T is for Tallahassee

The ABCs of Our Musical City

Announcing Your Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra’s newest project: T is for Tallahassee: The ABCs of our Musical City! This beautiful book for all ages is TSO’s own love letter to our artistic community. Each letter of the alphabet represents a unique piece of Tallahassee’s history; events, iconic figures, local venues, and more. 

We are excited to feature work from twenty-six local artists, one for each letter. Their contributions make this book a visually dazzling homage to our community, its art, and its music. 

The TSO is grateful to Amanda Thompson of AKT Artful for serving as a consultant for this project. https://akt-artful.com

T is for Tallahassee is on sale now and available for purchase at Hearth and Soul, Midtown Reader, the TSO Office and online.

We are not able to ship books. If you would like to purchase a book to be mailed to someone, please purchase using THIS LINK

Meet the Artists

Nathan Archer

Nathan Archer is a cartoonist, illustrator, and graphic designer living in Tallahassee. Since 2016, he has produced editorial cartoons and video content for the Tallahassee Democrat. He’s an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and the National Cartoonists Society. Archer received his BFA in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000 and his MA in arts administration from Florida State University in 2006. Archer also enjoys teaching comic techniques, mentoring students, and using his creativity and humor to help readers make sense of complex issues and current events.

Rita Barker

Lifelong Tallahassee resident, Rita Barker has been artistically inclined since childhood. Influenced by her grandmother, whose home was filled with collected treasures, Barker gravitates toward found objects, unconventional materials, acrylics and mixed media for her art making. She works intuitively, focusing on the creative process, and she embraces whatever the final outcome may be. Ever an explorer, Barker enjoys experimenting and learning new techniques. She is also an enthusiastic guide for others on their own creative journey. Barker exhibits her work locally and she finds that provides a unique opportunity to connect with others in a deep and meaningful way.

Marina Brown

Marina Brown’s commitment to the arts is wide-ranging. A professional ballet dancer, a journalist, a writer of award-winning fiction, a cellist, as well as a celebrated visual artist, the arts define her life. Her painting skills have brought her much attention and her work has been included in many regional exhibitions. In watercolor and pastels, Brown’s artworks celebrate the human form in motion, evoking a vibrant atmosphere that leads audiences to imagine the music playing. She is a member of the Tallahassee and Florida Watercolor Societies. She also writes and creates courtroom sketches for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Terrie Corbett

Terrie Corbett’s abstract and expressive work comes to life through encaustic, a painting method using hot wax, and oil paint with cold wax. She has served on the Florida Committee for the National Museum of Women in the Arts and also as a Board member for LeMoyne, 621 Gallery, and the Florida Artist Group. Corbett has taught in local schools and for VSA Florida. She exhibits widely and has also curated local and regional exhibitions. Corbett’s work is part of many permanent collections including the Florida Department of State, House of Representatives, and Florida State University’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Elizabeth Lampman Davis

Elizabeth Lampman Davis is a Tallahassee-based children’s illustrator and storyteller who believes that all children deserve to see themselves represented in literature with empathy, joy, and power. To that end, Elizabeth seeks to bring families like her own into the light, with hope that as a community, we would celebrate our differences as a strength. Elizabeth’s work is threaded with themes of nature and imagination, often using strong light sources and bold colors to express emotion. Her work has been displayed in several local galleries and solo exhibitions, and she is currently working on a children’s picture book about buying hats.

Starlene DeBord

Starlene DeBord is a multi-disciplinary creative living in Tallahassee on a cozy farm. She is a mixed media artist, metalsmith, textile and home decor designer, and an online educator. She left a long career in marketing 10 years ago to dedicate herself full-time to her art. Her work has been featured in a variety of exhibitions and publications. Nature, with all its flora and fauna, serves as Starlene’s primary muse. She finds joy in observing the natural world and its enduring rhythm, which constantly fuels her creativity. All her art, irrespective of subject, begins with one single thought: “What if…”

Diane Dyal

Originally from Rhode Island, Diane Dyal received an Associates in Art degree from the Community College of Rhode Island. Using her design, mechanical art, and typesetting skills, she ran the art department of an offset printer in Boston for many years. She moved to Tallahassee in 1991 and worked for a newspaper doing computerized layout. After winning an art competition, she began experimenting with different styles, media, and subject matter. She is best known for her free-spirited, impressionistic style. Her exuberant and colorful artworks can be viewed at Feeling Art Collective, and she also exhibits around the Big Bend region.

Rosemary Ferguson

Watercolor has been Rosemary Ferguson’s primary interest for the past 30 years. She often finds inspiration in nature and is drawn to subjects with strong color, high contrast, and a variety of texture. She works from reference photographs which she takes herself to use as a compositional tool. Generous with her knowledge, she has taught weekly watercolor classes and special workshops for over a decade at the City of Tallahassee’s Senior Center. She has received numerous awards in juried shows and has paintings in private collections throughout the Southeast. She is an active member of numerous watercolor and painting groups.

