COASTE | MAY-JUN 2017

MAY - JUNE 2017

YourCOASTE.com

HOW COMMUNITY COOPERATIVE Feeds People and Nourishes Lives WHODOESN’T L O V E SOME LEOMA?

PLUS: SWFL’s Premier Events Calendar ALWAYS FREE!

ARTIST & RESIDENCE: Where Life Imitated Art

Hot Chili Rods CHARITYcruise Saturday, June 17th,10-2 • At Sanibel Outlets

Proceeds Benefit the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South Scholarship Fund Info-HotChiliRods@aol.com

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• Music & DJ • Food & Beverages • 1 gift bag per entry • Entry begins at 9am • Judging starts at 11am • Trophy Awards at 1pm • People’s Choice Award

PRE-REGISTRATION $15 Pre-registration • $20 Day of Cruise Pre-registration cut off date: June 10th Mail this form and your check made out to: Sanibel Outlets 20350 Summerlin Road, Ft Myers, FL 33908 Special Raffle for Pre-Registration! NAME _________________________________ PHONE_______________________________________ _________________________________ ADDRESS______________________________________ CITY _________________ STATE/ZIP_____________ CAR MAKE_____________________________________ EMAIL

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2 miles before Sanibel Causeway • 5 miles from Ft Myers Beach • 20 minutes off I-75 20350 Summerlin Rd. • SanibelOutlets.com • Mon-Sat 9-9; Sun 10-6

Panoramic Gulf Views

COASTE | EDITOR’S WELCOME

DIFFERENCES AND DIVERSITY DO NOT

I don’t know. Maybe I’m not comfortable with COASTE being just a “luxury coastal lifestyle media” that exists on the periphery of mainstream society, where clearly here in Lee and Collier Counties, Florida — we’re an elite periphery, observing and pontificating on the existential joys and mindless pleasures of living, visiting or playing in paradise. Not when there’s such diversity in America today. A diversity that seems to be compounded by both political parties, seemingly intent on creating division and dichotomy. It saddens me that our beautiful, wonderful, great country is so fractured by people of power who seem intent on not doing the right thing, the common-good thing, but the politically correct thing. I may be old fashioned or just old, but that sentiment seems exceedingly wrong and ostensibly selfish. Please understand: I espouse no party affiliation, I assign no particular blame. I just recall my editorial a couple issues ago in which I noted that, by the time our magazine went to print, we’d have a new president and the course of our country would forever be different. So, I could say that everything’s perfect or close to, here on the coast of two of America’s wealthiest counties. But it’s no different here than Any County, Any State. The disparity between wealth and just- getting-by is no different here than anywhere else, whether you’re filthy rich or dirt-poor, whether you’re staying in a thousand-dollar- a-day resort or crashing a couch. We must all work together to NOT make America great again. But to keep this country as great as it’s always been. And that means conversation, listening, compromise, and a focus on the most important ball any American politician needs to keep their eyes on: You and me. So locals, visitors, commiserate, consume, convive and know that here, at COASTE, we will hope that all are treated with equality and respect. Have a great vacation.

Photo

John Sprecher Founder | Editor

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Volume III Number 7

EXPERIENCE OUR DELICIOUS Island Inspired American Cuisine

Founder | Executive Editor John Sprecher John@YourCoaste.com Creative Director Director of Photography Milissa Sprecher Milissa@YourCoaste.com Director of Sales Julie Beckta Sales@YourCoaste.com Graphic Designer Christina Robertson Contributing Photographers Leoma Lovegrove Community Cooperative Ben Chancey Karen Bell Realty Online & Calendar Editor Eric Sprecher

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COASTE is published five times annually by COASTE LLC. COASTE Magazine + Multi- Media Network reaches FREE a minimum 250,000 impressions via print magazine distribution, digital magazine subscribers, e-marketing, social media communities, downloadable apps and website. COASTE is a member of Florida Magazine Association and statistically aligns with City & Regional Magazine Association. P.O. Box 869 Sanibel FL 33957 Editorial: 239.395.3251

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Sales: 239.470.5611 www.YourCoaste.com

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For All Things Beautiful!

For your information, you can learn more about the many outstanding destinations to be enjoyed in Lee County via these organizations. Just click or call them today! Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce BocaGrandeChamber.com 941.964.0568 Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce BonitaSpringsChamber.com 239.992.2943 Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce CapeCoralChamber.com 239.549.6900 Estero Chamber of Commerce EsteroChamber.com 239.948.7990 Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce FortMyersBeach.org 239.454.7500 Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce FortMyers.org 239.332.3624 Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau FortMyers-Sanibel.com 239.338.3500 Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce LehighAcresChamber.org 239.369.3322 Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce Sanibel-Captiva.org 239.472.1080

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Drive your love for classic, custom or modified cars, trucks and motorcycles down to the historic streets of the Downtown Fort Myers River District, once familiar to American innovators Ford and Firestone, as we get together for an evening of freedom, family fun and fireworks! FREE Admission | All Ages Welcome MOTOR SHOW • AWARDS & TROPHIES • MUSIC • FOOD BEVERAGES • VENDORS • KIDS ACTIVITIES • FIREWORKS DISPLAY

www.FreedomFestFortMyers.com

COASTE CONTENTS

on the cover Another family enjoying

Southwest Florida’s weather and wonders. Photo by Milissa Sprecher Photography.

in this issue

features

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TAKE FIVE Meet Captain Ben Chancey — the star of YouTube fishing with more than 140 million views! WELCOME HOME Here’s another inside look at living the good life in Southwest Florida. ROOMWITH A VIEW Come visit one of our favorite places to relax, rest and reconnect. COASTE CALENDAR It’s Southwest Florida’s premier calendar of events, so mark your calendar for all the entertainment, electricity and fun headed your way.

