Person of Interest
Pied Piper of the Arts
Man of the arts: Fort Myers’ fine art scene would not be what it is today without Jim Griffith. The soft-spoken master violist is chairman and CEO of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. He is responsible for the creation of the center and is the driving force behind it, while also performing with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.
Coming home: A Florida native, Griffith trained at Juilliard in New York. "The orchestras in Florida were flying me down and asking me to bring some of my other Juilliard [musicians]. I was known as the ‘Florida contractor.’ I was working more in Florida than I was doing freelance in New York. So upon graduation, it just made sense that I move back to Florida."
Founding father: "Living in New York for five years, I was exposed to extremely diverse and overwhelming arts and culture. Realizing what that does for quality of life, and the educational opportunities that provides to the youth, I saw that need in Fort Myers."
Postal past: Before the art center existed, the building was used as a post office and a courthouse. "We love the history of downtown and all it had to offer. We saw Fort Myers as a blank canvas. When this building became available, it just said ‘art center’ all over it for me. Thus began the process of acquiring it and raising the money to make it happen."
Teaching tomorrow’s talent: "Half of what I do is try to work with students. The spark that you see in the children, when they see a professional musician or dancer perform—I see the possibilities light up in their eyes."
Performance plans: Griffith will perform with other internationally renowned musicians during the American Virtuosi Chamber Concerts at the art center on April 22–23. "The emotional impact that music has on people is what I enjoy as a performer."