Tag Archives: 03-21-2012

How Conga for a Cause Came to Be

News article courtesy of Mike Sales

There I was, playing a show at the beach on Anna Maria Island, watching everyone have a good time with the sunset, music and good company, when I said it, “Pardon me Mayor, but I’m having a little trouble getting into Wikipedia and they’ll never call me to perform in the USO if I’m not a household name. So, would you be so kind as to give me some designation like the official singer of Bradenton Beach?”

The Mayor responded that, while it was perfectly in is province to issue a proclamation, he wouldn’t do that because there are many fine singers on the island who would qualify just as well.

So, I decided to set myself apart.

Plan A was to write a song about the city and to present it…Hmm, how to present it? I know, I’ll write a song that people can stroll to, and hold an event featuring people strolling down Bridge Street. Logistics? How am I gonna get everyone to line up? Will the city even let me block the street?

Plan B: Switch the dance to a conga and move it to the beach And, since I already have a song that works for a conga line dance, how about attempting a world’s record for the longest conga line?? That’s how it all came together.

The plan is to:

• Video the event and edit it down to a three-minute music video for the song.
• Load the music video onto YouTubeDirect people from youtube to my website to download the song.
• Bradenton Beach will get some attention for being a fun town. I may stand out from the pack, long enough to justify a proclamation.
• Qualify for Wikipedia.

Lisa Williams is nice lady at the Islander who helps me with advertising each week. You may have read about her in the papers lately. She’s taken it upon herself (at her own expense) to assist area animal shelters in adopting a no-kill policy. Being an animal lover myself (I adopted my own dog, Hogan, from a shelter four years ago), my pre-existing event ended up providing the perfect vehicle for her to talk about her efforts and create an awareness about the needs of Manatee County animal shelters.

The Event is Scheduled for April 23rd, 1-2pm in Bradenton Beach at the round-a-bout on the beach. It is a free event and everyone is invited.

Wakeskating movie premieres at Seafood Shack

Integrity and Mutiny Wakeskates, a team of new action sport enthusiasts who combine wake and skate boarding, present “Ride Among Us,” a movie premiere, 7-11 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the Seafood Shack Restaurant, 4110 127th St., Cortez.

        The full-feature film directed by Mitchell Cobb showcases two Island locals, Andrew Fortenberry and Nick Taylor, as well as other wakeskate riders from across the country, including Ryan Lemons, Blake Steele, Josh Norman, Collin Gee, Jen GilanFarr and Gabe Paulson.

        It debuted at a Hollywood-style opening at the Varsity Theater in Baton Rouge, La., March 14, and the Cortez viewing is only the second “premiere” showing of the movie.

        Wakeskating is a small but growing action sport, popular with young surfers and wakeboarders.

        Two young talents featured in the film, Fortenberry and Taylor, learned the sport while growing up on Anna Maria Island. Fortenberry has a website with tips and lessons and plenty of footage shot on the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island.

        They both have attracted the sports’ star sponsors for products and endorsements.

        Food and drink will be available at the Seafood Shack. Copies of the DVD also will be available for purchase at the event.

        For more information, call Fortenberry’s dad, Brett, 941-778-0436.

Anna Maria commission votes 3-2, halts moratorium

Contractors and builders in Anna Maria can now have their building permit applications reviewed and approved as city commissioners voted 3-2 at their March 15 meeting to lift the administrative moratorium in place since Feb. 23.

The decision came after Commissioners Dale Woodland, Jo Ann Mattick and John Quam said they believe stricter code enforcement would eliminate many of the problems being experienced at vacation rental properties, not a moratorium on construction.

Favoring continuation of the moratorium were Commissioners SueLynn and Chair Chuck Webb.

The administrative moratorium to halt review and approval of building permits passed 5-0 after SueLynn expressed concern at the Feb. 23 commission meeting that construction of more large, multi-bedroom homes would lead to larger vacation rentals, and that would present a problem.

Other commissioners also had concerns at the Feb. 23 meeting that more rentals could create problems in the city.

City planner Alan Garrett agreed that the city is “seeing more home (applications) coming with larger square footage, more bedrooms and the potential for a greater number of occupants.”