1 2 ARTIST & RESIDENCE

Robert Raushenberg was an icon in American art — and a lover of Captiva. Here’s an exclusive tour inside his place of inspiration.

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20 COMMUNITY

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For more than 35 years, Community Cooperative has been feeding people and nourishing lives. A story of the many ways we care.

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28 PERSONALITIES

She’s got a personality as big, bold, offbeat and joyous as her art. Meet Southwest Florida’s wonderful treasure, Leoma Lovegrove.

Authentic New York-Style Pizza Specialty • Vegetarian • Calzones & Strombolis Wings • Hot & Cold Subs • Salads • Desserts • Beers Family Owned & Operated Since 2005 Watch our pizza chefs at work in our open kitchen.

Southwest Florida’s Favorite Pizzeria Ranked #1 in the 2015 SWFL News-Press Reader’s Pizza Poll

1520 Hendry Street | Fort Myers, FL | 239-337-DHOP

DowntownHouseofPizza.com

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36 combining an honest and unfiltered narrative of their life story with the world class dancing, creativity and passion they are known for. Collaborating with the greatest choreographers in he busine s and supported by a cast of fellow dance professionals, the show will surprise and delight with timeless elegance and steamy seduction. www.BBManPAH.com www.rentals.viprealty.com 1506 Periwinkle Way | Sanibel, FL 33957 Toll Free (877) 541-6681 36 239-472-5300 www.captivacruises.com MAKS & VAL LIVE ON TOUR: OUR WAY June 18 Brothers Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, the hottest stars of ABC’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars,” are bringing to life the show they’ve dreamed about since childho d, combining an honest and unfiltered narrative of their life story with the world class dancing, creativity and passion t ey are k ow for. Coll borating with the greatest choreographers in he busi e s and supported by a c st of fellow dance professionals, t e show will surp ise and delight with tim less elegance and steamy s duction. www.BBMa PAH.com www.rentals.viprealty.com 1506 Periwinkl Way | Sanibe , FL 33957 Toll Free (877) 541-6681 239-472-5300 www.captivacruises.com Come out to beautiful Captiva Island. Explore our amazing “out islands” and watch dolphins in the wild. First class tours and expeditions. Customized private charters. Captiva Cruises will be your vacation highlight. MAKS & VAL LIVE ON TOUR: OUR WAY June 18 Brothers Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, the hottest stars of ABC’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars,” are bringing to life the show they’ve dreamed about since childhood, Come out to beautiful Captiva Island. Explore our amazing “out islands” and watch dolphins in the wild. First class tours and expeditions. Customized private charters. Captiva Cruises will be your vacation highlight. June 18 C aptiva C ruises Island Hopping • Shelling • Dolphin Watching Sunset and Sailing Cruises • Private Charters GALLOWAY CAPTIVA TRIATHALON Sept 10 & 11 The Galloway Captiva Triathlon is now open to online registration. The Captiva Triathlon is a family, fun and fitness weekend at South Seas Island Resort centered on a children’s race on Saturday morning and an adult sprint-length race on Sunday morning. www.captivatri.org Make Your Castle in the Sand! Nov – Jan Getaways Online SUBSCRIBE FREE C aptiva C ruises Island Hopping • Shelling • Dolphin Watching Sunset and Sailing Cruises • Private Charters COASTE | ON STAGE Sept 10+ 11 2016 ISLAND HOPPER SONGWRITER FEST Sept 23 – Oct 2 From Sanibel and Captiva, to Fort Myers Beach and downtown Fort Myers, there’s live music here, there and everywhere as 50-plus singer-songwriters come together in Southwest Florida’s fun-tastic festive event. You’ll have to pay attention who’s playing what where, but there’s nev r cover charge and always a good time to be had. www.fortmyers-sanibel.com GALLOWAY CAPTIVA TRIATHALON Sept 10 & 11 The Galloway Captiva Triathlon is now open to online registration. The Captiva Triathlon is a family, fun and fitness weekend at South Seas Island Resort centered on a children’s race on Saturday morning and an adult sprint-length race on Sunday morning. www.captivatri.org Make Your Castle in t Sand! Nov – Jan Getaways Online SUBSCRIBE FREE Cayo Costa State Park # 1 shelling destination 2016 ISLAND HOPPER SONGWRITER FEST Sept 23 – Oct 2 From Sanibel and Captiva, to Fort Myers Beach and downtown Fort Myers, there’s live music here, there and everywhere as 50-plus singer-songwriters come together in Southwest Florida’s fun-tastic festive event. You’ll have to pay attention who’s playing what where, but there’s never a cover charge and always a good time to be had. www.fortmyers-sanibel.com Cayo Costa State Park # 1 shellin destination Daily Dolphin Cruises with naturalist on board Useppa Island picturesque island retreat Daily Dolphin Cruises with naturalist on board Useppa Island picturesque island retreat COASTE | ON STAGE Sept 10+ 11 Sept 23- Oct 2 Enjoy your free Digital edition Of the best of sanibel, captiva and sw Florida 5 times a year, wherever you May be. Sept 23- Oct 2 Enjoy your free Digital edition Of the best of sanibel, captiva and sw Florida 5 times a year, wherever you May be. June - September — On Stage June - September — On Stage Sunset Cruises wildlife, sailing, or live music Sunset Cruises wildlife, sailing, or l v music Cabbage Key “cheeseburger in paradise” Cabbage Key “cheeseburger in paradise” Lady Chadwick Lady Chadwick June 18

