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Exploring the cosmos with artist Carol Prusa

Posted on 31 August 2019 by LeslieM

Artist Carol Prusa stands in front of “Dark Light, Elegy for Rebecca Elson.”

By Rachel Galvin
Light and its absence are at the heart of Carol Prusa’s latest exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. What lies within the void is the question… what possibility lurks outside of the reach of mind’s eye? What was there before the beginning of the universe? Finding the answers to these questions certainly were within the mind of Prusa as she was creating her works with painstaking precision. Her artwork utilizes details, lines, shapes and symmetry to explore the abstract. Her “Dark Light” exhibition, which opened Aug. 20 and will be on display until Jan. 19, 2020, centers around her experiences of an eclipse.
“I got to experience the night during the day. The first was in Nebraska in 2017. It was so unsettling, so otherworldly. I had to try to grasp what I had just experienced. It knocked me backward. I had to lose my grounding. I had to try to express it the best way I could. I just went again in July 2019 to Chile. I had to see it again, to see if what I thought I saw, I saw,” said Prusa, who is now hoping to experience volcanoes. She has applied to do so at the Hawaii National Volcano Park, where they have just reopened residency.
When not creating works of art about the cosmos, she is reading about women who explored the cosmos in other ways, astronauts who have made vast discoveries, women like Maria Mitchell, who was not only the first female astronomer but the first scientist to discover a comet, among other accomplishments. Mitchell also seemed enamored with eclipses, as she led an all female expedition to Colorado in 1878 to observe one.
“I read a lot of cosmology and physics, big ideas that totally blow my mind,” said Prusa, adding that she likes to explore ideas like what was before the Big Bang, as well as string theory and more.
“It has to be that I don’t understand and then try to understand,” she said. “I need a catalyst to trigger …”
She added, “I love riding a bike at night. You think you see things. It is your mind buzzing, trying to fill the blanks. It is mind blowing. I think artists already are staring into darkness, scientists too.”
She was in Italy teaching drawing classes, and, while at the Uffizi Museum, she got to see drawings done with a process called Silverpoint, which she then began teaching her students and incorporated into her own work. She also uses graphite and acrylic working on plexiglass and wood panels. Some of her pieces in the museum exhibit are lit from within and one, called “Quintessence,” even has video, looking a bit like a kaleidoscope. The most imposing piece is a large scale work called “Dark Light, Elegy for Rebecca Elson,” who was a theoretical astrophysicist whose research focused on dark matter and who died of lymphoma.
With her “Cosmic Web (for the Harvard Observatory Computers)” piece, you feel like you are on the outside looking in.
She explained, “The perimeter is biological, a portal to the universe,” she said, adding that what looks a bit like brain matter around the edge was meant to look like “embryos before they are differentiated by gender. They are pure possibility.”
The “computers” of which she speaks are a group of female astronomers in the 1800s and 1900s who helped map the universe, including Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin.
She also has a series of smaller copperplate etchings honoring women astronomers, including Maria Mitchell, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Vera Rubin and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. The portfolio is called “Galaxias Kyklos,” which means “Milky Path” (or Milky Way) in Greek.
Kathleen Goncharov, the Senior Curator of the Museum, curated the exhibit. If it were up to Prusa, her pieces would be logical, perhaps chronological and certainly lined up. But the curator thought about it differently, said Prusa, looking more at the visual impact experienced by the viewer.
Executive Director Irvin Lippman feels the exhibit came together in the perfect way at the perfect time, being that it deals with the cosmos just in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
“How timely … with the eclipse with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It is a bit of serendipity. We are also keen in the educational department to talk about the value of STEAM (science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math). Carol makes the best argument for arts and technology coming together. She is a brilliant example of the scientific mind and creativity coming together.”
He added, “The museum was founded by artists and it’s very important to continue to have exhibits that celebrate Florida artists. Carol has been so involved for many years judging juried shows, at the museum and art school. It is important to show her work.”
While looking over the collection of her artwork, Lippman said, “When you approach it, it’s so meditative. When an eclipse happens, everything else falls by the wayside. They last only a few moments, but, during those moments, everyone focuses together. [The center point of her pieces] draw you inside. [It has] almost meditative spots.”
This is the first solo show here for Prusa, but she has been involved in group shows here in the past, as well as elsewhere. She will be shown in the Norton Sculpture Garden next fall and has a show in Taipei in a couple of weeks. She is in many galleries and is represented in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States.
She lives here in Boca Raton, but moved here in 1999 from the midwest after reading an article written by Bernice Steinbaum, who said that South Florida was the place to be for the art world.

“Cosmic Web (for the Harvard Observatory Computers)” by Carol Prusa. Submitted photo.

