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1st Wednesday Studio and Gallery Tour




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Overview- First Wednesday Studio & Gallery Tour affords unique opportunity to visit some of SWFL’s most interesting galleries and working studios (06-24-15)

060 (3)On the first Wednesday of each month from November through April, the more than two dozen galleries and artist studios that comprise the Naples Art District open their doors to the public from 5:00-8:00 p.m. This event is a unique opportunity to not only visit some of Southwest Florida’s most interesting galleries, but immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of the studios of more than 40 emerging and mid-career artists working in a broad cross-section of genres and media.

Though it may be removed from Fifth Avenue South and the Third Street Gallery District, the Naples Art District has more creative juices flowing than any other thoroughfare in town. Encompassing J&C Blvd, Shirley Street and Trade Center Way, the Naples Art District acts as a refuge for local artists, Richard Rosen 06allowing them to hone their craft with other like-minded artisans in an area that is still rent friendly.

“We have the largest concentration of professional artists in southwest Florida,” says Richard Rosen (right), owner and artist of namesake Rosen Gallery & Studios. “We hear from so many people they never realized there were so many studios and galleries in the industrial park.”

The crowds attending 1st Wednesday Studio & Gallery Tour are as Deborah Martin in Studio 04eclectic as the art on display. In addition to art lovers and collectors, the event is regularly attended by interior designers, lighting engineers, architects and other professionals who are looking for paintings, sculpture and other artworks for their design projects and commissions.

This community of artists and artisans have pooled their resources to give Neapolitans the opportunity to not only explore this commune of creativity, but to experience art in action. Many studio and gallery owners are either working on projects, giving art demonstrations or holding special exhibitions during the three-hour 1st Wednesday evening. This affords art Artist Andrea Beloff 04lovers an unmatched opportunity to see the techniques and process that goes into creating a work of art for themselves.

“This is something special that people really seem to enjoy,” says Rosen.

The 1st Wednesday Studio & Gallery Tour is free, and many of the galleries and studios serve complimentary beverages and light fare. Some offer musical entertainment, as well. Participating galleries and studios have maps and information sheets so that you can find your way around the Naples Art District.,

IMancini 03Sncluded among the galleries and alternative spaces that participate in this event are (alphabetically) Art2D Gallery & StudioCasa Art Studio, Blue Pearl Fine ArtCasa Art, Deborah Martin Gallery & Studios, Rosen Gallery & StudiosThe Artists’ Gallery and The Sweet Art Gallery.

Please click here for a list of all participating artists and studios.

The dates for the 2017-2018 season are:

James Whiting 02For more information, please telephone 239-596-5099.

  • November 1, 2017
  • December 6, 2017
  • January 3, 2018
  • February 7, 2018
  • March 7, 2018
  • April 4, 2018





Artworks have the capacity to transport us back in time to the art-buying experience (06-27-15)

Joan Kessler 04According to the Rod Stewart anthem, every picture tells a story. That’s so true, says art collector Joan Kessler. “Art talks to you.” But it’s not just the composition inside the frame that tells a story. It’s the entire art-buying experience.

“As you look around at your pieces, you remember where you were when you bought them, what the day was like, how you felt when you saw them and made the decision to buy them, and how you felt when you hung them on the wall for the first time.”

Ms. Kessler is saying something profound here. There’s something mnemonic embedded in the experience of buying art, brain 01and just like a song from you past can transport you back in time, so can the painting, print or collage hanging on your wall or the sculpture sitting on your floor or pedestal.

Of course, Joan and her husband, Joel, espouse the philosophy of buying only works of art that speak to you and with which you connect viscerally as well as intellectually. When you do this, those artworks become woven into a neural tapestry The Kesslers 04entwined with the people, season, sights, sounds and smells associated with the buying experience. Look at a painting you bought on vacation in Albuquerque or Sante Fe, for example, and you suddenly hear the music playing the background, feel the sun on your skin and smell the delicious aroma of fajitas wafting over from the quaint Tex-Mex restaurant across the street from the gallery. The memories triggered are broader than just the Muse 8 Sinstant of acquisition. They can often encompass everything that was happening in your life in the days preceding and following the purchase.

