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January, 2014 Breaking Art News


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Naples singer, songwriter and author to perform at Alliance as part of ‘Gale Bennett 75′ celebration (01-31-14)

image001Naples-based singer-songwriter-and noted author Carlene Thissen will perform at “A Musical Evening with Cello & Friends”, a relaxed musical event featuring solos and ensembles from opera, musical, and folk music performed at The Foulds Theater at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. The concert, which also features Sopranos Cello Bennett and Jenny Hayden, Bass Irwin Densen, Violinist Rachel Cox and Pianist Judy Richey, is part of the 3-week-long Gale Bennett 75 celebration at the Alliance.

Musical Evening  Feb 19 2014Thissen will sing several of her own songs, both solo and in duet with Cello Bennett, as well as covering songs by other songwriters. Similar musical performances were a tradition at ArtStudy Giverny, the art school founded by the late Gale Bennett in Giverny, France. As Hospitality Director of ArtStudy, Cello Bennett often entertained workshop participants with Musical Evenings.

cello bennettCarlene Thissen is also a popular author. Two of her books, Immokalee’s Fields of Hope and Called from Silence: The Father Sanders Story, were inspired by her work with the immigrant population of Immokalee. Thissen wrote her first song, “Take these Hands,” when music was needed for a video based on Immokalee’s Fields of Hope. Since that time, songwriting has become as important as her work as Coordinator of a Farm Labor Supervisor Training Program at the University of Florida in Immokalee. Thissen’s first album, Spring Rain, was released in 2010 and is available for purchase in the gift shop at the Alliance for the Arts.

bennett2Gale Bennett 75 is a retrospective art exhibit covering the years 1969 to 2007 in honor of the 75th anniversary of Gale Bennett’s birth in 1939. The exhibit runs from February 7 to March 1, 2014 at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers. The late Gale Bennett, who died in 2008, is Southwest Florida’s most renowned native artist and art teacher. During the years from 1996 to 2007, he welcomed nearly 1,000 artists to his Art Study Giverny workshops in Monet’s famous village of Giverny where they enjoyed the rare privilege of painting in Monet’s Gardens seven days a week. Bennett has been called “one who could justly lay claim to the title of successor to the great Monet” by French magazine Plaisir de peindre.

bennett1Tickets are $18 and available through Theatre Conspiracy at or by calling 239-936-3239. Doors open 6:30 pm. The Foulds Theater at the Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd. in Ft. Myers, Florida. For further information about “A Musical Evening with Cello & Friends,” please contact the Alliance at 239-939-2787) or Cello Bennett ( and 646-220-4897). More information can also be found at:

[N.B. From L to R in Upper Row of Group Photo:  Jenny Hayden Densen, Cello Bennett, Irwin “Sandy” Densen; Lower Row: Judy Richey, Carlene Thissen, Rachel Cox.]



New Rauschenberg Gallery Director curates major GraphicStudio retrospective at Tampa Museum (01-30-14)

Jade Opens Yoko Ono Gallery Talk 04When Jade Dellinger assumed the reins at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery, he already had a few projects in the works. One was the Moon Museum Exhibition, which opened at the Georgian National Museum Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery in Tbilisi on November 19. And the other is GraphicStudio: Uncommon Practice at USF, which opens February 1 at the Tampa Museum of Art. Curated by Jade Dellinger and co-organized by USF Contemporary Art Museum and the Tampa Museum of Art, the project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Graphicstudio is a renowned print workshop located on the campus of the University of South Florida. Because of its philosophy of providing artists with the freedom to experiment and pursue new directions to advance their practice coupled with an exceptionally talented faculty and staff, GraphicStudio has attracted some of the most important artists of the 20th century to the University of South Florida campus in Tampa. Their collaborative projects have produced print editions and multiples at the forefront of contemporary art.

GraphicStudio was the brainchild of USF Distinguished Professor Emeritus Donald J. Saff, who founded the workshop in 1968. Fueled by the renaissance in American printmaking in the 1960s, Saff led his team to invent new processes and treatments of traditional printmaking. Jim Dine, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Jim Rosenquist produced large scale lithographs and mixed media works there. A new process for printing encaustic waxes, called “wax type,” was developed by GraphicStudio specifically for Roy Lichtenstein. GraphicStudio transformed the seminal printmaking process of relief into a technique known as “heliorelief,” which uses photographically-generated stencils to effect fine details in the prints thereby produced.

But rResearch and innovations were not limited at GraphicStudio to works on paper. The production of sculpture editions and artists’ books was also a significant part of GraphicStudio’s mission. Innovative sculpture multiples produced under Saff’s leadership included Robert Rauschenberg’s mixed media editions for his ROCI project and cast bronze sculptures for Roy Lichtenstein.

The atelier later merged with the Contemporary Art Museum and Public Art Program to form the Institute for Research in Art, under the direction of Professor Margaret A. Miller, whom Dellinger credits as mentor, inspiration and one of the reasons he moved to Florida from New York. In recent years, Miller has re-emphasized sculpture production and the studio’s fabricators have researched and developed innovative techniques in bronze casting for Louise Bourgeois, Diana Al-Hadid and Estero Segura, and wood constructions for Los Carpinteros and Allan McCollum.

“In the most significant and far-reaching collaboration between the Museum and the University of South Florida, more than 110 works by 45 artists will fill the Museum walls and highlight the important connection between Tampa and the international arts world,” states the Tampa Museum about the exhibition. “Graphicstudio: Uncommon Practice at USF is the most ambitious and comprehensive show to feature works from the workshop since the survey exhibition of the early years of Graphicstudio at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. in 1991.”

Two years in the making, Graphicstudio: Uncommon Practice at USF chronicles several aesthetic and technical conversations among artists of different generations. Highlighting both technical and conceptual breakthroughs, the exhibition includes seminal works spanning Graphicstudio’s forty-six year history (by Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Allan McCollum, Louise Bourgeois, Jim Dine, and others) with some of its most recent collaborative endeavors (by Christian Marclay, Mark Dion, Teresita Fernández, Los Carpinteros, and Trenton Doyle Hancock). The retrospective is the largest exhibition in the history of Tampa Bay, taking up 90 percent of the Tampa Museum’s new facility.

A catalogue to commemorate the exhibition and the partnership will be published by D. Giles, Ltd of London, England and will be available for purchase in the Guilders and Florida Communications Group Museum store.

Dellinger was the logical choice for a curator for the retrospective. In 1989 and ’90, Dellinger was doing research on GraphicStudio as an undergraduate. “I interviewed a number of artists who’d had projects there, including Bob Rauschenberg and Jim Rosenquist,” said Dellinger in an interview last Fall. “My research was compiled during a critical moment for GraphicStudio. The National Gallery of Art in Washington was archiving GraphicStudio’s records. They did a major book and quotes from my interviews ended up being included in the book.” Which undoubtedly factored into Dellinger being tapped to put together the retrospective at the Tampa Museum of Art.

The Museum opens daily at 11 a.m.  Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.  General admission prices are: adult $10.00; seniors, groups, military plus one guest $7.50; students $5; and children ages 6 and under free-of-charge. A Pay-What-You-Will fee structure is offered every Friday from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. The Museum’s address is 120 Gasparilla Plaza. Tampa, FL 33602.



Underwater photographer Karen Glaser to be at Sanibel’s Watson MacRae Gallery February 11 & 12 (01-30-14)

FrankieAndMeLandscapes: Different Views opens at Watson MacRae Gallery on Sanibel Island on Tuesday, February 11. The opening reception takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Three of the exhibiting artists will attend the opening: Greg Biolchini, Alejandro Mendoza and Karen Glaser. An Artists’ Talk is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. the following (Wednesday) morning.

“In my latest work, I continue to reconsider landscapes,” says Glaser. “Some are pretty funky. Can’t wait for you to see them.”

smallglaserFebruary 11 is a busy day for Florida’s best known underwater photographer. On that date, her Mark of Water: Florida’s Springs and Swamps photo exhibition opens at the Harn Museum of Art in Gainesville as well.  The exhibition, which runs until July 6, 2014, consists of thirty-eight large, color photographs that Glaser made “inside” Florida’s springs and swamps, providing a unique and personal interpretation of these distinctive environments. “What a thrilling venue,” says Karen of the Harn. “Many of the pictures were taken in the surrounding springs.” Following the Sanibel opening and Gallery Talk, Karen is heading to Gainesville, where she will be giving a Gallery Talk at the Harn Museum on Sunday, February 16 at 3:00 p.m.

breamatcatfishIncidentally, The Mark of Water exhibited locally at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery on the Lee campus of Edison State College from October 7 through December 3, 2011 and resulted in the highest attendance recorded by the gallery in two years. FGCU’s indoor public art collection includes four of Karen’s photographs:

  1. Dust Storm, a 2006 pigment print photo hanging in the 2nd floor corridor of Academic Building 5;
  2. Fire in PinesFire in the Pines #1, a 2010 pigment print photo hanging in Conference Room 210 in Academic Building 5;
  3. Ichetucknee Fog, a 2010 pigment print ichetuckneefogphoto hanging in the 3rd floor corridor of Academic Building 5; and
  4. Ichetucknee Cypress, a 2010 pigment print photo hanging in Conference Room 309 of Academic Building 5.

ichcypressDust StormIchetucknee Fog and Ichetucknee Cypress come form a series of pictures that Glaser shot predominantly in the pristine freshwater rivers and springs of north and central Florida, water1 (3)places like the Orange Grove Sink in the Peacock Springs Cave System in Suwannee County, Silver Glen in the Ocala National Forest in Marion County, Manatee Springs State Park and the crystalline Ichetucknee River that flows for six glorious miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before it joins with the Sante Fe River. But Glaser didn’t trek to the Ichetucknee to tube the river with hordes of students from nearby University of Florida. “My husband and I snorkled the Ichetucknee in winter, when the air was 40 degrees and the water 68,” Glaser recalls. “But we didn’t go then merely to avoid the tubers. That’s when the garfish spawn.”

SpawningNot only is Glaser at the top of her genre, she is an entertaining storyteller both behind the lens and behind a microphone. So save yourself a trip to Gainesville. Catch her on Sanibel February 11 and 12 at Watson MacRae Gallery. For more information, please telephone Maureen Watson at 239-472-3386 or email her at The Gallery is located in Suite B3 of The Village Shops, 2340 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, Florida 33957. Gallery hours are 10:30 a.m to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.Monday – Saturday 10:30 To 5:00



SWFL Fine Craft Guild presents ‘Artists@Work’ at Alliance on March 15 (01-30-14)

More than a dozen members of the SWFL Florida Fine Craft Guild will demonstrate their specialties during “Artists @ Work” at the Alliance for the Arts on Saturday, March 15. The event will take place from 10 am. to 1 p.m.

