New & Hot 2017: Arts

Here’s a chronological rundown of our top 19 culture picks.

BY October 31, 2017


FluZUsic/FLUXUS MUSIC exhibit at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW, through Dec. 9

This show is described as an “interactive and immersive installation” and pairs the works of visual artists Yoko Ono, Geoffrey Hendricks and Alison Knowles with that of composer and musician Philip Corner. If you’re not familiar with the ’60s-born global art movement of Fluxus, know that its artists—which include painters, poets, designers, musicians, dancers and more—aim to blur the line between art and life. Just think out-there, avant-garde and experimental.

Tim Allen at Artis—Naples, Nov. 17

The biggest name in laughs this season is Allen, making his Naples debut. He may harken a pretty wholesome lineup of typical American dad in Home Improvement, clueless dad in Jungle 2 Jungle, dad-turned-Father Christmas in The Santa Clause—and a totally underrated Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story. (Lightyear lovers: If seeing Allen gets you emotional enough about the first Disney-Pixar pairing, you can catch You’ve Got a Friend in Me singer Randy Newman at Artis—Naples a few days later on Nov. 21.) But shake off that clean image a bit before you think of bringing the kids—Allen’s standup show is 18 and up only, as it’s rated R.

An Act of God by The Laboratory Theater of Florida, Nov. 17 through Dec. 9

The Lab Theater tackles the Florida premiere of this quick-paced comedy a year after its close on Broadway, where The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons and Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes literally played God. Lab’s Producing Artistic Director, Annette Trossbach, says she laughed out loud when reading the book, then proceeded to devour the script. She thinks audiences will, too, as archangels Michael and Gabriel question the Bible, prompting God to re-explain without holding back about where we got it all wrong.

LeAnn Rimes at Artis—Naples, Dec. 4

Another somewhat rare country sighting for the venue, on the heels of pioneer Dwight Yoakam on Nov. 5. Rimes has probably grown to like it here, after a group of 2012 Naples Winter Wine Festival bidders collectively put forth $1.2 million for a lot that included the Grammy winner performing a private in-home concert. We’ll just push her tabloid-frequenting family drama out of our minds and focus on her charming Blue/How Do I Live-era image and forever stellar pipes.

Every Man Is a Hunter exhibit at East West Fine Art, Bigham Galleria, Dec. 15-29

Paintings, sculpture, photographs—enough already. OK, we don’t mean that. But for a fresh fine art outing, this exhibit thinks outside the box with … boxes. Lacquer boxes from Russia, that is, and one-of-a-kind knives. Each box is intricately painted—sometimes with a brush of a single squirrel hair—evoking fairytales, battle scenes or old art masterpieces. And the Damascus steel blades, the only of their kind to be exhibited in the U.S., deliver surprising beauty through the adornments and shapes found in these objects that have gone from combat weapon to collector item. The display is definitely different.

Night and Day: Love Lost and Found through the Eyes of Cole Porter by Florida Repertory Theatre, Dec. 19 through Feb. 25

Producing Artistic Director Robert Cacioppo heads up the world premiere musical, which he also conceived—the original version when he was just a 19-year-old in college. Other versions of his ran elsewhere first, including off Broadway in the early ’80s and on Captiva in ’89. Cacioppo describes the latest incarnation following two couples as a “fun, quirky show, a sort of opera using only Cole Porter tunes” (36 of them), without one line of non-lyrical dialogue. It’s a sort of sister piece to three others he’s penned about American composers (Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer and George Gershwin), all of whom he feels have strong value in today’s world.

My Studio by Leoma Lovegrove at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, Jan. 4-7

We’re not used to seeing Lovegrove emote on stage, but rather seated in front of a canvas or roaming around her Matlacha studio and shop, splashed in borderline-neon paint. But her loud works indicate it’s not a far cry that she’d be comfortable in front of an audience; at Broadway Palm, she’ll share stories as she paints live to her favorite music.

Finding Neverland at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at FSW, Jan. 9-14

Among the Broadway offerings this season are few our area hasn’t seen before; this is one of them. And who doesn’t love Peter Pan? This musical tells the story of how the beloved character came to be, through the struggle of playwright J.M. Barrie.