While studies have been conducted and published on the subject of “music-evoked autobiographical memories” or MEAMS, the connection between art and memory is at the center of studies being conducted around the world with Alzheimer’s Steven Adams 01patients. According to Anne Basting, director of the Center on Age and Community at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, art can trigger the emotional memory that often remains strong in Alzheimer’s patients, and can give them access to other memories as well.

It stands to reason that art would have the same capability as music to trigger memory. The same regions of the brain that process rhythm, tone and timber are also involved in processing color, hue and composition. It is these deeper, sub-cortical regions that are stimulated when we hear a song from our past or see that painting or sculpture we fell so madly in love with that we had to make it our own.

002 (2)“Paintings work upon us,” notes New York gallery owner John Pence. “Once you have opened your feelings to the transporting essence of an artist’s personal vision, art can provide you with nourishment that seizes control of your sensory organs. The memories are indelible.”

Just like we don’t connect in this deep and textured way with every song that we hear, it will only be the rare artwork that captivates us in this Blue Pearl 04all-encompassing manner. So what’s the best way to find gems that have this transporting and transformative effect? Seeing art. Learning about artists and their processes. Talking to like-minded people. Do this long enough and enthusiastically enough and one day you will discover that you suddenly know what you like, why you like it and which artworks you just can’t live without.

You can start the process this Wednesday night in the Naples Art District at 1st Wednesday ART ALIVE! The event takes place at select galleries and artist’s studios from 5-8 p.m.



Value of ART ALIVE! is opportunity it affords new art enthusiasts and collectors to find out what they like (06-25-15)

The Kesslers 02On the first Wednesday of each month, the Naples Art District sponsors an event called ART ALIVE! During the off-season, upwards of a dozen art galleries and working studios put their work on display and conduct live art demonstrations designed to introduce folks to their genres, media and process. Between Joel Kessler 03November and January, the number of participating venues doubles (see above for list of participating galleries and artist’s studios).

Last month, long-time collectors and art connoisseurs Joel and Joan Kessler made the rounds during ART ALIVE! The couple first began collecting during the 1960s. Today, their walls feature exceptional originals and limited edition prints by the likes of Robert Rauschenberg, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and other contemporary art heavyweights.

“We ran out of wall space,” Joel chuckled while he eyed Joel Kessler 04photographs by Jack Megela in the The Artists’ Gallery. “I used to joke that I had Andy Warhol living in my closet.”

While the Kesslers are in the process of downsizing their private collection (called “de-accessioning” in art circles), they still periodically take part in ART ALIVE! and visit outdoor art fairs and festivals. Happenings like these enable them to maintain their associations with area artists and gallery Joan Kessler 01owners and keep their fingers on the pulse of the local, regional and even national art scene. But in their estimation, the real value of ART ALIVE!, Fort Myers Art Walk and the myriad art fairs and festivals that take place each year throughout Southwest Florida is what they do for newbie art enthusiasts and collectors and beginning to mid-career local artists.

Starting out, lots of people believe they need to find the next Rauschenberg, Warhol or Joan Kessler 05Rosenquist. In the Kesslers’ experience, that’s a mistake.

“I never bought a painting because I thought it was going to be valuable or because I thought the artist was going to have a good career,” says Joel with conviction. “We only bought what we thought we’d like to live with on our walls,” adds Joan with equal insistence. As a result, they admonish first-time and neophyte collectors to only purchase pieces that they like.

Joel Kessler 01While that removes the pressure of having to be a psychic or art world prognosticator, it does present many art enthusiasts with a daunting art buying dilemma. How do you develop your own, individual taste when it comes to contemporary art?