A wide variety of fascinating live demonstrations will take place inside the Alliance main building and outside on theGreenMarket lawn. The family-friendly demo day features artists including:

  • Lorraine Capps' Wave Rider and Other Fused GlassAngela Aradia & Al Liccardi (Raku Pottery)
  • Jenny Burnham (Kumihimo Braided Jewelry)
  • Analilia Clay (Bird Feather Carving)
  • Dee Cooper (Bead Weaving)
  • Kathy Erickson (Pine Needle Baskets)
  • Renee Farr (Mosaic)
  • Petra Kaiser (Fused Glass)
  • Phil Krym (Wood Turning)
  • Sherry Moesch (Viking Knit Jewelry)
  • Bobbi Robertson (Eggshell Art)
  • Trudy Sampson & Jim Sobel (Stone Sculpting)
  • Glorida Winer (Wire & Cloth)

craft guild 4Founded in 1977, the SWFL Fine Craft Guild is comprised of local artisans, craftsmen and craftswomen. Its members combine old world craftsmanship with contemporary techniques to produce unique works of art. For more information about “Artists @ Work,” please visit or call 239-939-2787. “Artists @ Work” will take place during GreenMarket, which is every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Alliance for the Arts proudly supports artists and arts organizations in our area as the state designated Local Arts Agency for Lee County. The Alliance campus and galleries are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.



Figurative artist Daniel Venditti to paint door into fashion live at Franklin Shops on February 1 & 2 (01-29-14)

Daniel Venditti SBDAC Retro 1A couple of weeks ago, Daniel Venditti got a strange call. The accented voice at the other end offered him a uniquely bizarre opportunity, the chance to create a door into fashion. The result of that collaboration takes shape this weekend in the Franklin Shops’ storefront windows when Venditti creates a Klimt-inspired couture portrait on a door that will be installed in one of three ground floor fitting rooms at the River District art shop and boutique.

gustav-klimt-the-kissVenditti boasts ties to the New York fashion scene.  From the mid-’90s until 2006, the figurative painter, printmaker and sculptor held positions as art and creative director at Vanity Fair, Esquire, Newsweek , Gourmet and Men’s Health magazines. Since relocating to Naples, Florida, he’s stayed close to the genre, serving as art director at Devious Design Studio in Fort Myers, Presstige Printing in Bonita Springs and City Mattress. As one might expect, his work reflects these influences, and even before the Franklin Shops’ Cornelia Reinhardt finished describing the project, Venditti knew that he would use a Gustav Klimt femme fatale as inspiration for his fitting room fashion door.

1klimt“I discovered [Klimt] in art school,” Venditti explained during an interview last night. “He’s just so unique. I thought of him for this project because the era in which he painted is so fitting for this venue. The Franklin Shops evokes the same kind of atmosphere.”

eye-lwren01Venditti may be the latest, but he’s by no means the first to draw a link between Klimt and the world of high fashion. One need go no further than L’Wren Scott’s Fall 2013 bon vivant line for an example of Klimt-inspired fashion designs. Scott’s gilded art-nouveau fall collection contains distinctive aureate swirls, wriggling serpents and 23-karat gold accents unabashedly borrowed from the Austrian painter’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, which was purchased by Ronald Lauder for his Neue Gallery in New York in 2006 for $135 million (a record that stood for a scant four months). Just as Klimt’s paintings often celebrated the female form, Scott’s designs feature bold colors and body-hugging silhouettes. But Klimt did more than create paintings that appeal to present day designers and fashionistas.

floge portraitKlimt collaborated with long-time muse and Viennese couturiere Emilie Floge, suggesting the patterns that she incorporated into her avant-garde designs known as Reformed Dresses reminiscent of kimonos and North African tunics. Theirs was one of the first partnerships to bring together art and fashion, and together they laid the foundation for tandems such as Dali and . Klimt not only painted Floge, he photographed her too, perhaps becoming the world’s very first fashion photographer in the process. Eventually, Klimt even tried his own hand in designing dresses and accessories, leaving a legacy of sketches and drawing of his design ideas.

pf_slide_klimt5Like Klimt, Venditti has always been fascinated with the human form coupled with an abiding interest in human nature. Both inform his artistic style and reveal much about the artist, his subjects, and his viewers. His work is additionally influenced by his Italian heritage and various European masters, both past and contemporary. “But it’s important to note that I’m not doing a reproduction,” cautions Venditti. “My own style will come through.’

And that style has garnered Venditti his share of accolades and solo shows over the past few years. In the last half of 2011, his work was juried into two popular shows at daas GallerySkin 2011 and Earth: A Cry for Deliverance. Lwren-Scott-01In the first half of 2012, he was featured in a solo show titled Paintings & Prints and Incognito, a fundraiser in which 200 local, national and international artists painted 200 original 8 x 10 inch works of art in the Daniels Pavilion at the Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art to benefit Friends of Art, a 1,000-member volunteer support group for the visual arts at Artis Naples. He followed that with a two-man show in July, 2012 at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, where he teamed with Lyle Bowen for an exhibit called Reflections. And in October of 2012, his mixed media work, The Burden, was selected as Best of Show at the Alliance’s State of Mind: Politics 2012 show.

Venditti will be painting live in the Franklin Shops window from 2-6 p.m. on both Saturday, February 1 and 2 during ArtFest Fort Myers. The Franklin Shops on First are located at 2200 First Street in the downtown Fort Myers River District. For more information, please telephone 239-333-3130 or visit


Theatre Conspiracys ‘Beauty Queen of Leenane’ opens February 7 at Alliance for the Arts (01-29-14)

theatre conTheatre Conspiracy has announced the opening of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane. It will open at the Foulds Theatre inside the Lee County Alliance for the Arts on February 7. The Theatre Conspiracy production features professional equity actor Derry Woodhouse, a native of Limerick, Ireland, along with local veterans Karen Goldberg, Joan Olsen and Daniel Benzing.

Alliance Bldg“Hilarious, dark and utterly brutal” (Evening Standard), The Beauty Queen of Leenane is known for getting the audience gasping with surprise in between bursts of laughter. Middle-aged, unmarried and embittered, Maureen is locked in a stalemate with her elderly mother Mag, who is as selfish as she is manipulative. Their simmering relationship boils over when Maureen takes a lover and finds hope for escape in this dark comedy.

100_0595 (5)The Chicago Tribune called The Beauty Queen of Leenane “perhaps the best Irish play of the last 20 years.” The play premiered at the Town Hall Theatre in Galway, Ireland, in October 1996 as part of a touring production by the Druid Theatre Company that traveled through Ireland to London’s West End, and later to Australia. The Druid production also went on to have successful runs Off Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company and on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater in 1998. It won that year’s Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, Drama League Award for Best Play and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Broadway Play.

Martin McDonagh wrote the play when he was just 27, and it turned out to be his break out hit. He went on to write A Skull in Connemara (1997), The Lonesome West (1997), The Cripple of Inishmaan (1997), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2001), The Pillowman (2003) and A Behanding in Spokane (2010), as well as the films In Bruges (2008) and Seven Psychopaths (2012). He won an Academy Award for the short Six Shooter, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for In Bruges and Laurence Olivier Awards for The Lieutenant of Inishmore and The Pillowman.

Derry Woodhouse is a native of Limerick, Ireland and has enjoyed performing on both sides of the Atlantic. He has performed extensively in the Boston area. Recent productions include Travesities with the Public Theatre, Stones In His Pockets with Tir Na Theatre, Women On The Verge Of HRT with the Sugan Theatre. Other roles with the Sugan include Jimmy Kelly in Molly Maguire, Pato in The Beauty Queen Of Leenane, Freedom Of The City, The Lepers Of Baile Baiste, Famine and The Blowin Of Baile Gaile. Other regional credits include Molly Sweeney, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ballast, The Winters Tale, The Philadelphia Story, Our Town, The Clearing, The Family Of Maan and The Illusion. Last year, Derry performed in Spain and Belgium with Colin. Derry is a graduate of the Gaiety School Of Acting in Dublin Ireland.

The show runs until February 23. Individual tickets are $20 each. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with one Sunday matinee on February 23 at 2 p.m. Opening night is “pay what you will” and Thursdays are “buy one get one half off”. Tickets can be purchased by calling Theatre Conspiracy’s box office at 239-936-3239 or by visiting

Theatre Conspiracy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Florida corporation and is headed by Producing Artistic Director Bill Taylor. Funding is derived from ticket sales, advertising sales and donations. During its 19 years, it has been described as “innovative, exciting, daring,” and “a treasured member of the area’s theatrical community.”

Finishing out Theatre Conspiracy’s 13-14 season will be The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter, playing March 14 – 29. In this play, a morbidly obese Charlie has confined himself to his small Idaho apartment and is eating himself to oblivion. With his health quickly failing, Charlie becomes desperate to reconnect with Ellie, his estranged and angry teenage daughter whom he has not seen in 17 years. He would give her anything: his love, his money….maybe even his life.



Matlacha Island Walking Tour will appeal to Survivor addicts and Beatles fans (01-28-14)

Matlacha Walking Tour 2Locals contend that Matlacha is a quaint drinking village with a fishing problem. Taking in all the color-splashed galleries, artist studios and kitschy boutiques, visitors have increasingly taken to calling the island Key West North or the New Key West. But at True Tours, guides take walking tour participants back to The Fill. That’s what the island was affectionately called at the time of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, when squatters arrived and put down roots among the tangled red props and tubular bristles of the red and black mangroves that lined the water’s edge.

Leoma and the MuralThere’s a surprising amount of history out on Matlacha. But to be blunt, it’s not like the accounts and anecdotes people hear on True Tours’ downtown Fort Myers’ historic and public art walking tours. There, the focus is on the fort that gave rise to the town, Civil War battles, and the cow kings, developers and shopkeepers who played a real life game of Monopoly in which they one-upped each other by building bigger, better and more grandiose hotels, banks and stores than their competitors. But in Matlacha, the focus is on the daily struggles and camaraderie of the squatters who made a mile of dredged up oyster shell and sand their home.

100_2182 (3)If you like the reality show Survivor, you’ll be enthralled by the stories of folks like George and Gay Kuhns, Ernie Long, Charlie Clark and the Kinears from St. Louis, who lived in their cars or tents as they pieced together thatch-covered huts, makeshift fishing shacks and stilt houses while fishing for their suppers and dodging raging bulls to get water from the only well for miles around. Many reviewers postulate that Survivor‘s simplicity explains its mass appeal to the viewing public, and that is precisely what tour takers discover on True Tours’ Matlacha Island Historic Walking Tour.