But regulation of rental homes is difficult. He can’t look at a building permit application and determine if it’s for a rental or residence. An application for a 4-5 bedroom house could well be for a permanent residence, he said.

“Trying to limit the number of bedrooms is not easy,” he said, “and you can’t single out short-term rentals” for restriction in an ordinance.

Commissioners listed problems such as loud noise after 10 p.m., loud pool parties day and night, curbside trash, excessive parked cars, the number of bedrooms in rental houses and the “box-like” appearance of the second floor of new homes.

Woodland said there was nothing on the problems list that warranted a moratorium. The solution is code enforcement.

“I am opposed to everything you have on the board. Telling people how to shape their house is going too far. The same applies for the number of bedrooms,” he said.

Building official Bob Welch said that in his experience the issue of tear-down and rebuild as a single-family with numerous bedrooms is about the money.

“Island living is money driven. You are always going to have investors looking to maximize their investment by adding rooms or gaining height,” he said.

Welch suggested discussion was moving away from the problem of “late-night revelers” and large homes being turned into rentals.

“That should be our focus,” he said.

Woodland said he didn’t think the commission was the appropriate venue to handle vacationers who cause problems. The rental agents are the first line of defense, and they seem to have more authority in a lease than a commission ordinance or code, he said.

Dye agreed, saying that property managers with a signed lease from the tenant, could act faster than the city in getting a rowdy renter evicted.

Webb, however, said what property managers are doing is not something the city is regulating.

“We are talking about do we have a problem, and what can the city do about it?” said Webb.

Commissioners discussed enacting a license ordinance requiring all city businesses to register with the city, and Webb said he had asked the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation if the city could take over that duty from the DBPR. All rental properties must be registered with the DBPR.

SueLynn favored some form of licensing for the database of information on vacation rental property owners. Code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon has a current list of 80-90 percent of vacation property owners/managers in the city provided by Larry Chatt of Island Real Estate and Mike Brinson of AMI Accommodations, two of the larger property management companies on the Island.

Based on the discussion, Dye said there are two issues: structural and behavioral. The rental agents and code enforcement can deal with bad behavior. The structural issues might need more examination by the city.

Mattick said code enforcement is the proper solution for vacation rental issues, and will be effective over time.

Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration, which manages vacation rentals, agreed. He said passing a moratorium because of issues at rentals with loud noises, trash left curbside too long and excessive parking is not sufficient to “punish everybody.”

Contractors and builders have laid off employees because permits can’t be issued, even for remodeling or improvements, he said.

Webb and SueLynn suggested the city advertise the second public hearing of the moratorium for March 29, but Quam said the commission could decide that now.

“I guess it comes down to me. I don’t favor advertising for the moratorium. I support lifting the administrative moratorium,” he said.

The vote was 3-2 to halt the second reading. Webb said that meant the moratorium was no longer on the table.

Welch asked Dye for clarification to ensure that he could resume issuing building permits and inspecting and approving construction.

Dye said he could.

Although the moratorium was lifted, SueLynn said she still has her concerns about “my city.”

There are too many rentals, not enough parking and too many people leaving, she said.

“I am worried about this city. I’m concerned we’re fast becoming another Fort Lauderdale,” she said.

March Madness grips Island

Anna Maria Island had its own version of March Madness last week as many area students were on spring break and headed by car, van and SUV to the Island for some fun in the sun.

Families with younger kids out of school also flocked to AMI to visit the beaches and other family members.

With exceptional weather and the usual winter visitor traffic already peaking on the Island, Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine said a few motorists became irate in traffic jams and called the HBPD demanding something be done to relieve traffic congestion.

“Area spring break is always the worst time of the year driving on the Island if the weather is nice. Last week was pretty much a matter of having more cars than the roads can handle,” Romine said.

He had two officers manually controlling traffic signals at both the East Bay Drive-Manatee Avenue intersection, and at the East Bay-Gulf Drive intersection to allow more time for vehicles exiting the Island.

“That seemed to help,” said Romine, adding that officers will be particularly alert for any recurrence of traffic volume. Once area spring break students return to school, Romine said, traffic levels on the Island will be back to that of a normal winter season.