S F Ju F be “ u pi A at C fo

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Thru July 2 Thru July 2

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MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL Thru July 2 MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL Thru July 2

RATED Food — 4½ Stars Service — 4½ Stars Atmosphere — 4 Stars Out of 5 Stars RATED Food — 4½ Stars Service t Atmosph re — 4 Out of 5 Stars

Four women at a lingerie sale have nothing in common other than a black lace bra — and memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats, lack of sex and more. The hilarious celebration of women and life’s change is set to classic tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s that’ll leave you laughing and dancing in the aisles! The show runs Saturday, May 19 to Saturday, July 2. www.BroadwayPalm.com Fo r women at a lingerie sale have nothi g in common other than a black lace bra — and memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats, ack of sex and more. The hilarious c lebration of women and life’s change is set to classic tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s that’ll leave you laughing and dancing in the aisles! The show runs Saturday, May 19 to Saturday, July 2. www.BroadwayPalm.com

AIRPORT & LOCAL TRANSPORTATION IslandTaxi.com • ride@islandtaxi.com Call for Reservations 239-472-4888 More Than a Ride! 239-472-1956 • SweetMelissasCafe.com 1625 Periwinkle Way • Sanibel, Florida 33957 4 we e i sa f c Celebrating 8 Years on Sanibel! Newly Renovated Bar • Newly Crafted Menu Creatively Out of the Ordinary Lunch 11:30am-3:30pm, Tuesday-Saturday Dinner 5pm-9pm, Tuesday-Sunday RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED Executive Chef Melissa Talmage AIRPORT & LOCAL TRANSPORTATION IslandTaxi.com • ride@islandtaxi.com Call for Reservations 239-472-4888 More Than a Ride! 239-472-1956 • SweetMelissasCafe.com 1625 Periwinkle Way • Sanibel, Florida 33957 9-472 a W y • i e , r d Celebrating 8 Years on Sanibel! Newly Renovated Bar • Newly Crafted Menu Creatively ut of the Ordinary Lunch 11:30am-3:30pm, Tuesday-Saturday Dinner 5pm-9pm, Tuesday-Sunday RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED Executive Chef Melissa Talmage AIRPORT & LOCAL TRANSPORTATION IslandTaxi.com • ride@islandtaxi.com Call for Res rvatio s 239-472-4888 More Than a Ride!

Yourcoaste.com Yourcoaste.com

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artist and residence

WHERE LIFE IMITATED ART.

AND ART IMITATED LIFE.

He was an international ar t star the status of Andy Warhol. But a fateful trip to Captiva Island more than 50 years ago led him to escape the spotlight of New York City for the butterfliesandtur tlesof Captiva—changing his life, and the life of our islands, forever. By John Sprecher

For those of you who’ve driven it, Laika Lane is the last left turn off of Captiva Drive before the narrow, two-lane road curls west and empties you into South Seas Island Resort. Although a sign at the entrance to Laika Lane suggests it’s for residents only, the fact is that anyone can enter and take the shell-packed road all the way to its end — where you’ll come upon the public egress to the beach here on the Gulf of Mexico, and you’ll need to summarily turn around and exit, unless you’re living or renting a vacation home on the street. As you turn your car around, however, pay close attention to that large, white, square monolithic structure to your left. Because there, in a stunning home on a spectacular beach with a breathtaking view of day’s end 365 days a year, was the home of Robert Rauschenberg.

