A Group of Critters is my 10th book and first collaboration with other artists, the illustrators of the coloring book being Vicki Squires, Van Jazmin, and Anita Wexler. I decided to incorporate my latest music gig into the publication and use the opportunity as a launch party for the book.
It was the second time I was invited to play at Vino Bistro. It is located at 1419 5th Street in the Rosemary District of Sarasota. Through the years, I have visited the location to interview Ian Black when it was his real estate office, when Lori Frary used it as an art gallery, and I have come to play at open mic night a number of times since it has been Vino Bistro.
Although I have plenty of history with the space, I was truly amazed to see the various aspects of my life coalesce the way they did at my launch party. I had invited a number of friends, and I am glad to say that they filled every seat in the house. But there were two guests that I wasn’t expecting.
Two months ago, I met Elizabeth Smith at the Art Lab event organized by Stephanie Grae, who was also working at Vino Bistro the night of my launch party to promote Alex Cole, the artist showcasing his paintings at the venue. Elizabeth had recently released her book of The Sovereign Way, a spiritual path she has developed through the principles of Christ without the dogmatic trappings of Christianity, and knew I had immediately met a kindred spirit. When she arrived at Vino Bistro with her two daughters, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had served as a substitute teacher for her daughter Penelope at Bay Haven.
I’ve been serving as a substitute teacher at various elementary schools one or two days a week since November of last year. Most of my classes are at Bay Haven since it is two minutes from my house and the shift doesn’t start until 9am. It’s been interesting to see how my time as a substitute has started to intertwine with the rest of my life.
A number of my students have told me they saw me on a poster at the Van Wezel promoting my role as a tour guide for Discover Sarasota Tours when they went on their field trip last month. I’ve also run across kids at the flea market and other public places who let me know that I was their teacher. And most agree that I am the best substitute teacher…