Love Letter To Southwest Florida

BY August 4, 2020
Photo by Omar Cruz

In the past year, we have trekked deep into the Everglades; sat down with renowned comedians and composers; mounted fashion editorials at Naples Botanical Garden; met the riding team at a Fort Myers’ elite equestrian training center; spent an afternoon with Naples Ballet at Artis-Naples; broke bread with talented chefs; and conversed with some of the most brilliant minds in the region. Every step of the way, we find more reasons to fall in love with this stretch of the Gulf we call home.


“Sporting Life” October 2019 / Location: North Fort Myers’ Colloway Farms / Photo by Brian Tietz

“Mother Nature” April 2020 / Location: Naples Botanical Garden/ Photo Anna Gunselman

After capturing a day in the life of the young equestrians training at the recently opened Colloway Farms riding center, the team came in to produce this cover image, which features one of the stable’s prized horses. Later in the spring, Kaleidoscope Floral helped us create a one-with-nature look for our sustainability issue. The concept: Mother Nature stands contemplating the health of our planet and the role we, and places like Naples Botanical Garden, play in tending to its future. 



“Best in Show” October 2019 / Location: North Fort Myers’ Colloway Farms / Photo by Brian Tietz

“The Great Escape” August 2020 / Location: Estero’s Imperial Marsh Preserve/ Photo by Brian Tietz

Inspired by their son, Brooks (center), who showed an affinity for riding from a tender age, Ashley and Jerron Hull opened Colloway Farms last year to train the next generation of hunter-jumper riders. In the bottom photo, we see the beauty of Imperial Marsh Preserve, part of Lee’s Conservation 20/20 preservation program. The image graces our cover this month.



“Into the Woods” May 2020 / Location: Copeland’s Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park/ Photo by John Brady

In Southwest Florida, we are just as apt to don gowns and suits for a gala, as we are to cruise the Gulf or hike around the Everglades in sandals or sneakers. We set out to capture that high-low spirit our setting inspires with the May fashion editorial, in which the wild nature of Fakahatchee is contrasted by the glam attire.



“Great Expectations” September 2019 / Location: Fort Myers’ Florida Repertory Theatre / Photo by Alicia Vera

“A Night at the Nutcracker” December 2019 / Location: Artis-Naples / Photo by Omar Cruz

As writers, designers and creators ourselves, our editorial team places high value on the arts. From photographing the forward-thinking Greg Longenhagen, who is leading the charge at Florida Repertory Theatre, to collaborating with Naples Ballet for our December cover story, we’re constantly amazed and inspired by the talent in our region.



“Inside the Mind of a Composer” May 2019 / Location: First Presbyterian Church of Bonita Springs / Photo by Brian Tietz

“Inside the Mind of a Comedian” August 2019 / Location: Fort Myers’ Pelican Preserve Town Center/ Photo by Brian Tietz

If our region’s landscapes provide the beauty, it’s our locals who provide the depth. In these two stories, we asked acclaimed composer Jason Barh and comedian Mariannette Torres to walk us through their process, further illuminating the artistry of their craft.



“The Artist’s Way” January 2020 / Location: Darryl Pottorf’s Fort Myers’ studio/ Photo by Brian Tietz

“Breaking Ground” April 2020 / Location: Naples’ Holocaust Museum & Education Center/ Photo by Brian Tietz

Though most don’t lead showy lives, brilliant minds congregate in Southwest Florida. The roster of accomplished personalities range from a world-renowned artist that was part of Robert Rauschenberg’s crew (Darryl Pottorf; top) to an AIA-winning architect shaping the future of eco-conscious design (David Corban; bottom). Recently, Corban—who focuses largely on commercial and nonprofit projects—designed Grace Place, the Shelly Stayer Shelter in Immokalee and the Holocaust Museum, where he was photographed.



“That’s the Spirit” July 2019 / Location: Naples’ Port Royal/ Photo by Omar Cruz

Last summer, Panache and Jan Desai opened the doors to their elegant Port Royal home, where we learned about what grounds and fuels the spiritual couple. Their attitude reflects the giving heart of our community. “… You’re not giving to get. You’re giving for the sake of giving. It’s showing up every day and asking, ‘How may I serve?’” Panache, who is recognized as a spiritual leader and personal development guru, said to writer Jennifer Reed.


“Romancing the Stone Crab” January 2020 / Location: Fort Myers / Photo by Eve Edelheit

“Secret Garden” October 2020 / Location: Bonita Springs’ Harvest & Wisdom at Shangri-La Springs / Photo by Brian Tietz

Our 50th anniversary issue aimed to capture the unique character of the Gulfshore. In one piece, we honor Everglades City’s stone crab heritage and follow the crustaceans from the boats to the restaurants’ tables, with commercial crab fisherman P.J Pike. Another culinary treasure in our region, Harvest & Wisdom’s team, featured in our October issue, showed us how they’re changing the game on fresh fare with its on-site, organic garden.


“Inside Naples’ Exclusive Dining Society” May 2019 / Location: Naples’ NGALA Wildlife Preserve/ Photo by Brian Tietz

Among the many things that distinguish our region, the theatrical events rank high. Hosts don’t shy away from going eleborate and organizations continuously find new ways to engage attendees. Just look at Naples’ gastronomic society the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and their themed dinners. Last year, we ventured to the group’s South African-inspired supper, featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo choral group, Soweto Gospel Choir and African Tribal Orchestra, among other performers.


“A Night to Remember” November 2019/ Location: Fort Myers’ La Casa Toscana/ Photo by Omar Cruz

When Jeff Mitchell, the chef and owner of Naples’ farm-to-table The Local restaurant, told us he’d be doing a dinner with the respected James Beard Foundation, we knew we wanted to be a part of it. Before the formal dinner, Mitchell gave us a sneak preview, with a stunning outdoor spread at La Casa Toscana, a Tuscan estate in Fort Myers.

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