845-887-3156 debra@debracortese.com

Another great Miami weekend filled with music, scandalous stories & art!


Many of you know that in addition to creating art, presenting art business workshops, and designing handbags,  I’ve also been working with Arts at St Johns on design and marketing projects. One in particular took on a life of its own, went through several incarnations and a year of intense work by teams of people. That project, “Miami Beach – the MUSICAL”, premieres this weekend at Arts at St Johns’ home theatre (also the sanctuary in St. John’s Methodist Church) at 4760 Pine Tree Drive, Miami Beach, FL . Performances start at 8 pm on Friday, Oct 1 and Saturday, Oct 2 and there’s a matinee on Sunday, Oct 3 at 3 pm. Tickets are $25  at the door, but I strongly suggest you order in advance to save $5 and to be sure you have a seat!
$20 tickets online at www.miamibeachthemusical.com

Also as I’m writing this, just listened to WLRN’s Under the Sun program as Alicia Zuckerman interiews Miami Beach – the MUSICAL Director, David Kingery, along with Wendy Unger and Leo Casino (both have stories & cameo appearances in the show).

This all original production is directed by David Kingery, who has incorporated historical research by Dr. Carol Hoffman-Guzman, dozens of real stories from WISH YOU WERE HERE – the history of Miami Beach Facebook pages and so much more  into an entertaining and poignant story, complete with original music by South Florida composers Andrew Sargent, David Cohen and lyricist,

On October 1, 2 & 3, 2010, the Arts at St Johns presents the World Premiere of this all-original musical production at their theater (also the sanctuary in St. John’s Methodist Church) at 4760 Pine Tree Drive, Miami Beach, FL .
Performances start at 8 pm on Friday and Saturday night and there is a matinee on Sunday at 3 pm.

Tickets are $25  at the door, and $20 online at www.miamibeachthemusical.com

and of course… the ART!

Time for me to get back to work!
Finishing a new series of mixed media paintings for my ‘wall’ as  GroveHouse Artist of the Month. Opening reception is Saturday night at 7pm (so I’ll be in Grove Sat. night to meet you and share the ‘blues’ – sneak peak of art progress posted below) and we also have a new ‘RED & GREEN’ grid show opening that night plus the fabulous art of dozens of GroveHouse Artists!

Hope to see you at GroveHouse Art on Saturday, or at Miami Beach – the MUSICAL on Fri or Sun!

Morning Glory Blues mixed media by Debra Cortese - still working on this!

Art Deco 7 Flamingos in Pink, Ocean Blues or Tropical Greens/Fruity Orange

Here are my newest designs!
Art Deco 7 Flamingos Pink Casual Tote Bag and matching Clutch Purse(click image for larger view and scroll down to see this design in Ocean Blues or Tropical Greens and Fruity Orange)

And just in time to donate a matching set of the Art Deco Pink Flamingo Casual Tote Bag and Clutch Purse for the Silent Auction of my favorite non-profit arts organization, the Arts at St Johns. In case you haven’t heard (and if so it may be my fault, since I’m working for ASJ in the marketing/pr/design department) they are KICKING OFF their biggest project ever, the History of Miami Beach. This includes concerts, workshops, play readings, art exhibits, the Annual Talent Quest, Divine Debris and Glorious Trash, Common Roots and….it culminates on October 1, 2 and 3 with the premiere of an all-original production, Miami Beach – the MUSICAL! Artistic Director, David Kingery and Creative Consultant/Artist/Author, Deborah Weed are creating and producing the Musical. Carol Hoffman-Guzman, Founding Director of ASJ has been interviewing people for months in person, and on Facebook. There are over 1200 fans for the Miami Beach stories on Facebook and more people are contributing their stories every day!