To say that Bob Rauschenberg was a rock star of the pop art world that came to life in the fifties and sixties — and one of the most influential American artists of the past 100 years — is an understatement. Rauschenberg was, and remains nine years after his death at the age of 82, an artist whose influence on the evolution of art, and the development of future artists pushing the boundaries of their media, cannot be understated. It was the late 1950s when Rauschenberg, a regular visitor to St. Petersburg, began exploring destinations further south andhappenedupon the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. According to legend, as he traversed the islands, he had to stop for a turtle in the road (which he reportedly loved) and upon viewing some property on Captiva, was surrounded by butterflies. In this artist’s mind, it was a revelation; he began purchasing property on Captiva (eventually 20- plus acres, most

14 COASTE | artist & residence

16 1 COASTE | artist & residence

still protected by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation) to maintain the island’s natural state as best he could, and made the permanent move fromNew York in 1970. Working out of a small beachfront studio on Laika Lane, protégé and partner Darryl Pottorf one day noted to Rauschenberg that if he wanted a beachfront home that was truly a place to live and not just a place to work, he’d better build it fast before zoning regulations would change, moving his property hundreds of feet further from the beach. The result of that suggestion is Rauschenberg’s incredible three-story home on the beach at the north end of Captiva Island. Designed by Pottorf to satisfy Rauschenberg’s loves of life — cooking, entertaining, hosting and creating — the home stands today as a

few-of-a-kind-in-the-world: a place where life imitated art, and art imitated life, in a brilliantly minimalistic masterpiece of architecture, art and lifestyle. In the end, Bob Rauschenberg is no different than any other of the thousands of residents and visitors who’ve fallen in love with our islands, and wanted to make them home for the rest of their lives. In the end, this world-acclaimed artist embraced the vibe of Southwest Florida like the rest of us who love life a little slower, a little more casual and with sand between our toes. This issue, COASTE departs from our traditional Artist in Residence feature to give you an exclusive, behind the scenes look at a world-renowned artist and his world-class residence on Captiva — now available for purchase via Karen Bell and the Bell Team for $6,995,000.

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take five

“I’ve had people fly in from Japan to fish with me.” By John Sprecher

Captain Ben Chancey might very well qualify as Southwest Florida’s fishing ambassador to the world — that is, if you’ve ever heard of him. Owner of Chew On This Charters of Cape Coral since 2002, Ben Chancey is a former high school teacher who admits to entering his profession for the free time it would afford him to fish — and that, as it turns out, was a very smart idea. You see, Captain Chancey has parlayed Chew On This Charters into something of celebrity status

among big fish aficionados through the power of broadcast and social media. From popular fishing shows on Fox Sports Florida and the Sportsman Channel more than 10 years ago, Chancey spotted an emerging opportunity in 2006 and became the first fisherman to take his stories to this social media thing called YouTube. He was their first fishing show partner, ranked as the top YouTube fishing show for more than 10 years and now has more than 120,000 followers who’ve viewed more than 140 million of his big fish videos. Chew on that.

18 COASTE | TAKE FIVE

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30,000 social media followers, 120,000YouTube subscribers and140million plus video views — are you a social media genius? Not at all. My first video, I downloaded an edit program and it took me about eight months to learn. I have content that people like to see and social media is my outlet. When I first put the shows on broadcast channels they did well, but it was the timing of YouTube in 2006 that really put us through the roof. What makes your fishing videos so popular? People love watching people catch big fish. My first show on Fox Sports, we used foot-long ladyfish as bait and caught giant snook and a small goliath grouper. The next two episodes we landed 500-pound goliath groupers right near the Sanibel Causeway. People started calling the network and asking that the show be replayed. When we produce a show, my thing is: I want big fish in your face, people love that. We got popular real fast. Can you make a lot of money being a hot YouTube series? We present a new show every Wednesday at 4.30 pm and get a lot of viewers. With YouTube, you’re compensated by the number of clicks you generate for advertisers. We’ve been fortunate to have brands like Ford, Tide, new movies all advertise with us and have done okay. But our charter service in Cape Coral is still our bread and butter. I have three other great captains and we’re busy all the time. You’ve managed to create quite a bit of publicity for Chew On This Charters. We have, whether it’s our shows or live interviews. I think we’ve been on more news outlets than any fishing show I know. We’ve been on ESPN with one of its top-ten ever fishing shows, CNN, Fox News, USAToday, GoodMorning America twice and a lot I’m forgetting.

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My captains are all stars but I guess, yes, I’m the face of the show. Fishing with you must be a treat — who are your clients?

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I get all kinds of different big fishing lovers. Everybody from local people here, to across the United States and even around the world. I’ve had people fly in from Japan and get interpreters to come fish with me.

{ ChewOnThis.TV | 239.470.4243 }

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community

20 COASTE | COMMUNITY

FEEDING PEOPLE. NOURISHING LIVES.

Under the leadership of the revitalized Community Cooperative, thousands of caring people today are working together to help improve and even save lives across Lee County. By John Sprecher

As the sun rises across the horizon this morning, most of us will awake to lives that are, more or less, comfortable and familiar in both setting and situation. As we go about our day, few of us will pause to even consider the remote possibility of an alternate reality: a life without shelter, without food, without care, without hope. Fortunately for many of those who are in need or at risk in Lee County, there exist people who not only consider the possibility, but also passionately commit themselves to changing and improving these lives every

day — all under the spirited leadership and vision of an organization called Community Cooperative. The Community Cooperative of today traces its roots to 1984, when a group of men and women who distributed leftovers to the hungry Sundays after church — some business leaders, some social leaders, some everyday folk — decided to formalize their efforts and create the non-profit Fort Myers Soup Kitchen. Over time, the organization expanded its scope of services and, to reflect that, changed its name to Community Cooperative Ministries (better known as CCMI).