100_2186 (3)But there’s more to it than that. In our instant-everything society, where people can now find and get anything they desire by merely tapping the appropriate ap on their iPhone or Android, don’t we all wonder just a little bit what it would be like to be thrown onto an isolated isle and forced to fend for ourselves? And don’t we all crave in our heart of hearts being part of a community where everyone pitches in and takes care of one another (lest they’re voted off the island)?

019 (5)If thoughts like these have ever crossed your mind, if only for a fleeting second, then the Matlacha Island Historic Walking Tour has content you’ll savor like a steaming cup of coffee or brimming bowl of seafood chowder on a cold, crisp Southwest Florida night. And when you’re done, you can do a little kayaking, wet a line from the “fishingest bridge in the world,” shop for art and island souvenirs or enjoy a relaxing repast of fresh fish, shrimp or other local delicacies before once again driving back and rejoining your fast-paced, frenetic modern-day life on the mainland.

007 (4)And there’s treats for every Beatles fan in the Matlacha Island Historic Walking Tour. Each tour starts in pop artist Leoma Lovegrove’s magical botanical garden, which she’s crafted in the tradition of Ringo Starr’s deeply peaceful Octopus’s Garden from shells, stones and shiny objects like her fluorescent-bottomed blue bottle trees. Inside Lovegrove’s gallery are Fab Four portraits. And between now and March 29, tour takers will have the unnamedunprecedented opportunity to paint a peace symbol on Lovegrove’s blue 9 x 12 foot Painting Peace canvas and write their wish for personal or global peace on a tag that will be delivered to the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery, to be added to the tens of thousands of other wishes that will be delivered by three Edison College students to Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik, Iceland after the close of the Yoko Ono Imagine Peace exhibition currently on view on the college’s Lee campus.

For days, times and reservations, please call True Tours at 239-945-0405 or visit



Veron Ennis opens VEMA gallery and working studio in Edwards Building next to Alliance for the Arts (01-28-14)

Veron by Luke GreerVeron Ennis Modern Art, or VEMA, opens its doors for business on March 1, 2014. The gallery and working studio will give guests the chance to experience a one-on-one presentation of available paintings and sculptures in a casual, comfortable setting.

Veron Ennis is a modernist painter and sculptor whose work explores the intimate characteristics of layered mediums, the language of color, the interplay between precision and chance application, and the dynamics of geometric three-dimensional objects. She is one of the founders of the Open Positive Transference or OPT art movement. Dedicated to creating art of excellent craftsmanship, Veron believes in the inextinguishable source of creativity and that the aesthetic experience is, by virtue, as unique as the individual creator. Her intention is to inspire progression towards an improved reality through this experience. “Communicating through art is no less serious than work of any other nature, in fact, it is essential,” Ennis proclaims.

Veron Scaffold 2Also a founding member of MAMA (Movement of Aleatoric Modern Artists),  part of Ennis’ technique depends on the chance application of her medium. “Falling in and out of control of the work energizes the composition and pushes boundaries,” says Ennis.

VEMA joins The Union Artist Studios and Room 205 as part of the Art Loft in the Veron CubedEdwards Building on the Alliance for the Arts campus. Art Loft artists invite visitors to experience a world of art in one convenient location. Ennis’ working studio will be open for viewing as well as the gallery, displaying Ennis’ most recent works. Visitors are encouraged to engage with the artist by asking questions and exploring the workspace to better understand the role of the artist and goals of the work. Guest artists will also be featured in the gallery for special exhibitions throughout the year.

cubeVEMA will open the gallery for a first look coinciding with the Alliance for the Arts Third Annual Artists Studio Tour. While ticket holding attendees get up close and personal with eight Fort Myers artists in their studios and homes, VEMA will also be open to the public from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Veron Ennis will be hosting attendees on the Artist Studio Tour at her home studio while her assistant, Lauren Huff, will be greeting visitors at VEMA during the same hours. (You must be a ticket holder to tour Ennis’ home studio; please contact the Alliance for tickets.)

Art Lives HereVEMA is located at 10051 Mcgregor Blvd, Suite 201, Ft. Myers, Florida (upstairs in the Edwards Building on the Alliance for the Arts campus). For more information, please call 239-849-7772 or email For general information or to book an appointment, please visit For more information about the artist, please visit

Ennis is represented in Naples, Florida by HW Gallery whose artists include Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, Louise Nevelson, and Tom Wesselmann. HW Exterior 2011She is also represented by Von Fraunberg Art Gallery in Düsseldorf, Germany, and at RC₂ Gallery, a division of Rosenbaum Contemporary in South Florida. She has exhibited in Southwest Florida, Miami and New York, and her work can be found in private collections around the world.



Alliance for the Arts opened in 1975 with a Gale Bennett retrospective (01-28-14)

bennett1In 1975 the Alliance for the Arts opened with a Gale Bennett retrospective. On Feruary 7, works by Gale Bennett will again be on display at the Alliance, when Gale Bennett 75 opens with a reception from 5:00-7:30 p.m.

Gale Bennett  75 is being held to honor the 75th anniversary of Gale Bennett’s birth in 1939. The retrospective will cover 1969 to 2007 and feature 39 works on canvas and paper from the collection of Bennett’s widow, Cello Bennett. The Member Gallery exhibition, The Many Faces of Gale Bennett, will feature a collection of portraits of Bennett by his workshop students. Most pieces in the exhibition will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Alliance for the Arts.

Bennett was an important part in the history of Southwest Florida. He was an artist, teacher at the Alliance for the Arts, News-Press symphony reviewer, advertising executive and more.  He contributed much to the culture of the area in each of these capacities.

bennett2The Alliance last exhibited work by Bennett in the highly popular 2004 exhibition When Florida Meets Normandy. Jay Williams, Curator of the Vero Beach Museum of Art and former Curator of what is today the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Edison College, said this about Bennett and the exhibit: “Gale Bennett’s landscape paintings remind us of the essential harmony underlying sensory experience. The poetic composition of his lines and forms corresponds to a larger truth, the human need for connection to the binding energy within nature – a nameless but very real presence that saturates his canvasses. Eyes into Art Book CoverBennett’s work bridges the sensibility of Corot, Rousseau and the Barbizon painters with the tradition of abstraction found in the works of Kandinsky, Hoffman, and de Kooning. In Bennett’s paintings, visual experience undergoes a kind of alchemy, what Degas called ‘a transformation in which imagination and memory work together.’ The works in this exhibition are evidence of that mysteriously powerful process. Every one is a love story, demonstrating to gallery visitors Bennett’s passion for the beauty of paint on canvas.”

The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers, Florida. For more information about the exhibit, please call 239-939-2787 or follow the event on Facebook. For other inquiries, contact Christina Prendiville at 239-470-4204.



ArtFest Fort Myers and Naples Art in the Park come to Southwest Florida this weekend (01-27-14)

Crowd Shot 05 at BasinArtFest Fort Myers takes place Friday night, January 31 and Saturday and Sunday, February 1 & 2, 2014 in the downtown Fort Myers River District. Once again, Fort Myers’ newly-completed 1.8 acre river basin will serve as backdrop for the festival, along with Fort Myers Marina, City Pier Building (former home of Art of the Olympians), the Harborside Event Center and Centennial Park. The basin serves the important utilitarian function of Tents by Harborside 02filtering and cleaning the stormwater that drains from the surrounding 15-acre hardscape, thereby insulating the Caloosahatchee and downriver estuaries from nitrogen and a host of other pollutants. But for ArtFest, it will definitely provide a picturesque location for the tents and booths of many of the 200 artists who have been juried into this year’s festival. As in years past, a wide array of genres and media will be represented in this year’s festival, including works in sculpture, painting, ceramics, photography, printmaking, drawing, digital, mixed media, ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, metal, wearable fiber and wood.

839Down the road on Saturday, February 1 is Naples Art in the Park. This one-day fair showcases paintings in oil and acrylics, watercolors, mixed media, photography, sculpture, ceramics, glass art, jewelry and wood-working created by members in good standing of the Naples Art Association. For art lovers, it’s a casual, fun-filled venue for meeting local artists and becoming acquainted with their work. On the flip side, Art in the Park not only gives participating artists the opportunity to show and sell their work, it affords them a terrific Crowd Shot 02 (2)platform in which to build rapport with collectors while fostering their knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the the arts and their own extensive portfolios. One of the special features of this outdoor art fair is its art demonstration booths, where Naples Art members introduce the art community to process, technique and methodology.

Please click here to access the days, times and places of all the art fairs and festivals taking place in Southwest Florida from now until the end of festival season on the weekend of April 26 & 27, 2014.



 ‘Gale Bennett 75′ opens at Alliance for the Arts on February 7 (01-27-14)

bennett1From February 7 to March 1, 2014, the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers will present Gale Bennett 75, a retrospective covering the years 1969 to 2007 in honor of the 75th anniversary of Gale Bennett’s birth (1939-2008). It will feature 39 works on canvas and paper from the collection of Bennett’s widow, Cello Bennett.

bennett2The Member Gallery exhibition, The Many Faces of Gale Bennett, will feature a collection of portraits of Bennett by his workshop students. Most pieces in the exhibition will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Alliance for the Arts.

A book on Bennett’s art and method of teaching art will be released at the opening reception on Friday, February 7 as well. Begun by the artist more than 30 years ago, Eyes into Art was completed by Cello Bennett with the assistance of a committee of 15 artists, all former participants in Gale Bennett workshops both in Southwest Florida and at his famed ArtStudy Giverny in Giverny, France. At Pat Dunns Studio HouseMost of the committee members will be on hand at the opening reception to autograph copies. Committee members are Sanibel residents Marcy Calkins, Sheila Hoen, Jane Hudson, and Marilyn Miglio; Cape Coral residents Paula Eckerty, Barbara Mintz, and Joanna Olsen; Fort Myers resident Barbara Wilson and former resident Pat Dunn (now of Nashville, TN and pictured right); Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte residents Liz Hutchinson-Sperry, Jane Geronime, and the late Muriel Van Patten, as well as Gayle Keith Ashley of Useppa and Caroline Homes Nuckolls of Marietta, GA.

Eyes into Art Book CoverGale Bennett can justifiably be called Southwest Florida’s most renowned native artist and art teacher. From 1996 to 2007, he welcomed nearly 1,000 artists to his workshops in Monet’s famous village of Giverny where they enjoyed the rare privilege of painting in Monet’s Gardens seven days a week. Bennett also regularly exhibited his paintings at exhibitions in Giverny and Paris. It’s not surprising then that Bennett has been called “one who could justly lay claim to the title of successor to the great Monet” by French magazine, Plaisir de peindre (“Gale Bennett; the Heir from America,” 2002).