The KICK-OFF Party is tomorrow night, Thursday, April 22nd at the newly renovated Art Deco Welcome Center on South Beach. (1001 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. That’s right at the intersection of Ocean Drive and 10th Street).
There’s always a parking challenge on the beach, so below is a list of parking lots and garages within walking distance of the Art Deco Welcome Center:

Here is a list of parking lots and garage locations on South Beach and a clickable map of 1001 Ocean Drive:

South Pointe Park
South Pointe Drive & Ocean Drive
Washington & Commerce
1st Street & Washington Avenue
4th Street & Alton Road
7th Street & Collins Avenue – Garage
11th Street& Jefferson Avenue
5th Street & Michigan Ave(Softball Lot)
6th Street & Meridian Avenue
9th Street & Washington Avenue
10th Street & Washington Avenue
6th Street & Collins Avenue
10th Street & Collins Ave
12th Street & Drexel Avenue – Garage
13th Street & Collins Avenue – West Side
13th Street & Collins Avenue – Garage

Art Deco 7 Flamingos in Ocean Blues and Tropical Greens/Fruity Oranges:
Art Deco 7 Flamingos Design in Ocean Blues on Casual Tote and Clutch Art Deco 7 Flamingos Design in Tropical Green/Fruity Orange on Casual Tote bag and Clutch
The Art Deco 7 Flamingo Design Bags will be available online very soon. If you can not wait, please email me at: cortesedesigns@debracortese.com, or call 305.298.2023 and you can be one of the first to own them 😉

Here are the TOP 6 Reasons to attend the KICK-OFF PARTY tomorrow night!

I hope to see you there!

Arts At St Johns Season Showcase Oct 24th 7pm

An eclectic array of talent, refreshments, live performances, all genres of music and entertainment come together in celebration of 10 years of artistic excellence that Arts At St Johns has presented to the Miami communities!

photo: Nimby Cirque

Join us tomorrow night (Oct. 24th, 2009) at 7 pm at St. John’s on the Lake, 4760 Pinetree Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33140.
(Save $5.00 when you purchase your ticket online at http://www.artsatstjohns.com ) Tickets $20 at the door.

photo: Nydia Noriega

David Kingery, Artistic Director of ASJ, once again presents a fabulous lineup of Miami’s most talented performers, musicians, comedians, artists and a few surprises! There will be performances by: Raymond Yanez, Nydia Noriega, Kristen Long, Rachel Faro, Rachel Currea, Charmille Wlters, Geoffrey Philp, Mo Morgen, Madafo, Kiki Sanchez, Stuart King, Nimby Cirque, Deborah Weed, Paula Turk, Debra Cortese and more!

David Kingery, Artistic Director, Arts at St Johns

Join us tomorrow night (Oct. 24th, 2009) at 7 pm at St. John’s on the Lake, 4760 Pinetree Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33140.
(Save $5.00 when you purchase your ticket online at http://www.artsatstjohns.com ) Tickets $20 at the door.

In case you’re new to South Florida or have just missed some of the greatest art and entertainment in Miami, here’s a list the many talented artists, performers and events sponsored by Arts At St Johns over the past 10 years:


Charmille Walters
David Kingery
Dena Stewart
Margaret Ledford
Mindy Diamond
Michael Donnell
Susan Hamilton
Tiffany Madera

A.K. Khaw
Bach Society – Univ. of Miami Baroque Ensemble
Carl Landerman
Chung Park
David Hertzberg
Florida Grand Opera – Young artists
Greater Miami Youth Symphony
L’Opera Nostra
Maria Letona
Melissa Lesniak
New World Symphony – young artists
Paul Schwab, organist
Project Copernicus
Rachel Currea, Pianist
Ramos de Flores
South Beach Chamber Ensemble
Stephen Danyew
Vicki Richards
Walt Strony, organist

Aireen’s Oriental Dance Ensemble
Ana Miranda
Anais Alvarez
Ashley Herrera
Charmille Walters
Corina Fitch, Takada Womens Ensemble
Cristina Vidal
Dalia Carella Dance Collective
Dance Now!
Decipher Ancirema – Latin rock dancer
Dena Glazer
Elisa Silverstein & Brendon Russert
Habibi Project
Hanan Arts Cooperative
Harmonic Motion
Jorge Mendez
Kamaria Dailey
Lucky Bruno
Madhavi Menon & Meenakshi Menon
Nancy Andrade
Obini Odara – dance & drumming troupe
Paul Tei
Roxy’s Performing Arts Center Artists
Shirley Julien
Teo Castellanos -D Projects
Tiffany Madera
Unidos de Florida Samba School
Urban Disturbance

Griselle Gaudnik – “art to wear” fashion show
MarketPlace India

Giovanni Savino, Bachata La Musica del Pueblo
Joshua Bee Alafia – Beeloved Creations

