“Power in Paper: Celebrating Sarasota Artists” with John Ringling Tower Artists Melanie Lavender and Kuniko Yamamoto
Presented in partnership with Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County and Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center
Friday, September 29 at 6pm
Fogartyville Community and Media Arts Center (525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota, FL 34236).
Registration is required. $5 per person.
The collection of artists who call Sarasota their home is simply remarkable. Join the Hermitage and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County in celebrating two such artists who have both spent time on the Hermitage campus creating work. Melanie Lavender is a spoken-word poet, podcast host, and proud alum of Booker High School. Kuniko Yamamoto is an origami master and theatrical storyteller whose creations and performances have dazzled audiences across the country. See and hear selections of their work and learn how the residency at the Hermitage impacted their process.
Melanie Lavender, the recipient of the 2022 John and Mabel Ringling Tower Grant, is a spoken-word artist and a proud Sarasota native. Educated in the Sarasota County school system and Newtown Community, Melanie is a wife, mother, and owner of Soul Adani Production, producing and hosting Soul of Tha Matter at 107.5 The Vibe and Community Conversations with Mel at WSLR 96.5 FM. In 2022 Melanie released her first book of poetry, Psalms of The Elusive Black House Wife. Melanie is also a TEDx Speaker; her goal is to impact the audience by delivering melodic stories of life.
A native of Japan and a recent recipient of the John Ringling Tow (JRT) Grant, Kuniko Yamamoto received her Bachelor of Psychology from Otani University of Kyoto, Japan in 1983, then started performing professionally in her hometown of Osaka where she grew up studying traditional dance, music, and theater. In 1985, she received national exposure performing Japanese Storytelling at the Silk Road International Exposition and on Kansai National TV. The following year, Kuniko traveled to the United States to study with Tony Montanaro, a highly respected mime and actor. Three years later, she toured with Leland Faulkner Light Theater where she helped present lavish stage illusions and brought ancient tales to life with shadows and magic. For the next five years she performed in theaters, schools, colleges, and festivals across the country. In 1992, Kuniko left the Faulkner Light Theater troupe to move to Florida. She married Jon LeClair, a world-renowned magician whose books appear in magic shops worldwide. This helped her add subtle magic and mystery to her unique act. Kuniko has performed in numerous venues of note such as: The Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Disney Epcot Japanese Pavilion, Seattle’s International Festival, International Children’s Festival in Canada, and National Storytelling Festival. Over the last two decades, she has presented her programs throughout the United States. Her work has been recognized by the Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina State Arts Councils since 2000.