In addition to teaching his popular life drawing class at the Alliance, Gale also taught painting and drawing workshops at BIG ARTS on Sanibel, at the Cape Coral Art Studio and at the Art League of Bonita Springs. He was honored twice by the “Angels of the Arts” – in 2006 as “Artist of the Year” and posthumously in 2008 for “Lifetime Achievement.”

Other events connected with the Gale Bennett 75 exhibition include:

  • a Gallery Walk and Talk from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday, February 15 with artists Pat Dunn and Marcy Calkins, both former Gale Bennett students and members of Eyes Into Art Book Committee; and
  • “A Musical Evening with Cello and Friends” at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19 at the Foulds Theatre inside the Alliance for the Arts. Tickets are available through Theatre Conspiracy at

The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers, Florida. For more information about the exhibit, please call 239-939-2787. For other inquiries, contact Christina Prendiville at 239-470-4204.



Focus is on history and humor during True Tours’ public art walking tour (01-25-14)

LAEA at Fire Dance 06 (2)One might think that the focus of a public art tour is on the material and processes used by the artists to create the pieces seen on the tour. And while that is certainly the case in many places, it’s definitely not the case with True Tours’ Public Art Walking Tour, where the emphasis is on Fort Myers’ early history and the behind-the-scenes stories of things gone wrong during the installation of many of Fort Myers’ more than 45 public artworks.

Slow Art 08Did you know that there are relics from Gettysburg, Manassas, Fredericksburg and other Civil War battlefields buried downtown? Or that three men made Fort Myers the epicenter of recreational travel in 1914? Or what the letters and words in the light sculpture at the art center say and why they were incised into the bronze in the first place? It’s topics such as these that astonish and entertain folks who take True Tours’ River District public art tour.

Tom at the Mural (3)“One important function of public art is that is helps us remember the lived history of a particular site,” notes former University of Florida Director of Art and Art History and Dean of Photography Barbara Jo Revelle. Her 20 foot tall by 100 foot long ceramic tile mural known as Fort Myers: An Alternative History is a classic example of this. The mural includes stories not told on any of True Tours’ popular historic walking tours about wily Chief Billy Bowlegs and how roughly 150 black Union soldiers saved the fort from being burned down during the Civil War. The mural also pays tribute to the fact that Fort Myers was literally a cow town until the railroad finally crossed the Caloosahatchee in 1904. And yet, most people who visit the River District, even some who work downtown five days a week, have never laid eyes on the mural, which is tucked away in a paved courtyard off First and Broadway that is shared by Hotel Indigo and the federal courthouse.

Cindy, Kay, Kathy, Peter Mitten, Celia, Lois and Milt 5Speaking of Fort Myers’ origins as a cow town, the city’s newest public art piece reminds residents and informs visitors that once upon a time, people had to watch their step as they crossed First Street (called Front back in the day) lest they squish down on a steaming pile of cow manure. You see, until as late as 1908, crackers still drove herds of cattle through town on their way to Punta Rassa, where they were shipped to Cuba in exchange for Spanish doubloons and pieces of eight. Four bronze panels containing imprints of cow hooves will soon be installed in the sidewalk to mark the old cattle trail. And the new metal sculpture that sits outside  new Fort Myers Regional Library contains replicas of the branding irons used by a number of Fort Myers’ early cattle ranchers. Do you know which ones?

Tourists Examine Hidden Front Side of Sungate 1The tour also has a lighter, more humorous side. Are you aware that there’s a public artwork that people only see from its unfinished backside? Or that there’s a sculpture with a  bench that faces the pilings and concrete railings of a bridge rather than the picturesque vista of the Caloosahatchee River? Or why the Civil War soldier in Centennial Park is named Clayton, or who was the artist that served as its model?

Tom at Uncommon Friends (2)The True Tours Public Art Walking Tour is led by arts advocate and journalist Tom Hall. The tour leaves the Franklin Shops at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoons or by appointment for larger groups. The tour is going out tomorrow, and there’s still time to make reservations. Just call 239-945-0405 or visit


 January ends with 17th Annual Naples Invitational Art Fest in Fleischmann Park (01-23-14)

030 (2)A busy January winds to an end for art fair and festival organizers and enthusiasts with the 17th Annual Naples Invitational Art Fest on January 25-26, 2014. The two-day fest takes place in Naples’ Fleischmann Park, which is located just south of the Coastland Center Mall on Fleischmann Boulevard at Goodlette-Frank Road.

Upgraded by Sunshine Artist Magazine from the #55 to the #31 art festival in the nation, ArtFest Naples Invitational 014 (3)takes place along the sidewalks that bisect the park, connecting the tennis courts on the east with the picnic pavilion, playgrounds and one of the baseball/softball fields. Because of the festival’s size and configuration, Naples Invitational represents an opportunity for artists and collectors to exchange ideas and information while supporting a unique local charity, Easter Seals Florida, which acquired Eden Autism Services Florida in 2013.

040 (3)The annual show offers southwest Florida residents and visitors an opportunity to browse and purchase fine art that includes paintings in oil and acrylic, watercolors, drawings in graphite and pastels, art photography, blown glass, turned wood pieces, sculptures, metal works, ceramics and pottery, fiber art, hand-crafted fine art jewelry and a variety of 2D and 3D mixed media pieces. 009 (3)Because of the festival’s size and configuration, Naples Invitational also represents an opportunity for artists and collectors to exchange ideas and information about their inspiration, process and the challenges of creating art on the road during festival season.

This weekend’s Art Fest Naples Invitation is just one of more than 50 art fairs and festivals that take place from Marco Island to Matlacha Island between October 1 and April 30th. Please click here to see the full schedule so that you can save the date(s) of your favorite Southwest Florida art festivals and fairs.



Landscape exhibit opens at Sanibel’s Watson MacRae Gallery on February 11 (01-23-14)

WatsonLandscapes: Different Views opens at Watson MacRae Gallery on Sanibel Island on Tuesday, February 11. The opening reception takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Three of the exhibiting artists will attend the opening: Greg Biolchini, Karen Glaser and Alejandro Mendoza. An Artists’ Talk is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. the following (Wednesday) morning.



‘Just Kids’ by artist Patti Smith next book to be discussed by Alliance Gallery Book Club (01-23-14)

Patti SmithThe Alliance for the Arts’ monthly Member Gallery Book Club continues from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18 with a discussion of Just Kids by Patti Smith.

In Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

Book Circle 3The Member Gallery Book Club meets from 7-9 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month. The Club explores literature centered on artists, art history and art appreciation. Club members must purchase their own copy of each book. Pre-registration is encouraged, but all that’s needed is an active Alliance membership. The Club continues on Tuesday, March 18 with a discussion of The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal. The April title is Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.

Lydia's WelcomeAlliance individual memberships are $50 per year. Families can join for $75 per year, and college students can become a member for just $15. Membership benefits include 20% discounts on all classes and workshops, a wide variety of FREE class Try It sessions, discounts on theatre tickets and youth camps, special exhibition opportunities and the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a vibrant community of artists and art enthusiasts here in Southwest Florida. Please or call 239-939-2787 to become a member today.



Artist Deborah Martin offering two-day encaustic workshop in February (01-22-14)

Deborah Martin 01 (3)Artist Deborah Martin is offering a hands-on workshop at her Shirley Street studio that will introduce participants to one of the oldest artists’ mediums, encaustics, but with a contemporary approach. “Demonstrations will provide artists with encaustic techniques from traditional to experimental,” states Martin. “We will learn about safety, basic materials, tools, techniques and supports.”

Deborah Martin 07The word encaustic comes from the Greek word enkaustikos, which means “to heat” or “to burn.” It is a technique that dates back to Greco-Roman Egypt circa 100 BC. It begins with the artist mixing pigments and resins into beeswax, which he or she then uses to methodically build layer upon layer of color and texture using molten wax. Heat is employed to bind each successive layer to the one set down before it.

unnamedFor Martin, the process is almost archaeological. “I try to preserve what’s underneath while creating something new with each layer,” Deborah explains. “By scraping wax away, my process turns into an excavation, discovering colors, textures and images.” Incorporated into Martin’s encaustic paintings are drawings, poetry and original transfer prints.”

unnamedArtists with backgrounds in any medium will find Martin’s workshop an exciting opportunity to expand their visual vocabulary with wax.  Materials and equipment are supplied, including heated tools, encaustic mediums and paints, oil sticks, and two boards. Demonstrations will include creating transparencies and glazes, fusing, layering and scraping/scribing, building up texture, creating clean lines, collage and image transfer.

Deborah Martin 05Last summer, Martin received a Juror’s Choice Award for her highly textual painting Elephant 1 from new Baker Museum director and curator Frank Verpoorten, who juried and judged the Alliance for the Arts‘ 27th Annual All Florida Juried Show. Texture was what attracted him to the work. “It’s very subtle,” Verpoorten said appreciatively during his June 1 Gallery Talk. “The texture has the appearance and feel of elephant skin.” And because of the way Martin layered wax over graphite, china marker and other media, the painting incorporates a plethora of “sensory effects.”

Deborah Martin 04 (2)Verpoorten is just the latest to take notice of Martin’s elephant-size talent and unique technique. In the last two years, she received a Best of Show at the von Leibig Art Center and has exhibited at Guess-Fisher Gallery, Florida Gulf Coast University, the Art League of Fort Myers, and the Annual Painting Exhibit at Rookery Bay. She also participated in the Art of the Book show at the Alliance for the Arts in 2013 and had work selected for The Visual Arts Center of Punta Gorda National Art Exhibition 2012 and The Kolbalt Gallery, Provencetown, MA.

The two-day workshop will take place on Tuesday, February 11 and Thursday, February 13 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. both days. Tuition is $195.00. Martin’s studio is located at #14 5760 Shirley Street, North Naples. For more information, please visit or telephone 518-791-0251.



Historian and author Duane Shaffer gives Edison Ford volunteers Battle of Fort Myers context (01-21-14)

Duane Shaffer Presents 11Sanibel librarian, historian and author Duane Shaffer gave Edison & Ford Winter Estates volunteers a talk this morning about the Battle of Fort Myers. The lecture, which took place outside the Edison Ford Shoppe in the Bell Towers’ Fountain Square, was part of the Edison Ford Estates’ on-going program to provide their volunteers with historical content about Fort Myers early history and development that goes well beyond the 1885-1931 period during which Thomas Edison and Henry Ford frequented the fledgling town of Fort Myers.

Duane Shaffer Presents 02Shaffer is Head of Collection Development and Event Coordinator for the Sanibel Public Library Sanibel, Florida. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Arts in Political History from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1991, he co-founded and served as president of the Civil War Roundtable of New Hampshire and in 2000, he served as secretary of the New Hampshire Civil War Monuments and Memorials Commission. Between 1985 and 2005, Shaffer functioned as the director of three separate libraries in the New Hampshire library system.

