exhibits, music, lectures and symposia. Recent speakers have included Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion and Olympia Snowe, recently retired U.S. senator from Maine. The gallery is hosting The Coast and the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art from the New York Historical Society through March 9.
    More recently, the move of the county Cultural Council’s headquarters and gallery to Lake Worth, and the emergence of the Boca Museum of Art, FAU’s Schmidt Center and Ritter Galleries and Delray’s Cornell Museum of Art have significantly raised in the AQ (art quotient) in South County.   
    It may seem a bit camp, but through March 29 the Cultural Council is featuring eight interior designers and their interpretations of that regional curiosity — the Florida room.
    The building turned 100 in 2013, but the Cornell Museum in the old schoolhouse at Delray Square is a bouncing adolescent. Its National Juried Exhibition of 100 works — acrylics, glass, jewelry, oils, photography, sculpture and watercolors — opens a three-month run Feb. 14. Juror Michael Monroe from Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington state will reveal his choices for $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000 cash awards at a reception Feb. 20.
    At FAU, the Schmidt Center, wraps Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race on Feb. 15 and a week later expands the Ritter Gallery’s southXeast: Contemporary Southeastern Art. Down the road the galleries will exhibit theses works by masters of fine arts candidates, an exhibit by young photographers in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and the annual juried student art exhibition.
    Steven Maklansky had democracy in mind when he signed on as director at the Boca Museum of Art in the summer of 2011, intent on generating more community involvement in the museum and in art. Touché!
    Visitors can check out exhibitions such as the current Pop Culture: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation (through April 23) and Futurism: Concepts and Imaginings (through March 30), enjoy arty wine tastings — Italian futurists and wines (Feb. 19) or catch an arty movie, such as a portrait of Roy Lichtenstein, included with admission.

Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Contact him at

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