Friday, August 11, 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright's Florida Masterpiece-A Child of the Sun

Lakeland, a college town of 200,00, is home to the most buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on a single site in the world. Florida Southern College brings visitors from the four corners to behold the 12 buildings, all connected by Wright's walkways he called Esplanades. The college is on the National Register of Historic Places and was named a National Landmark of the United States.

Wright the genius was also Wright the enigmatic architect. Controversial, daring, tragic and at all times revolutionary, the American design landscape would never be the same.

The college project became the longest-lasting commission of his life. Wright agreed to create a masterplan for the campus and to design 18 buildings. Ultimately, the college completed 12 structures during the historic 20-year expansion period. 

Described as"learning spaces, working spaces and gathering spaces." other architects have called the campus "Wright's Village" for the sheer number of Wright-designed buildings and because it is the finest example of Wright's style of "organic architecture" anywhere in the world.

Clean lines, natural design elements and locally sourced construction materials are hallmarks of Wright's work. The buildings reflect the unity of all things, and are built to a human scale, with similar construction materials. With the exception of one building, all are linked together by a series of covered walkways that Wright called "esplanades."

Wright's design was radically different from the typical design of an American college campus, an extension of his belief that Americans needed to create their own culture that was not based on classical or European design.

The Florida Southern campus was the first American college campus to be designed in the "modernist" architectural style. Geometric shapes and patterns are seen throughout the campus: circles bisect a rectangle. The Danforth Chapel incorporates triangular patterns and has a triangular-shaped roofline that extends out into a point.

Wright became familiar with local orange groves allowing the land to inspire him. Wright's design confirms that he understood the potential of the Florida landscape, and according to college archives proclaimed that "every building is out of the ground into the light — a child of the sun. Buildings should seem to grow from the earth and belong as a tree belongs."

Wright's first building was the magnificent Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, the spiritual centerpiece of the campus featuring a three-level concrete tower that rises to 65 feet. Each level of the concrete tower has a cutout geometric shape that resembles a "bowtie." That geometric symbol is now incorporated into the design of the official college logo.

The Water Dome, one of Wright's most impressive designs, is not a building. Wright thought of it as a gigantic circular "fountain of knowledge.Wright, in keeping with the mission of a center of higher learning, left a cultural heritage for future generations of Americans. This is original Florida. A  higher life. Wright's gift is his recognition that we are enriched when we stir the imagination.

(Images courtesy of Florida Southern College)

Friday, August 4, 2017


~Doc Lawrence

The headquarters for original folk art might just be in the central Florida town of Sanford. Jeanine Taylor’s gallery is located in a historic building downtown where she has showcased many artists of varying backgrounds and styles for years. The South is a trove for this cultural treasure and much of the art at this gallery is a mixture of well-known and emerging.

In other words, it’s fascinating.

Jeanine Taylor Folk Art’s fall gallery show looks at the specialty of memory painting through the eyes of Alabama’s Bethanne Hill, Florida’s Alyne Harris, Ken Gentle from Georgia, another Alabama artist Lucy Hunnicutt, and Atlanta’s Olivia Thomason.

Bethanne Hill’s slightly aboriginal southern landscapes dramatically contrast with Alyne Harris’ snapshots of southern life. Ken Gentle depicts sometimes ominous pastoral scenes of weather danger and desolation. Lucy Hunnicutt uses a bold primary palette coupled with collage to create scenes in jovial motion. Olivia Thomason’s works suggest childlike safety and comforting optimism.

Though all of these artists are considered memory painters, the mood each painter expresses couldn’t be more distinct. These artists portray Southern life but omit all signs of modernity and contemporary technology. Viewers will find common themes: haints, bottle trees, family gatherings, riverside baptisms, line dried clothes, country stores and tornadoes. 

Jeanine Taylor says that the warm southern breeze “will blow strong” for the opening reception for the public on Saturday, August 19th, adding that “sweet tea will be served.”

Jeanine Taylor Folk Art
 211 East First Street
Sanford, FL 32771


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Meet The Maya-James O'Kon's Marvelous New Book

~Doc Lawrence~

Atlanta-based Jim O'Kon's, Corn, Cotton and Chocolate: How the Maya Changed the World, is far more than a history book. It is readable, stimulating and each page seems to spring surprises. O'Kon, a professional engineer with a developed specialty as an archaeoengineer has investigated over 50 Maya sites. Vanilla, chocolate, corn, peanuts, cotton and pineapples are just a few of the Maya contributions from what O'Kon calls "the greatest agronomists in world history."

The book reveals that the Maya were the longest-lived civilization in history, beginning in 2500 BC on a time-line with the ancient Sumerians and terminating in 900 AD during the reign of Charlemagne. Their histories did not converge because the Maya and other world civilizations did not know of each other’s existence. The author describes the Maya as "the phantoms of history. They were the greatest agronomists in world history. Their cultivars nourished the Maya culture and enabled their rapid growth into a society of profound thinkers. After European contact, the inventive products of Maya agronomy were disseminated around the world."