Duane Shaffer Presents 09In 2008, Shaffer published a Civil War-era book titled Men of Granite: New Hampshire’s Soldiers in the Civil War (S.C.: University of South Carolina Press). The 384-page tome tells the story of the 35,000 New Hampshire soldiers, representing approximately 11 percent of the state’s population, who were dispatched to serve the Union in 17 infantry regiments, two cavalry regiments, three artillery batteries, and three companies of sharpshooters, and as members of naval and marine units. Shaffer’s narrative follows the experiences of these New Hampshire troops on bivouac duty and inland raids in the South Carolina low country as well as in major battles including Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Fort Wagner. Not only does Shaffer recount his subjects’ homecoming and cement understanding of their sacrifice, but by focusing on the day-to-day experiences of the common soldier and his reasons for taking up the fight against the Confederacy, Shaffer draws together in a single, cohesive volume the varied experiences of all the state’s regiments.

Scale Model of Battle of Fort MyersDuring today’s lecture, Shaffer provided Edison Ford volunteers and members of the general public with context for the Battle of Fort Myers, which occurred, according to most reliable sources, on February 20, 1865. A number of the people in the audience were astonished to discover that not only was there actually a fort where downtown Fort Myers is located today, but that fort was occupied by Union soldiers beginning in 1864. “The soldiers in the fort made raids not to take territory,” Shaffer explained, “but to free slaves and seize cattle.” But the event which actually forced the Confederacy to deal with the Union presence at Fort Myers was a raid that occurred in July of 1964 in which the Confederate outpost at Fort Meade was burned to the ground. The Battle of Station Four in Cedar Keys also clearly factored into Colonel Charles J. Munnerlyn’s decision to dispatch Major Footman and 275 men to attack the fort.

Original Photo of USCT (2)Those attending the lecture were also visibly surprised to find that a large contingent of the Union soldiers in the fort were assigned to the 2nd Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. One participant asked Shaffer how the white soldiers got along with their black compatriots. While Shaffer did not answer the question directly, he did indicate that soldiers in the USCT could not be officers, were paid half as much as white soldiers, and were relegated mostly to manual labor. “They were not typically used in front line assignments,” said Shaffer. But in Fort Myers, they participated in raids on area cattle ranches, fought in battles like the ones at Fort Meade and Station Four, and defended Fort Myers from Captain Footman and his Cow Cavalry forces. “These men were not former slaves, “Shaffer was quick to add. “They were free men who volunteered to fight on the side of the Union in the war between the states.”

Shaffer also lectures on World War II battles and subjects. Please contact the Sanibel Pulic Library for dates, places and topics.



Hot Works announces January Estero Fine Art Show youth competition winners (01-21-14)

EsteroLogo1.14_websiteThe 13th Bi-Annual Estero Fine Art Show™ kicked off the art show season on January 4 & 5, 2014 at Miromar Outlet Mall. Juried by art professionals who each has more than 30 years’ experience, the Estero Fine Art Show was a feast for the eyes. With all work being original and personally handmade by all participating artists, the show included paintings, sculpture, clay, glass, wood, fiber, jewelry, photography and more.

As part of its commitment to include art education in its fine art shows and the Southwest Florida community as a whole, Hot Works LLC integrated a youth art competition for grades K-8 or ages 5-12 into the Estero Fine Art Show™. youthcompetitors1The competition gave these budding, young artists a golden opportunity to begin learning the rules of being part of a professional art show and exhibition. In addition, the competitors were provided with prime space within the show to display their entries, and $250 in cash awards was provided for the youth winners.

maggie boswell drawingAs art programs are being dramatically cut and eliminated in schools nationwide, the need for such initiatives is made even more relevant. The students were encouraged to speak with the professional artists in the show, and to ask them questions about participating in art shows as a career. The show thus provided students with an unmatched learning experience.

Criteria for judging were based on the same as the professional artists: technique/execution and originality. While every participating student was a winner, the following received cash awards:

$100 Best of Youth Art:
Maggie Boswell (above right), Drawing, Age 13, Home Schooled

$50 Youth Art Awards of Excellence:

  • alana hadden mmAlana Hadden (right), Other-Crayon Art, Age 9, Pinewoods Elementary
  • Isabella Burnham, Painting, Age 13, First Baptist Academy
  • Amy Piper, Painting, Age 12, St. Francis Xavier School

PLUS: Five $20 gift certificate bonus prizes were awarded to these students thanks to Miromar Outlet Mall:

  • Nalin Isme, Painting, Age 6, Pinewoods Elementary
  • Aurora Hill, Drawing, Age 10, Canterbury School (no photo attached)
  • Raphael Souza, Drawing, Age 8, Treeline Elementary School
  • isabella burnham paintingAva Pandelo, Painting, Age 7, San Carlos Park Elementary (no photo attached)
  • Joshua De Leon, Sculpture, Age 13, St. Francis Xavier School

Ribbons were displayed on each of the winning youth artist’s work. The youth artists and their families attended the event on Sunday afternoon, when the awards were announced and Artist Lisa Davin added five more prizes of her art work, for a total of 14 awards!

amy piper paintingHot Works will present the 14th Bi-Annual Estero Fine Art Show at Miromar Outlets on November 15 & 16, 2014. Event hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The deadline for youth art entries is November 1, 2014. Youth art applications may be obtained at Please mail applications to P.O. Box 1425, Sarasota, FL 34230. There is a $3 entry fee with a maximum of two entries per student.

There is free admission and free parking. More information may be obtained at



Art therapy film ‘I Remember Better When I Paint’ airs at Alliance on February 18 (01-20-14)

100_0594 (2)The Alliance for the Arts is hosting a screening of the art therapy film I Remember Better When I Paint” on Tuesday, February 18 at 7 p.m.  The feature-length documentary explores the positive impact that art and other creative therapies can have on people with Alzheimer’s disease, and how these approaches can change the way the disease is viewed by society.

100_0600 (2)The film examines the way creative arts bypass the limitations of dementia disorders such as Alzheimer’s and shows how patients’ still-vibrant imaginations are strengthened through therapeutic art.  Produced and directed by Eric Ellena and Berna Huebner, “I Remember Better When I Paint” is narrated by actress Olivia de Havilland who played Melanie Hamilton in “Gone with the Wind.” The film’s co-creator, Berna Huebner, will be on hand and will lead a discussion at 8 p.m. following the screening, along with local art therapists Angel Duncan and Reina Lombardi. The screening will be in the Foulds Theatre at the Alliance. A $5 suggested donation is requested at the door.

Alliance BldgThe Alliance for the Arts proudly supports artists and arts organizations in our area as the state designated Local Arts Agency for Lee County. The Alliance campus and galleries are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. The Alliance gallery, Foulds Theater and 20-acre campus are located at 10091 McGregor Boulevard, just south of Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.



Jansen-bound ‘Art14 London’ to showcase modern and contemporary art from around the world (01-20-14)

sage-vaughn-nobodys-home-28Last year, Fort Myers artist Marcus Jansen’s gallery representatives featured his surreal dystopian landscapes and Anonymous portraits in a number of  domestic and international art fairs, including Art Southampton and Art Basel Miami. This year promises to be no different. On February 28, Jansen’s new London agent, Steve Lazarides will take a number of Jansen’s paintings to Art 14 London.

Art13-London1Art14 London is the second edition of London’s global art fair sponsored by Citi Private Bank. The inaugural edition of the fair in 2013 attracted 25,000 visitors, including 4,500 VIPs. Critics, galleries, collectors and art fans raved, with Wallpaper praising the fair’s “impressive scope” and the Financial Times reporting on Art13 London’s “refreshingly different” approach.

Olympia Grand Hall will once again host Art14 London, which runs from Friday, February 28 to Sunday, March 2, 2014, with the Private View and First Night taking place on Thursday, February 27. During the 4-day art extravaganza, 180 galleries from 40 countries will present modern and contemporary art from regions such as Asia, the Middle East and Africa, next to galleries from Europe and the U.S. In collaboration with the Mayor of London’s Office, the fair will also bring together major global players from a variety of different industries to discuss how art is reshaping cities and establishing new cultural centers all over the world.

lazarides1Art insiders know Steve Lazarides as the gallerist who “discovered” Banksy. While the two have gone their separate ways, Lazarides is still pounding the pavement in search of new talent. “We’re not bound by any definitions – as long as we like the art then it gets an exhibition,” says Lazarides. “What started out as a halfway house for the urban art movement has grown into an internationally recognized gallery. Admittedly this has surprised us as much as it has anyone else. Our aim is to make each show  an interesting experience, and remind everyone that art is there to be enjoyed.”

While Lazarides’ gallery is still considered the international market leader in urban art, many of the artists on display at Lazarides Rathbone defy categorization. Contemporary figurative painting features heavily on the exhibition schedule, but works have also included interactive installations, sculptures, and even historical propaganda. In the grand tradition of artistic movements, the gallery maintains strong connections with wider culture, especially the spheres of music, fashion and film.

The Art AlbumGiven this backdrop, it’s not surprising that Lazarides would be attracted to Jansen’s work. Most recently, Jansen’s work was included by Dawud Knuckles and The Art Album Art on Dekz, a Russell Simmons project that also features art by Chuck Close, Marlene Dumas, Shepard Fairey, and Kehinde Wiley, Germany’s leading names like Jonathan Meese and Daniel Richter, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, as well as musicians like Jay-Z and Ludacris. In fact, Jansen’s Spotlight on Education was selected for the cover and highlights the connection between Hip Hop culture and contemporary art.

Alliance Walking Tour 2012 DKnuckles, Simmons and Lazarides are not the first to recognize Jansen’s emerging genius. In July of 2011, Absolut invited 20 artists from around the world to help them introduce ABSOLUT BLANK, a global creativity campaign that included paintings, film, print and outdoor advertising, consumer experiential events and even a digital art piece that lives and evolves on mobile phones.  To market its products, the Swedish distiller has collaborated over the years with such iconic artists as AndyWarhol, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Douglas Gordon, Louise Bourgeois and, more recently, Ellen von Unwerth and Spike Jonze. Thus, Jansen’s inclusion in a new generation of Absolut artists is viewed as recognition on a global stage of his skill, originality and import in contemporary art circles.

Terry Tincher at The UnitJansen’s invitation to show at the “Art 14″ Fair will be an introduction for his second London solo show in October, 2014 at Lazarides Gallery.