“It’s the price we have to pay at this time of the year, and people really need to understand it doesn’t help to call in and scream at our dispatcher because they are stuck in a traffic jam,” Romine said.

He asked all motorists to exercise patience with other motorists, and particularly with law enforcement.

“They are just doing their job and don’t deserve the abuse from frustrated drivers,” he said.

Huts at Katie Pierola to be removed

Seven small tiki huts at Bradenton Beach’s Katie Pierola Park, 2200 Gulf Drive N., will be removed by the city due to safety concerns.

At the March 15 city commission meeting, public works director Tom Woodard showed photos of the deteriorating huts. Woodard said he was directed by the previous administration to remove the huts, but he still needs direction from the commission.

“I was requested to remove the tiki huts, but it never came before the commission for approval,” said Woodard. “Now it’s getting to the point where they are in pretty bad shape.”

Woodard said he has neither the expertise on staff nor the funds to repair the huts. Funds also are not available through the community improvement projects committee, which has its budget tied up in other projects.

The photos also show a healthy growth of sea oats around the huts.

“I can’t remove that sea oats without (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) approval and I won’t get that,” said Woodard. “You can also see sand is rising around the huts from previous storms.”

Mayor John Shaugnessy said he visited the park and noticed the condition of the huts.

“I went down there and took a tour of them,” he said. “They are in bad shape. There are nails sticking out and the boards are warped. There is another concern also. I found blankets and pillows stuffed up underneath the roofs, probably from homeless people sleeping underneath them at night.”

Shaughnessy suggested removing the huts and replacing them with benches or picnic tables, “which would be less costly to the city,” he said.

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said it was the safety concern that bothered her the most. “Someone can get hurt there,” she said.

Commissioner Gay Breuler noted that even if they could be repaired, the sea oats are making them virtually unusable.

Vosburgh motioned to have the city public works department remove the seven huts, and the motion was seconded by Breuler. The motion passed unanimously.

Also approved by the commissioners was a resolution allowing for elected officials and city board members to attend public meetings via electronic devices — either by conference call or webcam — in cases of emergencies.

There were concerns expressed on the potential to abuse the system.

“I don’t want people getting used to ‘oh, I don’t have to go,’” said Shaughnessy.

Gatehouse asked city attorney Ricinda Perry, who drew up the resolution, if there were any ways to monitor abuses.

“Absolutely,” she said. “If we find abuses down the road, then we can come in and redefine it.”

Perry also recommended that the resolution be forwarded to every city department so that all city staff could see there are requirements that must be met before remotely attending a meeting.

Breuler moved to adopt the resolution, to include all city boards, which was seconded by Vosburgh, and passed unanimously.

In other city matters, former city commissioner Janie Robertson questioned commissioners on the request for proposal, previously approved by the commission in regards to the cellular communications proposal.

Robertson wanted clarification on a time window.

Perry answered for the commissioners, saying the RFP was supposed to be on the March 15 agenda, but didn’t make it.

And Shaugnessy reported the Historic Bridge Street Pier won a Manatee Chamber of Commerce award, “which was very nice,” said Shaugnessy. He also updated commissioners on his discussions with the county regarding the trolleys.

“I suggested to them that kids are indoctrinated to walk out in front of their school bus because they know it’s safe, but they are doing the same things with the trolley. The trolleys now have signs on the back glass to warn people about passing. Also, (the county) is going to put a speaker system in the trolleys in order for the drivers to ask people not to walk in front of the trolley, and to wait until the trolley has departed.”

December fatality called ‘tragic accident’

Kathleen Benison of Cortez has been cited with failure to yield right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk for the Dec. 8 death of Antoinette Pruss, 65, of Sarasota, in the 900 block of Gulf Drive North.

Benison was driving when she collided with Pruss, who was in the crosswalk near the Gulf Drive Cafe.

Bradenton Beach Police Sgt. James Gill responded to the crash and concluded his investigation March 12. Gill was waiting on the final blood tests of Benison to conclude the investigation.