Brimstone 127 and Supah Maaario
Coppa Kidd
DJ Madame Turk
DJ Majica
DJ Moses
DJ Mr. Cisum
Drejon from the Klown Fellas
Extravagant – beatbox artist
Kimani Kenyatta
Mecca aka Grimo
Mireya Alfonso – DJ
Speedy Legs – hiphop artist & breakdancer
Urban Art

Paul George – historical bike tour
Seth Bramson – book talk
Steve Woodmansee

David Kingery
Tom Calucci

Afro Polyphonic World Orchestra
Alan Renaglia’s Midnight Blue
Arthur Barron
Black Punjabi Music Ensemble
Bob Grabowski
Bob Rosati
Chassidic Jazz Project with Reuben Hoch
Clube De Choro
Duffy Jackson
Dennis Noday – 19-pc band
Ira Sullivan Quartet w/ Duffy Jackson
Jack Wilkins/Richie Perri Quartet
Jazz Survivors
Jean-Michel Daudier
Jesse Jones Jr. and Judi D
Joe Donato
Jonathan Gross
Jose Elias
Juan Turros
Julie Silvera
Ken Kay
Kiki Sanchez
Los Hermanos Vargas
MAC Steppers
MoJazz with Mo + Madafo
Oscar Salas, Latin Jazz Quintet
Philbert Armenteros & Aina
Rob “Wild Boar” Moore Blues Band
Sammy Figueroa
Sandy Bermudez
Sandy Poltarack Trio
Saul Gross
Saulo Ferreira Brazilian Jazz
Sonido Batido – Caribbean jazz
The Baboons
Way of the Groove

Debra Cortese
Dena Stewart
Elaine Lancaster
Mary Damiano
Paula Turk
Roger Abramson
Winsome Bolt

Angela Fischetti
Chogyal Namkhai Norbu
Deva Primal and Miten
Dr. Andrea Mantell-Seidel
Drepung Loseling Monks
Harvey Aronson
Laura Simms, Steve Gorn & Rachel Faro
Moti Deren – musician-composer
Mystical Arts of Tibet
Naqshbandi Sufi – talk
Rumi Night & Sufi Dancing
Shambhala teachngs
Eckhart Tolle’s teachings with Kim Eng
Susana Reyes- modern dancer-choreographer
Tibetan Drumming with Lama Khyimsar Riposee

Aqua Girls – comedy show
Conundrum Stages
Fantasy Theatre Factory
Ghost Light Series – Play Reading
Gold Coast Theatre, Jude Parry
Mystery on the Menu, Barbara Fox
Ralphy Love
Ruben Romeu

Amy Baez
Andrea Askowitz,
Dan Wakefield – “The Hijacking of Jesus”
Fantasy Theatre Factor
Fiorella Podesta
Geoffrey Philp – novelist, poet
Georgia Brown
Gina Montet
Katrina Mena “Beijinhos”
Lela Lombardo
Linda Spitzer – Storyteller
Malachi Smith
Norvell Holyfield
Rick Schweikert
Seth Bramson
Shamele Jenkins

Allan Taylor – folk Music
Amy Carol Webb
Carla Ulbrich
Grant Livingston
Hope Littwin
Jez Lowe – folk singer
Samantha Garcia

Aimee Ortiz
Aleks Rosenberg
Annette Mauricio
Barbara Frank, sculpture
Daniel Fila (Krave)
Danny Ramirez
Dava Lipsky Carson
Deborah M. Mitchell
Deborah O’Dwyer
Deborah Weed
Debra Cortese
Debra Holt, ABBA Gallery, sculpture
Dee Clark
Dena Stewart
Diego Romero
Dina Knapp
Dina Stewart, painter
Dinorah de Jesús Rodríguez
Ed King, painting
Elizabet Chacon
Eric Walton
Eurydice Kamvisseli
Eva Ruiz
Evelyn Mitchell
Giuliano Cavallo
Flex Maslan
Hannah Lasky
Ignacio Font
Irene Sperber
Jamie Crooke
Jean Villamizar – visual & graphic artist
John DeFaro
Juan Carlos Bravo
Keith Kimmel
Laura Cerwinske
Linda Apriletti
Louis “Junior” Vitale
Louis Ulman, drawing
Luis Valle
Margo Segal
Marian Wertalka
Marielle Gomez-Kaiser, sculpture
Marilyn Valiente
Mark Diamond
Mary Catello
Matt Stock
Miguel Paredes
Monica Eichmann
Natasha Duwin
Nelson Viera
Neysa Jin Felker
Olga Suarez
Pamela Palma, visual artist, weaver
Patricia Roldan
Patti Black
Paul Turk, photography, metal sculpture
Perri Cox
Robert Zurita
Rosa Gallardo
Rosie Brown
Ruben Martinez Chamizo
Sabrina P. Azadi – Photographer
Scott Hickey
Steve Forero-Paz
Stewart Stewart
Tammy Clammer
Terry Arroyo Mulrooney
Thomas Banks
Vanessa Garcia
Winsome Bolt
Xavier Cortada