Public openings of Jansen’s newest works continue at UNIT A Contemporary Art Space in Fort Myers Florida every first Friday of the month or during the week by appointments only. For more information about dates and times, please visit or contact Terry Tincher (right) at



Librarian, historian and author Duane Shaffer to shed light on Battle of Fort Myers (01-20-14)

17 Leaving the LibraryAfter the public library moved from its location on Central (adjacent to the Southwest Florida Museum of History) to its sparkling new 40,000-square-foot digs at the corner of First Street and Royal Palm Boulevard, the building was scheduled for demolition. In preparation for the figurative wrecking ball, the 1880 Italian marble sculpture known as Lorelei was moved to the Garden Council and a plaque sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans commemorating the Battle of Fort Myers was removed and temporarily placed in storage. Tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Sanibel librarian, historian and author Duane Shaffer will discuss the Battle of Fort Myers in a special lecture at the Edison Ford Shoppe in the Bell Tower Shops.

Exterior 02 (3)The plaque recites a number of “facts” that are somewhat in dispute. The plaque maintains that Fort Myers was reoccupied in December of 1863, but records obtained by the Southwest Florida Museum of History from the National Archives indicate that the orders to send elements of the 110th New York Infantry and the 2nd Florida Union Calvary to the fort were not issued until January, 1864. Bell Tower (3)The plaque also states that the fort served as a supply depot for gunboats taking part in the Union blockade of the Gulf Coast, but those vessels operated under the command of Lt. Cmdr. William B. Eaton out of Egmont Key in Tampa Bay and were provisioned at a base in San Carlos Bay on Sanibel and at Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West. It is unlikely that the heavy gunboats could have navigated the shallow channel up the Caloosahatchee (which was eventually deepened to eight feet in 1884-85).

Original Photo of USCT (2)The plaque goes on to say that the Union soldiers in the fort raided Confederate supply depots in the state’s interior. However, other accounts indicate that Fort Myers was used as a base of operations for confiscating beef cattle from ranches located from Punta Gorda to Tampa. Some of those steers were being driven into Georgia and Tennessee to feed Confederate fighting forces. USCT Soldiers with Fort in Background (2)But a significant number were being redirected to blockade runners like Edward Clarke, Christopher Friebele and Capt. James McKay, Sr. for transport to Cuba, which was paying three times what the Confederacy could afford to pay for cattle – any they were paying in gold and silver coins.

Scale Model of Battle of Fort Myers“To discourage these raids, Confederate Major William Footman led 275 men of Florida’s ‘Cow Cavalry’ from Fort Thompson (LaBelle) to the very gates of Fort Myers,” the plaque states. Interestingly, the plaque fails to mention that Major Footman and his men were initially dispatched from Fort Meade near Tampa by Colonel Charles J. Munnerlyn or that during the 200 mile march to Fort Thompson their number swelled to roughly 500 as angry local farmers, fishermen and other partisans rushed to join the fray.

Capt. FA HendryThe plaque also fails to reference Capt. Francis Asbury Hendry, whose company of 131 men comprised almost half of Major Footman’s entire contingent. This omission is surprising given that Hendry would go on after the war to become one of the City of Fort Myers’ founding fathers, and it was he who suggested that the county be named after General Robert E. Lee when the region decided to split off from Monroe County in 1887 after the County Commissioners in Key West refused to approve funds to replace the schoolhouse in Fort Myers after it burned down.

The Store 03It is not unusual for historical accounts to either exaggerate or understate past events. Even if the writer has no particular agenda, every author is inevitably swayed by their own political, social and religious views, experiences and education. It will be interesting to see what light historian Duane Shaffer will shed on the events leading up to and taking place during the Battle of Fort Myers during tomorrow morning’s lecture, including oft-repeated contention that the Battle of Fort Myers was the southernmost battle of the Civil War. Shaffer is author of the book Men of Granite, New Hampshire Soldiers in the Civil War.

Exterior 03 (4)The lecture will take place next to the fountain in the courtyard outside the Edison Ford Shoppe. It is open to the public and free of charge. For additional information, please contact the Volunteer Department at 239-334-7419.

The Battle of Fort Myers is memorialized by two public artworks, including the Barbara Jo Revelle ceramic tile mural, Fort Myers: An Alternative History, West Viewwhich is in the Hotel Indigo/federal courthouse courtyard, and Clayton, which is located in Centennial Park. Both are visited by True Tours during its 1:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon public art walking tour. For more information or to make reservations, please telephone 239-945-0405 or visit



Alliance now accepting Summer Arts Camp registrations (01-18-14)

spring camp1Summer Break is right around the corner, and the Alliance for the Arts is taking registrations for its 26th Annual Summer Arts Camp. Nine themed weeks give kids the chance to create, explore and discover the visual and performing arts in an interactive environment.  This year’s weekly themes include “Magical Kingdoms & Creatures,” “Sports Spectacular,” and “Party in the USA.”  Week Three “On Broadway” includes a backstage tour of Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. Every week culminates in a Friday stage performance. (There is no camp the week of July 4.

summer campCThere are two camp options:  the main Summer Arts Camp is open to 1st through 6th graders, and the “Mini Michelangelos” Camp for 4 & 5 year olds (campers must be 5 by September 1).  They are both $160 per week for Alliance Members or $200 per week for non-members. Members can get 4 or more weeks for $145 per week.  Early drop off and late pick up are available for a fee.  Space is limited. Registration opens to Alliance Members February 15 and to non-members on March 1. Visit to register online, or contact Brandi Couse at or 239-939-2787 for more information.



Dixie Roadhouse is ACTing Up for ACT on January 26 (01-18-14)

137 (4)The Dixie Roadhouse is hosting a special event on Sunday, January 26, 2014 to support Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. It takes place from 2-8 p.m.

Abuse Counseling & Treatment, better known as ACT, is a non-profit agency that serves Lee, Hendry and Glades counties with a 24-hour crisis hotline, forensic examinations, and safe shelter for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, as well as their families, and the new and temporarily homeless. At any given point in time, ACT feeds and houses approximately 100 men, women and children in two shelters, and provides them with counseling, advocacy, education, information and referrals. ACT serves hundreds more free of charge through its monthly outreach services. To help fund its activities and programs, ACT operates Second ACT Thrift Store andArts for ACT Gallery in the downtown Fort Myers River District.

100_0242 (2)The First Annual Dixie Roadhouse “ACT’s Up for ACT”will include music, dancing, food and much more…including door prizes. Doors open at 2:00 p.m. and James Fitzwater will be giving line dance lessons from 4-6 p.m. A $5 donation is requested at the door, and all proceeds go to ACT.

The event is sponsored by Budweiser and Jagermeister.

The Dixie Roadhouse is located at 2023 SE 47th Terrace between 10th & 11 Streets in Cape Coral.

For more information, please telephone 239-939-2553, visit, or contact Kay Timms at



Jansen’s UNIT A Art Space revs up for exciting year of international shows (01-18-14)
Marcus and Ava RoederUNIT A Contemporary Art Space located in Fort Myers, Florida is the home of internationally-acclaimed modern urban expressionist Marcus Jansen. For local art collectors and enthusiasts, it’s the in-place to go during Art Walk, because that’s when Jansen debuts new works prior to shipping them out for international exhibitions.

Beach DinnerInternational shows was the central theme at UNIT A during 2013. Last year, Jansen won a number of major international awards, including the Fleurieu Art Prize in Australia, which is the highest valued landscape painting prize offered anywhere in the world. Last year’s prestigious Biennale was curated by Nigel Hurst, Director & Chief Executive of London’s Saatchi Gallery. London is also where Jansen will start 2014, when he appears at International “Art 14″ London with one of his two new European representatives, Steve Lazarides in London, UK.

institutional-prizes-2012Steve Lazarides garnered global attention when he launched Banksy’s career. “Like Leo Castelli, Mary Boone and Bruno Bischofberger before him – the gallerists who put artists like Warhol, Rauschenberg and Schnabel on the map – Lazarides has become a champion for the artist as individual,” writes art critic Susan Michals in the October 2010 edition of Vanity Fair. “He’s excelled at ‘mentoring new talent, nurturing the creative process and presenting work that is free to the public,’” she adds, quoting actor Kevin Spacing, who was co-curating a show titled Hell’s Half-Acre.

artondekz2Jansen’s invitation to show at the “Art 14″ Fair will be an introduction for his second London solo show in October, 2014 at Lazarides Gallery.

The Art AlbumIn Italy, Jansen’s short Italian documentary, filmed last year in Milan with his second European representatives, Galleria Bianca Maria Rizzi & Matthias Ritter, will be released at a reception that will also unveil Jansen’s show catalog which has been written by renowned art critic Alexandro Riva, who also is the author of Street Art Sweet Art.

In New York City, Jansen’s project The Art Album, is now available at Barnes & Nobel Booksellers. Published by Dwud Knuckles with Art on Dekz and supported by artondekz3Russel Simmons, The Art Album includes artists like Chuck Close, Marlene Dumas, Shepard Fairey and Jonathan Meese. Jansen’s Spotlight on Education was selected for the cover and highlights the connection between Hip Hop culture and contemporary art.

Jansen is preparing for his first solo show in New York City at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery in the 287 SpringElower East Side with an opening reception on March 3, 2014 in conjunction with an appearance at SCOPE Art Fair New York and Lyons Wier Gallery in Chelsea, which both take place during the month of March.

Jansen will also be showing works at his solo show at Roberta Britto Gallery in Sao Paulo, Brazil at the end of March.

Public openings continue at UNIT A Contemporary Art Space in Fort Myers Florida every first Friday of the month or during the week by appointments only. For more information about dates and times, please or contact Terry Tincher at


Third Annual Alliance Artists Studio Tour scheduled for March 1, 2014 (01-18-14)

The Alliance for the Arts has announced the return of its popular Artists Studio Tour. Now in its third year, the event will take place on March 1.

Steve Kalb Talks Process 2“While art patrons might be used to viewing artwork in galleries and shops, they rarely have a chance to experience the places where creation actually occurs,” notes the Alliance in its press release touting the tour. “That’s exactly what the Alliance for the Arts’ Artists Studio Tour will provide Karen Flips Krista Johnson Arton Saturday, March 1, when attendees will get up close and personal with eight Fort Myers artists in their studios and homes. This day-long, self-guided tour is an educational, inspirational and FUN way to get to know local artists and fellow art patrons, all while helping to support cultural and educational programming in Southwest Florida at the same time.”

Continental BreakfastThe tour launches from the Alliance for the Arts, where tour-takers will enjoy a continental breakfast from 9–11 a.m. and get their tour program booklet and map. While at the Alliance, they can also check out the art studios in the Edwards Building and take advantage of the Alliance’s weekly GreenMarket. Participants will then spend the day choosing the order and the amount of time they spend at each location on the tour. Veron 02“They’ll see works in a variety of artistic mediums, including painting, fiber, glass, and jewelry,” the Alliance notes.

