Thursday, February 23, 2012

Art and Poetry Find Perfect Blend on Sanibel

Sanibel is tropical barrier Island that is a world class vacation destination because of its shells and wild life. But those who know the Island at all, realize that art is big component of what makes Sanibel tick. And the out of box artistic expressions are the heart of the art on the Island.

ARTPoems began five years ago when Lorraine Vail and another island poet, Joe Pacheco, decided to go to the Sanibel Public Library and seek inspiration — via ekphrasis a Greek word that is somewhat undefinable — by viewing the Sanibel-Captiva Art League’s annual display.

What followed was a flurry of creative collaboration between a handful of island poets and artists and the result was the first ever ARTPoems.

“We had the opportunity to present at Phillips Gallery and we had no idea how it was going to go. We didn’t rehearse, and we ended up having such an amazing collaboration. Both the artists and the poets were thrilled that their art was interpreted in a new way. I call it shaking the muse loose — getting to write in a different way. It’s a challenge because you’re writing based on something visual and interpreting that piece.”

In the ARTPoems selection process, artists and poets are paired up randomly through a raffle, and then each one presents five poems or five pieces of artwork. The poet selects one piece and then writes a poem inspired by it, the artist selects a poem and makes a piece inspired by it.

Then, both artist and poet — or musician, as music is now a large part of ARTPoems — share their new works at a special presentation at BIG ARTS and the Alliance for the Arts, thanks to Pam Brodersen, who puts all the images and poems together to be projected on a screen for the actual show.

But the key word when it comes to ARTPoems is “inspiration.”

ArtPoems will present multimedia on Stage on February 24 at Schein Hall in Big Arts. Tickets for the 7:30 performance are $10. There is a reception at 6:45 preceding the performance.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Much to Celebrate with Sanibel Shell Fare

One of the most exciting and most iconic of Sanibel festivities will be taking place beginning on February 17 and ending on March 4. The Sanibel Shellabration!

The Shell Fair and Show is located at The Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island, Florida 33957(239) 472-2155.

The line up of events is diversified, and sure to please every member of the family.

Heard of flash mobs? Well, there will be one of a sort at the Shellabration. Come and do the Sanibel Stoop on Friday, February 17 at 10 am. Meet at Bowman's Beach and help Shellabration make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. The meet up includes a free t- shirt while supplies last. Call 239-472-2155 to register.

Though the beach is the most logical spot to celebrate the sea shells that are so abundant on Sanibel, there are many other locations where Shellabration will have a presence.

At Ding Darling Nature Preserve, there will be a shell-related reading to include shell crafts (Fri & Sat) 11:00 am.

There will also be a free touch tank demo at tarpon Bay Recreation Area with Ranger led walks.

The Sanibel Public Library has "Shell Book Reading Displays" offering more than 350 shell-related books. In addition, your favorite titles and rare books from the reference collection will be on display on the main level of the Library throughout February and March. There will be a Fossil Shell Display - Library Ground Floor with 120 different species, ages from thousands to as much as 5 million years old. Some of the shells are extinct and some are found at the beach today. The fossils are from the Burnt Store area in North Fort Myers.

The Sanibel Historical Museum will have several shell collections on display throughout Shellabration week inside the Rutland Home, Burnap Cottage, Morning Glories and the Schoolhouse. In addition, there will also be a shell collection from Thomas Edison with a letter to authenticate it from Mina Edison.

At Billy's Bike and Rentals all customers (on-line and in-store) will receive a free raffle ticket for a chance to own a signed Shellabration poster designed by Sanibel Artist, Pam Brodersen.

Even our restaurants are in on the shell act. At Cheeburger Cheeburger those who stop can enter a Shellabration kids coloring contest. At The Great White Grill stop by for their specially created Shellabration Micro Brew, and at Sweet Melissa's, enjoy a specially created Shellabration dessert.

As one of the top 3 shelling destinations in the world, Sanibel has bragging rights to show off its most popular reason for being a top tourist attraction for people from all over.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's so sweet on Sanibel: Sweet Melissa's shows the Way

We don't usually single out a restaurant when we advise our vacation rental guests on where they might want to dine. There are a wide variety of places to eat on the island that cater to a wide variety of tastes and budgets. So generally we will suggest several places when pushed for an answer.

And we most often tell our visitors that they should do a little research on their own. Looking at menus to assure that there is a nice selection is always helpful, as is evaluating reviews on such sites as TripAdvisor, Yelp and other review sites.

But, in our view, when we see and hear so many positive remarks about our Island dining alternatives, we have to take a moment to reflect.

Sweet Melissa's is one of those rare finds anywhere. The restaurant is rated number 3 of all restaurants reviewed on TripAdvisor and given many accolades on Yelp as well. But the most adulation can be read at Gulf Shore Magazine where in an article entitled "The Best Food in Lee County", leads with this statement: "One step inside Sweet Melissa’s elegant but unpretentious ambiance and we realized the connection (to the Allman brother's song) begins and ends with the name. Think burnt orange and other earthy tones, white tablecloths, professional servers and cozy, quiet dining rooms. Our first bites of food made us wish we could travel back to February of 2009, when Sweet Melissa’s first opened."

Then, in equally positive tones, the writers go on to rave about the flavors and choices: "Unable to choose just two, Tom and I tried half portions of three different entrées, fish stew ($29 whole/$17 half) with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, fish and chorizo sausage in a tomato saffron broth with Pernod aioli; grilled smoked beef tenderloin ($34 whole/$19 half) with hickory, truffle whipped potato, sautéed spinach and bone marrow bordelaise; and the pan-seared mahi mahi ($26 whole/$15 half) with sweet potato, corn and crawfish hash and smoked tomato butter. A few bites into the experience, we just gaped at each other."

Now, keeping in mind that it's lunch hour as I write this post and my hunger quotient is up pretty high, even if it were not, those descriptions would certainly whet your appetite. And to seal the deal, this conclusion would have me running to Sweet Melissa's: "We practically wept over the desserts, which had to do with berries and homemade gelato on the one hand, and bananas and pecans on the other ($7 each)—not to mention fairy dust and angel’s wings."

So, if you are reading this post on Island, get thee to Sweet Melissa's. And if you are not here, then this delightful eatery could be a compelling reason to visit.

How sweet it is!