Asked if she felt that Steinbaum was correct, she said, “I felt more opportunity than in the midwest. There is more money to support art in South Florida. But it was more commercial than I understood … that was a transition. I think I have done well. I feel fortunate.”
Prusa wasn’t always an artist.
“I was the president of the math club and a chemistry major. I was happy. I met an artist at the University of Illinois. She thought in such a different way. I thought I could not become a complete person unless I studied art,” said Prusa, who received her Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Illinois and her Masters of Fine Art from Drake University.
She ended up obtaining a biomedical communications degree. She became a Medical Illustrator, which combines science and art. She was qualified to “make life masks, prosthetics, exhibition design, anatomy drawings” and more.
Her family was not so thrilled with her career path. She came from a very religious and iconoclast upbringing. Her father was a Calvinist, a head elder. She said she felt that tradition did give her “great rigor,” which she applied to her career, as she explored other ways of thinking than those she knew.
These days, Prusa does her work in her studio but it was not always the case.
“I used to work in my living room. Now, I have a 15 x 30 studio built in the backyard,” she said, saying she built the studio after winning the South Florida Cultural Consortium $15,000 top prize in 2003. She later received another consortium prize for $7500.
When working on her pieces, she likes to listen to NPR.
“It takes a piece of my mind away so my mind can be more Zen. The judgmental and critical mind drops away and is given over to NPR.”
When not working on her works of art, Prusa is a professor at the Florida Atlantic University teaching all levels of painting for undergraduate and graduate level. She has worked there for 19 years, but worked for 18 years prior teaching at Iowa State University. She has a husband and two children.
The Boca Raton Museum of Art is located within Mizner Park at 501 Plaza Real in Boca Raton. For more information on the museum, visit www.bocamuseum.org or call 561-392-2500. For more information on the artist, visit www.carolprusa.com.

Guests attend opening of the “Dark Light” exhibit on Aug. 20.

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BUSINESS BEAT: Boca means business

Posted on 12 December 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

Which of the 38 cities in Palm Beach County attracts the highest number of corporate relocations? More than half selected the city of Boca Raton to establish headquarters. According to Andy Thomson, newly-elected member of the Boca Raton City Council, that amounts to more than 30 international corporations that have moved into or expanded in Boca Raton.

The council member cites several reasons for Boca’s big-business boom. With the establishment in 2014 of the Office of Economic Development being funded by the city, attracting corporations became a priority.

The marketing strategy and message is ‘Boca is open for business; we are serious about helping corporations thrive here,’” said Thomson.

Technology and health are among the top sectors relocating to Boca, such as Modernizing Medicine and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Mr. Thomson is quick to add that marketing a “unique quality of life” is an easy sell. The obvious attributes include warm weather, beaches, sunshine and leisure lifestyle throughout Florida, along with no state income tax and corporate tax incentives. Among Boca Raton’s unique qualities attracting employees and businesses, he cites an executive airport for corporate jets with a new U.S. Customs facility, quality public and private schools, good housing, low crime and 46 parks.

We are a city within a park,” he says, “and we take our green spaces seriously.”

The two local colleges — Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University — funnel a tech-ready workforce into job openings at area corporations.

This helps transition graduates to nearby jobs so there is less of a brain drain,” he said.

One marketing challenge is overcoming the perception of a growing aging population.

The fear companies have in considering relocation is the mistaken perception that Boca is the retirement community depicted in the hit TV series Seinfeld. But the age demographic is actually trending younger,” he says.

Jessica Del Vecchio, manager of the city’s Office of Economic Development, concurs that the population is growing younger, from migrating retirees to a median age of 47 according to Forbes magazine.

When corporations relocate to Boca Raton, they have an economic impact on our overall economy by adding property tax income and creating jobs. More above average salary jobs become available to the talent pool of our local college graduates. They stay, find gainful employment and the quality of life improves,” she says.

The quality livability claim is backed up by online studies Del Vecchio references that rank Boca Raton high on their lists:

Best Beach Towns to Live In: Boca Raton is No. 7 of 205 cities nationwide (WalletHub.com)

Best Suburbs to Live in Florida: No. 13 of 351 (Niche.com)

Top 100 Places to Live: No. 45 of 2,300 cities surveyed (Livability.com)

“A” rating in a satisfaction survey of 45,000 renters (Apartment List)

The Office of Economic Development serves Boca Raton’s corporate community. Some corporations recently headquartered in the city are Shoes for Crews, Miami Grill, El-Ad National Properties and Gift of Life Marrow Registry (2019). Companies expanding (moving to new and larger space) include Modernizing Medicine, Cosmetic Solutions, Hair Club and TherapeuticsMD.

The Boca Raton Resort and Club is a popular destination for corporate conferences during the year, especially in winter.

Del Vecchio sums up a typical scenario: “Executives come in from all over the country [and world] and they experience a beautiful lifestyle, a luxury resort, warm weather, lower taxes. At the end of the conference, they’re thinking, ‘Why are we getting on a plane heading back to terrible weather in a higher tax state when we can be productive in paradise?’ That’s when relocation thoughts kick in.”

