Shady Ladies Art Studio – A fun, funky place to “Grow Creativity”

By Karen Thompson
Features Reporter
June 28, 2017 03:52 p.m.

Features Reporter Karen Thompson, models her silk scarf created at “Shady Ladies.”

Under the shade of a 400-year-old oak tree, five Amelia Island artists depict coastal life in a variety of media and styles. The art studio is called Shady Ladies, its goal is to grow creativity.

I’m not an artist, far from it. But I do often get the urge to do something artistically creative…. besides writing. I recently indulged myself in silk scarf-making at Shady Ladies, a fun, funky, comfortable place to “make things.”

Four of us, seated around a large table were given a white silk, hemmed and pre-washed piece of silk to begin the process. I’m not going to give away the ins and outs of this class because you must try it for yourself. Let’s just say it involved tjops (stamps) depicting palm trees, flowers, turtles, birds, butterflies. We also “got our creative on” using melted wax, ink, plastic bags, and salt. My masterpiece was much less elaborate than my fellow scarf-makers works of art.

This class was more fun and creatively challenging than I expected but the 2-3 hours spent in this art studio beg for a return visit. According to the Shady Ladies web site, it’s a fairytale that goes something like this: Once upon a time, five different women with five different backgrounds, and five different ages, spanning 40 years, fell in love with the same little island on the coast of northeast Florida, a place called Amelia Island. They loved the beaches, marshes, big blue skies with beautiful changing clouds, the islands diversity and charm. They each had a secret wish for a place to make things.

Mary Becker Libby shows off scarf creations. (L). Just one of a number of individuals who participated in the workshop.
The Shady Ladies!

The five women met through very serendipitous circumstances much like many of us that live on this island. They are water colorist Mary Becker Libby, textile artist Amy Baker, photographer and painter Susan Ryan, furniture restorer, painter and art teacher Lisa Inglis and pastel and alcohol ink artist Linda Hart Green. Mary and Linda orchestrated the scarf-making session.

Shady Ladies Art Studio is located under the big oak tree at 432B South 8th St., a space that was once old, dark and dingy. The Studio hosted its grand opening in October of last year. The artists and family and friends have worked their magic transforming the gallery into a welcoming place with easels and tables, girly chandeliers and sofas, brushes and papers, and paints and plants. Other classes are offered as well as open studio hours. Art Shows are open to all and have featured monthly themes like “For the Love of Trees,” “As Time Goes By,” and “Instruments and Musicians.”

To find out more about Shady Ladies, go to Or just stop in to look around and chat. It’s a great place to hang out!

Karen Thompson 2Editor’s Note: Karen moved to Fernandina Beach seven years ago after working in Chicago as a senior public relations specialist for the Midwestern regional office of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to that, she was an editor, columnist and writer for a chain of Chicago newspapers , an account executive for several Chicago public relations agencies and proprietor of her own pr/marketing business. She grew up and earned her journalism degree in Wisconsin.

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Keeping up with Dr. Kathy Burns

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 28, 2017 1:00 a.m.


Nassau County School Superintendent Dr. Kathy Burns

One of the Nassau County School District (NCSD) staff has been quoted as saying, “Keeping up with Kathy Burns is like keeping up with a tornado.” After spending an hour with her it’s clear that is no exaggeration.

Fernandina Observer co-editor Susan Steger and I recently sat down to chat with the new Nassau County School Superintendent about her first 6 months on the job.   In November Dr. Kathy Burns was elected by an overwhelming majority of Nassau County voters to replace retiring superintendent Dr. John Ruis. Since then she has been an administrator on the move to learn, plan and execute strategies to make our high performing school system even better.

A few weeks ago she participated in her first graduation exercises as Superintendent watching as 841 graduates, who received over $10M in scholarship funds, made their parents proud. Another NCSD point of pride for the recently completed school year is that 78 percent of district third graders scored at Level 3 or above on the state English/Language Arts Assessment.

Nassau County School District Administration Building, formerly Fernandina Beach High School, on Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach, Florida

Burns has made a point of getting out of her office in the District Administration Building on Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach and getting into the schools and the community both to tell them what’s happening in the school system and to listen to their concerns. She makes weekly classroom visits and regularly speaks to local clubs and organizations, while dealing with state mandates, budget concerns and technology matters that affect students, teachers and administrators throughout 17 schools (soon to be 18).