 The integration of Maya cultivars into world cultures, observes the author, has changed the course of world history. "Maya science has changed the world. Maya Cultivars now feed and clothe the majority of the world’s population. They have increased the global population, started wars, overthrown monarchies, ignited the industrial revolution, initiated educational systems, started sports empires, changed the lifestyles of world cultures and have killed more people than all the wars in history. It will come as a surprise that history can be changed by a civilization that collapsed over a thousand years ago. Maya cultivars are living inventions that have become a part of the world's heritage and continue to make history."

For 300-plus pages, readers visit an advanced civilization, left wondering what our daily lives would be without their accomplishments. Their civilization destroyed itself through over-stripping the land, leaving them vulnerable to environmental changes. Our world, advises Jim O'Kon, should adopt a philosophical principle of the Maya: Remember the future to anticipate the past. As the future looms, Maya cultivars are still changelings in world affairs. Our future depends on a balance of the world's population and food supply.

Jim O'Kon is an optimist. His wonderful book is instructive and entertaining.

Available at 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Blackberry Daze-Horizon Theatre's Dazzling Musical

~Doc Lawrence

After  a concert at Emory University years ago, Wyntonn Marsalis offered his interpretation of the blues, observing that it is a way to defy hardship and hopelessness through the power of music. “The blues,” he said, “helps you to never give in.” Horizon Theatre’s Blackberry Daze is more than a romantic journey into the heart of the South: it is a blues and jazz musical play propelled by powerful energy rarely seen on any stage south of Broadway. 

With a soulful, original music by William Knowles, this musical features 14 storytelling songs, presented in 1920 rural Virginia, displaying the challenges of three Black women, who are either married to, loved or betrayed by a hard-drinking, gambling dandy Herman Camm, portrayed brilliantly by TC Carson who seems created for this role. 
The story is tangled web built around Camm’s deceit while showing him to be, no matter how evil, almost irresistible except when he does the unthinkable to his step-daughter. Still, Camm, described in one unforgettable line as the type of man who was “cockle-doodle-doodling in a whole lot of hen houses,” makes the show, always dapper, looking like a version of Cab Callaway, singing, dancing, prancing his way into the hearts and beds of the many women he takes a shine to.

Sultry songs like “Layin’ It Down” evoke classic music in Porgy and Bess, but are at the same time contemporary, particularly with the outstanding accompaniment of pianist S. Renee Clark and virtuoso guitarist Spencer Bean. The dancing is flawless, the jazz simmers and the blues remain defiant.

Blackberry Daze is playing in the perfect city. Atlanta has a rich history of blues, gospel and jazz. Horizon Theatre’s production absorbs and skillfully interprets this heritage that is as enjoyable today as it was during the night club heydays along Sweet Auburn. An important part of Horizon’s New South Play Festival, it showcases the extraordinary talents of two Atlanta-based writer/creators Ruth P. Watson and Thomas W. Jones II.

The set design deserves praise for authenticity. You cannot overlook the remarkable period costumes. The music is flawlessly delivered. 

If you like your musicals served up with spirit and high energy, Blackberry Daze will satisfy you. It shakes and rattles for almost two magnificent hours.

Through August 27.; (404) 584.7450

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fire on The Fourth-A Summer Soiree

~Doc Lawrence~

They gathered in the greater Stone Mountain community just outside Atlanta, bringing gifts of smiles, embraces, barbecue, fresh vegetable sides, tequila, bourbon, beer and wine. From Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Georgia and other far away places, the assemblage included musicians-pickers, drummers and singers-doing their interpretations of Van Morrison, Allman Brothers, Hank, Willie, Merle, The Band, Bob Marley and more from the late afternoon until well beyond the midnight hour.

No nightclub or honky tonk could celebrate America better. These guys were special and this part of North Georgia rocked.

The home and yard is "my spiritual garden," said host Franki Jewell, referring to myths and fables. Magic abounds here, she revealed. The positive kind that enriches mind and body.

The party was in keeping with traditions that George Washington and other Founding Fathers encouraged. Our first president, while commanding the revolutionary army, provided extra rations of rum on July 4 at his expense to his soldiers. John Adams encouraged commemoration with "pomp and parade, guns and bonfires forever more."

In that spirit, Americans, in their own way, privately and publicly celebrated the date America was born with races, fireworks shows, concerts, parades and events draped in red, white and blue.

Here, near the gigantic granite monolith, rock, country, folk and bluegrass music synthesized, fueled by good drinks, wonderful food surrounded by boundless human kindness that would have made Thomas Jefferson very proud.

