This is traditionally a month when love is expressed, and local businesses, large corporations, organizations, individuals and even residential communities are pulling together to express their love for our area's children by supporting the 2002 Children First Celebration, which features numerous events throughout February.
Pelican Pointe is one community that is putting children first. The Pelican Pointe Women's Association is devoting its Feb. 6 luncheon to Children First, and Pelican Pointe residents Ruth Kaal and Melba Martin are co-chairing a benefit dinner dance Feb. 20. "We are excited about the opportunity to expose Children First to people in our wonderful town and chose Pelican Pointe Country Club as the site for our dinner dance primarily because we both live here," says Martin. "The facility provides everything we need to have a nice affair. We are hopeful we will have 100-plus people attend."
The non-profit Children First organization (http://www.childrenfirst.net) delivers much-needed services to Sarasota County's children, pre-natal to five years old, specifically targeting those at risk due to poverty, neglect or abuse, by providing a safe place to learn, nutritious meals and a nurturing environment.
For more information on the many Children First events, call 953-3877.
FOR YOUR VALENTINE
Epicurean Life owner Carla Griffin suggests a trip to the brand-new Annabelle's Home and Kitchen Store on South Osprey Avenue (next to Morton's Gourmet Market). The upscale shop (named after Annabelle Salser, Griffin's granddaughter) showcases the finest home and kitchen products from around the world.
"Whether your Valentine is a gourmet cook or you're the one preparing a romantic meal, the perfect 'something stunning' for your kitchen, favorite cook or dining table is bound to be found at Annabelle's," says Griffin. The kitchen section features American and French cutlery and cookware; small, hard-to-find appliances; and many gadgets that make cooking fun and exciting. The home section offers beautiful European table linens, Venetian glass, handcrafted mosaics and other fine accents.
Planning to say it with flowers? Griffin has some tips for that approach as well. Epicurean Life's Elegant Garden and Special Events is a new floral design company providing clients with creative, one-of-a-kind flower arrangements and centerpieces for weddings, social events, fundraisers, corporate events or any occasion. Special Events' decor planning and consulting services will be provided by Gayle Shankman, who's spent more than 30 years in the floral industry and been featured in Southern Accents Magazine, Traditional Homes Magazine and Town and Country Magazine. Elegant Garden operates from its design studio on Cattleman Road.
Thomas Bible of Florida Home Theater says, "With the growing popularity of high-definition TV and DVD, more and more couples are foregoing the crowded, not-so-romantic movie theaters and spending Valentine's Day at home." And wouldn't you know? He has just the right gift suggestions. "We've been bringing sweethearts closer for 15 years, and our clients love us for it," he says. "Whether your passion is feeling the rumble of the horses charging in Braveheart or viewing the 'Three Tenors' in concert and hearing every note reproduced as if you were there, digital audio and video bring it home, and we guarantee you'll be moved." So snuggle up close to that special someone this Valentine's Day, close the blinds, turn on the ultimate home theater and fall in love all over again.
Joann Carmel of Yellow Bird Antiques, always known for her unique gift ideas, says your Valentine will love a huge, 78-inch by 49-inch, 45-pound, fascinatingly ornate Mexican silver mirror with a special garland-called a penca-adorning the frame. "The garland of penca fetishes.birds, fish, horns, keys, shells.is to bring health, wealth, freedom and creativity," explains Carmel. "And one interesting penca from Turkey is a cobalt blue glass ball called 'the Evil Eye.' It's said to watch over and keep away all evil. This is the type of decorative element people put over their doors, inside and out, in South America and Brazil to keep evil away."
If you love fine European craftsmanship and design, investigate the ironwork that blacksmith artist George Snowden has been producing for more than 40 years. Describing his work as "the real McCoy," Snowden is a master blacksmith whose work graces homes in Boca Raton, Miami and now Sarasota. A member of the Artist Blacksmith Associations in North America and Europe, Snowden traveled extensively through the Mediterranean regions of Spain, Italy and southern France, studying and cataloguing thousands of authentic old-world designs and working hand-in-hand with some of Europe's finest smiths. His Sarasota-based Gulfshore Forge creates interior and exterior iron works of unequaled European craftsmanship. In addition to his residential renderings in iron, Snowden does restoration work and has been called to Baltimore, New York and other sites to contribute his fine touch. "This work is all done as it was 300 years ago," says Snowden, "but with a little more modern technology." Snowden is passing on to his sons this centuries-old artistry, which he learned from his father, who in turn learned it from his father.