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com

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Forrest commits to FAU

Posted on 03 May 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Blanche Ely High School senior basketball star Michael Forrest is taking his basketball talents 12 miles north to Boca Raton as he continues his hoops career.

Forrest, who led the Tigers to the state championship, made the announcement that he was headed to play basketball at Florida Atlantic University on his Twitter page and honored his grandmother in the process.

I would like to thank my grandma for instilling in me the value of life and working hard to achieve my goals. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA,” Forrest wrote on Twitter. “With that being said, I am pleased to announce that I will be continuing my athletic and academic career at Florida Atlantic University. GO OWLS.”

Forrest averaged 26 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals per game for the Tigers and helped Blanche Ely win their 5th state championship in seven seasons as they cruised past Jacksonville Creekside, 77-54, in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 8A state championship on Saturday night at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

Forrest, who was named the Sun Sentinel’s Player of the Year this season, was also a first-team All-County selection as a junior when he averaged 14 points a game for the regional finalist.

She’s the one that’s always pushed me to be better,” said Forrest of the inspiration and motivation he was provided from his grandmother. “She said she would rather have me set a high bar and almost make it than set it low and get [there].”

Newly-hired FAU Men’s Basketball coach Dusty May said he was going to make South Florida recruiting a “high priority.”

Forrest also wrote: “I would like to thank GOD for giving me the ability to play the game of basketball. Thank you to all of the schools that have recruited me. I would also like to thank the coaches of Blanche Ely: Mr. Randall, Coach Reg, Coach BJ, Romaine Roshane and Dallas for pushing me and taking my game to the next level.

Thank you to Coach Sweat and the South Florida Spartans organization for believing in me,” he continued. “Thank you to my No. 1 supporters, my parents, for supporting me through everything.”

Junior lifeguard program gearing up

A little more than a month remains before the Junior Lifeguard program begins this summer.

Nemia L. Schulte, president of the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguards, said registration for the four summer sessions is ongoing during business hours at the Pompano Aquatic Center.

She said there will be a parents’ meeting to discuss the summer schedule for the 2018 Junior Lifeguard/Grommets Program on Thursday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m. at the Civic Center.

The Junior Lifeguard program will compete on June 30 in the state competition (Ft. Lauderdale), then July 28 at the Regionals (Flagler Beach) and then on Aug. 8 at the Nationals in (Virginia Beach, VA.).

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Football stadium future event

Posted on 14 July 2011 by LeslieM

By Scott Morganroth

It’s hard to believe that, in 91 days, the FAU Owls football team will begin a new era with their new on-campus stadium.

By the time FAU plays in the new stadium, the Owls will have played five road games. Their first three games will be against the Florida Gators, Michigan State Spartans and defending National Champion the Auburn Tigers. It seems destined that FAU could start 0-3. They’ll definitely get three big pay days to put in the athletic department’s checkbook.

FAU’s first two Sun Belt Conference games are at the University of Louisiana Lafayette and North Texas.

By the time Oct. 15 rolls around, will the Owls be out of the post-season picture and be looking for a miracle to become bowl eligible? Time will tell.

In the 30,000-seat expandable stadium, this season will occupy five dates. In the future, it could be as many as seven home games.

The question remains, what events could we see down the road? I anticipate there could be a bowl game.

Here are some ideas for Athletic Director Craig Angelos.

Angelos should have no problem attracting events because, being in South Palm Beach County, this stadium is centrally located to Palm Beach, Broward, Dade and Martin County.

There is no doubt that Angelos will get his fair share of concerts. Years ago, the Orange Bowl (OB) was a venue that  attracted concerts. The Marlins new baseball stadium, on the OB site, will be ready by next season. Although there will be competition for the outdoor market, I do believe there is enough room for two outdoor concert facilities.

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers played their home games at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale. Even though Lockhart was horrible for the Owls because of the poor locker rooms, it was good for a North American Soccer League team.

Major League Soccer has a solid fan base in the U.S.A., so it’s time to see if Angelos can get a team on campus and call it the South Florida Strikers.

In 1983, FAU Coach Howard Schnellenberger left his National Champion Miami Hurricanes for the USFL to coach a team in Miami at the Orange Bowl. This move backfired because the league never played a game in this market and subsequently folded.

The spring of 2012 marks the return of the New USFL. While I doubt we’ll see the 77-year-old Schnellenberger coach this team, it would be neat to see a team in the area in a league where he wanted to coach in the pros again.

Back in the old USFL, there used to be a territorial draft where teams could draft players that played at local schools. I could see a territorial draft with Miami, FIU and FAU, and there will be old faces chasing their dreams in Boca Raton.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scotts ports33.com.

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