Art Garfunkel: In Close-Up at Artis—Naples, Jan. 14

Yes, we wish he were accompanied by Simon, but we’re excited nonetheless about Garfunkel’s first Naples performance. He’ll play some of his solo work as well as works by the famous duo. Anything to take us briefly back to the smart and soulful folk rock of yesteryear and away from the often empty Top 40 of today.

An American in Paris at Artis—Naples, Jan. 16-21, and Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at FSW, Jan. 23-28

This scenic, Gershwin-filled musical is another Broadway production new to the Gulfshore. You’ll get your fill of dance here, too (among its Tony wins was Best Choreography, courtesy of Christopher Wheeldon), as you follow a young American soldier’s post-war journey through the European city.,

Scapino by Gulfshore Playhouse, Feb. 17 through March 18

Associate Artistic Director Jeffrey Binder wrote a brand-new adaptation of the lesser-known Molière Scapin, set in the Cosa Nostra style—“So now it will be called ‘Scapino,’” says Producing Artistic Director Kristen Coury. The farce about a servant helping two men dupe their fathers is directed by Chicago-based Zeljko Dukic. The “bada bing” humor is among several comedic Playhouse productions—including Ken Ludwig’s Leading Ladies, featuring an all-star Playhouse cast and Tony-nominated director and choreographer—that Coury hopes will bring laughter and lightness during tense times.

Dinosaurs: Back with a Roar! exhibit at Naples Botanical Garden, Feb. 17 through June 3

This is not your typical cultural offering, nor is it exactly new to the area, but we feel it deserves a spot on this list. In 2015, a cache of realistic-looking, moving, sometimes-spitting dinos among the garden flora happily transported adults and their kids to the scary-fun world of Jurassic Park, and this time the collection is purportedly bigger and better.

52nd Founders Juried Awards Exhibition at the Naples Art Association, Feb. 24 through March 25

Nigerian-born artist and industry intellectual Olu Oguibe; The Baker Museum Director and Chief Curator Frank Verpoorten; and The Dalí Museum Deputy Director and Curator of Collections Joan Kropf serve as jurors of this contemporary exhibition honoring the artists who created Collier County’s first visual arts organization in 1954. It’s open to makers across the U.S., and past years’ works were stunning and wide-ranging: Abstract paintings and still-lifes hung alongside ceramics, sculptures, photographs, historic artifacts and more.

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel at Artis—Naples, Feb. 27-28

These two performances mark the final year of the world-renowned orchestra’s residency at Artis—Naples, headed by the incredible young Venezuelan conductor to boot. (Pop music more your style? Maybe you glimpsed Dudamel leading Youth Orchestra Los Angeles alongside Coldplay at the 2016 Super Bowl, joining the likes of Bruno Mars and Beyoncé.) The Naples concerts are surely one of the hottest classical music pairings, period, scheduled for 2018.

Fort Myers Film Festival at multiple venues, March 22-25

Right behind food on the list of beloved things that unite us all? Movies. And we appreciate the edge and intellect of this festival, whose organizers carefully curate dozens of independent films from around the region, country and world—and so succeed in opening up many an eye, heart and mind each year.

George Washington’s Teeth by Florida Repertory Theatre, April 3 through May 6

Closing Florida Rep’s season is its fourth world premiere in four years. (The importance on developing new plays is all part of Producing Artistic Director Robert Cacioppo’s not-so-secret drive to win the Regional Theatre Tony Award one day.) Florida Rep discovered this one by Mark St. Germain—the playwright behind Camping with Henry and Tom, Freud’s Last Session and the recent, Richard Dreyfus-starring Relativity—back in May, at its annual PlayLab. The comedy follows three deeply invested women volunteers who run a small-town historical museum that is facing closure—until the women have the opportunity to inherit a pair of George Washington’s teeth. It has what Cacioppo calls a “wacky” end.

There’s Something in the Water exhibit at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, July 6-25

Local favorites painter Arturo Samaniego and photographer Mila Bridger team up with underwater photojournalist and diving expert Bob Halstead for this varied, visually stunning display of all things aquatic.


Note: The listings here are different than what was featured in print, due to The Baker Museum being closed through the 2017-18 season.


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