Welcome to the Arts Coast Journal

Creative Collaborations


Letter from the Editor

August 7, 2019 | By Sheila Cowley


Welcome to the Arts Coast Journal, a new name and new focus for the Creative Pinellas online magazine.

Our aim is high-quality coverage of the Visual, Literary and Performing Arts. . .  and all the kinds of art that merge and mix and fall between those.

This is an arts community that needs in-depth journalism that explores the art being created in Pinellas County and beyond. . . and the artists making it.

Previews of coming work, interviews and features and the vivid conversations of our Arts In podcast set the stage for what will become a multimedia arts resource. Skilled writers will share insights and perspectives that will spark you. Artists will speak in their own words about their work. You will find new articles and features every time you look.

painting by Ana Maria Vasquez, her interpretation of actors, dancers and musicians performing Sheila Cowley’s Madness

For this first official issue, we’re focused on collaboration. This community is where all kinds of art is being made, by all kinds of artists who are interested in everything. When you go to a concert, dancers and writers are in the audience. At a gallery, musicians and actors are looking at paintings. We are interested in the way all kinds of art explore the same world we’re exploring.

As a playwright, I work with actors, dancers, musicians and visual artists to make theatre. . . we collaborate on work that none of us could make alone. My script is the starting point, but what audiences see is a work that grew through the skills and thoughts and voice and body of each artist who is part of it.

We asked a range of artists, is there a different kind of art that finds its way into your own?  Here you’ll see their thoughtful and surprising influences and inspirations – each one very personal, and all of them so different. 

To get started, I’ll share mine. Silent clowns, and gesture. I am always trying to put on a page the moment everybody caught their breath, delighted, in Bill Irwin and David Shiner’s, Fool Moon. Two masters of silent expression and an onstage band, creating wondrous stories, all hilarious and poignant.

The moment I’m reaching for with every script is their quiet finale, when the giant crescent Moon that was hanging high all evening – surprisingly set. And two gentle clowns in old-fashioned suits sat on the Moon as it rose again.

That was a magical moment. But the one I always take as inspiration is when that Moon was rising, with Irwin and Shiner enjoying the ride. . . and Shiner remembered something, hunted around – and flipped a switch. And the Moon turned on like a lightbulb, as they flew up in a red velvet sky.

If you’d like to share a collaboration – or you have an arts story –
you can email s.cowley@creativepinellas.org.


and Inspirations


Eugenie Bondurant – Actor

“Tigris,” the character I played in Hunger Games, was developed by collaborating with dancer Paula Kramer.

Cat-like behavior, being wary, always watching. . . all came from her.  Strong, stealthy, confident, calm demeanor – that’s all Paula.

Actors steal-borrow-are-influenced-by all facets of art, whether it be music, fine art, dance, etc.  If something sparks curiosity or somehow relates to the character and helps you create the mood, it’s used. 

For example: I use music as a medium for headshots. 

A clear example of this is Sheila Cowley’s piece Air-Earth-Fire-Water.  Sheila wrote a script that was enhanced by music and dance. As an actor, the movement of the parachutes as waves in Water immediately sets the mood for the actor and viewer. The water envelopes, flows, is not static. The dancers are not only creating the water flow but are part of it as the sea creatures the scientist I’m playing is seeing and talking about.

I can go right outside to walk in the Bay and be affected by the art of nature. This was an immediate inspiration for that piece. 


Eugenie Bondurant is a film and TV actor,
singer and acting teacher on IMDB


Mason Gehring – Visual Artist

Lyrics of songs find their way into my paintings becoming part of them written into the painting or snippets become the titles of paintings. More so dreams motivate me to paint them or to paint to release from the reality of that dream but I wouldn’t consider dreams an art form or would you?

Mason Gehring is a visual artist and artist in healthcare professional


John Gascot – Painter & Curator

John Gascot, Charlie’s Joint

Music is quite influential to my painting. Be it a title, a lyric or melody, it often sets or supports the tone and pace of my work. I listen to almost every style there is. I like to create Jazz-themed or abstract pieces to the tunes of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker or Max Roach.

John Gascot, Mother’s Burden

When painting Caribbean-flavored works I might listen to anyone from classic Latinx artists like Celia Cruz to contemporary ones such as Maluma. And when painting political pieces you might find me in the studio blasting anyone from Nina Simone to Logic.


John Gascot is a visual artist and muralist


Fernando Chonqui – Dancer

I am currently working on a trio for ProjectAlchemy’s moment series coming up in September, and I drawing a lot of inspiration from Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist.

Fernando Chonqui at The Studio 620 – photo by Denzel Johnson-Green

This book speaks to me in many different ways. When I first read it, I felt inspired to explore creativity. I was still in High School and decided to start looking into Theatre classes.