According to the police report, Benison did not have any alcohol in her blood, but did have 8.8 nano-grams of hydrocodone per liter of blood.

However, the painkiller was prescribed to Benison, and the report said the trace amount was “below normal therapeutic standards,” indicating Benison was not likely impaired at the time of the accident, according to Gill.

Gill said there would be no criminal charges filed, and that this incident was a tragic accident.

“There was nothing criminal to it,” said Gill. “Unfortunately it was just a case of not paying attention, which seems to be the norm for people driving these days.”

Gill said it was likely a case of both the driver and pedestrian not paying attention.

“When you look at Pruss, you have to ask why would she step out,” he said. “Maybe she was thinking the car was slowing down and maybe it was because Benison said she was looking at the water. So maybe she did start to slow down and Pruss thought she saw her. But even being at a crosswalk, you have to make sure cars are going to stop for you.”

Gill said if there’s a lesson to come out of the tragedy, it’s for pedestrians and drivers both to pay careful attention to one another, but “pedestrians especially, because pedestrians are going to lose every time against a car.”

Pruss was initially alive following the crash. Benison struck her while driving a 1998 GMC Yukon. She cooperated with police and admitted that she had been looking at the water. She said then that she saw Pruss at the last second, attempted to brake and steer out of the way.

Bystanders were performing CPR when emergency responders arrived, but Pruss later died at the hospital from “multiple internal injuries sustained from blunt-force trauma,” according to the report.

“You can drive around just about anywhere and see people not paying attention all day long,” said Gill. “Whether they are looking around, talking or texting on their phone or whatever else, people need to pay attention. When they don’t pay attention it creates a dangerous situation and, unfortunately, tragic accidents like this one can happen.”

Trolley shelters await final approval

Shelter is one of the three basic needs of humans — and a want for trolley riders.

Four of Bradenton Beach’s free trolley stops now offer shelter from the elements for those people awaiting a ride on the Manatee County transit trolley system.

It was announced during a January capital improvement projects/city commission meeting that installation of four shelters would be completed by the end of February. Delays in the project did arise, but according to Bradenton Beach building official Steve Gilbert, the project is now all but completed.

“There are a couple of them that are still going to get some decorative items and handrails installed, but they are 99 percent complete,” said Gilbert. “All we have to do now is get final (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) approval, which should take place in the next week or two.”

Students from Manatee Technical Institute were initially designated to do the woodwork for the shelters, but spring break slowed the project down.

“They prefabricated the wood at the school and they did complete two of them,” said Gilbert. “But it appeared it was going to get dragged out beyond our timeline, so the city authorized the remaining two to be contracted out.”

The shelters were paid for through a Manatee County transportation grant. Gilbert said the county’s goal is to shelter all of the bus/trolley stops within the county “for convenience” to riders, he said.

“But the city is a little different,” he said. “Everything that is done on the Island has to have DEP approval first. While that process doesn’t take a long time, it does slow things down, and it means we have to make sure we have all of our I’s dotted and T’s crossed before we do anything.”

Gilbert said the four new shelters were part of a two-year process, and there are no plans for shelters at the remaining trolley stops in Bradenton Beach.

“This project was funded through a grant, and right now, we don’t have any funding to do anymore,” he said.

Trolley riders will soon enjoy shade and shelter from the elements at 27th Street and Gulf Drive; Katie Pierola Park at 2200 Gulf Drive N.; 1801 Gulf Drive N.; and Ninth Street South at Cortez Beach.

‘Best Practices’ list compiled for rental agents

Anna Maria Commissioner SueLynn, working with Larry Chatt of Island Real Estate Inc. and Mike Brinson of AMI Accommodations Inc., has completed the list of “best practices” she hopes will be adopted by all rental agents and vacation property owners in Anna Maria and throughout the Island.

The list includes what Chatt first termed as “best practices,” saying the terms of Island vacation rental contracts should include what’s best for the property owners, managers and the community.

Brinson, Chatt and Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration, which also manages rentals, already follow the suggested practices and incorporate terms that provide options to correct potential problems before they arise.

The policies proposed for rental property owners and managers include:

• Provide a list of rental addresses to the city.

