Culture Shock

Without a single, thriving downtown core or distinct enclaves -- such as Miami's Little Havana -- many Broward County residents may never have experienced fully the rich cultural diversity of our sprawling community. Margarita Fellman is out to change that.

Formerly the art director of Exemplary Folk Song and Dance at the Little Star Company in Russia, Fellman came to work at the Hallandale Beach Cultural Community Center when she moved to South Florida a year and a half ago.

"I wanted to identify the different groups within my community and to learn about and explore their forms of expression," Fellman recalls.

Fellman's cultural curiosity is one that she wants to extend to others through events like the "Hispanic Arts and Crafts Exhibition," which opens Friday at the center with an Evening of Hispanic Arts, featuring a performance by Argentine guitarist and composer Fabio Zini and dancer Monica Lee.

Embroidery, tile mosaics, paintings, pottery, and sculpture by talented local artists of Spanish, Peruvian, Colombian, Argentine, and Ecuadorian descent are on display. Some of the pieces will also be available for purchase.

"Our purpose is to create a mixture of visual art and performance art in a space where young artists, amateurs, or professionals can display their work, introduce themselves, and socialize," says Fellman.

The Hispanic show is the first in a series of arts and crafts exhibitions through which Fellman hopes to showcase the talents of artists from the various ethnic groups that flavor Broward County. Plans call for displays of works by Russian, Judaic, and African-American artists, and eventually these shows may turn into a more permanent collection as featured artists continue to donate their works to the center.

"In the future we'd like to have a gallery of the works given to us," Fellman says. "We'd like local artists to feel like this is their home.

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Marli Guzzetta