The second time I read it, I felt challenged to take more risk with Dance. I was in Europe and challenged myself to take my dance to a place of discomfort and find pleasure in that place.

Fernando Chonqui at the Lourdes Dance Festival, France – photo by Laurent Gambarelli

Now, as I’m creating this new dance piece, I am using this book as source material. I’m taking different sentences that speak to me in a certain way, and I’m exploring ways to translate those feelings into moves.

Fernando Chonqui is a dancer and choreographer



Becca McCoy – Actor

I found a great deepening to my work as a performing artist when I did more than just read for preparation. I found I was informing a language-based art with more language, which was academically stimulating, but viscerally limiting.

Now, I find a connection to a piece of art and/or music as part of my process in realizing a character, which gives me access to a greater emotional deepening.

The first use of this in my career was playing Hedda in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, whom I decided was Edvard Munch’s The Scream, and Ravel’s Bolero.

Becca McCoy is a stage actor and singer


Helen Pruitt Wallace – Poet

What I love about collaborations is that they take separate artistic expressions and by combining them (and asking them to play off each other), they create an entirely new expression–a resonance if you will, that goes beyond what either singular construction could conjure. The creative act is expanded into new energy that spills beyond each individual artist and/or medium.

Katee Tully – The Dig

I’ve been lucky to collaborate twice with the artist Katee Tully, once for a Fantastic Ekphrastic event at Soft Water Studios, where I wrote a poem off of her amazing installation entitled The Dig, which was then read aloud by the terrific actress, Bonnie Agan–so a third collaboration!

A couple of years later Katee and I collaborated again for The Pink Event: The Pink Beneath Our Feet, a fundraiser for the SunLit Festival. In this collaboration–hosted at the office of Behar+Peteranecz Architecture, whose fabulous digs added its own vibe — Katee’s artwork played off lines of my poems selected from my book, Pink Streets.

(Or maybe it was the other way around? That’s what’s cool about collaborations).

You can read the poem inspired by Katee Tully’s Dig, here.

Katee Tully – Helen Pruitt Wallace Installation

For the past few years I’ve curated the collaborative poetry category for the annual surrealist Exquisite Corpse Games, directed by Ann Marie Cash. In addition to the participation of visual artists, musicians and dancers, 9 different poets each write one stanza which is spontaneously put together with 2 other poets’ stanzas to form 3 separate poems. Always fun to see how they turn out!

Lastly, I’m honored to be collaborating with artist Mark Aeling by writing a poem to encircle the base of his large September 11, 2001, commemorative sculpture which will be unveiled at the ArtsXchange later this year.

Helen Pruitt Wallace is the Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg


Katee Tully – Visual Artist

Katee Tully, Helen Pruitt Wallace – The Pink Beneath Our Feet

While the lion’s share of my work is in collaboration with other artists (of all mediums), I take particular delight in working with artists who create through words.

With poet Helen Pruitt Wallace, there is so much balance in the way we inform one another’s creations……. tilting one way—then another—but seemingly coming to rest on something that is uniquely ours. I feel we hand people a bowl and a spoon and each can consume our work in a way that is filling.  And I dare say that most want to run their finger around the lip before they are done.

The Dig – Helen wrote a piece based on our conversation regarding the weight of sorting another person’s life……I created the installation in this photo, for the Fantastic Ekphrastic Show.

Words and images flow both ways when we work together.

Katee Tully creates imaginative installations in her studio at the ArtsXchange.
You can find out more about her work in this conversation with Creative Loafing.


Matthew McGee –
Actor and Drag Performer

Matthew McGee inspired by Iris Apfel – photo by Thee Photo Ninja

I’m very inspired by fashion. The look of a character is so important to me.

I often find images from fashion books and magazines that help me to create my various looks. Lately, I’m fascinated with granny chic as embodied by the amazing Iris Apfel. I hope readers will google her! Her use of glasses and beaded jewelry prove you can have style at any age.

I approach character from the perspective of how I want them to look. Fashion photography is such a great way to start the process.

You can find out more about Iris Apfel here. . . and here. . . and here


Matthew McGee is an award-winning actor
and drag performer thematthewmcgee.com


Victoria Jorgensen – Filmmaker

Dancer Kellie Harmon

Not long after moving to this side of the Bay I received a call from Creative Pinellas requesting I mentor one of their Emerging Artist grant recipients, dancer Kellie Harmon. Kellie wanted to learn more about using video in her projects.

Elizabeth A. Baker

While attending rehearsals for Kellie’s upcoming show at MFA, I met dancer Helen Hansen French and the amazing new renaissance artist Elizabeth A. Baker. I was stunned by their talent and knew immediately I wanted to work with them in the future.

I had that opportunity when Elizabeth allowed me use a piece of her music as part of my installation, Your Turn.