• Provide a semi-annual update of new and changed rental addresses to the city.

• Respond to complaint calls from citizens/deputies within a reasonable amount of time — 15-30 minutes.

• Work to resolve problems that arise at their properties, including three or less complaints about trash/garbage cans (filled or empty) in the rights of way; three or less complaints regarding pool noise, occupants, music, etc., and have three or less complaints about tenant parking.

• Have no inappropriate advertising, including words such as “party” or “great place for a wedding.”

• Agree not to promote the property for parties, weddings and receptions, or rent to such gatherings that would bring large groups of people into a residential neighborhood.

• Have no groups exceed the allowable occupancy limit per the lease agreement.

• Have no improper signage.

• Have no violations of turtle regulations.

• Agree to have properties registered as rental units with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and with the Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office.

• Agree to have all rental property agents licensed with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

• Pay applicable sales and tourist taxes.

• Personally hand a form to tenants that they are required to sign, acknowledging the guidelines for renting the property and that failure to abide by the regulations could result in eviction.

• Have a “hold harmless” clause from Florida statute Chapter 509 in their lease agreement that includes the sheriff’s deputies, as well as owners and agents.

Friendly guidelines

SueLynn said many agents already provide a brochure to guests on how to have a great vacation while observing local laws and customs. She said there are some suggestions that may be appropriate to add to a rental agreement.

SueLynn suggested the following statements be included in any guidebook the rental agent/owner provides their tenants:

• Our city is a residential community. The lodging you occupy may be next door to someone who lives here year-round. This is their home. Please respect their privacy and consider their right to quiet throughout your stay.

Additionally in the guidebook, owners and agents should provide:

• Information about not holding large parties or large gatherings, including wedding receptions and family reunions in a residential neighborhood.

• Information about the maximum occupancy, including infants and children, for the rental and who will be staying at the unit.

• Identification of the number of vehicles in use by the tenant and how many vehicles will be on the property during the rental period.

• A suggestion that tenants walk, bicycle or ride the fare-free trolley to help reduce traffic on the Island.

• That renters agree to abide by all local ordinances regarding noise, parking and underage drinking.

• Information to renters about the zero-tolerance policy for noise complaints after 10 p.m. — and that the policy includes boom boxes and unusually loud noises during the day.

• Information that pets are prohibited on all Anna Maria Island beaches. Dogs must be on leashes when outdoors and their waste picked up and disposed of appropriately.

• Information that fireworks are illegal in Manatee County and not to discharge fireworks on the property, streets or beaches.

• A suggestion that renters turn off all outdoor lights by 10 p.m. year-round so as not to disturb the neighbors.

• Information that Manatee County has rules and regulations for nesting birds and sea turtles, and that no more than two of any living species of shell may be removed from the water daily.

• A form to be signed by the tenant, acknowledging having read the aforementioned regulations, noting that failure to abide by these regulations may result in eviction.


For visitors during turtle season (May 1-Oct. 31)

• Inform guests that outside and inside lights that illuminate the beach must be turned off during turtle nesting season.

• Ask guests not to touch turtles or disturb nests.

• Ask guests to remove furniture, sports equipment, chairs, umbrellas, tents and children’s toys from the beach at night.

• Note to guests that city code requires nothing can be stored or placed on the sand dunes or salt-resistant vegetation.

• Ask guests to fill in holes made by anyone digging on the beach. These can trap hatchlings and nesting turtles and prevent them from reaching the water.

SueLynn, in working with Chatt, Brinson and other rental agents, agreed these policies work best when everyone in the vacation rental industry has a spirit of cooperation with city and community needs.

SueLynn believes about 80-90 percent of Island rental agencies and vacation property owners already follow similar guidelines. Her goal is to have almost 100 percent participation and enforcement, but she and the other agents realize there always will be a few property owners who may not agree.

SueLynn again noted, it only takes one or two uncooperative or uninformed vacationers to spoil the Island and its hard-earned reputation as a family destination for vacationers seeking peace and quiet — along with friendly people and beautiful beaches.

She also praised Chatt for backing up his policies with actions.