This year’s featured artists are:  Celeste Borah, Ken Casola, Pat Collins, Veron Ennis (right), Steve Pennisi, Arlene Richards, Carl Schwartz and Babs Snyderman.

Tickets are $40 for Alliance members or $50 for non-members and include continental breakfast. Visit the Alliance website to purchase tickets or see pictures from last year’s tour.

Registration 1The Alliance for the Arts proudly supports artists and arts organizations in our area as the state designated Local Arts Agency for Lee County. The Alliance campus and galleries are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. The Alliance’s galleries and 20-acre campus are located at 10091 McGregor Boulevard, just south of Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.



‘Death of a Salesman’ cast turns in intense, emotional, cathartic performances (01-17-14)

The Lomans 1AMake no mistake. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is an intense, emotional play. “Cathartic,” offers Lab Theater Artistic Director Annette Trossbach, and she’s absolutely right. But this production’s cataclysmic denouement works so effectively because cast and crew do such a masterful job of converting the audience from mere spectators into members of the dysfunctional Loman.

The actors’ task is made easier because of where the play takes place. Laboratory Theater Exterior 2 (3)Lab Theater performs in an historic old church on Woolford Avenue on the eastern fringe of the downtown Fort Myers River District. There isn’t a bad seat inside this cozy sanctuary. Even in the back row of this 200-seat theater, you are close enough to the action to feel like a household guest who happens into the midst of a family imbroglio so ardent that they forget you’re sitting there uncomfortably, taking it all in.

The Cast with Wigglesworth ADirector Louise Wigglesworth also uses a clever theatrical device to draw the audience in. The play opens with a bone-tired Willy Loman shuffling from the back of the theater down the center aisle with his brief case full of sales samples, puffing and sighing as he returns home from another day of unsuccessful sales calls in the New England states. The audience doesn’t just watch Willy wearily makes his way up the steps to his bedroom, they mentally will him up those stairs.

Mitchell Haley as Willy Lomax 3AWilly is a salesman in his sixties who has been furiously chasing the American Dream his whole life without ever catching it. When he started out 34 years earlier, the life of a salesman seemed like a dream job. But Willy failed to work at his profession, believing that success comes to those who are well liked and good looking rather than the man who knows more and works harder than his competition. Sadly for Willy and his entire family, he’s neither well liked nor respected. As Willy’s friend and neighbor, Charley, observes, willy should have been a carpenter, an electrician or a builder. “He was a happy man with a bag of cement.” But as Willy’s oldest son, Biff, knows, “He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong.”

The role of Willy Loman makes most actors’ “top ten ever list,” and that’s true for Mitchell Haley, who is up for the challenge. “The show is, without a doubt, a challenge,” Haley admits. “The character has to fluctuate between different points along the time-space continuum.” But this play is not about Willy’s descent into dementia. And first produced in 1949, it wasn’t written to explore the onset of Alzheimer’s either. “Willy has lost his balance,” Haley observes, but he and director Louise Wigglesworth are careful not to portray him as crazy.

Loman is frustrated and depressed. He’s tired and confused. He has but a loose grip on reality, but only because he’s Willy and Linda in the Bedroom 2repeated lies to himself for so long that he’s come to believe them himself. You see, Loman is a man who struggles to exude a confidence and self-control he does not now and has never really possessed. Haley does a tremendous job of reflecting this dichotomy, which makes his rants and outbursts all the more shocking and arresting when they inevitably erupt.

But the best part of Haley’s performance is that he portrays Willy not as some kind of Greek tragic hero who is defeated in his quest for the golden fleece by events that are beyond his control. Willy and the Secretary 1AHaley’s Loman simply makes bad choices and poor decisions – just like the rest of us everyday, common folks. And it’s his unwillingness to admit those mistakes, fix them, and face the truth about himself that leads to his undoing, which is therefore wholly deserved. All the sadder for those he leave behind to pick up the pieces of his broken life.

Willy’s wife, Linda, is played Mitchell’s real-life wife Joann. Linda has been oft described as an enabler. Joann Haley provides her character with so much more dimension than that. Her Linda is a study in contradiction. She vacillates between strength and abject weakness when it comes to her husband and sons. Joann Haley as LindaShe’ll clearly go to the ends of the earth for her beloved husband, even telling her son Biff that he’s not welcome in their home if he can’t make his father feel wanted and respected. But she isn’t strong enough to take Biff to the woodshed to remedy his chronic self-sabotaging kleptomania or confront her husband when she finds a cord in the basement that Willy intends to use in order to commit suicide.

Biff is played by Rob Green, who last appeared at the Lab Theater along with Stephanie Davis in Miss Witherspoon. While Mitchell’s part is emotionally draining and Joann Haley is asked to cry and sob convincingly throughout much of the play, Biff, Forsythe, Happy and Letta 1AGreen’s challenge is take Biff through a character arc that goes from cocky football Adonis to a broken bum who can’t live up to his own dreams, never lone those his father had for him. Whether it’s his crazy skills as an actor or Wigglesworth’s genius for direction, but from the way he stands and moves to the manner in which he speaks and enunciates his lines, Green depicts Biff as the lost soul that he is, which is all the more astonishing when one considers that he must show these differences in a time-space continuum that is anything but linear or chronological.

Letta, Forsythe and Happy 2AFor all of this, Stu Colon performance as younger son/brother Happy nearly steals the show. Not because it’s in-your-face outrageous, but because his super-suave, sexually-charged demeanor conjures images of what Willy Loman must have been like in his heyday. Colon’s Happy needs his father’s approval so badly that he’s turned himself into a younger version of his dad. But poor guy, no matter how much he adores his father and strives to emulate him (bad traits and all), Willy is obsessed only with Biff and his success. (Miller does provide an explanation for why this is so, but you will have to see the play to find out why this is.)

The Cast 7Taylor Adair, Ken Bryant, Caitlynn Crawford, David Jennings, Bill Molesky, Mary Powell, Jeffrey Schmitt and Rick Sebastian also turn in strong performances in support of the play’s big four. But in spite (or perhaps because) of how good a job they do, the focus at all times remains on the sometimes-dynamic, other-times-static relationships between Willy and Linda, father and sons and even Biff and Happy.

Clowning Around 2Ironically, the cast has spent more time brainstorming, running lines and rehearsing their roles than the mere six weeks it took Arthur Miller to write the play. But it’s time well spent. The show’s remaining performances are on tonight, January 18, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30 and 31, with a final performance taking place on February 1. Tickets are $12 for students, $18.50 for seniors and military on Thursdays, and $22 for adults. They are available for purchase at the door, online at or by calling the box office at 239-218-0481. There will be an audience talk-back after the Sunday, January 26 performance.



Festival schedule for January 18-19 includes Naples Masters and Fort Myers Saturday Art Fair (01-16-14)

satfairThe Fort Myers Downtown Saturday Art Fair takes place on Saturday, January 18 under the awnings of the galleries, shops and offices that border First Avenue, just steps from the waters of the Caloosahatchee River in the completely refurbished and restored downtown Fort Myers River District. The intimate, small-town ambiance of the River District engenders casual conversation between collectors and the participating artists, who willingly share stories about where they find inspiration, how they craft the unique pieces they sell, and what drew them to the arts in the first place. If you don’t find exactly what you are looking for, they will be pleased to make what you want. They’ll even deliver it to your home!

039 (4)Naples Masters Winter Art Festival comes to the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt on January 18 & 19, 2014. This festival features between 80 and 100 highly successful and skilled artists who bring and exhibit paintings in oil, acrylic and watercolor, drawings and pastels, 2D and 3D mixed media and collages, photography and digital art, woodworking, sculpture, ceramics, glass, fiber art, and jewelry. The festivals are devoted mainly to fine art, with some fine crafts entering into the mix.

To view the full 2013-2014 art fair and festival schedule, please click here.



Schober Mound Key tour puts historical accounts into proper perspective (01-16-14)

On Mound Key 11On last Monday’s Mound Key tour, guide Theresa Schober recounted the story of Juan Ponce de Leon’s retreat from the waters of Southwest Florida in June of 1513. After a number of skirmishes, 80 shielded war canoes, fastened together like catamarans, surprised de Leon’s flotilla. Each was reputed to hold between 10 and 20 warriors. Faced with an overwhelming force of between 800 and 1,600 fierce natives, Ponce de Leon had little recourse but to retreat back to his home base in Puerto Rico, where he would plan his return for nearly a decade.

On Mound Key 14This account of the Calusa’s first encounters with Spanish explorers comes from the first volume of Historia General de los hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas I Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano. The official-sounding treatise was compiled by a man named Herrera, who served as Ponce de Leon’s on-board historian.”You simply can’t take what Herrera says at face value,” Schober told her Mound Key tour group as they prepared to disembark the Banana Key Tour Boat as it docked on Mound Key. You see, Herrera had an agenda. He had to justify to the Spanish Crown why a group of savages could repel an force of heavily armed soldiers and sailors from this European world power.

On Mound Key 05 Theresa Dishes on Century Plant B“There’s simply no way the Calusa could have mustered a force that large,” Schober argued. “Based on the size of the island and the archaeological record, Mound Key probably sustained a population of 1,000 people. Of that number, 60 percent were undoubtedly children. Half of the remaining 400 would have been women, and of the 200 adult men, half would have been nobles, priests and others exempt from fighting. So at most, there may have been 100 warriors on all of Mound Key.”

Of course, Mound Key or Stababa was just one settlement among many that dotted Southwest Florida from On Mound Key 08Charlotte Harbor to Pine Island, Estero Island, Sanibel and on the mainland. “But each of them was smaller than the settlement at Stababa,” Schober noted. “Even sending for warriors from each of the other settlements, it’s highly unlikely that the Calusa could have assembled a fighting force that large, never mind in a mere matter of days.”

On Mound Key 17 Ascending Ceremonial MoundBut neither Juan Ponce de Leon nor Herrera would ever admit that the Spanish had been sent packing by an even smaller force of primitively-armed heathens. “Men can, and have, manipulated the historical record for any number of reasons,” Schober cautions. “But the archaeological record cannot be disputed. That’s why it’s imperative to compare one to the other whenever possible.”

On Mound Key 20 At the Top of Ceremonial MoundAlong those same lines, Herrera conveniently omits any explanation about why the Calusa were so hostile to Juan Ponce de Leon and his forays into their territory. The Calusa were certainly not about to allow anyone else to come into their kingdom and set up shop, even as traders. But the Calusa chief at Stababa had also been told about the slaving raids the Spanish had made in other parts of the Caribbean. “The connection between these slaving raids and the attitudes of the native people upon the arrival of Ponce de Leon are often forgotten.” Or suppressed. “Experience with slavers likely motivated the Calusa to aggressively defend against the Spanish.”