Provenance Gallery, Inc. is the only gallery on Palm Avenue dedicated to resale art. The brainchild of Joyce Wishart, the former marketing director of the Asolo Theatre Co., Provenance Gallery was inspired by Joyce's former career as the owner of a marketing firm in Ohio. She often represented artists, and sometimes artists' clients would come to her and request her representation if they no longer desired a single piece of art. Provenance Gallery accepts consignments of original art, signed/numbered prints, photography, sculpture and glass from individual owners of fine art who do not want to handle the transaction.
"Basic, simple home furnishings clearly have their place in the world of fashion, but accessories complete the picture," says Pat Munz, design consultant with Robb & Stucky. "The perfect accessories put the 'person' in the personality of a home." Silk arrangements are always wonderful additions to any room, from tabletop arrangements to a large silk tree, and bronze animals are still very much in vogue, filling open spaces with monkey and elephant motifs. Robb & Stucky even offers bronze giraffes for authentic safari style. Whatever your taste, your rooms will absolutely come to life if your living spaces are accessorized to reflect your personality.
Artist Karen King of the new-ish KingHale Gallery in downtown Sarasota offers this tip on buying art. "If you absolutely fall in love with a piece of art then it's for you. Don't worry what anyone else may think or that it may not fit your existing decor. Find a place for it and create around it. The point is, you slowly surround yourself with things that communicate to you and make you feel good. When it's aesthetic communication you will feel good and then anything is possible."
King's equestrian art is lacquer and enamel on hardboard and is "more about energy than horses." If pressed, King describes her style as "neo-classical semi-abstract" but notes that "you don't have to love horses to love these images."
Pamela Hastings, A.S.I.D. says, "design has gone global." Hastings is using influences of many different cultures in her own work and notices that clients are incorporating elements they've been exposed to during their travels. "We have Asian and African pieces that blend beautifully with modern furnishings," she says. "Larger scale armoires and tables from Tuscany look great in today's great rooms of high ceilings, French country pieces have their own unique charm in a variety of settings, and the Latin American influence has had a great impact in the form of bold, upbeat color." Hastings' best tip is to love the variety and realize that your rooms no longer have to convey a set "look" but rather "reflect who we are, what our experience has been and even where we're going."
The 2002 ASID Designer Showhouse tours of the historic Italian-Mediterranean home at 5022 Bayshore Road continue through Feb. 17. The tours benefit the area's youth at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota, and through scholarships at Ringling School of Art and Design and the University of South Florida/Sarasota. Call 926-7794 for more information.
Lakewood Ranch celebrates the grand opening of its new private Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club this month. "Although our members have been enjoying the club since November," says Tom Danahy, executive vice president and COO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Inc., "we waited to schedule our grand opening events so that we'd be sure our seasonal resident members would be here to join in the celebration."
Special events include a return visit from Arnold Palmer, who will play the second course created by his design team at Lakewood Ranch. A limited number of tickets will be available to non-members who want to see the famed golf legend as he walks and plays nine holes of The Private Course. Call the Information Center for details at 907-6000.
Gary Roberts of Bamboo Building and Development says this month marks the grand opening of phase II of The Estates at Silver Oak, and he thinks you're going to love Bamboo's three new models. One, the Casa Mar, is a two-story, one-living level Meisner Mediterranean with three bedrooms, a study and four-and-a-half baths in 3,650 square feet. Sliding glass doors to the interior courtyard open all the way around, bringing light and nature from the outside into the living room, foyer, dining room, kitchen and family room without sacrificing privacy. In the middle of the area is a nine-foot-tall, five-tier fountain. Also new at Silver Oaks with the opening of phase II is another access via the rear entry from Honore Avenue.
DiVosta Homes announces the completion of its first neighborhood in VillageWalk of Sarasota, a master-planned and gated residential community in Palmer Ranch. It offers a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood that will include a waterfront Town Center with a fitness center, lap pool, lagoon pool, tennis pavilion and lighted courts, cafe and market, post office, bank and much more. A full-time town manager and activities director will manage the facilities.
DiVosta reports more than 160 sales already and plans to deliver residences at a pace of one closing per day. The company has a unique, trademarked method of construction that utilizes steel forms and reinforced steel. Each home can be finished in 47 days. "We are grateful to the residents of Palmer Ranch for their referrals to this DiVosta signature community and appreciate the welcome we have received from everyone who lives or works in Sarasota," says Glen Trotta, president of the company.
Erick H. Shumway of Sarasota Realty Group notes that while confidence in the stock market wavers, investors' love affair with real estate continues and perhaps grows even stronger. "Overall interest rates are at an all-time low," says Shumway. "Personally and professionally, I have never before seen a real estate market this strong in a declining economy. Coupled with the opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, the bar has been raised and buying real estate in Sarasota makes for a very safe investment."