Two weeks ago, Chatt evicted a group of 18 partygoers from a 73rd Street accommodation in Holmes Beach after three complaints were made one night to police that the group was excessively loud. The partiers reportedly told the Holmes Beach police officers who responded at the residence they were on spring break.

SueLynn hopes that by such actions, the word will spread quickly that Anna Maria Island is not a party destination.

Racing, marketing, Anna Maria Island inspire artist

Engines are revving for emerging contemporary abstract painter Bob Brown — who once drag-raced professionally and later brought Fortune 500 sponsors to NASCAR, Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500.

        Born in New York City, raised in East Lansing, Mich., with stints in Houston, and Charlotte, N.C., and art school in San Francisco and Boca Raton, Brown is back at the Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, for his second year of exhibition.

        He is one of four featured artists at the Studio’s March 21-April 16 exhibit, Appreciating Abstract. An opening reception will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, March 23, with an out-of-the-ordinary technique demonstration 5-6 p.m. (See related story.)

        After his show “Have You Tried Abstract?” last year, Brown apparently found his audience. He sold 65 pieces of his art.

        His work has been acquired by private and corporate collectors, both in the United States and abroad.

        Brown drag-raced professionally after high school  before friends persuaded him to concentrate on art.

        In 1979, he quit the drag racing circuit and began road racing, where he “made it to the minor leagues.”

        The next turn for Brown came in sports marketing company startup in 1992, landing sponsorships deals for motorsport racing.

        He did marketing for Porsche and Red Lobster at Le Mans, and for RCA, Penzoil and others while involved with NASCAR, Indy 500 and other motorsport events.

        After 12 years of 12 hour days, he sold his company and started to seriously pursue art.

                All along he’d been painting, Brown says. But not until being encouraged by a friend to sell paintings on e-Bay, and taking more art classes, did he start thinking about making a living at it. His first painting sold for $10, the second for $35, and the third for $350.

        He then reconnected through a class reunion with a friend from high school, Janet Aubry of Anna Maria. He reached out to her one Saturday about two years ago with an e-mail that included some pictures of his work.

        Aubry, working in interior design consulting on the Island after a career in marketing for a large Houston architectural firm, also was an award-winning founding member of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

        Her husband, former Anna Maria Commissioner Gene Aubry, is an acclaimed architect, also recognized for his contemporary art works.

        On opening Brown’s e-mail, she shared Brown’s work with Gene. As she did so, one by one, he became more and more impressed, and finally asked what Brown was doing for a living. When Janet said she didn’t know, her husband replied, “Whatever he’s doing he should stop, and do this full time.”

        Brown’s work is all about bold colors, but, he points out, sometimes with soft colors laid on top.

        He likes painting birds, palm trees and abstract faces. And buildings.

        He is quick to make comparisons between his art and racing.

        “In the races, I saw all these colors and that sort of struck me,” he says of how he first got interested in modern art. “I think it comes from my racing. It’s like a Super Bowl every weekend.”

        His father, too, inspired and instructed him in art techniques.

        “He was a cop” and a police sketch artist, he says. Brown tells a story of how a woman once described a suspect to his father, whose detailed sketch made it to the front page of the local paper. Due to the remarkable resemblance, he says, the suspect turned himself in.

        Anna Maria Island, he says, also inspires.

        “It’s very serene. It’s like stepping back in time. People still drive 10 miles under the speed limit. It’s quiet, not like living in a metropolis.”

        Brown compares art to sports marketing, “I was asking for multi-millions of dollars. I can’t just say, I’m a good guy, give me that kind of money.

        “It’s a lot like the art industry,” and about “waiting on the investment to mature.

        “Racing is the same way, people invest money and expect to get a return.”

        Brown warns others who may look to sell their art, to remember it’s important to have time to paint. If an artist spends 80 percent of his time selling and only 20 percent painting, he says, it won’t work.

        “You have to have people who believe in you and what you’re doing … to help you sell yourself,” he says.

        What’s next for Brown?

        In addition to the Anna Maria studio, he continues to be represented by Florida galleries in Delray Beach, Dania Beach and Key West.