In 2012, Tracey Galloway became Chief Executive Officer of the organization. A highly successful development director for almost 20 years at Edison State College, Galloway saw an entity that “had grown big enough to be run like a business, but was stuck in that little non- profit box. We needed to either cut way back, or reorganize and move forward. We all saw the need, so there was really no decision. Now five years later, we’re really moving forward.” Moving forward is an understatement. From once a stand-alone soup kitchen, Community Cooperative today fulfills its mission to deliver innovative food, education and social services — for everyone from infants to senior citizens — by last year serving more than 185,000 meals and 41,000 school lunches, distributing 600,000 pounds of food and touching 16,000-plus “unduplicated” lives. Just as amazing, they accomplished this good with a budget of only $2 million — funded exclusively by individuals, family foundations and private grants — with 19 full-time individuals. While that revenue is requisite to their success, the real key as Galloway sees it “is our 2,000 wonderful volunteers. They’re our helping hands and feet, and we simply couldn’t do it without them. They work in the kitchen, work in the garden, clean the food, chop it, pack it, put it on the trucks and deliver it. Social services are part of our programs, too. Our volunteers talk to people, help educate them on everything from nutrition to budgeting to resume writing, and a lot more. We have so many opportunities for volunteers. Every day, once a week, once a month, we’ll take ‘em.” While some people still refer to it as “The Soup Kitchen,” and others know it as “CCMI,” today’s Community Cooperative is a shining example of a do-good organization with a clear mission, a strategic vision and a

contemporary, individualistic approach to helping the greater good — served with a side of smart branding. Because “soup kitchen” conjures up images of downtrodden humans waiting in long lines to be served depressing slop, today individuals visit Community Cafes — in downtown Fort Myers (open six days a week) and Fort Myers Beach (open five days a week) — where “people are given choices, and treated with the kindness and dignity they deserve.” When folks are in need of grocery assistance, they can visit the Community Market or one of many Mobile Food Pantries throughout Lee County, meet with a

“life coach” who’ll help direct them toward positive changes, then have the opportunity to choose the foods they like and are able to prepare — fresh produce, meats, even dairy on occasion — versus handed a bag with an assortment of foods that too often in the past, were discarded later because the clients didn’t like or want those staples. Since 2006, Community Cooperative has administered the important Meals on Wheels, providing daily food service and a friendly safety check to more than 1,000 homebound elderly, chronically ill or disabled throughout the county —while bringing a welcome smile and human touch to what are too often lonesome lives.

24 COASTE | COMMUNITY

Community has also created a Growing Healthy Kids program to assist the 70% o f children in Lee County Schools who are entitled to free or reduced-cost lunch. A certified National School Lunch Program vendor, Growing Healthy Kids delivered more than 40,000 lunches to four schools in 2016, “and every lunch was made from scratch in our kitchens.” Cooperative

“The real key is our 2,000 wonderful volunteers. They’re our helping

hands and feet, and we simply couldn’t do it without them.”

— Tracey Galloway

Galloway has even enhanced a small social service department into a Social and Educational Resource Services program. Working out of its own Resource Center as well as partner United Way locations, “we share information and hold classes on many resources people may not know are available, or where to even start to get the help they need. We want to help people stand on their own, because if they don’t they’ll never get out of their situation.” If it all sounds like a lot of work, it is — but as Tracey Galloway will tell you, it’s really much more a passion that she, her staff, her donors and

her many volunteers share. “This is one of those jobs when I’m not at work I feel guilty because I want to be here,” she says. “It’s not easy to help as many people as we do. We run into a lot of roadblocks. Our staff works ridiculously hard to do

what we need to do, but every day we see some success. It feels great to know we’ve made a difference in someone’s life, maybe even helped save it.” CommunityCooperative.com

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Welcome Home

Each issue, COASTE opens the door and welcomes you to tour one of Southwest Florida’s premier homes. After all, living here is more than a lifestyle. It’s a soul style. With gorgeous waterfront views and western exposure, this renovated ground level four bedroom, four bath Sanibel home celebrates days and nights with beautiful evening sunsets, right from your backyard! Almost 2,400 square feet of breathtaking living space includes updated kitchen with four large sliding windows providing a waterfront backdrop; an open great room with windows letting in natural sunlight and views of the lush vegetation; plus two master’s suites and two bedrooms. And if you love water — escape to your spectacular pool and pool deck or head out on your boat for a day on the water, launching from your private pier. Finally, if golf is your passion, you’re just a short bike ride from Sanibel’s prestigious Sanctuary Golf Club. Say wow! Listing agent: McCallion & McCallion. Price: $1,999,999.