Elizabeth E. George

Award-winning photographer Elizabeth E. George revels in photographing moments as they unfold. Born in Miami, she discovered her passion for photography at the age of nine and began formal training while in high school taking dark room photography classes. George earned a degree in education at FSU and, after teaching for 28 years, she returned to photography. She’s known for capturing images that offer candid glimpses into the essence of her subjects. Her specialties include nature, concert, and event photography and her work has appeared in numerous local and national publications and exhibits. George has called Tallahassee her home since 1980.

Dean Gioia

A professional artist and writer based in Tallahassee, Dean Gioia has devoted more than five decades to interpreting the southern landscape and turning it into fine art. His light-filled, atmospheric paintings have been exhibited throughout the Southeast, and he is the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the state of Florida. His work is included in hundreds of public and private collections and has been featured in film, as CD cover art, and in a variety of publications. He shares his knowledge by leading painting workshops and has authored two books, Turn of Light and Illuminated.

Valerie Goodwin

Retired Florida A&M University professor, Valerie Goodwin began creating quilts as an outgrowth of her architectural background. Her work is inspired by city grids and mapping and it has been featured in numerous publications. Recently, she has been exploring laser cut fabric and is intrigued by the lines and shapes this technology can create. Goodwin’s art quilts have been exhibited in venues all over the country including the International Quilt Museum at the University of Nebraska. Always an educator, she teaches workshops globally, even as far away as Switzerland. She has been awarded artist residencies and many other accolades for her innovative creations.

Debo Groover

Debo Groover has been an artist her entire life. Prior to moving to Tallahassee, where she has lived for the past 20 years, she received an MFA in ceramics from the University of Georgia, Athens. She enjoyed a successful career as a potter and educator and, in 2008, created a new technique using polymer clay as a painting and collage material. The public response was overwhelming so she and her wife, Tina Torrance, formed Debortina Studio and have been creating polymer clay paintings ever since. Groover’s artwork is highly collected and often features birds in swirling colors and patterns.

Gerald Grow

Searching for a creative outlet after his retirement as a journalism professor, longtime Tallahassee resident Gerald Grow found digital photography. Using a technique known as Intentional Camera Movement, his images are made with a moving camera and stationary light sources. The camera records motion, reflections, and color in unpredictable ways, producing astonishing digital images, some of which are pushed even further using editing software. His photographs explore the tiny mysteries of an ordinary day and celebrate themes like his lifelong love of music. His work is exhibited locally, and he’s a member of the Artists’ League of the Big Bend.

Anne Hempel

There’s always music in Anne Hempel’s Tallahassee studio, and it weaves its way into every painting. Her heavily wooded, swampy surroundings are another source of inspiration that guides her brush. Hempel creates all her work on hand-crafted wood panels and, using different brushes and tools, she applies multiple layers of thickened acrylic paint to evoke an expressive, sculptural quality. Hempel is represented by Signature Art Gallery and her work is celebrated throughout the region in exhibitions, juried competitions, and charitable events. A former educator, she also conducts painting workshops for adults, private painting lessons, and summer art camps for children.

Roopali Kambo 

A native of India and a long-time Florida resident, Roopali Kambo draws upon her multicultural experiences for her paintings. She holds a BFA and MFA in graphic design and teaches the subject at Tallahassee Community College. She is an interdisciplinary artist with a research-based practice. A Fulbright scholar, her area of research in scripts creates experiences that inform and reflect society. Utilizing art as an agent of social change, she seeks to broaden the dialog in art and design—and therefore culture—by building meaningful human experiences. Kambo’s work has been included in exhibitions at the local, national, and international level.

Mary Sterner Lawson

Mary Sterner Lawson has been creating art since she was four years old, or at least that’s what her parents told her. Though her profession became literature, and she taught English for more than three decades at Albany State University, she has continuously pursued her love of learning in the visual arts. Since childhood Mary has compulsively made the quick sketches of people and scenes for which she is known. Lawson’s artwork is inspired by the places, people, and experiences that touch her heart. Her works in watercolor, pen and ink, and clay are frequently exhibited in Florida and Georgia.

Nan Liu

Born, raised, and artistically trained in China, Nan Liu has called Tallahassee home for over 20 years. He completed an MFA in painting and a PhD in art education at Florida State University. To pass along his knowledge to the next generation of artists, he is currently a full professor in the visual arts department at Florida A&M University. He has explored various art forms in recent years, including drawing, watercolor, tempera, and oil painting and his subjects range from figures to landscapes. His work has been exhibited and lauded regionally and nationally and is included in many private collections.

Yoshiko Murdick

Yoshiko Murdick began as an oil painter in her hometown of Kobe, Japan. She later earned an undergraduate degree in art in the United States along with a Masters in Business Administration. She worked as an accountant in Pennsylvania and, after retiring to Tallahassee, returned to her creative roots. For more than a decade, she has focused on painting with watercolor, and her work has earned numerous awards. Vibrant and colorful, her paintings range in subject matter and style—many featuring musicians. She is an active member of the Tallahassee Watercolor Society and the Georgia Watercolor Society.