        “I’m a marketing person by nature,” Brown explains. “I’m researching by reading magazines and collaborating with other artists.

        “I try to figure out what wave of paintings will be appreciated,” he says.

Alyssia Lazin

        Lazin’s passion for photography followed her from one side of the camera lens to the other. After college in Washington, D.C., she moved to New York City, and was discovered by the Ford Model Agency. She was pictured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Mademoiselle magazines.

        A graduate of Yale University’s master’s of fine arts and architecture program, she launched a graphic design studio in Manhattan, with notable clients such as American Express, IBM, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the United States Postal Service and Harvard University.

        Following 25 years at the Manhattan studio, she transitioned into art photography.

        She and husband Pavil Kapic, an abstract painter born in Prague, work from their studios in Lucca, Italy, and Sarasota.

        Lazin’s photographic images transform an ordinary subject into a painting-like image. Her photography is in prominent galleries and held by collectors in the United States and Europe.

Pavel Kapic

        Pavel Kapic, an expressionistic painter born in Czechoslovakia, came to New York City in 1968, where he received his master’s in science at Columbia University and started his artistic career in sculpture. He attended the New School, and worked as an apprentice carver in Pietrasanta, a marble-carving town off the coast of Tuscany.

        On returning to theStates from Italy, Kapic immersed himself in painting, having many abstract artists as teachers.

        Kapic paints with bold strokes of unique color, adding vivid life to subjects. Kapic achieves a layered look by under-painting in gouache, watercolors or acrylic. His textural use of gesso — paint forming fresco-like surfaces — builds an added dimension, reminiscent of his early training as a sculptor.

        Kapic’s art is in many private and public collections in United States and Europe.

        Kapic realized his dream in 2003, moving to Italy with his wife, Alyssia Lazin, an art photographer. They live in a 350-year-old restored farmhouse in Lucca, and spend winters in Sarasota.

Jim Ladd

        Jim Ladd is a professional watercolorist with 40 years of commission work of more than 300 garden and landscape scenes and 500-plus miniature paintings sold to collectors across the country.

        His accomplishments include a 2009 signature membership to the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society, 2000-2012, numerous awards in Florida and Ohio shows, and a 2004 American Gallery show in Sylvania, Ohio.

        Ladd is affiliated with galleries in Haleiwa, Hawaii, and Indian Rocks Beach, and also a member of the Beach Art Society, Sarasota Art Society, Manatee Art Society, and American Watercolor Society.

Art demo, reception, talk

        At 5 p.m., Friday, March 23, when Brown demonstrates painting at the Studio of Gulf and Pine, Anna Maria, it won’t be a typical artist’s demonstration.

        Rumor has it, his tools may include more than the usual paint brushes.

        It costs $100 to attend, and only 20 seats are available. And one lucky ticket holder will take home the artwork created by Brown during the event.

        Proceeds will benefit the Studio, which Brown and Janet Aubry, his marketing professional, consider instrumental to encouraging the Island’s art community.

        Brown will show his techniques, including application of thick impasto paint laid with a palette knife to create dimension.

         He also expects to give each observer insight into the creative process. “You can almost say I paint by mistake.”

        “I’ve never done this before,” Brown says, “in front of people,” that is.

        He’s put together a 17-song playlist to accompany the demonstration, which he hopes will “elevate my creativity.”

        And yes, there’s more. He plans to use squirt guns, ketchup bottles, and a spatula, and more.

        The exhibit of four abstract artists, “Appreciating Abstraction,” will open at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 23, with a reception featuring the Manatee High School Island Jazz Combo.

        Featured will be the work of Brown, artists Alyssia Lazin, photographer and her husband Pavel Kapic, an expressionistic painter, and Jim Ladd, professional watercolorist.

        The reception is sponsored by the Anna Maria Olive Oil Outpost. The show is sponsored by The Islander.

        Prior to the reception, former Anna Maria City Commissioner Gene Aubry will host a talk on “The Art of Collecting Art.” He is the architect for the Rothko Chapel, board member of Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, and 45-year collector of contemporary abstract art. Aubry will discuss collecting for enjoyment and investment.

        The exhibit will be on display 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, March 21-April 16 at the Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.