“Part of what deters young art enthusiasts [from taking that qualitative step and buying their first painting, photograph or sculpture] is lack of knowledge,” concedes Joel, who interacted for Joel Kessler 05decades with art lovers of all kinds and backgrounds first as the owner of a contemporary gallery in Miami Beach, then from the environs of art publications like ArtNews Magazine, and finally as the executive director of Naples’ von Liebig Art Center. “There’s a fear element. But the only way you learn is by going into galleries and asking questions. Ask about the artist. Ask about the work. Ask about the process – The Kesslers 01how they made the work. Because if you’re going to collect art, you need to make informed decisions and you also want to know the story behind the works that do speak to you, that you connect with. Why did the artist name the work as he or she did? You want to know these things so you can repeat the story when a guest in your home invariably asks you about the works hanging there on your walls.”

“Art talks to you,” Joan interjects. But perhaps not Joan Kessler 03in a language you can understand right out of the box. It takes some time, numerous viewing sessions and many conversations before that “aha” or epiphany moment occurs and you’ve suddenly seen enough artwork and talked to enough artists and gallery representatives to know what’s good, what you like and why you like it.

“One of the chief benefits associated with ART ALIVE! is the ability to drive around and see a lot of different genres, media and motifs in a single Cynthia and Steve Adams Space 07night or in consecutive months and meet a number of artists and like-minded people so that you can see what’s out there, what’s available, and start to form your own opinion as to what you like, what you gravitate toward, and where your own tastes and sensibilities lie,” expands Joel. “It’s not necessarily about buying things, although that The Kesslers 05happens. It’s about getting a feel for what’s out there and what is it that I like.”

Artists and gallery reps realize that art collecting is an evolution and are only too happy to engage art lovers in a low key, non-threatening, information-dispensing dialogue. Often, it’s a one-time meeting. But sometimes the enthusiast and the artist or gallery rep really hit it off. “There are a lot of people who forge relationships with the artists they collect,” Joan points out. “They invite them to The Kesslers 06the house, have them over for dinner and even introduce them to their friends.”

Not everyone is disposed to embarking upon the journey that’s implicit in this art-buying learning curve. But for those who are, the pay-off is not finding the next Warhol or Wujcik but rather the enhanced quality of life that comes with living with pieces of art that speak to you.

Kesslers and Adams 01S“When I go into someone’s home or office and they have nothing on the walls, it speaks volumes about them,” remarks Joan. “I don’t understand how someone can have no or such little interest in aesthetics or love for art and culture.”

Joel nods contemplatively. “They’re missing out on so much,” he muses. “I walk around the house all Kesslers and Richard Rosen 02the time standing in front of a painting or print or I’ll plop down on a chair or the couch and just stare up at the artwork. They still captivate me. I couldn’t live without art. Even though we’re downsizing now, we’ll never get rid of it all. I couldn’t bear looking at empty walls.”

The Kesslers are echoing what collectors and art dealers have been saying for generations. Art Kesslers and Richard Rosen 05works upon us. It seduces us. “Once you have opened your feelings to the transporting essence of an artist’s personal vision, art can provide you with nourishment that seizes control of your sensory organs,” recounts renowned art dealer John Pence.

Art gives your house a particular flavor, creates an inviting atmosphere, a welcoming feeling. It becomes a conversation starter, to be sure. But Anne Chaddock Studio 01more, in a world in which negative stimuli come at us on an ever-present real time basis by virtue of news outlets, social media and myriad other sources, art has the ability to sooth our tattered psyches and reconnect us with a higher, nobler sense of human existence. “Meals, ball games, plays, concerts, operas, ballets, parades, parties, good-cause fund-raisers, and fireworks displays are momentary phenomena to exult in – yet the exultation vanishes, often quickly, sometimes Blue Pearl 04lingering into hours or days,” Pence expounds. “But an acquisition! An acquisition is yours. That moment of discovery, the initial savoring and then the realization that this unique item does indeed belong to  you and becomes a part of your collection and legacy – this is lasting.”

And this is why at any given instance in any given room of his home, you’re likely to find Joel or Joan 49785_640x638Kessler standing or sitting in front of one of the artworks hanging on their walls, lost in thought, recharging their batteries, centering themselves in a world of their making. And you too can enjoy experiences like this – if you take that first baby step. The next ART ALIVE! is Wednesday, July 1. Come back to this page for information about upcoming exhibitions and events.


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