Southwest Florida poets are invited to share their work at an open mic night on Jan. 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33919. The event is designed to bring together different generations, styles and approaches to poetry. The event is free and open to poets of all ages and to those who simply enjoy soaking up spoken word, but a $10 suggested donation is encouraged to support future Alliance programming. An additional Poetry Open Mic Night will be held on April 26

The Alliance is also issuing a call to poets for its inaugural Chapbook celebration on April 5. Selected poems will be published in a National Poetry Month celebratory chapbook. Online submissions are due by February 23, 2018. For submission guidelines and to submit your work online visit:

Home Studio - Annette Brown
Home Studio – Annette Brown

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Alliance for the Arts opens doors to seven local female artists’ studios on March 3. Through a self-guided tour, visitors from near and far get the rare opportunity of experiencing the sanctuaries where art is created while getting acquainted with the makers and gaining a close-up view of the materials each artist employs.

“Southwest Florida is home to an abundantly diverse collection of visual artists,” says exhibitions coordinator Krista Johnson. “By illuminating the talent of females, we celebrate each woman’s creative contribution to our community.”

The self-guided tour begins at 10 a.m. at the Alliance, where ticket holders receive a program and map to the studios, and visit on-site art studios featuring working artists.

Tickets for Alliance members are $25 or $35 for non-members and can be purchased online at or by calling 239-939-2787.

About Annette Brown

Annette Brown has always been an artist. For many years, her art expression was as a professional hair stylist. Now, Brown gets creative energy expressing herself through mixed media.

About Stacey Brown

Stacey Brown uses an intuitive creative process which incorporates the use of paper, paint, ink, crayon, pencil, ephemera and other materials. Her creations include paintings, collage, mixed media, jewelry and furniture.

Donna Chase in Studio
Donna Chase in Studio

About Donna Chase

Donna Chase is relatively new in the local art scene. Her math and business training prepared her for an unusual path into this world. Her creative outlet had been limited to helping friends decorate their homes. That changed a few years ago and her paintings have been shown in numerous juried shows throughout Southwest Florida. Her Pop Art chairs were accepted in the 2015 All Florida Show at the Alliance for the Arts and at Sidney Berne Davis Art Center. She also has exhibited painting at Arts for Act, The Visual Arts Center and the Cape Coral Art League. Her style is playful, colorful and diverse. Donna does not limit herself to a particular style but sees each painting as an expression of her love for life.

About Kathy Danca Galli

Growing up on the west coast of Florida, Kathy Danca Galli has been  grateful to experience the beauty of our blue planet first hand. She is a photographer, former photo editor for Scuba Diving magazine, master diver, former registered boy scout (seriously), ocean advocate and lover of all bodies of water. Kathy’s work has been featured with Captains for Clean Water, Scuba Diving magazine, Sport Diver Magazine, and has won contests with the Ocean Conservancy, Our World Underwater, and the Florida Skin Divers Association.

About Julie Griffin

Julie Dean Griffin is a native of Fort Myers, Florida and has been an artist for over 40 years. Griffin graduated from Florida State University where she finished with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and supporting minors in Art Education, Marketing and Art History. Primarily working in the medium of oil painting, she is specialized in the Academic Method of Painting. She now resides in Fort Myers and continues her work mainly producing landscapes and portraiture.

MiMi Stirn
MiMi Stirn

About Mariapia Malerba

Mariapia Malerba is an Italian-American artist who was  born in Puglia, a region in Southern Italy.  She studied art in high school and went on to study at Accademia di Belle Arti, a fine art institute in Lecce, Italy. After earning a degree in art, with primary coursework in scenography, set design and costume history, Mariapia moved to Lake Como in Lombardy, Italy to work as a textile designer. She has created textile designs for well-known fashion designers, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Cavalli.

About MiMi Stirn

MiMi Stirn’s art is pure symbolism and surrealism embodied in 2D mixed media resins.  Influences of Klimt, Dali, and O’Keefe are apparent in both message and stylings.  Works include sculpted modeling paste, hand-mixed acrylics from pigments purchased from a distributor who is part of The Society of Ochers of France, operators of the last remaining Ocher quarry in the Provence region. She proceeds to mix elements, layers of staining, finished with colored and clear coated resins.  With her art career stretching as far back as high school, she studied sculpture and through the years mastered the embodiment of both her love of sculpture and painting into dynamic and unique works of art.

Artists submitted over 90 pieces for consideration in the Alliance for the Arts’ December exhibit Fired Up. The juror, Lee Brotherton, narrowed the list to 46 pieces which were unveiled to the public during an opening celebration on Dec. 8. The exhibit will continue until Jan. 5 at 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33919. Admission to the gallery is free, but a $5 suggested donation helps keep arts programming accessible.

June Powell was awarded Best In Show for her piece Verdant. Patricia Fay won second place for Tree Pots 1. Third place was awarded to John O’Brien – The Chase.

Honorable mentions include Alyssa Balabad – Sad Blob, Deborah Martin – Rain and Joanne Bedient Frust of the Fire.

The Alliance for the Arts’ December exhibit, Fired Up, features the works of 29 Florida artists who have created their pieces using fire or heat in some way. The juried entries represent mediums such as ceramics, glass, welded pieces, encaustics and installations.

Artists include: Thais Alvarez, Alyssa Baladad, JoAnne Bedient, Gianna Dubay, Patricia Fay, Ehren Fritz Gerhard, Eric Greenblatt, Carrie Keohane, Jay Lana, Sherry Lavendar, Felipe Maldonado, Sandra Fay Mark, Deborah Martin, John Merchant, Rick Plummer, June Powell, John O’Brien, Marcia Preisler, Mary Etta Rokusek, Ronald Sebring, Gale Shamblott, Joel Shapses, Barbara Simon, Toni Ferrell Sutton, Lynn Troyer, Mary Voytek, Beverly Yankwitt, Roseline Young and Peter Zell.