Jitney shuttle service will start soon

Saul Perlmutter, a noted American scientist who gained fame and accolades for his work in studying the universe once said, “The one achievement everyone can look forward to is getting the perfect parking spot.”

For the person who has an understanding of unlimited space, parking issues, especially for drivers visiting and living on Anna Maria Island, bring everyone to common ground.

Parking issues and potential solutions were discussed at the March 15 Bradenton Beach city commission meeting at Bradenton Beach City Hall.

Two options were highlighted. The first came with an announcement from the Bridge Street Merchants Association, whose members will move forward with a planned jitney shuttle system, taking people from Coquina Beach to Bridge Street and back. The second was an approval from the commissioners for a temporary-use permit to the Bridge Street Bistro for valet parking.

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh, a liaison to the Bridge Street Merchants, announced that the jitney service appears to be “moving forward.”

BSM representative Jo Ann Meilner said the plan is to designate two drop-off locations, complete with signage letting visitors know they can take the jitney from the beach to Bridge Street and catch a ride back when they are done with their visit.

“All it really will be is using golf carts to transport people from the beach, where there is ample public parking, and bring them to Bridge Street,” she said. “We’ll start with two locations, one at the beach and one on Bridge Street. What we hope to do is get a couple of golf carts just to get it started, and if it works, we will expand.”

Meilner said the merchants are looking into insurance requirements, and have found a company that customizes golf carts.

“If we end up expanding, we’ll customize the golf carts to look just like the trolleys,” she said. “As soon as we check on the insurance, we hope to start this within a few weeks.”

At the same time, the Bridge Street Bistro is proposing to implement a temporary valet parking service to help alleviate parking issues on Bridge Street.

Bradenton Beach building official Steve Gilbert said the restaurant has submitted a traffic plan, but there were concerns.

Bridge Street Bistro planner Bruce Franklin presented the plan on behalf of the restaurant owners to address the city’s concerns.

Franklin said a circular pattern of traffic flow would be implemented, with use of a nearby lot where hired valets would park the cars.

“We’re confident that we have plenty of space to do this, and we will be using a professional valet service,” said Franklin. “(Traffic) backup is a concern, but it’s a mute issue because it can happen on any given day. People are getting more discombobulated (looking for parking) than if you would have an organized, professional service.”

Franklin argued that a professional valet service would not increase traffic concerns, but would decrease them. Bridge Street Bistro will be paying $1,500 a month to lease the vacant lot, as well as paying for the valet service.

And the service is not planned to provide only for the restaurant.

Franklin said the valet service would be available for anyone wishing to peruse Bridge Street businesses.

“Anyone who wants to use it, can,” he said. “It’s not just for Bridge Street Bistro. Parking is probably something you see on your agenda every week, and we are trying to do something to alleviate that. I think it will be a benefit not only to our business, but the area as well, and at no cost to the city.”

Franklin didn’t convince all of the commissioners that the traffic-flow plan would work. Both Mayor John Shaughnessy and Commissioner Ric Gatehouse expressed concerns.

“I have a problem with this,” said Shaughnessy. “It’s a very, very short distance from the roundabout to the entrance where you want to go. My biggest concern is there will be stacked cars on Gulf Drive and we can’t have that.”

The commissioners discussed the issue further and came to a consensus to approve the permit, but for 30 days instead of the requested 90 days. The commissioners felt more comfortable testing the service for a shorter time and agreed to revisit the issue in a month to see if it’s working as planned.

Commissioner Gay Breuler motioned to approve the temporary-use permit for 30 days, which passed 3-1. Shaughnessy, Vosburgh and Breuler voted for the permit, while Gatehouse voted against it. Vice Mayor Ed Straight was excused from the March 15 meeting.

Whether the permit is extended for future use or not, it cannot be permanent, according to Bradenton Beach building official Steve Gilbert, who explained that such a service that creates a parking lot is against the city’s comprehensive plan.

“It’s not a grant of rights to develop rights as a parking lot,” said Gilbert. “It’s the same as granting a flea market to operate on a piece of property not zoned for it. It’s temporary.”