personalities

28 COASTE | personalities

WHO DOESN’T L O V E SOME LEOMA? Leoma Lovegrove is one of Southwest Florida’s most beloved and popular artists — no doubt because everything she touches reflects her passion, personality and love of life. By John Sprecher Just as every picture tells a story, so every wanna-be artist has a story. But as life and legend tell us, most of those who pursue art as their calling will unfortunately fall short of a happy and fulfilled ending. It’s a fact: becoming a successful, serious artist is often a long and bruising journey that only a select few are fortunate and talented enough to realize. Leoma Lovegrove is unequivocally a star among Southwest Florida artists, a personality as big and flashy and colorful and delightfully entertaining as her many works. From her studio in Matlacha that often welcomes 500 visitors each day, tomuseums and galleries inFlorida and around the world, to every department in 125-plus Bealls stores across the Southeast, Lovegrove’s art is easy 29

to spot and smile at, as is her trademarked and legendary eyewear. But her story is in many ways no different thanmany others who set out to be artists, and her sensation today was certainly not overnight. Born in Indiana, Lovegrove graduated from the Ringling College of Art and Design. Upon graduation, however, she found that finding a job as an artist wasn’t as easy as just filling out an application — even when she would illustrate the answers to questions on the application, to showcase her talents. “It got me an interview,” she recalls, “but I didn’t get the job.”

Instead, she set out to find any and every opportunity to put a sketch pencil or a paint brush in her hand — including delivering morning papers in Dayton, Ohio (it gave her a lot of free time to be creative), illustrating a book on art, painting murals at elementary schools and a hospital pediatric unit, landing a job at Indiana University instructing high school art teachers, even painting signs for companies and car dealerships along U.S. 41. While that journey consumed seven or eight years, her opportunity to explore more serious art arrived when her husband, a Navy pilot stationed in Texas, retired — and she

began “to paint with zeal.” The zeal thing worked, as she gained representatives in major markets, distribution to upscale retailers and enough work to require a warehouse. Chalk up another five years. But Florida kept calling her back, and one fateful day about 20 years ago she and her husband took a wrong turn — thinking they were on the right route to property in Boca Grande — and found themselves smack at home for the rest of their lives, in tiny Matlacha. “It was a fishing village then, a little rough,” she recalls. “We’ve traveled all over the world, but we knew this was the place we wanted to be.”

“To be honest, I never truly enjoyed painting as I had hoped,” she says. “I was afraid of color. I never wanted to make mud.” So her journey took another turn when she delivered a sign she’d painted to a local artist named Gale Bennett. At the time, Bennett was both art and music critic for the Fort Myers newspaper,

“I believe my art is impressionist expressionist style. More paint, adding neon, trying to create something no one has seen. If I’m bored with it, the public will be too. I’m so lucky, I get to paint whenever I want and I work every day.” — Leoma Lonegrove

but was also an artist who had founded ArtStudy Giverny in France (home of Monet’s Garden), and was establishing ArtStudy Florida in, of all places, Matlacha. Bennett taught impressionism and Lovegrove traded work in his studio for admission to his classes. It was a life- changing encounter. “With impressionism, there are really just a few colors you’re working with — a couple of yellows, a couple of blues, a couple of reds and white. You can mix any of those together, and you’ll never get mud. It freed me. I’ve painted like a bandit ever since.”

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But her evolution wasn’t complete until Lovegrove met artist Hollis Jeffcoat, who looked at her work and told her to think bigger. During a critique, Lovegrove recalls, “she put a big paintbrush in my hand and told me to never paint small, that I had too much energy in my paint strokes. So I’ve painted large ever since, and I generally paint three foot by four foot, or four foot by six foot. That was about 15 years ago, and that’s when my brand really came to life.” So, if you’ve been adding along with us, it’s taken Leoma Lovegrove around 25 years of hard work and persistence — with a never-stop- learning attitude — to arrive as the artist she always believed she could

be. “I believe my art is impressionist expressionist style,” she says. “More paint, adding neon, trying to create something no one has seen. If I’m bored with it, the public will be too. I’m so lucky, I get to paint whenever I want and I work every day. I also play hard, too, and my husband and I have a lot of fun.” That fun includes a garden in Matlacha with “heritage seeds” from Monet’s in France, traveling the world, visiting family in the Midwest, getting feedback daily and directly from fans and — yes — getting a kick out of seeing so many people embracing her work via her Bealls line of apparel, dishware, bath goods, kids clothing and more. “With my

glasses, it’s hard to not be noticed,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll stop and just watch folks wearing my work, and it’s cool. I want to be known as the people’s painter, and I think people embrace my art because it’s happy art.” And as for tomorrow? Well, this joyful artist with her over-the-top persona, bold creations and humble attitude doesn’t plan on changing a thing. “I’ll paint, as I do every day,” she says. “Artists don’t stop painting. I’ve never considered it. I can’t imagine it.” Lucky us. LeomaLovegrove.com { }

