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Sanibel Masters Art Festival


Name: 20th Annual Sanibel Masters Art Festival

Date: November 28 and 29, 2014.

Says one participating artist of the Friday/Saturday schedule, “very smart as the tourists/shoppers were still here and not focused on leaving til the following day.” The dates provide a bonus to festival-goers as well, since the artists are not in any hurry to wrap up early on the final day of the show either.

Hours. 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Place: The festival is held on the grounds of The Sanibel Community House on Periwinkle Drive, Sanibel’s main street. The Sanibel Community House has been an island fixture since 1927 and touts itself as The Gathering Place on Sanibel Island. Once on the causeway, continue for 3.5 miles before turning right at the first stop sign onto Periwinkle Way, the main thoroughfare on Sanibel Island. Continue for 2.2 miles until you see the Sanibel Community Center where the Art Festival is held.

Description: This festival has been a Sanibel Island Thanksgiving weekend tradition for 21 years. It showcases paintings in oil, acrylic and watercolor, drawings and pastels, 2D and 3D mixed media and collages, photography and digital art, woodworking, sculpture, ceramics, glass, handmade Tiffany Style Lamps,  fiber art, and jewelry produced by 75 artists and artisans from around the country. Because of the size of the show, visitors have the opportunity to interact with the artists, learn a little about their inspiration, find out how they made their artworks, and purchase fine works of art at reasonable prices directly from the artists (or commission a specific work of art if they do not find precisely what they want). In addition to fine art and crafts, the festival is renowned for its gourmet food booths and live entertainment.

This event is a boutique festival, meaning that participation is restricted to a small number of artists in order to avoid duplication and repetition. To ensure that festival patrons are exposed to only the highest quality art, festival director Richard Sullivan attends art shows, fairs and festivals every weekend he’s not hosting a festival of his own. “I know who’s the best and I try to get them to do my shows. It’s a selection process, not an application process. We send out invitations …. We know who we want and we go out and get them.”

Sullivan also limits the size and chooses intimate settings for his festivals in order to give participating artists and festival goers a reasonable opportunity to converse about the art on display in the show. “Our artists need to spend time with the collector,” explains Sullivan. “To explain what he has has value and quality. He can only do that at a small show that’s designed to bring in sophisticated patrons …. People [who] appreciate art.”

One exhibitor who will definitely be included in this year’s show is Fort Myers artist Teri Causey, whose acrylic-on-wood, Sanibel Turtle Garden, was chosen by Boulderbrook as the poster art for this year’s festival (above). Causey’s image of two colorful sea turtles continues a theme depicted in the festival’s recent marketing. “We have used a similar type of underwater sea turtle image for the past three years (right), and this year when we saw the vibrant colors of Teri’s painting, we immediately selected it,” said Richard Sullivan, owner of Boulderbrook Productions. “The color palette of the painting offered us a chance to freshen up the design. The new colors are so varied from the past that it allowed us to create a similar poster but something that really looks new and fresh.

“Painting on wood helps me to portray the old Florida vintage feel that comes through in the final process of sanding down to discover the layers of paint that make the final piece,” Causey explains of her piece. Her paintings mimic her everyday life which not only include painting, but pulling stone crab traps, running the markers in the sound for Triple Tail and diving in the Keys for lobster. “I have a deep gratitude for the people of Sanibel,” says Teri. “They have been my biggest collectors for the past two decades!”

Cost: Admission is free, but there is a $6 toll to cross the Sanibel Causeway bridge from Fort Myers. You can pay with cash, or with your Leeway or Sunpass transponder.

Parking: Parking Areas are available along Periwinkle Drive and at the library on Dunlop. Parking areas are well marked and attendants are available to assist with parking. There is full shuttle service and handicap parking for anyone who needs assistance.

Organizer: Boulderbrook Productions

Director: Richard P. Sullivan, a native of Wellesley, Massachusetts. Not only is Sullivan on site throughout the festival, he knows just about every artist at every show that Boulderbrook produces throughout the year. “I want to know them and know their work. I’ll go to someone’s house just to talk to them about their art.” So conversant is Sullivan with each artist’s work, that he’s been known to expound upon an artist’s work to potential collector’s while spelling them in their booth.


Facebook: An event page will be set up in advance of the show.

Related Festivals. In addition to Sanibel Masters Art Festival, Boulderbrook Productions also produces the following festivals in southwest Florida:

  • Naples CityFest (October 6 & 7, 2012)
  • Seminole Immokalee Casino Art and Craft Show (November 17 & 18, 2012)
  • Naples Masters Winter Art Festival (January 19 & 20, 2013)
  • Sarasota Masters Art Festival (February 2 & 3, 2013)
  • Ole Art & Jazz Festival at Lely Resort in Naples (February 16 & 17, 2013)
  • Paseo Art & Jazz Festival in Fort Myers (February 23 & 24, 2013)
  • Naples Masters Bay Fest (March 2 & 3, 2013)
  • Peace River National Art Festival (March 16 & 17, 2013)
  • Boca Grande Masters Art Festival (March 23 & 24, 2013)
  • Gulf Coast Masters Art Festival at Gulf Coast Town Center in Estero (March 30 & 31, 2013)
  • Marco Island Masters Festival of the Arts on Marco Island (March 31-April 1, 2012)
  • Craft Event at CityFest in Naples (May 4 & 5, 2013)

Fast Facts.

  • Proceeds from the event go toward the programs at The Sanibel Community House and BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater.
  • The Community House is Sanibel Island’s first non-profit organization.
  • Known as Sanibel and Captiva’s home for all the arts, BIG ARTS has been providing cultural enrichment and fulfillment to island residents and visitors since 1979. BIG ARTS began when a group of artists dreamed of a cultural center on the island. Today, BIG ARTS members and participants enjoy a wide spectrum of performing and visual arts events, and the community participates in more than 200 educational classes and workshops each year.
  • Sanibel Island was named one of the “the best destinations in the world” in Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s 21st Annual Readers’ Choice Awards competition, earning a spot on the Top 10 North America Islands list.
  • In the ’80s, Festival Director Richard Sullivan spent time in film and television production. For years, he hobnobbed with everyone from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith to James Taylor. “I not only got to the meet them, I had lunch with them,” he says.
  • His work in music videos then opened the door to filming high-end commercials for products including Reebok. He traveled around the globe, from Milan to Brazil, filming famous athletes.
  • Visiting his parents’ home in Naples, he met a girl and decided to stay permanently. Needing something to occupy his time, so he approached the newly-opened von Liebig Art Center about raising funds to build a dark room on the premises. His success in that fundraising effort prompted The von Liebig board of directors to seek his assistance with its most famous event, the Naples National Art Festival, a two-day event that attracts high-caliber artists from far and wide.
  • When Sullivan left nearly seven years later, Naples National had gone from being rated the 11th to the fifth best festival in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine.
  • Today, Sullivan produces art festivals throughout Florida and as far north as Nashville, Tennessee through his own business, Boulderbrook Productions, named after the brook in which he caught frogs near his Massachusetts childhood home.

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