Blood Sisters Arts Salon Host a Well-Versed Diversion at DFAC

March 29, 2017 by JULIE GARISTO | LITERATURE, THINGS TO DO, VISUAL ARTS
Poet Melissa Carroll reads from her new book of verse, The Pretty Machine.​ Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
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The duo also known as Jenni Nance and Lacie Meier are hosting recurring events around the written word at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.

In a mostly suburban community where cultural activities are fewer and farther between, Lacie Meier and Jenni Nance have come up with just the right free diversions to woo North Pinellas lit lovers off their couches.

This spring, their Blood Sisters Arts Salon will inject their sanguine wit into the scene by hosting recurring readings and other culturally minded events at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.

The women say it will be a “wonderarium of the arts celebrating creativity in its many manifestations from the musical, the visual, to the written word and beyond.”

According to their Facebook, the two writers first met as 7-year-old girls, cavorting in the subtropical brush of Crystal Beach, near Palm Harbor. The pair literally underwent the youthful rite of becoming blood sisters. Maintaining their friendship and mutual love of literature, they both received their Masters in Fine Arts from the University of South Florida around the same time.  Nance is a Visiting Instructor at USF, and Meier is a freelance/independent Writing Consultant and Editor. Nance is also an editorial reader for Spry Literary Journal and  both were past editors (poetry/art and fiction/nonfiction, respectively) for Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art.  “One of our long-range goals is to start a small press,” Nance adds.

The duo’s salon series aspires “to celebrate local artists, curate a “living exhibit” of literary, musical, and visual art events, and create opportunities for emerging artists to develop their craft. Under the hospices of a programming partnership with the Dunedin Fine Arts Center, they will be hosting free readings and other artsy performances on a recurring basis throughout the year.

“The Blood Sisters was born out of friendship and connection — two elements that are essential, and yet often lacking, for writers, artists and creatives of all kinds,” poet and event headliner Melissa Carroll told Creative Pinellas after her March 2 reading, Blood Sisters’ debut event at DFAC.

Indeed, the Sisters’ approach is a winning one: It blends a warm approachability with sophisticated insight.

At their inaugural event,  Carroll read verse from her new book, The Pretty Machine and other works. Along with her consistently articulate and animated delivery (she has had plenty of practice, having emceed Rock the Park in downtown Tampa), Carroll entreated the audience into her not-so-immaculate and sometimes chaotic creative world.

Through Carroll’s verse, the audience got a glimpse into her inner resolve and Eastern-influenced philosophies — as well as her wicked sense of humor. Carroll deftly dispatched self-deprecating jabs at her neuroses, embarrassing confessions and, ultimately, redemptive insights. Her reading rivaled and won against whatever new release streamed on Netflix that night. She helped shepherd a relaxing, intimate and enlightening break from digital screens, family and workday demands.

“The night for me was not just about sharing my poetry,” Carroll said, “but connecting with others in a meaningful and inspired way.  Jenni and Lacie have done a spectacular job because it’s more than just organizing an event. It’s about curating and creating space with the intention to bring us together in the name of art.”

Creative Pinellas caught up with the co-founder Nance for an email Q&A about the Blood Sisters’ collaborations and plans for the Blood Sisters Arts Salon.

Could tell us a little about your upcoming events?
For National Poetry Month in April, we plan to host three Bay area poets in our “Rule of Thirds” event on April 27 at 7 p.m. Robert Annis, Ryan Cheng and Annalise Mabe will be reading and discussing their craft and philosophy of poetry. On May 11th we are featuring poet, Gloria Munoz, as she releases her first book of poetry, Your Biome Has Found You by Finishing Line Press. Our final event (before our summer hiatus) will be our Summer Solstice Art Festival on June 21st. Please “like” us on Facebook for more details (Blood Sisters Arts Salon).

How did the idea come up to host the salon at DFAC?
We both have a long history with the Dunedin Fine Arts Center. From bringing our children to summer art classes to teaching writing, we’ve been connected to the DFAC for a very long time. Most importantly, it’s been our soul connection with curatorial director, Catherine Bergmann, which has been the most long standing and lasting relationship with the center. Outside of our physical, personal connection with DFAC, we knew, too, that we wanted our events to include interdisciplinary input from all arts and artists.

Would you consider alternative literary event formats such as Keep St. Pete Lit’s Lucha Libro or Wordier Than Thou’s Literary Dating Game?
Part of our original vision was to seek out alternative ways to engage with the community. For example, our Summer Solstice event — we’re tentatively calling it “Bloodaroo” — will feature a healthy, holistic sampling of local artists from musicians, makers, writers, and gourmands — yes, there will be food! And we are absolutely open to all kinds of creative collaboration. From working with USF’s Reading Series, First Draft, to reaching out to Keep St. Pete Lit and Wordier Than Thou, we feel the sky’s the limit. It’s all about putting the “word” out there.

As longtime friends, what are two works of fiction and poetry with which you share a connection?​
We enjoyed this question because it really took us back to our childhood. As children and teenagers, Lacie and I shared a love of everything from the Anne of Green Gables series to Stephen King. As adults, we have bonded over our fascination with Magic Realism (Gabriel García Márquez) and contemporary poetry (James Wright). We both read widely and wildly. LOL.

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*Creative Pinellas welcomes submissions from practicing artists for publication in our artists directory. Such publication does not constitute on endorsement by Creative Pinellas and does not imply a judgement about the quality of the work or the participating artist. For more information or to participate in the directory please visit contact us at info@creativepinellas.org.