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Four Arts hosts Florida Voices



Three Florida authors who will share their voices at the Florida Voices book discussion series at the Society of the Four Arts King Library in Palm Beach are Les Standiford, Deborah C. Pollack and Rick Kilby.

The Brotherton Endowment-funded series restarted in 2014 and engaged writers living in Florida part-time or full-time to speak once a month from October through April.

“Florida Voices began when Molly Charland (former director of Campus on the Lake and King Library) decided to invite authors to speak,” said Rachel Schipper, library director of the Society of the Four Arts.

“The series continues to be very popular and educational,” says Ms. Schipper.

Ms. Pollack, an art dealer who owns a gallery on Worth Avenue with her husband Edward Pollack, will speak about her book, Sculptors and their Work: 1880-2020, published by Schiffer.

The book features well-known and lesser-known sculptors who call Florida their home, including Robert Rauschenberg, Duane Hanson, John Chamberlain, and Augusta Savage.



“Although we look at art, including art in public spaces, we often don’t really see what we see,” says Ms. Pollack, author of nine books including Laura Woodward: The Artist Behind the Innovator Who Developed Palm Beach.

“To truly understand a sculpture, we need to walk around it, examine it, think about the sculptor’s intentions and what messages he or she is trying to convey to us, the viewer,” she says.

“I hope this book will help people understand how to look at a sculpture,” says Ms. Pollack.

Likewise, Mr. Standiford, who as a child loved the circus in Cambridge, Ohio, wants people to understand the splendor and glory of the circus that has vanished from the landscape.

In Battle for the Big Top: PT Barnum, James Bailey, John Ringling and the Death Defying Saga of the American Circus, Mr. Standiford brings to life a piece of Americana that lives on in nostalgia and our collective memories.



“When the circus came to town, it all stopped,” recalls Mr. Standiford. “There was so much glamour, excitement and fame. Schools and shops all closed. Everyone went to Main Street to watch the parade.”

“I want to recapture the joy and thrill of the circus,” he says.

In May 2017, Mr. Standiford witnessed the final Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and regrets its ending.

“I want people to remember how important the circus was to the country,” he says.

“Think about it,” he says, “that was a time before professional football, before cinemas or radio. It has been a popular form of entertainment for young, old and everyone in between for more than 100 years.”

“When the circus came to town, it was a day to celebrate, to take a day off and most of all to see that you can come to this country and reinvent yourself,” he says.

“The circus was more than a distraction or entertainment, it was a reflection of the country and the principles that drew people in,” says Mr. Standiford.

He says the Feld family (the family behind the circus) have plans to revive the circus more in line with Cirque du Soleil, without the animals that caused the animal rights protests.

The author, who has written more than 25 books including Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu, is already working on his next book about Don and Mera Rubell, tentatively titled Greatest Private Collection of Contemporary art in the world.”

Another author who writes about his passions is Mr. Kilby from Orlando.

A Florida native and former creative director of Orlando’s Church Street attraction before founding Kilby Creative, Mr. Kilby became interested in Florida’s healing waters in 2000 after visiting the “tourist trap” of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine and wrote his first book Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de Leon and Florida’s Magical Waters, which won a Florida Book Award in the fine arts category.

In “Florida’s Healing Waters: Gilded Age Mineral Springs, Seaside Resorts and Health Spas,” Mr. Kilby takes the reader to the “Golden Era of Bathing” in Florida, when tourists flocked to restore and rejuvenate the oceans and mineral springs .

Mr. Kilby says he was obsessed with the subject and has made pilgrimages to many places in Florida, including White Springs in North Florida and Suwannee Springs on the Suwannee River in Live Oak.

“I love this era in Florida history,” says Mr. Kilby. “People came by steamboat and train. I learned about sea bathing and the practice of hydrotherapy from major tourist hotels and visitors who came to bathe in our waters for medical reasons,” he says.

For those who want to “take water,” he recommends Green Cove Springs on the St. John’s River between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Safety Harbor Resort and Spa in Clearwater, and Warm Mineral Springs in North Port, Sarasota County.

He and his wife recently bathed in the waters of Warm Springs in Bath County, Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson spent nine days in 1817.

He hopes to tour the springs and spas in Germany and the Czech Republic as part of a historic Spas of Europe tour.

Considering that people are born in water, love to be near water and in water, says Mr. Kilby: “In these springs you can reach a level of relaxation that is quite amazing.” ¦

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