Additionally, Burns has responsibilities beyond Nassau County. During her first 6 months she participated in the Education Commissioner’s Panel for Superintendents on Best Practices and the Commissioner’s ESSA Review Team. Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced No Child Left Behind. This month she also successfully completed the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) 6-month training course for new superintendents to learn more about school district finance, collective bargaining, special education, laws governing education and personnel.

Dr. Kathy Burns (standing 2nd from right ) in “graduation photo” following her completion of FADSS training.

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Tudor Tactics

Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter
June 23, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Several years ago I was on the board of the Book Festival. I was in charge of the session on writing out at FSCJ. As I was watching people come in to register, I was struck by one author. He was wearing a long black duster coat, had long hair, black eyeliner, and black nail polish. His writing name was A. Dragonblood and he wrote books for young adults and teens. As you might expect, they were in the fantasy/scary genre. I must have looked startled because he said, “This is my brand.” Once he said that I realized the significance of his garb and knew exactly what he meant. It turned out that in his other life, he was an involved father and Little League coach.

Henry VIII (L : ) is just one of monarchs involved with branding. Nancy Blanton (R) award winning author to present as part of the Life Long Learning Lecture Series, “Tudor Tactics: How Historical Monarchs Invented Branding.” 

That shows how much the word “brand” has seeped into our consciousness. However the creation of a brand didn’t start with “Mad Men.” As Nancy Blanton will tell us, creating and maintaining a brand is what the royals and other notables throughout history have done. Nancy is presenting a lecture on how these historical personages created a brand and maintained it, and why they found it necessary. This is the second of Amelia Lifelong Learning’s summer lecture series.

Nancy is an award-winning writer of historical novels, based in Irish history. Her first novel, Sharavogue, set in 17th century Ireland and the West Indies, was the Continue reading

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Horticultural Professional Earns Certification

Press Release
Liberty Landscape Supply
Contact: (904)261-7177

June 27, 2017 2:00 p.m.

Bethany Majewski of Liberty Landscape Supply in Fernandina Beach, FL is a member of a group of professionals who are FNGLA Certified Horticulture Professionals (FCHPs).

This designation was earned by Ms. Majewski after an exam that measures horticulture knowledge and professional skills through an extensive written exam. In demonstrating her skills in many areas such as plant identification, disease and insect control, landscape design/management and proper irrigation, the professional designation of FHCP was earned.

Established by the Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA), the FNGLA Certified Horticulture Continue reading

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Amelia Island Chapter DAR holds Flag Retirement Ceremony

Press Release
Daughters of the American Revolution
Submitted by Cara Curtin
June 27, 2017 1:00 p.m.

Olivia Jeanne Schopf read her essay, “Our Flag: A symbol We Revere” at the DAR Flag Retirement Ceremony.

Olivia Jeanne Schopf is kissed by the sun as she participates in the flag retirement ceremony conducted by Amelia Island Chapter DAR. She is vice president of the Vaughan-Latham Society, Children of the American Revolution. She also tendered greetings to the chapter from the Vaughan-Latham Society before reading her essay, “Our Flag: A symbol We Revere.”

Fire Station #20 on First Coast Highway graciously played host to the ceremony, and the color guard from the Vietnam Veterans of America Post 1088 posted the colors. The retirement ceremony featured the American flag owned by Robert McIntyre, a U.S. Air Force retiree, who displayed it proudly at home. Loretta McIntyre continued to fly it after her husband’s death and requested the chapter’s assistance in retiring i Continue reading

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ACT Summer Campers present an adaptation of “Macbeth”

Press Release
Amelia Community Theatre
Submitted by Linda McClane
June 27, 2017 11:00 a.m.

“Macbeth” will be presented at 7 PM on June 30 and July 1 in Amelia
Community Theatre’s Studio 209 at 209 Cedar Street. This adaptation of the classic tale of vengeance is a production from the summer Shakespeare camp at ACT, with actors ages 12 – 17. They have studied the language and themes of the play, and learned stage combat with directors Tener and Erica Wade.

Tickets are $10, available at
or by calling 261-6749. The show is a wonderful way to introduce young people to Shakespeare, and is recommended for ages 10 and over.

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North Florida Land Trust explores creating island green fund

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 26, 2017 1:20 p.m.