Alice Ferrulo Stampfle installation

A year later, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Helen Hansen French on Alice Ferrulo Stampfle’s  performance piece, Tied. I wrote the narration which premiered at The Dalí Museum and showed again at The Studio@620.

My life is richer and my art is stronger from my experiences with these women.


Victoria Jorgensen is an independent filmmaker


Paula Kramer – Choreographer

It is rare that I choose to choreograph to music specifically. Rather, I create movement that furthers my vision and then I find music or a soundscape that becomes a “dance partner.”

Charlotte Johnson in Beyond Words – photo by Tom Kramer

However, more than 20 years ago I heard Dawn Upshaw sing an aria from Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,  a performance that has resonated through the years and still sings in my head to this day. The music was insistent and it drove me to complete a work that was already germinating.

I had heard of the writings found on the walls and floors of the cattle cars and cells of the victims of the Holocaust. They were messages that noted their existence and their right to be remembered.

There was surprising and unintentional collaboration with the composer whom I discovered had been compelled by these writings to to create his symphony.  This striking coincidence left me no choice but to keep moving ahead.

The result, was Kaddish, which is the Jewish prayer of mourning. Originally a group work for Hillsborough Community College’s Dance Company. It  then became a solo work called Beyond Words for Tampa dancer Alea Hennessy.

Beyond Words has since been restaged for three soloists in Detroit and for Charlotte Johnson, a well known Tampa Bay dancer.

There have been other memorable inspirations with artists from the visual and literary arts, but this experience continues to have a profound influence on my work.

Pictured in this photo is Charlotte Johnson performing Beyond Words. It’s taken by my husband, dance photographer Tom Kramer. As a visual artist, Tom’s beautiful and powerful work is a lifelong collaboration with dance.

You can hear Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs here.


Paula Kramer is a dancer and choreographer
who collaborates with a wide range of artists



Yann Weymouth – Architect

“Jean Dubuffet – Centre Pompidou” by adunt is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Throughout my now 50+ year career I have been inspired by – and collaborated with – many artists and some musicians.

After I graduated from Harvard and MIT I was invited by I M Pei to join him at his architectural firm. On one project, since I am half French and my native language was French, I M asked if I would go to Paris to help Jean Dubuffet with a sculpture project he was designing for La Defense.

I worked side by side with Dubuffet at his studio drawing the design of the structure  of his sculpture. I actually slept at the studio every night on top of one of the large styrofoam slabs that later used to create the artworks in steel and fiberglass. Dubuffet would take me in the mornings for cafe breakfast and we would enjoy wide ranging discussions then we would go back to the studio to work together.

Of many ways Dubuffet influenced me was that in his art was his creativity and ‘games’ he would play with figure and ground, in ways that would play with your imagination.


Yann Weymouth designed The Dalí Museum,
The James Museum and the Hazel Hough wing of
The Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg. You can find out more here.


Christina Acosta – Choreographer

Dancers often fall into comfortable movement patterning when developing choreography.  

Lately, to break through this tendency, I have been using simple symbol charts to develop movement phrases by assigning each of the symbol variables a task.

In this symbol chart from my choreography journal, I used the arrows to determine the direction of spatial pull on the body and the dots to represent either stillness or turning.  

I love the problem-solving it delivers to my process of making, as well as the unpredictability of the dance phrases that emerge. The process allows me to let go of the need to make comfortable, self-indulgent movement phrases and instead find new connections, interesting interruptions and unique patterning.


Christina Acosta is Professor of Dance at HCC Ybor,
who regularly host national and international performers


Tony Palms – Visual Artist

I remember downloading John Cage’s 4’33” from iTunes. It was hilarious. A stretch of silence. Foundation of sounds.

I like music that creates a curiosity, a motivation to explore, to learn listening. 4’33” does that.

One CD I’ve had from 1990s, is Red Hot + Blue, a Cole Porter tribute to benefit AIDS. A brilliant compilation of artists I’m familiar with, and artists I was hearing for the first time. A united effort to make wonderful music, and tackle an illness of the individual and of society.

This photo is an experiment building a library of books. Recently, I’ve  been using books deaccessioned from public libraries and recombining them into new titles.

Another important influence is this world we’re walking on every day.

Same as with music, I engage in events that motivate exploration and listening. Listening to planetary sounds.

I have several CDs of recorded bird songs from the fast disappearing forests in different parts of the world. Some singing that may soon cease due to man’s careless extractions, exploitation and encroachment and generally being greedy.

And I practice a meditation called Knowledge, requiring the ultimate listening. The sounds of one’s inner heart, the endless space and silence in one’s center.

So these are a few things that inspire me in making art, and living in general.