This year’s juror is Lee Brotherton. Brotherton has over 20 years of creating, marketing and selling pottery recreations and original sculpture and paintings. Her sculptures are in private, corporate and museum collections throughout the world.

This show has been rescheduled from September 2017 due to Hurricane Irma.

The Alliance for the Arts presents The Elephant: Stories You’ll Never Forget on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. The event features 10 area storytellers who recount a variety of narratives from personal tales to folktales. This storytelling showcase is produced by Storytellers of the Round Table.

The group has been staging smaller storytelling events over the past year. Tickets to this event are $15 for Alliance members and $20 for non-members.

About the Storytellers:

Emcee & Storyteller: Joel Ying is a Naples physician practicing integrative & holistic health in his private practice. He originally joined Toastmasters in 2009 to improve his public speaking presentations. As he advanced as a speaker, he discovered the art of storytelling and the National Storytelling Festival. He became a storyteller and began a series of StorySlams, just to have a place to tell stories.

Personal story: The Teacher

Mark Beland grew up in Bergen county New Jersey and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration at Ramapo College.  He joined Avow Hospice in May of 2016 as a Community Liaison, responsible for creating  awareness in Collier County of Avow’s services including: hospice care, palliative care, grief support, and care giver support.  He is a member of Toastmasters International, and his story won first place at the Toastmaster Humorous Speech Contest for District 48 in 2016.  You will hear that winning story Jan. 31.  He lives in Estero with his wife and teenage son.

Personal story: A Strange Desire to Speak Spanish

Rhonda Brazina has always loved stories. From her childhood to her teaching days … to reading to her own children, she has loved the art of storytelling. She wanted to write a children’s book to tell a story for children and achieved this in 2011 when she and her friend wrote “Carrots for Charlie”, a book set in Naples with a positive message about health and fitness. These days as a Toastmaster and aspiring actor, Rhonda enjoys writing stories and telling them to all who will listen.

                Personal story: Can a Leopard Change Its Spots?

Robert David is a Florida native and data consultant for the real estate industry. He provides up-to-date market information to his clients. He joined Toastmasters in 2015 as a way to challenge himself and get out of his comfort zone. He is new to storytelling. Tonight he will be speaking about something else that makes him uncomfortable.

Personal story: The A/C Story

Dwight Elam was born in Lexington, Kentucky.  He is a former school teacher, college professor, and currently ministers at First Christian Church in Punta Gorda.  He comes from a long line of liars, also known as storytellers.  His daddy said that he was vaccinated with a phonograph needle.  Dwight is a member of Toastmasters International, the Tamiami Tale Tellers, and the Florida Storytelling Association.

Folktale: The Country Store

Marilyn Graham retired in 2014 from a 40 year career as a librarian and library administrator.  She was introduced to storytelling when she worked as a children’s librarian during her career.  She has been a member of the Tamiami Tale Tellers for 20+ years and has organized and produced many of its storytelling programs and workshops.  Marilyn is now an award winning photographer.

Personal story: A Trombone Tale 

Tashahara Jallad joined Toastmasters International in 2008. After achieving the level of Distinguished Toastmaster, she began to explore storytelling. She joined the Florida Storytelling Association and started the Storytellers of the Round Table. Tashahara adapts and weaves universal messages that touch the heart, challenge the mind, and lift the spirit. With a belief that a story is the shortest distance between two hearts, she will inspire you to pass them along.

Folktale: Truth and Story

Lisa Leonhardt is a fourth grade teacher at Tice Elementary.  She tells stories to her students, her family, and to anyone else who will sit still for a story.  Lisa credits her grandfather and an elementary school librarian for sparking her interest in storytelling.  She has been a longtime member of the Tamiami Tale Tellers and together with Marilyn Graham has kept storytelling alive and thriving in Fort Myers for 20+ years.

Personal story: The Enchanted Cottage

Howard Silverman has been telling stories since his children were in preschool.  This long-time member of the Tamiami Tale Tellers enjoys telling as well as listening. Howard, a retired pharmacist, likes storytelling more than working. His telephone conversations with his mother are legendary in our local storytelling community.

Tall-Tale: The Dollop

Mary Lou Williams is a retired teacher. She first became interested in storytelling when she heard an Appalachian storyteller at an Elderhostel in Boone, North Carolina.  She has been hooked ever since.  She has served on the board of the Florida Storytelling Association and has produced local storytelling workshops and concerts featuring national tellers.  She is also a member of Toastmasters International and the Tamiami Tale Tellers.

Fractured personal story: Being in the News

The Rotary Club of Fort Myers brings  The Screaming Orphans back for an outdoor concert on Feb. 3 at the Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33919. Comprised of four sisters from Ireland, The Screaming Orphans are known for their high-energy music that blends pop rock with traditional Irish music. The concert benefits the Rotary Trust Fund.

Gates for the outdoor concert open at 6 p.m. MacGilliossa performs at 6:30 p.m. The Screaming Orphans will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. The event also features Flavour Street food truck. Blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged, but coolers will not be allowed in the gate.

Presale tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at or by calling 239-939-2787. Tickets purchased at the gate are $35. Kids under 12 are free with an adult.

The concert is presented by The Rotary Club of Fort Myers and sponsored by The Dorcey Law Firm. Sponsorship information is available at the Rotary Office or by calling 239-332-8158.