Friday, June 30, 2017

All American Feast-With A Southern Accent

~Doc Lawrence~

Thomas Jefferson entertained when he wasn't writing revolutionary documents like the Declaration of Independence. He was also a master gardener who introduced the great wines of Europe into America, dreaming that the new nation might become a major wine producing country.
Emmy winner Lara Lyn Carter accomplished a bit of a miracle with her Public TV show, "Thyme for Sharing," by earning access to Jefferson's Monticello for her first episode. Many believe that this accomplishment tipped the Emmy votes in her favor. Before reviewing her original 4th of July Holiday recipes, take a few moments and join Chef Lara Lyn at the home of our third president. It's a perfect way to celebrate the birth of our wonderful country.

The fun is just beginning. Here are the recipes in time to shop, plan and do some advance work.  The Jefferson Culinary Heritage always includes good wines and cocktails. Let's keep everything in America, another way to pay homage to arguably our best home entertainer ever.

Liberty Bell Boston Butt  
5 pound pork Boston butt
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. seasoned salt
Combine seasoning together and rub meat with mixture. Put pork in the crock pot high for 4 hours then reduce to low setting for 4 more hours until it falls apart.

Land of the Free Chicken Marinade
1/4 cup Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 chicken breasts

Mix all ingredients together then pour over chicken allowing the chicken to marinate 2-4 hours before grilling.

        Independence Chocolate  Mousse Pie
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups whipping cream divided
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. confectioners sugar
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
1 chocolate cookie crust
Combine chocolate chips with 1/2 cup of the whipping cream and melt in the microwave for two minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Allow this chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. Stir 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar and 2 tbsp. of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey into the chocolate mixture. In a mixing bowl, whip 1 cup of whipping cream until soft peaks form. With the mixer on high speed, slowly add the chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl and mix well. Spoon the mousse into the pie crust and chill for 3 hours. Whip the remaining 1/2 cup of whipping cream, 1 tbsp. confectioners sugar and 1 tsp. of Jack Daniel’s together. Slice the pie into 8 pieces and place a spoonful of whipped cream on top of slices before serving.

Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Baked Beans
1 lb. dry kidney beans
1 sweet onion quartered
4 quarts of water divided
Soak beans in 2 quarts of water overnight. Drain beans and discard the water. In a large pot, cook beans and onion in 2 quarts of water over medium-high heat for 45 minutes. Remove beans from heat, cover and allow beans to rest for 30 minutes.
1/2 cup sorghum
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground clove
3 tbsp. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sorghum, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, ginger, clove, and whiskey. Stir constantly until all of the ingredients have blended well and the sugar has dissolved. Pour beans with the water in a Dutch oven and pour sauce over beans and stir well. Cover beans and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Home of the Brave Vanilla Ice Cream
                                                                  1 cup sugar.
                                         3.75 ounce package of French vanilla pudding
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups half and half
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp. Jack Daniels
4 tbsp. pecan halves
2 tbsp. butter

Combine ingredients stirring until mixed well. Pour mixture into ice cream churn and freeze according to machine directions. In a skillet toast the pecans  with the butter and Jack Daniels and drizzle the sauce and pecans over the ice cream when serving.

Cynthiana is a native American grape. Jefferson was familiar with it and it was first produced into fine red wine in Virginia. Some Southern and Midwestern wineries have truly delicious, dry and food friendly bottles. Georgia's Three Sisters, Bean's Creek in Tennessee, Virginia's Horton Vineyards and Pontchartrain Vineyards in Louisiana produce wonderful Cynthiana that would make Jefferson proud. Also called Norton, it's the state wine grape of Missouri.
Blanc Du Bois was developed in Florida and is available throughout the country. This white wine has aspects of wines from Alsace in France, but it belongs to America.

Monday, June 26, 2017


~Doc Lawrence~

ATLANTA-The play is subtitled "the most reluctant convert," and for nearly two fast-paced hours on a Sunday afternoon Down South the theater audience was ever so close to Oxford University, being taught and entertained by the one-time college Don, author, philosopher, storyteller and inventor of fables, C. S. Lewis. Actor/playwright Max McLean created and starred in the production before a packed house at the Ferst Center for the Arts on Georgia Tech's Midtown Atlanta campus.

The play, according to McLean, was largely Lewis' own words drawn from the large body of published works, but all before Narnia and prior to his marriage to Joy Davidman. McLean, a stage veteran who has starred in "Othello" and played Stanley in "A Streetcar Named Desire," along with many other plays, offered that his Atlanta performance was an exploration of Lewis' dramatic conversion to Christianity.

The script was vintage Lewis: witty, sarcastic, irreverent and at all times simmering with charm and good humor. No road to Damascus moment for Professor Lewis. He became a committed Christian riding to the zoo on a motorcycle with a friend.

Georgia Tech's Ferst Center
McLean heads the Broadway-based Fellowship For Performing Arts, a theatrical company that creates theatre from a Christian worldview. Bringing C.S. Lewis to this wonderfully busy city that honors the arts is a tribute to who we are and a challenge to extend ourselves to become even better. It is, after all, a momentous step toward a higher life.