October 23, 2014

Culture Watch: Finding the Summer Treasures

How to get your arts fix during the upcoming slow season.

Emei Willis - Creative Artists Agency, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club

Summer is here. and while we are all celeb-rating suddenly uncongested roads and no wait times at our favorite restaurants (not to mention the sudden surge of great dining deals), for the culture lover, summer is a kind of barren wasteland.

Even the biggest venues close up shop, at least to some extent, during the summer months. The Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art shuts down at the end of the month. The Phil has nothing on the calendar past June 7. A lone Gulf Coast Symphony show is on the bill at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall between May and October. The only things at Germain Arena in July are a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention and professional bull riding.

So what can we do other than stay inside and plow through the backlog of our DVRs (I really am going to watch Homeland before the second season starts in September) and Netflix queues? I have a few suggestions.

Embrace the campy fun of the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. It might not be the most high-brow entertainment (journeymen actors tackling mid-level musicals), but it is certainly worth the price of admission ($39 for adults and $18 for kids). This summer, the theater is showing Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Grease.

Laugh out loud at Off the Hook Comedy Club on Marco Island. The club continues its full slate through July. Off the Hook manages to recruit some of the biggest names and funniest comedians (not always the same thing) and the summer is no exception, with heavy hitters such as Carlos Mencia on June 1-2.

Explore your own artistic abilities. Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers offers several weekly painting classes for everyone from beginners to masters at its McGregor Boulevard campus. So if you’ve ever wanted to create your own masterpiece, why wait?

Mingle with the masses. There aren’t many concerts or gatherings, so everyone flocks to the few that dot the calendar. Grab a lawn chair and head down to the Naples Beach Hotel for the annual SummerJazz series, which kicks off on June 16. And look for several family movie nights in Cambier Park, at Mercato and at Gulf Coast Town Center.

Hit the road. Thankfully, the rest of the state doesn’t completely shut down in the summer. For art lovers, a trip to the newly renovated Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is a great day trip. Musically, tons of performers are on tour this summer and making stops in the Sunshine State, including Coldplay, Bon Iver and Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks.

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