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Jessica Bryce

Orlando Weekly

Recent Stories from Jessica Bryce

Image: Orlando Weekly cover art, orlandoweekly.com

State of Florida has slashed Arts funding by 90 percent

Arts funding from the state of Florida has gone down in the past four years. In 2015, the Legislature earmarked $43 million for cultural grants. Just three years later, in 2018, funding slid to $24 million. And that decrease by almost half is alarming – until you look at the 2019 budget. Then you see that slow downward drift plummet off a cliff. The most recent state budget is the highest in Florida’s history. It’s $88.7 billion (with a B). And for the arts and cultural grants program, our lawmakers have set aside: $2.6 million. Not $26 million, which would be a small increase over last year. No, the state has slashed funding by 90 percent. Another way of putting …

Image: Orlando Weekly Cover: Stranger Fringe, orlandoweekly.com

Orlando Fringe takes a deep dive into superheroes and sci-fi

Every May, the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival takes over Loch Haven Park. This year’s celebration of performance kicked off Wednesday and runs through May 28. More than 50,000 people will show up to to enjoy 130 shows, ranging from short plays to dance performances to musicals, magic, comedy, cabaret and some work that’s just impossible to label. As wide-ranging as Fringe is, the festival does have a common thread this year: as on the big and small screens, suddenly nerd culture is dominant. There are shows based on Star Wars, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, the Walking Dead, and even the Muppets. The fandom focus can be attributed to a few different things: for one, Fringe …

Image: Zora Neale Hurston, wikipedia.org

Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston is finally being released

Almost a century after publishers rejected it, a book by Eatonville writer Zora Neale Hurston is finally being released. In 1931, six years before her acclaimed novel Their Eyes Were Watching God was published, Hurston made the rounds with a manuscript called Barracoon. It focused on her interview with one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade. Cudjo Lewis was born in the West African country of Benin. As a teenager, he was taken prisoner and held for weeks with other captives in a barracoon – a slave pen. Eventually he and more than 100 others were sold and put on a slave ship bound for Alabama. This was 1860. The international slave trade had been illegal …

Image: The Domes of the Yosemite, by Albert Bierstadt, morsemuseum.org

The Domes of the Yosemite, Morse Museum

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to art. Rembrandt’s 1630 self-portrait, just 5 by 6 inches, is no less a masterpiece than his 1642 “Night Watch” at 12 feet by 14 feet. However, there’s no denying the visceral thrill of a truly huge painting, that rush of a “life size” window into a different reality. If that appeals to you, you have until July 8 to get to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum and drink in “The Domes of the Yosemite” by Alfred Bierstadt. Bierstadt’s massive oil painting, 10 feet high and 15 feet long, might be the biggest thing to happen at Winter Park’s compact Morse Museum in years. It was painted in 1867 and in 1873, installed at …

Image: Photo by Eric Limon via Shutterstock, orlandoweekly.com

Florida judge again supports allowing Tampa cancer survivor to grow marijuana

Joe Redner is rich enough to buy the marijuana that will keep his Stage 4 lung cancer at bay on the black market. Instead, the 77-year-old Tampa resident is using his wealth to sue the state of Florida. He wants the state to honor the promise of Amendment 2, and give everyone full access to the entire cannabis plant. A Tallahassee judge agreed and ruled last week that Redner could legally grow his own marijuana. Her order only applies to Redner, whose doctor has recommended he drink eight ounces of juice from the raw marijuana plant daily to keep his cancer in remission. But the Florida Department of Health says that even registered medical marijuana patients are not allowed to …

Image: Florida Constitution Revision Commission, orlandoweekly.com

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s Public Hearing

Hundreds of Floridians showed up earlier this week for the Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s final public hearing. Just over half of the 37 members of the CRC were there to hear public comment on issues ranging from a ban on greyhound racing to increased funding for cancer research. But the majority of the attendees were there to plead with the commission to regulate guns. Dozens of Parkland parents and teachers showed in support of a proposed amendment that would impose an age limit of 21 to buy a gun, require a 10-day waiting period for background check, and prohibit the sale of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. Last week Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that imposed a three-day waiting …

Image: Photo by Robert Noel de Tilly via Shutterstock, orlandoweekly.com

Orlando unions file federal complaint against Disney for withholding bonuses

Disney unions in Orlando have filed a federal labor complaint against the theme park company. Union reps claim Disney is withholding bonuses from union workers as leverage in ongoing collective bargaining. The Walt Disney Company announced in January that it would give all non-executive domestic employees a one-time cash bonus of $1,000. But, union reps say, Disney informed the federal mediator overseeing current negotiations that they will withhold payment of the bonus to 38,000 union workers unless they accept Disney’s contract offer. If union employees don’t accept Disney’s proposal by Aug. 31, the bonus offer will expire. Unite Here Local 737 claims the bonus is being offered unconditionally to the more than 80,000 employees who are not union members or …

Image: Ria Brodell, Olga Nikolaevna Tsuberbiller, 1885-1975, Russia, 2014, Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Kayafas

Ria Brodell: Devotion at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum

Widespread acceptance of, or at least acquaintance with, nonbinary sexuality has arrived with almost whip-crack speed. Not to belittle the struggle that still exists, but five years ago, the idea that most of Middle America would watch a TV show starring a former Olympic men’s track and field champ now living her truth as a Beverly Hills divorcee would have been unthinkable. For some, the freedom to create one’s identity from scratch is both exhilarating and terrifying. For trans artist Ria Brodell, it’s a process of imagination underpinned with rigorous research. In Brodell’s show Devotion at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum in Winter Park, a series of portraits dubbed Butch Heroes uses the format of Catholic holy cards to represent …

Image: Reisterstown Mall, 1965 , mennellomuseum.org

Mennello Museum of American Art. Grace Hartigan 1960-1965: The Perry Collection

In a media moment that’s focused on the female, it would be easy to lump in the current exhibition at the Mennello Museum of American Art. Grace Hartigan 1960-1965: The Perry Collection shows the work of a female painter as collected by a female art dealer, and occupies walls in a female-run museum. But that would be reductive. The goal of our current drive for equality is to break out of the walled garden of gender. Regardless, Hartigan is lumped in to the box labeled “Female Abstract Expressionists” – a group that includes Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine De Kooning and Lee Krasner – coverage of whom always (explicitly or implicitly) measures them against the yardstick of their male contemporaries. So, can …

Image: Photo via Florida Constitution Revision Commission

The Constitution Revision Commission

Congratulations, Floridians. Each and every one of you is special. But possibly not for the reasons you think. Floridians are special because our state’s process for constitutional reform might be the weirdest in the country. Just once every 20 years, we convene something called the Constitution Revision Commission. Thirty-seven people are appointed by our state government to hold a year of public hearings  .   and at these hearings, Floridians can directly propose constitutional amendments. During the year, the CRC reviews and votes on public input, and proposes amendments of their own. In November, the approved proposals go right on the ballot. So the CRC is an exercise in expedited democracy. But of course, politics is never simple, and this year …