Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter
May 4, 2017 6:00 a.m.
It’s confession time – again. A year or so ago, my daughter and grandson got me hooked on watching “The Voice.” And I’ve been a fan ever since. Part of what appealed to me about the show initially was the sessions where the celebrities who coached the singers gave advice and encouragement. I had not realized the extent of effort that goes into making something look effortless.
This season another idea dawned on me. The show is introducing me to music I had never heard and artists I had never watched. I found something surprising – the range of music I like is a lot wider than I thought. Now my iPod has the standard classical and jazz music that I’ve always loved and it also has a music genre I had refused to like. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve said, “I don’t like country music,” I could be retired on the Riviera.
So what’s my point? Here on Amelia Island and nearby, we have the opportunity to sample a lot of very different art. We have a wide range of musical venues – the Island Chamber Singers, the Amelia Musical Playhouse, the singers at various bars and restaurants, the Nassau Community Band, the Chamber Music Festival, Bluegrass Festival and Jazz Festival.
It’s the same with the visual arts. We have more art galleries in Fernandina than many places our size. You can see abstract art, watercolor, wood-burning/wood-turning, wire sculpture, oil painting, pottery, and pastels. Without too much effort, I can think of a half dozen or more galleries where you can look at all manner of style and subject. And as with the music, these pieces are done by artists who love what they are doing.
Then there’s literature. We have two bookstores, several writers’ groups, a lovely library and several stores offering used books. We have authors who do signings and talks about their work. As with art and music, there are all sorts of literary genres represented – romance, fiction, history, politics, or science.
The choices are out there waiting to be explored. I can’t think of anything I left behind in Maryland that I miss here. Well, I did love the Washington Balalaika Orchestra but that’s minor. For very little effort and cost, you can go beyond things you are familiar with and try out new experiences in the arts. It’s an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone. Maybe you won’t like it but on the other hand, maybe you will. And if you do like it, you have a whole new genre to explore.
Evelyn McDonald moved to Fernandina Beach from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. in 2006. She is a chair of Arts & Culture Nassau, a city commission charged with support of the arts in Nassau County. She serves on FSCJ’s Curriculum Committee for the Center for Lifelong Learning. She is also the chair of the Dean’s Council for the Carpenter Library at the UNF. Ms. McDonald has MS in Technology Management from the University of Maryland’s University College and a BA in Spanish from the University of Michigan.