Tony Palms is a painter and multimedia artist and
the Exhibitions Coordinator at the USF Contemporary Art Museum


Peter Meinke – Poet

I was surprised to see how many of my poems were influenced by art, music, science and movies (of course, I’m 86 ). I’ve got dozens.

Here are 4 poems, one each from the above activities. 

I put little notes on them to clarify (maybe).

Talk of the Paintings

Sitting in a museum one day, I had the thought that color is a property of light at different wave lengths, so when the lights go out, the colors pack up and leave, and the paintings can relax.

Minuet in G

One day I came across an old book of classical music from far back in my days of piano lessons.  One page was folded over—Bethoven’s Minuet in G—which led me back to those days in Brooklyn when I was a young boy reluctantly practicing the piano while my friends played outside. 

Hermann Ludwig

Two of our children are scientists, and we’ve often talked about the similarities of science and poetry.  I don’t really know what an inverse square is, but I tried to write this poem in a very square and symmetrical shape; our kids were surprised I knew about Helmholtz, and I told them I was attracted because his name is a perfect trochaic iambic pentameter line.

Greta Garbo Poem #25

One summer, we went to a celebration of Garbo movies, and saw 5 or 6 of them in a row, after which I felt I knew her very well, which resulted in this poem.


Peter Meinke is the Poet Laureate of Florida.


Roxanne Fay – Actor and Playwright

This first image is Lady Macbeth Crowning Herself, stained glass by Albert Gerlach, created for the Elsinore Theater in Portland, Oregon in the 20th century.

Lady Macbeth Crowning Herself, stained glass by Albert Gerlach – photo by Roxanne Fay

This is an image that guided the path of Lady Macbeth’s journey for me as I wrote the play, Thrice To Mine.  I returned to look at it often and the image is reflected in the costuming for the production.

The second image is of Hawthornden Castle in Midlothian, Scotland. It is where I lived as an artist in residence when I wrote Thrice To Mine.

It was built in the late 14th century and is set on a sheer cliff over the River Esk.  You can see the ruins of a tower on the right side of this photo. There is a pit prison beneath the tower, which we writers were allowed to tour. There are a number of man-made caves in the cliffs beneath the castle.

Hawthornden Castle – photo by Roxanne Fay

One cave serves as a doocot (“dove-cot”, or housing for pigeons and doves) with 370 compartments. There is a tradition that King Robert The Bruce once found shelter in the caves underneath it. The poet Sir William Drummond was born here, and later extended the castle.

The ghosts of the castle spoke often in the wind and the creaking of the old walls and very much informed the feel of the play. The photo was taken by me from the cliff trail surrounding the castle and it sits on my desk as well as being the screensaver on my laptop.

I am currently in NY to begin rehearsals for the premiere of Thrice To Mine in August.


Roxanne Fay is an actor and playwright


Bob Barancik – Visual Artist

My whole adult creative life has been about collaboration.

It has allowed me to do more and be more than my own native abilities would have suggested.

Here are some high points:

Graffito Folio 1982 / Rare Book Room of NY Public Library  

First collaboration with Amy Blake as Art Director & Editor and Master Letterpress Printer Len Seastone

Saving Remnants
Award-winning Video 1999 with Myra Bazel Choreographer & Dancer, Dave Koslow Video Maker, Peter Simpkins genius improv Pianist

CreativeShare Dialogues

Mundo Caliente
Award Winning Video 2008 / worked with musicians, singer, video maker (see credits)

Musings on a Maine Peapod
2009, worked with pros & amateurs together

Spoken Word + Art
with actors Mimi Rice and Roxanne Fay, collaborations in last few months

Visual Art collaborations with Artist/Craftsman Mark Noll and Seamtress/Artist Nancy Niss
Mark has done over 120 boxes with me and Nancy at least 10 scrolls.


Bob Barancik is a visual and multimedia artist


Susana Darwin – Filmmaker

When I was writing my short film Hatboxes, I found myself fixated on Robert Doisneau’s photo Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville.

Susana Darwin – Hatboxes storyboard image © Burmese Tiger Trap Productions

The script required a complicated night shoot for the homage I had in mind. In the scene, a secular Jewish lesbian has just left dinner with an Orthodox woman for whom she’s developing romantic feelings. She drives past a lesbian bar and observes a couple mashing on each other as they come out of the bar.

Problem was, we found during editing that the pace of the story screeched to a halt in that moment. The producer did the film a huge favor when she reminded me, “You’ve got to kill your darlings.” She was right; the film was better without that scene, and Hatboxes went on to screen at 15 festivals and conferences around the world.

Even though we did not use the footage, during the shoot itself that scene helped the actor connect with the character’s neither-fish-nor-fowl isolation, which reverberates through the final version.


Susana Darwin is a screenwriter and filmmaker


Leave a Reply

Become a Creative Pinellas Supporter