Cultural Center features artists, poets, musicians and more at link opening


The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach and the link in Nocatee recently hosted the “Grand Opening of the Arts” at the facility that some have called “the building of the future.” The event was held from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, July 15, at 425 Town Plaza Ave.

[See also: The link officially opens its doors]

According to Donna Guzzo, Cultural Center president and executive director, the nonprofit organization coordinated poets; fine artists; live art demonstrations; musicians on cello, saxophone and violin; artist talks and demonstrations; a live salsa band; dancers; opera singers; a guitar player; a cultural fashion show and more.

The Cultural Center has served the community as a gathering place to learn, experience and appreciate the arts and culture in its many forms. It provides opportunities for adults, children and families through classes, exhibits, programs, services, activities and memberships open to the local community and beyond.

During the morning and afternoon sessions, poetry readings were held each hour with local PAM Jam poets including Carolee Bertisch, Tesi Wong, Carol Folsom, Susan Calfee, Sharon Scholl, Shutta Crum, Patricia Krause and Anne Sterling. The poetry was paired with paintings by local artists.

Arts instructor Marisa Yow demonstrated her work in oils, drawings and figurative work. A robotic introduction of Simon and Echo with Todd and Theresa Rykaczewsky included interactions among children from the Cultural Center’s Summer Arts Camp.

Featured musicians included Jeremy Bertisch, Shari Little, Teal Cabana Club, The Connors Project, Sharon Scholl, Daniel Birch and Janine Newfield. Violin students circulated among attendees. 

The afternoon sessions also featured the nonprofit’s master artist Ellen Diamond and her Tuscany-themed artwork in the Flagler Health+ Immersion Room while accompanied by opera singer Regina Torres.

Throughout the evening portion of the event, additional artists and painters were featured, including Midge Scelzo, Marla Kanehl, Marleen Scheer, Zena Groover, Deborah Lightfield and Sharon Warner. Pet portraits by Anna Washington were also highlighted.

Susanne Schuenke, Theresa Rykaczewsky and Eloy Castroverde presented artist talks.

Cultural Center master artist Enrique Mora’s paintings were installed in the link’s reception lobby entrance, where the massive art pieces by Schuenke are hung on two-story walls.

In addition, many artists were featured throughout the building corridors and studios. The artwork will be featured at the link until Friday, October 15.

During the evening, performances featured Maura Delgado on the saxophone; Sabrina Krisberg, cello teacher at the Cultural Center; and music by Avid Smith playing the Indian Sitar with vocals by Lindsey and Loreal Liske of the local Academy of Music and Arts. 

Guest speakers during the night included Chris Miller, district director of U.S. Rep. John Rutherford’s office; Joy Andrews, deputy St. Johns County administrator; St. Johns County commissioners Jeb Smith and Henry Dean; and Joe Bryant, Cultural Center Board of Directors chairman.

Guzzo and her staff also coordinated a myriad of vibrant evening sessions with partners and Cultural Center members Ruth Van Alstine and the North Florida Poetry Hub, along with poets Sally Wahl Constain and Patricia Krause, who composed improvisational prose that were written, shared and produced on antique paper and tied with a red ribbon as giveaways.

Dr. Arun Gulani, Gulani Fashions, and professional model Sally Fit produced a highly detailed cultural fashion show with models dressed in traditional clothing from their native countries on the runway. Live music was provided by the Mi Son Salsa Band, sponsors of the event. 

“We are extremely proud to have successfully featured a wide variety of local and regional cultural professionals and volunteers for attendees to experience how combined creativity can tell a beautiful story through visual and auditory presentations,” said Guzzo. “The entire day and evening was offered free of charge to the community and to all who enjoyed the festivities.”

She said the event was about “unity, love, the power of art, the sound of music, the spoken word, freedom of movement, creativity, inspiration, cultural awareness, tolerance of other cultures and inclusivity.”

“On that night, we went global,” she said. “We linked every country in our own backyard. We brought hope to our future and are honored to have featured the opening exhibit at the link.”

Artwork is available for sale at the link.

Artist bios may be viewed at

For more information, contact Callie Johnson, Cultural Center community connections manager, at 904-280-0614 ext. 1202 or email

For more information about Cultural Center memberships, classes, programs and services, go to

The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach is located at 3972 3rd St. South, Jacksonville Beach. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with after-hour appointments available.