Brinda Pamulapati

Brinda Pamulapati’s work is inspired by the festive colors and patterns that were part of her upbringing in India. Working mainly in acrylic, she uses bright contrasting colors, unusual shapes, and textures to create abstract paintings. Trained in mathematics and art, her paintings begin with a precise idea and unique perspective. The artwork itself guides her towards its eventual completion. Pamulapati is the owner and managing director of Venvi Art Gallery and she enjoys curating the work of renowned artists for the gallery’s shows. Her own work has been exhibited internationally and can be found in public and private collections.

Billy Penn

Billy Penn has been a celebrated Tallahassee artist his entire life. He was awarded a public mural commission in seventh grade and, while still in middle school, was selected to design the back-to-school cover of the Tallahassee Democrat. Penn continued creating through high school and college, ultimately earning a degree in art education from Florida State University. He has been a local art teacher for more than 20 years, passing his knowledge on to the next generation of homegrown artists. He is also a published comic book artist and often folds his illustrative style into his teaching.

Mary Proctor

For many years, Mary Proctor owned and operated a flea market before turning to creative expression in response to family tragedy. The shop served as a resource for materials and evolved into her American Folk Art Museum and Gallery. Seeing herself as a missionary, she uses art to spread her grandmother’s words of wisdom. Proctor has been featured in many publications and her work is part of the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum in DC, among many others.

Eluster Richardson

A Tallahassee native, Eluster Richardson has been part of the local art community for more than 50 years. Specializing in oil and watercolor with a focus on cultural and familial connections, his work has been widely honored. He has exhibited locally and nationally at venues such as the Smithsonian Institution in DC. He has led workshops, demonstrations, and lectures for Florida State University’s OLLI program, the Florida Watercolor Society, the City of Tallahassee’s Senior Center, and local schools. For several decades, Richardson has served as the Artist-In-Residence at the John Gilmore Riley Center & Museum for African American History & Culture.

Joe Roache

Born and raised in South Carolina, Joe Roache completed his undergraduate study in art at Florida A&M University and earned an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Roache went on to teach art, design, and 3D animation at Florida A&M University and he continues to teach locally and speak at museums and conferences all over the world. His paintings, drawings and digital collages are frequently exhibited across the Southeast and are featured in many different private and public collections. Recently Roache’s work has been influenced by his southern roots and his love for jazz and blues music and musicians.

Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is a Tallahassee artist best known for his abstract paintings featuring bold, striking color palettes. His paintings have become highly sought-after and are often exhibited across the Big Bend. He also enjoys working with precious metal clay to create unique jewelry designs and, additionally, he produces large scale garden sculptures in a variety of materials. He has volunteered countless hours of his time and been generous with his talents to raise funds for organizations and causes close to his heart. He is an active board member of Big Bend Cares, the Council on Culture & Arts, and LeMoyne Arts.

Mary Liz Tippin-Moody

Born in Tallahassee and settled in neighboring Havana, Mary Liz Tippin-Moody has been inspired since childhood by this region’s beauty. After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in art education, she worked for over 35 years in graphic design. Presently, she creates illustrations and book design projects on a freelance basis. Though drawing and painting are her greatest joy, she works in a wide variety of media. She encourages others in art exploration as a teacher at the City of Tallahassee’s Senior Center and as President of Artists’ League of the Big Bend of Florida, Inc.

Mark Wallheiser

Mark Wallheiser has been a fulltime professional photographer for nearly 50 years. After attending Western Kentucky University, he began his career photographing Tennessee Walking Horses for a trade newspaper. He made the jump to daily photojournalism and worked for 27 years as a Tallahassee Democrat staff photographer. Wallheiser has earned national acclaim, having twice been nominated for an individual Pulitzer Prize. He also contributed to the team entry that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. He now works as an independent freelance photographer and a photographer at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

Special Thanks to

Amanda Karioth Thompson


Amanda facilitated the creation of this book in many ways, including serving as primary contact for the twenty-six artists and curating the artworks showcased in the book.

Amanda is an independent arts consultant focused on helping people navigate their creative projects. As the founder of AKT Artful, she provides a unique perspective and specialized expertise as a knowledgeable advisor, collaborator, and interpreter. With 20 years of experience as a maker and arts administrator, she develops, manages, and produces arts related content, projects, programming, and events.

Born and raised in Tallahassee, Amanda attended FSU and earned two bachelor’s degrees in Studio Art and Art Education, and a master’s degree in Art Education. She also holds a K-12 Florida Art Teacher Certification and volunteers in arts classrooms across the community. She is a practicing artist working in glass, ceramics, and a variety of other media.

Mary Ann Lindley

Mary Ann Lindley served as primary editor for T is for Tallahassee.

Mary Ann Lindley was a journalist for several Florida newspapers, including 32 years as a columnist and Editorial Page Editor at the Tallahassee Democrat. She retired in 2011, ran for public office, and served as a Leon County Commissioner through 2020. Ms. Lindley stepped down to volunteer and support community organizations, spend time with family and friends and begin writing a book. She has been a Tallahassee Symphony board member for two years.