Abdiel Vivancos
Angela Fischetti
Bill Feuer
Brazilian Voices choir
Cafidia Stuart
Cecilia Torres
Chris Kent
Cristina Martin
Georgia Brown
David Kingery
David Leddick
David Vance
Eileen Faxas
Elliot Pilshaw
Eric Miji
Florenza Campos
Geo Macia
Jade Whelans
Janelle Sanchez
Jesse Carlo
Jessica Slatkoff
Julie Silvera
Kelly Roberts
Kristen Long
Kyrah Arango
Mark Akens
Melissa Youngblood
Miami Gay Men’s Chorus
Michelle Gonzalez
Nicole Kidd
Nydia Noriega
Parker Cristan
Rachel Faro
Ray Melton
Ray Raymond
Ray Yanez
Reggie Whitehead
Renee Fallios
Roger Houdaille
R-yan White
Sam Hosking
Samantha Natalie
Sean Patrick Doyle
Steve Jenkins
Tennille Maisner
Teresa Bridges

Adore Miridia
BJ Experience
Caution Automatic
Jacob’s Ladder
Lasso the Moon
Lights Out
Never in Red
No Such Thing
Point of Origin
Tyranny of Shaw

ASJ BOARD MEMBERS – 1999-present
Bernie Mickley
Carol Haefner
Christine Pena
Clay Hamilton
Deborah Weed
Dennis Wilhelm
Dr. A.J. Khaw
Dr. Julie Weaver
Felice Lifshitz
Geoffrey Philp
Jean Villamizar
Ken Whiting
Lisa Koslow
Manuel Pila
Marc Thayer
Pamela Palma
Paul Schwab
Paula Turk
Rev. Dr. Annette Jones
Rev. Esther Robinson
Rev. Melissa Pisco
Robert Holcomb
Susan Hamilton
Sylvia Ospina
Valentine Dawlec

ASJ STAFF – 1999-present
Carol Hoffman-Guzman, Founding Director
David Kingery, Artistic Director
Tiffany Madera, Program Director
Mark Akens, Program Director
Jose Elias, Program Director
Charmille Walters, Program Director
Ken Whiting, Lighting

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Founder, Carol Hoffman-Guzman and everyone who has participated in making Arts At St Johns one of Miami’s most respected and outstanding community arts and cultural organizations.
Can’t wait to see what ASJ has in store for the next 10 years and I’m so looking forward to participating !!!

Join us tomorrow night (Oct. 24th, 2009) at 7 pm at St. John’s on the Lake, 4760 Pinetree Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33140.
(Save $5.00 when you purchase your ticket online at http://www.artsatstjohns.com ) Tickets $20 at the door.


Guest Post: Plants as Memory and Doorways to our past


by Carol Hoffman-Guzman, Founding Director of Arts At St Johns, Miami Beach, FL

Plants bring remembrances to me about my father and mother, my grandparents, special places I have lived and visited, and various adventures and projects. I like the smells and textures of plants. Some people like the sweet smell of flowers; I like the strange and musky smell of plant leaves. When I meet a new plant, I pick a leaf, rub it around with my fingertips, and then crush it and bring it to my nose to sniff. Some plants are waxy to the touch, others are fuzzy.

I remember the way the plants shine in the sunlight at different times of the day and the way that they look in different seasons — what happens when the heat is heavy or the rain intense. I have heard that the Impressionist painters were well aware of the color changes that occur in a landscape at dawn and twilight.

