You’ve probably heard of Sarasota’s Booker schools, but do you know anything about the woman for whom they are named? Emma Booker came to Sarasota to teach at the segregated Sarasota Grammar around 1914. She was just teenager herself at the time. By 1918, she was principal.
Booker was dissatisfied with the dingy rental hall that housed the school and the hand-me-down books the students were using. She campaigned for a grant from the Julius Rosenwald Fund for monies to build a new school. (Rosenwald, a magnate of Sears Roebuck, was committed to equalizing opportunities among Americans. More than 5,000 schools and teachers’ residences were built in rural communities through the largesse of the Rosenwald Fund.)
The new school – with classes for students through Grade 8 -- was opened during the 1924-25 school year. Booker led a parade of students and faculty from the school’s old location to its new home. She left Sarasota for St. Petersburg when the school board refused to expand the school to include a 9th Grade.
In the late 1930s, the school was renamed after Booker. Today, Booker Elementary, Booker Middle School and Booker High School commemorate the contributions of this pioneering educator.
It’s worth noting that Booker was pursuing her own college education throughout this period. After 20 years of summer college classes, Booker obtained her bachelor’s degree in 1937. No wonder she was such an inspiration to her students.
Side note: George W. Bush was reading to students at Booker Elementary School when he was informed about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Lori Anne Escalera A native Los Angelino, Lori centered her artistic life Southern California. She has had a full career as a corporate advertising graphic designer working with aerospace, advertising, institutional and manufacturing firms. In 1981, at the age of 23, she started her own business. In 1994, Lori organized "The Culver City A.R.T. Group,” serving as its President, as well as “BCR” (environment, community, arts Nonprofit). Lori’s interests shifted away from commercial interests towards fine Art. focus revolved around the figure. Lori questions the artist's place in the continuum of art history, as well as contemporary cultural beliefs in a relationship to history and myth. Lori is a cross medium artist and exhibits her art on paper, canvas, ceramic or in the street. Her work takes on an energy and vibrancy that refreshes the spirit and enlivens the imagination.
Since 1994, Lori has enjoyed participating in many Street Painting festivals in the USA, Canada, China and Mexico, helping raise money and awareness for many causes. She is a professional and award winning Madonnari Street Painter. Lori was an inaugural “Featured Artist” at the 2007 International Sarasota Chalk Festival, and featured pavement artist in 2008 Xian China pre-Olympic festivities. In 2012, 2014 and 2015 she participated as part of an international team of artists on three projects for The Chalk Festival, designed by Kurt Wenner (two of which entered Guinness World Record Projects for the Largest Anamorphic Street Painting).
Over the years, Lori has instructed hundreds of children and adults her ideas about art history, drawing and painting, through cultural arts programming, museum classes, art camps, and private lessons. She has led the creation of several community murals in Southern California, working with community groups and the underserved. Many of these murals provide vocational training for youth allowing local residents to combat community deterioration. https://www.google.com/maps/d/...
Lori writes and speaks on Art. Her paper on Gender, Art Ideology and Neuro-aesthetics (TRAC 2015 Proceedings – published in “As It Is”); Pavement Art as Fine Art Canon (TRAC 2018 proceedings); The Occident, The Orient and The Odalisque – Reimagined (TRAC 2019 proceedings).
Education: B.A. Design Communication Cum Laude SDSU; A.A.: WLAC, Commercial Art Certification/A.A.: LATTC; Humanities Minor: DHSU
Video documentary about Lori:
"I am eager to return to Florida every year! Traveling for artmaking is integral to my work as an artist. Engaging with new communities is a pleasure. No matter where in the world I travel, learning about other communities enriches me. The research and preparation for the artwork excite me. My mind runs wild as I take in fascinating information about historic people and places. It makes the fabric of my own existence more textured in the process adding to the vocabulary in my visual artmaking. When I was asked to participate, after a year of COVID isolation, I was nervous. Could I do it at age 64? Could I get back in the street, muster the elements (it was over 90˚!), and do a good job? I’ve had multiple joint replacements in the past decade and I was afraid. I am grateful that the “Avenue of Art” staff helped me make extra preparations to succeed. One striking thing is of the many people who stop by to appreciate the art and share their fears about their own artmaking. There is fear of sharing our inner identity thinking that who we are is not “good” enough to find acceptance."
Nanette Crist is a retired lawyer who began blogging when she moved to Florida. It was an online diary of sorts, a way to keep track of her new life. It was also a good way to share her discoveries with friends and family outside the area. Over time, Nanette realized her writing makes her experience the world differently. She keeps an eye out for interesting things to write about and then delves more deeply into them as she crafts her words. It's all about telling the story. Nanette's blog can be found at http://nanettesnewlife.blogspot.com.
The Exchange (formally The Women's Exchange) is dedicated to the support of Sarasota and Manatee counties' local arts community since its inception in 1962, over 260 dedicated volunteers work to ensure that the ever changing inventory is filled to the brim with such amazing finds as Baccarat crystal, Tiffany silver, Gucci handbags, fine jewelry, men's/women's clothing, high-end furniture and oriental rugs. The Exchange plays a crucial role in the community, as well as providing visitors with a quirky retail experience. Awarding more than $8.5 million dollars in grants and scholarships, we invite you to come see how "Together We Can Make a Difference."