by Sarah Hoye

Ben Chmura will be competing for, among other things, a chance to display his work during New York's Fashion Week.

Tampa fashion designer Ben Chmura will make his national debut on "Project Runway" when the Lifetime fashion series heads back to New York for Season 7 premiering Jan. 14.

The 30-year-old is known locally for his involvement with Sweatshop — a one-night-only multimedia exhibit held over Labor Day weekend at Czar in Ybor City — alongside area tastemakers Nessie Fernandez, Raven Reda and Kamran Mir.

Chmura debuted his fall/winter 2009 collection, Taliesin, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin estate and the eponymous Welsh mythological hero for a retro-futuristic look, at this year's Sweatshop extravaganza.

"This year we didn't hold back," Chmura told the Tribune in September. "I'm just pleased to be a part of something that has such an influence on the community. It's really encouraging."

The arts community has been hit especially hard by the struggling economy, he said, but added that he is sticking to his creative guns.

"It's been tough, there's no two ways about it," said Chmura, who sold his car earlier this year to support his passion. "Its hard, but this is the time to focus. I'm serious about this. It's what I love to do."

"Project Runway" host Heidi Klum, mentor Tim Gunn, judges Michael Kors, a leading designer, and Nina Garcia, fashion director for Marie Claire magazine, will be joined by 16 new designers, including Chmura, vying for a shot to make their way to Bryant Park and show their collection in front of top industry insiders during New York Fashion Week.

The winner receives an editorial feature in Marie Claire magazine, the opportunity to sell their line on, a $50,000 technology suite by HP and Intel to create, design and run their business, and a cash prize of $100,000 from L'Oréal Paris to launch their own fashion line.


Q&A: Jeremy Gloff's 21st Century Love Songs

Tampa singer-songwriter JEREMY GLOFF recently released 21ST CENTURY LOVE SONGS, his 16th studio album and self-described most mature collection of songs at SQUARE ONE's creative extravaganza MAGNUM OPUS held at THE RITZ YBOR last month. Okesene Tilo recently sat down with the Tampa star regarding his new album.

OKESENE TILO: Good Morning Jeremy. First off, THANK YOU for performing at MAGNUM OPUS last November and agreeing to hold your album release party for 21ST CENTURY LOVE SONGS at the event. Describe your experience that night.

JEREMY GLOFF: Surreal. MAGNUM OPUS was one of those nights where it felt like life had been sped up. It felt like one minute I was unloading my gear and then ten minutes later, I was home in bed. I didn't get to see much of the event except for from the stage, but it looked packed and people seemd to be enjoying themselves. I am grateful to SQUARE ONE for giving me the opportunity to perform in front of such a great crowd.

Jeremy performing at Square One's Magnum Opus (11.14.09)

OT: 21ST CENTURY LOVE SONGS has been described as your most mature and grown-up album to date. What changed personally from last year's 1987 album to inspire you to steer in a different direction musically?

JG: My previous album was a 1980s-inspired dance album. At first while promoting that album... I really enjoyed being goofy, zany, and outrageous on stage, but I found myself getting increasingly cynical and observational. I watched our country slip into the worst financial state I've ever seen since I was born. I watched the general public become increasingly numbed and fixated by the internet. I feel like an outsider more than I ever have in my life and this isn't really something I'm enjoying. I think there's a lot of that alienation in this new album. The album is also about love which I think might be dead.

Jeremy performing at his Square One sponsored 1987 Album Release Party (09.23.08)

OT: I attended a studio session while you were recording 21ST CENTURY LOVE SONGS, and was impressed by the sizable roster of local talent that came together to help create your record. How did you gather everyone together?

JG: Bascially I made a Tampa musician wish list: I wanted all of my great friends and peers that I respect and enjoy on this album. I made a chart with two columns. One column had the listing of new songs, and the other column had my musician wishlist. I then matched each person to the song I felt belonged to them. I didn't tell anyone what to play in the studio, but instead just sent them demos. They showed up in the studio and poured a piece of themselves into the songs. It really blew my mind.

OT: Track 6 titled COKE & ECSTASY is my favorite song off of your album, but sounds nothing like any other song that you have recorded. How would you describe your sound today?

JG: This new album came out of nowhere without a pre-determinded idea of its style. Although I am not a fan of these bands, I do think there's a melancholy similar to bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure, and The Smiths. I love The Killers who write great emotional pop songs. I'm a huge Sonic Youth fan which I think some of their soundscapes inspired me this time around. I think this album, more than any before it, draws more on male musician influences than female. I don't think my idols Madonna or Stevie Nicks figure anywhere on this new album.

OT: Currently, you are accepting online requests from fans to perform an acoustic version of any song from your catalog that spans over 16 years via YouTube. What inspired this?

JG: I've been doing this for almost a solid twenty years. I think as an artist I can be stubborn and too forward thinking. During the past year it dawned on me that sure I can be an advice columnist, an reviewer, a flashy public personality, but at the heart of it all... I am a songwriter. And through the years, I think some of these songs I wrote meant something to people. I wanted to give these people a chance to step forward and hear some of the songs they loved again. ..a great way to end a decade.

OT: Now that 21ST CENTURY LOVE SONGS is released, what is next on your calendar for 2010?

JG: Right now I find myself enjoying being at home, reading a lot and watching movies. I find myself angry and disappointed by society. I know I need to shake this reclusiveness if I want to properly promote my new album. I hope to create some music videos to go along with these songs, and to play some shows where I bleed my heart out and do it just for the music again.

JEREMY GLOFF'S 16th studio album, 21ST CENTURY LOVE SONGS is now available for purchase on iTunes and CDbaby.

  • To preview & purchase 21ST CENTURY LOVE SONGS on ITUNES, please CLICK HERE.
  • To preview & purchase 21ST CENTURY LOVE SONGS on CDBABY, please CLICK HERE.

Square One Holiday Party... December 17th, 2009

Please celebrate a successful year for Square One and the arts community at the OFFICIAL SQUARE ONE HOLIDAY PARTY taking place (as part of the Miracle On 7th Avenue party) at The RITZ Ybor on Thursday, December 17th, 2009 from 6pm to 10pm.

There will be complimentary cocktails and catering provided by Luigi's Catering from 6pm to 7pm.

Drink specials, holiday shopping, fashion and live entertainment and performances by Bella Danza with Jenn Jones, Anye' Cole, Sierra Moralis, Elizabeth Olson & Crystalyn Stokes, the first Lady of Ybor... Joey Brooks & more... emceed and hosted by Melanie Minyon

This event is FREE and completely open to everyone of all ages. Please send an e-mail to with you and your guest names to RSVP.



I wanted to thank each and every single person who came out and supported Square One at last month's MAGNUM OPUS event. Square One hosts two events each year at The RITZ Ybor, and this event was by far our most successful event yet. These events continue to grow in size and attendance, and I look forward to what the next event tentatively scheduled for next Spring will bring.

From everyone involved with and who supports Square One... HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Check out this wonderful write-up about MAGNUM OPUS by clicking here.
Much Love,

Okie & Jason

Jason Moriarty & Okesene Tilo