From the movie Cool Hand Luke

Forty-five minutes of often heated rhetoric revealed what looked to be a colossal communications failure involving Fernandina Beach Vice Mayor Len Kreger and local hoteliers over the premature launch of an unvetted proposal to create an island green fund for the purpose of preserving undeveloped land for conservation. Even though there appeared to be general agreement in principle with creating such a fund, the devil was in the details, which seemed to have been presented in the proposal as a done deal when reality was far from that. Kreger had run with the idea on his own before getting buy-in from the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC), who seemed uncomfortable getting caught up in a kerfuffle not of their making.

What was billed as a discussion item on the June 20, 2017 FBCC Regular Meeting Agenda generated more than a little controversy and some heated exchanges between Vice Mayor Len Kreger and former Mayor/Commissioner Arlene Filkoff, who represented the Tourist Development Council. After an often uncomfortable three-quarters of an hour of back-and-forth charges and counter charges with the public weighing in as well on a proposal to establish a green fund to purchase undeveloped land, Mayor Robin Lentz ended the discussion suggesting that the FBCC might want to discuss at another time various methods for building a fund to put more city land into conservation. Consensus seemed to be for the city to let the North Florida Land Trust to take the lead in determining whether there was interest in pursuing such a fund. Continue reading

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A deeper dive into Shrimp Fest 2017

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 26, 2017 1:00 a.m.


Shrimp Festival crowds enjoy the musical entertainment. Photo courtesy Shrimp Festival Committee

The first weekend of May each year Fernandina Beach is invaded by hordes of visitors, pirates and people who just want to have fun. This year the city once again played host to the 54th Annual Shrimp Festival, celebrating the city’s heritage as the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. Boatloads of wild caught shrimp—fried, boiled, blackened, steamed and grilled—on skewers, in gumbo, pies, wraps, sandwiches, and salads were consumed by the masses who browsed and shopped at the many vendor booths and enjoyed the musical entertainment and fireworks.

The vendors had a good year. So did public safety. Fernandina Beach Police Chief James Hurley reported no arrests, vendor thefts or vandalism, although there were some minor injuries.

Shrimp Festival Committee members Pat Kaminski and Harry Harrison.

Who are the folks responsible for this blockbuster production, and how do they do it? I recently sat down with Shrimp Festival Committee members Harry Harrison and Pat Kaminski to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes. Harrison, who chairs the festival, has served on the committee for five years; Kaminski has participated for more than 20 years. They are the “point of the spear” for the festival, which is organized and run by a 7-member Executive Committee and a larger committee of around 30 people who staff many subcommittees to get all the work done. Every person is a volunteer; the committee has no paid staff.

The festival runs on a $300K budget, which is primarily raised from event sponsors and booth rentals (300 vendors). The city invoices for Police, Fire Rescue, sanitation and Maintenance assistance. The committee brings in extra security and puts on the fireworks as well.  These are just some of the expenses they cover. Continue reading

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Amelia Island revealed . . .

Submitted by Jordan Gallup
June 25, 2017 1:00 a.m.

“Meditation- Levitation at the Labyrinth” Photo courtesy of Jordan Gallup

Editor’s Note: Jordan Gallup grew up near Chicago, and his wife is from Seattle. After working for a national television company for 8 years, Jordan and his wife visited Amelia Island and fell in love with the area.  Jordan  knew he  wanted to raise his family here. Now Jordan is a real estate agent and creates online videos promoting local businesses, events, and organizations.

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Senator Aaron Bean Named Northeast Florida Pediatric Society’s 2017 Child Advocate of the Year

Media Release
Contact: Austin Nicklas, (904) 757-5039
June 23, 2017 1:00 p.m.


State Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) was named the Northeast Florida Pediatric Society’s (NEFPS) 2017 Child Advocate of the Year on Friday, June 9, 2017. This award is presented each year to an individual that has proven their support and commitment to pediatric medicine and the delivery of quality health care to the children of Florida.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be NEFPS’s 2017 Child Advocate of the Year,” said Senator Bean. “As a longtime advocate for pediatric health care and a former chairman of the Senate Health Policy Committee, I understand the importance of constantly working to improve the health of our children and making sure all of Florida’s youth have access to exceptional pediatric care. I look forward to working with NEFPS to ensure that we’re always moving forward when it comes to pediatric health care in the State of Florida.”

Senator Bean (center) receives NEFPS award

Senator Bean represents Senate District 4, which includes parts of Nassau and Duval Counties. He can be contacted in Tallahassee at (850) 487-5004 or in his District Office at (904) 757-5039.

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