On my mother’s side of the family, plants and crops were an integral part of the family’s life, from the Ozarks, to homesteading in Colorado and New Mexico, to small urban gardens in Denver, Colorado. My Grandfather Homer and Grandmother Connie were born and married in the Ozarks, where they farmed (see marriage photo).

However, life in the Ozarks was tough and eventually they threw everything on a flatbed railroad car headed west to homestead on a farm in Yuma, Colorado.  Then they moved to Clayton, New Mexico, where they lived in a soddy or dugout (see photo below).  The family returned to Colorado in the mid-1920’s before the Clayton area was struck by the 1930’s dustbowl.

My grandparents took plants and gardening with them wherever they lived, even in urban Denver, where they retired. It was a comfort in an alien setting. Grandpa Homer transformed the back yard of their home into a huge garden. He had picked up the art of crop rotation and composting and applied it to his small garden.  Homer grew the best tasting tomatoes in the neighborhood, beautiful radishes, and a whole variety of squash included pickle squash. Homer had many “girlfriends” up and down the block because he would take surplus vegetables and hand them out to the women of the house.

I think that my mother Maree also found comfort in small gardening. Although my father Carl was a city boy from St. Louis, he soon learned how to plant gardens and raise chickens. We had chickens when I was a baby, and some of my clothes were made of chicken seed sacks. We had a huge garden outside of Chicago in a suburb called La Grange Park. It occupied the whole vacant lot next door. This is where I remember picking beans, peas, strawberries and the best tomatoes. We later had smaller gardens bordering our lawns in Wheat Ridge, Colorado (the school mascot in Wheat Ridge was the farmer).

I soon forgot about plants when I went to college at Cornell in upper-state New York and graduated in archaeology/anthropology. However, in graduate school at Columbia University in NYC, I began working with the department’s archeologist, and I studied the plant remains that he had brought back from a mountain cave site in Colombia, South America. This was an extremely early site, where corn was still being domesticated. The preserved cobs were not much bigger than the flowering seeds on stalks of grass. Also in the site were remains of squash that originated down in the lowlands in the Amazon basin. This squash indicated that there was communication and trade between the people in the highlands and lowlands.

Here my love of plants began – not plants for plants’ sake, but plants as key elements in human history and culture.

Skip forward to the highland meadows of Arroyo Seco, just north of Taos, New Mexico. Here came my next introduction to the importance of native plants, from the most unlikely source — a Japanese exchange student. For one of our innumerable neighborhood potluck dinners, our Japanese guest offered to make a stir-fry dish. As we tasted her delightful concoction, we asked where she had purchased such unique vegetables. “In the field,” she said. For us, the fields were full of weeds and grass, nothing more. She had made a meal of them.

Years later, I moved to Denver. Here I noticed that the local Vietnamese community would flock to roadsides and our local parks — again to collect the succulent greens that the average gardener would cut or poison.

In Taos and Denver, I had begun doing fiber art — woven, crocheted, patchwork, and stitched pieces of 3-dimentional pieces of art. The “in” thing at the time was to dye your own wool or yarn. Most of the dyes were chemical, purchased from afar; some were highly toxic. So instead I started to see if I could replicate what the indigenous had done in many parts of the world – dye with local plants. I would go into the vacant lots near my house in Lakewood, Colorado (not far from the infamous Columbine High School) and experiment with weeds – the colors were wonderfully rich in greens, yellows, and browns.

Today I look at the importance of plants in human history — the intersection of plants and people.  Instead of saying, “we must preserve and save our natural environment, for the sake of nature,” I instead say “saving our plant environment will help save ourselves.”

My husband and I have a small log house on the northwest side of Lake Okeechobee, where I am growing whatever will grow – usually the native plants win out. Here is a great photo of me in my garden.

  But here is a better one if you have never met me. I am making some Hot Green Papaya Salsa, from papayas that I rescued after one of the many hurricanes that touched our other home in Miami in the last several years.

 Carol Hoffman-Guzman

NOTE: We would love to read YOUR plant story and welcome your comments as well as images. Please post in the comments section and if you have an image to share, either post a link to it or send it to commonroots@plant-spirits.com 

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