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Room With A View What’s your favorite kind of vacation destination? Each issue, COASTE opens the door and takes you on a tour of one of Southwest Florida’s premier places to rest, relax and reconnect your body and soul. Located on Sanibel Island, Sanibel Moorings has an amazing vacation waiting for you! From a romantic getaway for two to a fun-filled escape for the whole family, this island playground is the perfect setting for making each moment unforgettable. Directly on the Gulf of Mexico with a wide variety of activities and world famous shelling beach just steps away, this is an ideal resort. Boasting luxurious resort condominiums, you’ll enjoy fully furnished one-, two- and three-bedroom vacation rental condo suites all featuring living room, dining area, full kitchen and a large, private screened lanai. Plus you can enjoy pools, tennis, a wide stretch of private shell covered beach, enchanting botanical gardens and even renovated docks for your boating fun — all the conveniences of a resort with all the comfort and value of a private home. i What’s your favorite kind of vacation destination? Each issue, COASTE opens the door and takes you on a tour of one of Southwest Florida’s premier places rest, relax, reconnect and recharge your body and soul. Literally just a few steps from the beautiful beaches of Sanibel Island and the Gulf of Mexico, Pelican’s Roost Vacation Condominiums is the perfect retreat for families and friends. Each unit features two spacious bedrooms and two private baths, complete with living room, dining room, full kitchen, free wifi and laundry — plus screen porch with a direct view of Sanibel’s amazing Gulf waters and sunsets. Pelican’s Roost also offers gas grills, private heated pool, beach chairs and umbrellas upon request, tennis courts, shuffleboard and much more. Plus your central island location means you’re just moments from all the delightful shopping, dining and fun that one of America’s top island vacation destinations offers. You’ll find Pelican’s Roost quiet, peaceful, intimate and perfect for everyone who wants to sit back, relax and enjoy the vacation of a lifetime. o i

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What’s Happening on Your

May - June — Community Events

may- june

DOWNTOWN FORT MYERS ART WALK May - June On the first Friday of eachmonth from6 PM - 10 PM— and now, on the first Saturdays from11 AM– 4 PM— art fans can enjoy an evening of visual arts, art gallery openings andmore! Over 11 art galleries invite locals and visitors to a self-guided tour throughout the Downtown Fort Myers River District core and Gardener’s Park area. Art enthusiasts can evenmeet the artists at most of the galleries and enjoy live art demonstrations! www.FortMyersArtWalk.com FORT MYERS MYSTERY WALK May - June Every second Friday of themonth, MysteryWalk is a festival that combines culture and different mediums of art to bring our community together in an educational experience! Elements of performance art, street art, digital art, community interactive art, visual art andmusic all formas one to createMysteryWalk. TheMystery is that guests will never know what to expect! www.FortMyersRiverDistrictAlliance.com FORT MYERS MUSIC WALK May - June On the third Friday of every month from6 PM - 10 PM, the River District comes alive with local music! Numerous participating venues feature livemusic by local and regional talent. Restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops also showcase a wide range of music during themonthly Music Walk. Featuring jazz, blues, rock, drum circles, and piano, guests can expect to hear a wide variety of musical genres. Many venues will also feature additional attractions such as wine and food tastings. www.FortMyersRiverDistrictAlliance.com

may- june

may- june

MAY- JUNE

GUIDED KAYAK TOURS OF SWFL May - June Come experience the great outdoors of Southwest Florida fromone of the best views you could find. The guided kayak tours will have you paddling all over — from Estero River and Bay, Tarpon Bay andMoundKey. They even offer amanatee tour as May and June still provide cooler waters for manatees to relax and wade in. This is their favorite time of the year and quite possibly your best chance to see them! www.fortmyers-sanibel.com

22ND ANNUAL TASTE OF THE BEACH May 7
 The 22nd Annual Fort Myers Beach Taste of the Beach will be held Sunday May 7. More than 20 restaurants will participate along with live on-stage concerts. Restaurants will offer samples of their signature dishes available for purchase and compete for top Taste of the BeachAward honors in the categories of Best Appetizer, Best Dessert, and four awards for Best Entrée. Gates open at 11AM. Can you say nom? www.chamber.fortmyersbeach.org may- 7TH

may- june

TARPON BAY EXPLORERS NATURE & SEALIFE CRUISE May - June Enjoy a nature heavy, covered pontoon boat cruise around Sanibel Island’s wonderful Tarpon Bay. Learn about Tarpon Bay’s lushmangroves estuary ecosystemand get an up-close gander at wildlife. With touch and feel aquariums, you’ll be able to hold sea stars, horseshoe crabs, oyster, and live shells while learning about their lives! Then, spend an hour boating around Tarpon Bay, with the opportunity to seemanatees, dolphins, birds, dolphins andmore. Come have an adventure on this fun and informative cruise! www.fortmyers-sanibel.com

may- june

SEA LIFE ENCOUNTER - May - June Fun for all ages! Get an up-close and personal encounter with seahorses, starfish, pufferfish andmany more! JoinAdventures in Paradise as they cruise the waters of Fort Myers and Sanibel to an uninhabited island. There, you’ll go scoop netting in sea grass with aMarine Biologist and learn about the daily life from creatures below. Also, as always, keep a lookout for dolphins in the area. www.fortmyers-sanibel.com

May - June — On Stage

may 1 may 14

DOUBLEWIDE May 1 - May 14 World premiere! JimStarkey’s version of the AmericanDream is amodest one: to build a home on his one-acre plot of land and replace his doublewide trailer with something his daughter, Lorelai, can inherit. When a highway expansion project and a freak hunting accident shatter their dreams, Jim must decide how far he can be pushed and Lorelai is left to build her own future. Aheartfelt and often funny drama that explores how far one family will go to hold onto their AmericanDream. Be the first audiences inAmerica to see this amazing new play fromone of America’s top repertory companies, the amazing Florida Repertory Theatre! www.floridarep.org

may 1 may 14

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR May 1 - May 14 This thrilling rock-opera takes a passionate, and sometimes irreverent, look at Jesus’ last days through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. As Judas begins to question themotivations andmethods of Jesus, emotion and true belief is put to the test. Propelled by a thrilling score by Andrew LloydWebber and TimRice, Jesus Christ Superstar illuminates themoving power of the human spirit with a passion that goes straight to the heart. A classic to see for the first time — or see again! www.broadwaypalm.com

may 18 june 24

CLUE THE MUSICAL May 18 - June 24 The popular board game is now an entertainingmusical where you’ll follow the clues with six quirky characters, famous murder weapons and the familiar rooms of the Boddy Manor! The world’s best known suspects come to life on stage and with over 200 different solutions, you the audience, get to help solve themystery: who killedMr. Boddy, in what room, and with what weapon? Experiential theatre at its best! www.broadwaypalm.com

may 1 may 12

FROG AND TOAD CHILDREN’S THEATRE May 1 - May 12 Based onArnold Lobel’s well-loved books, this whimsical show follows two great friends — the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad — through four, fun-filled seasons! The show is great fun for kids and families. Come witness this children’s classic come to life that you and (especially) the little ones will love! www.broadwaypalm.com

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From the classic that brought you the songs ChimChimCher-ee, A Spoonful of Sugar and Supercalifragilisticex- pialidocious, everyone’s favorite nanny takes the stage in this musical adventure! Young Jane andMichael have sent many a nanny packing beforeMary Poppins arrives on their doorstep. Using a combination of magic and common sense, shemust teach the family how to value each other again. www.broadwaypalm.com

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May - June — In Concert

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may 14

SEBASTIAN MANISCALCO May 14 Fromhis new Showtime special, What’sWrong with People? SebastianManiscalco brings his sarcastic takes onmodern society, trying to bridge the gap between the Italian-American old world he grew up with and the contemporary one we now live in today. The result is his original, laughable stand-up comedy tour that has Sebastian performing sold-out venues all over the globe. His comedy reminds fans of a youthful Jerry Seinfeld, who will challenge his audience to recognize the absurd idioms of everyday life. Come check out Sebastian’s comedy tour onMay 14, where he will be performing at 5 PMand 8 PM. www.bbmannpah.com SCOTT BRADLEE’S POSTMODERN JUKEBOX May 11 Vintage is in and with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, even new things can become classy and classic. Scott Bradlee has become a viral sensation after creating a series of clips for YouTube, and he and his band the Postmodern Jukebox are now embarking on a worldwide tour. They remaster 21st century pop hits into a vintage style, likeMiley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” into a ‘50s-style doo wop number, or Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” a ‘20s jazz accent, and evenDaft Punk’s “Get Lucky” with Irish folkmusic. Come catch his world tour stop here in Southwest Florida on May 11! www.bbmannpah.com

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may 6 june 11

GULF COAST SYMPHONY - May 6 & June 11 Come witness the highly acclaimed Gulf Coast Symphony play their classical tunes at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center. Come onMay 6 for the Gulf Coast Symphony’s classical take onMadame Butterfly. Then on June 11, the Gulf Coast Symphony will be putting their “Super Summer Family Concert” on to kick off Summer 2017. See both thesemagnificent performances at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center. www.bbmannpah.com

may 19 june 21

DISNEY ON ICE WORLDS OF ENCHANTMENT May 19-21 Come see the spectacular world of Disney magic live on ice! Enjoy high-speed thrills with LightningMcQueen and the crew of Disney- Pixar’s Cars as they race across the ice! Go down below into an adventure withAriel and The LittleMermaid’s undersea kingdom. Everyone’s favorite toys are back with Buzz, Woody, Jessie and the Disney-Pixar Toy Story gang as they try to escape Sunnyside Daycare in their most daring adventure! Plus, it wouldn’t be an ice show without your favorite Frozen princess sisters Anna and Elsa and their pals Olaf andKristoff! Come see this magical show in

May at GermainArena in Estero! www.fortmyers-sanibel.com

May - June — The Arts

may- june

FORT MYERS BEACH ART May - June The Fort Myers BeachArt association will be holding numerous art activities and exhibits over the next fewmonths. Their exhibit will bring out the inner artisan in you, with terrific displays and shows to be viewed, as well as their inspiring workshops and painting groups. Come check out what they have to offer and what you do as well. www.fortmyersbeachart.com Art by the disABLEd May 3-30 Enjoy works by artists in Lee Health’s therapeutic program— patients whomay have limitations, but their creative skills are unlimited! The exhibit displays the beauty of their art and helps extinguish old stereotypes about the capabilities of persons with disabilities. www.bigarts.org may 3-30

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