Group Photo 05 (2)Part of the thrust of ArtCalusa: Reflections on Representation was to bring these aspects of the Calusa’s early encounters with the Spanish into the forefront of present-day historical knowledge. That’s also a component of Schober’s Mound Key guided tour. But certainly not the main point, which is to engender an appreciation of Calusa society and civilization … as well as the challenges associated with historical preservation and maintaining the integrity of archaeological sites like Mound Key.

[Much of what we know today about the early history of downtown Fort Myers comes from The Story of Fort Myers by Karl H. Grismer. While no one disputes the accuracy of what Grismer documented, True Tours’ owner Gina Taylor points out that Grismer’s coverage of the people, places and events recounted in his book was influenced by who agreed to financially support his research, and those who didn’t.]



Schober Mound Key guided tour engenders appreciation of ancient Calusa and historic preservation (01-15-14)

On Mound Key 14Three years ago, I embarked on an unexpected journey. In the course of investigating Fort Myers’ public art collection, I discovered that the vast majority of these artworks told stories about Fort Myers’ early history. Along my odyssey, I learned a great deal about Vagabonds Edison, Ford and Firestone, early developers like William H. Towles, Harvie Heitman, Walter Langford and Peter Tonnelier, and a ton about the fort from which our town derives its name. But until I met archaeologist Theresa Schober and attended ArtCalusa last November, what I knew about Southwest Florida’s original residents could be figuratively packed into an antique thimble with about 2 cc’s of volume left over.

West Bay Launch 4While Schober is indeed an archaeologist, she doesn’t wear a fedora, I’ve never seen her sport a bullwhip, and she wouldn’t move an artifact from an archaeological site for love or money (although I’m pretty sure she could outrun a big rolling rock if the need ever arises).But she knows more about the ancient Calusa Indians than anyone else in Southwest Florida, if not beyond.

Mound House and Strangler Fig Seen from Mantanzas PassOriginally from the Calgary area (yep, that’s in Canada), Schober showed up in Fort Myers in 1998 to direct the restoration and exhibit development at Mound House and Newton Park on Fort Myers Beach. During her nine year tenure, she not only secured $4 million for educational, exhibit and historic preservation initiatives as well as two awards from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, she amassed a prodigious volume of information and understanding about the life and times of the Native Americans who reigned over this area of the country from roughly 100 B.C. to 1704.

Artists Group Photo 03 (2)Schober translated her knowledge and statewide contacts into a Viva Florida 500 exhibit that was designed to introduce Southwest Florida residents and visitors to this once mighty, ever proud, never bowed race. ArtCalusa included paintings of the Calusa and their cities and settlements rendered by leading historical artists, including Charles Dauray of Estero, Christopher Kreider of Loma Rica, California, David Meo of Fort Myers, Theodore Morris of St. Augustine, Daytona Beach’s Dean Quigley, Dr. Jerald Milanich Lecture on de Brys 05Hermann Trappman of Gulfport and Jackson Walker of Orlando (along with glass artist Lucas Century of Sanibel). The exhibition incorporated lectures and panel discussions that included former State Archaeologist Ryan Wheeler, local archaeologist Steven Koski, Jerald T. Milanich, American Indian literature scholar Gretchen Bataille, and noted UF wet site archaeologist Barbara Purdy. It also featured a one-man play based on the life of shipwreck survivor Hernando d’ Escalante Fontaneda.

West Bay Launch 3The information presented sent me packing for the library to learn more about Fontaneda, Juan Ponce de Leon, Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his treacherous nephew Menendez Marquez, as well as the great Calusa chiefs forced to contend with the Spaniards attempts to convert, if not enslave their people. But it was hard to concentrate on the accounts of 400-500 year old events with Harrison Ford’s gravely voice echoing in my ears: “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you gotta get out of the library.”

The advice pertains as well to anyone who possesses an interest in or passion for Southwest Florida history.

On Mound Key 06So on Monday, my fiancee and I boarded a Banana Bay tour boat with 26 other curiosity seekers to take a Schober-guided tour to Mound Key, a tiny island in the middle of Estero Bay that served as site of the Calusa empire from roughly 100 B.C. to 1,000 A.D. Although it may be somewhat hyperbolic, the chance to be escorted around Stababa by Schober is tantamount to being squired around Key West by Ernest Hemingway or the Valley of the Kings by Howard Carter.

On Mound Key 09Mound Key is not just rustic. It is downright primitive. Which delights Schober, who notes that in spite of the site’s historic significance, there’s been virtually no archaeological exploration of the island. “Mound Key is unquestionably the most important site in Southwest Florida,” Schober noted on Monday, “if not the State of Florida.” The mangrove covered isle contains two well-developed mounds that held the homes and ceremonial structures of the Calusa’s chief, nobles, military leaders and priests. Inside the Shell Mound at Mound HouseExposing their constructed layers (right) promises to reveal many secrets of Calusa life, society and political organization. But that’s just so much blah, blah, blah until you’ve followed Schober under spider webs, over protruding roots, around winding footpaths and up the steep incline of a 30-foot tall conical mound that rewards ascendants with breathtaking views of Estero Bay and a distant cloud-enshrouded Estero Island. Only then is it truly possible to walk in the Calusa’s sandals.

On Mound Key 22 At the CisternThere’s no stream or other source of fresh water on Mound Key. “There were probably people designated to go get water from the mainland,” Schober hypothesized from atop a cistern dating to Koreshan days. “In fact, each family probably had someone tasked with going for water.” On Monday, we were ferried by motor through the choppy waters from West Bay to Mound Key in just 15-20 minutes. A couple of guys sporting University of Minnesota tees (not part of our tour) probably made the trip in their kayaks in an hour or so. But plying those waters in a carved out tree trunk, hiking to and from the nearest water supply, and then paddling back laden with pitchers, pails and other vessels filled to the brim, well that undoubtedly was an all day endeavor often undertaken under blistering skies and stifling humidity.

Meo Sanibel Settlement From the InletThe streets and monuments in our own nation’s capital were designed to awe and intimidate foreign dignitaries and visitors. The same was true of Stababa. Visitors like Pedro Menendez de Aviles undoubtedly experienced that same awe and intimidation as they paddled up the central canal and passed between the Meo Sanibel Settlement From the Moundstwo and three-story mounds which descended to three water plazas in which the locals raised fish, oysters and scallops in an extensive aqua-farming operation that was the basis of their hierarchical caste system with a chief, nobles and commoners. But it’s only by slogging through the mud at the bottom of the once grand canal and straining to ascend the steep incline of the mounds that you can truly appreciate what the Calusa accomplished or how Menendez and his party may have felt as they first beheld the Calusa Chief Carlos surrounded by his military leaders, warriors and nobles and hordes of mostly or wholly naked children.

On Mound Key 15But perhaps the greatest benefit to be derived from making the Mound Key trip with an archaeologist like Schober, who also functions as a cultural resource consultant, is becoming sensitized to the dangers of modern encroachments to these sacrosanct links to bygone peoples and times. Mound Key already bears the scars of forays made into the island between 1900 and the 1930s to cannibalize the mounds for their component shell for road improvements and similar purposes. And while the State of Florida owns the vast majority of Mound Key, one local family owns a chunk of the island that they’ve fenced with barbed wire and desecrated with docks, lean-to’s and related agricultural structures without proper deference to the land’s archaeological significance.

On Mound Key 26 Return TripNo, tour-takers will not learn everything there is to know about the once-mighty Calusa from touring Mound Key with a thoughtful and thought-provoking guide like archaeologist Theresa Schober, but you will be equipped to envision, appreciate and better understand their society and what was lost when their civilization collapsed under the weight of their deleterious contacts with first the Spanish, and later the British, who armed Creek Indians and dispatched them to hunt, capture and enslave these native Americans to the point where they disappeared from the pages of history. And for a neophyte local historian, the trip begins to fill in the gaps and missing links in the history of Southwest Florida which all too often considers the sad plight of the Seminole Indians to the exclusion of the far older and longer entrenched Calusa simply because the latter disappeared from the scene of recorded history a hundred or so years before the Seminoles migrated into South Florida.

On Mound Key 20 At the Top of Ceremonial MoundSchober plans four more guided tours of Mound Key on:

  • March 3,
  • April 7,
  • April 14, and
  • May 5

Each departs from West Bay in Estero and includes a guided tour by On Mound Key 10Schober focused on the rich history of Mound Key. A light lunch is also provided. Each tour is limited to 25 people and costs $45/person, the proceeds of which will be donated for a documentary coordinated with the Viva Florida 500 celebration about the remarkable island capital of the Calusa Indians. For reservations, please call 239.851.9040 or email:

Key sponsors of the documentary include the College of Life Foundation, Banana Bay Tour Company, Friends of Koreshan State Historic Site, Estero Bay Buddies, Marco Island Historical Society, Estero Historical Society, and Kayakers 2Bonita Springs Historical Society with grant funds from the West Coast Inland Navigation District. Documentary partners include Captiva Cruises, Collier Count Museums, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Park Service, Koreshan State Historic Site, Lee Trust for Historic Preservation, Mound Key Archaeological State Park, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, West Bay, and University of Pennsylvania Museum.

The Friends of Koreshan State Historic Site is a volunteer based charitable organization founded in 1987 dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and interpretation of the Koreshan Unity Settlement, a National Register Historic District that consists of the Koreshan State Historic Site in Estero and Mound Key Archaeological State Park in Estero Bay.





Naples Art Association introduces ‘Dinner with Artists’ fundraiser (01-14-14)

The Naples Art Association is adding Dinner with Artists to its popular ArtConnects lecture series. Dinner with Artists combines visual and culinary arts into unique evenings to remember, and on February 6, sculptor John Merchant will team up with culinary master Michael Kang to craft striking abstract sculpture paired with the best in non-traditional Chinese-French cuisine.

To prepare for each Dinner with Artists event, a Naples Art Association member visual artist and a master chef will visit each other’s work spaces to share their creative process, motivations and techniques. The result is displayed, served and savored during the event.  Proceeds from the evening will benefit ART Connects programming which includes Dinner with Artists, lectures for the public and professional development workshops for artists.

The Merchant/Kang dinner will be held at Veranda E at Hotel Escalante from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 6. The restaurant has been described as “beyond cuisine” and “one of the most beautiful places to dine in Naples.”  They offer the ultimate culinary experience and are the only fine dining restaurant in Naples with their own on-premises sustainable organic garden.

Merchant’s “images in stone” combine variations in surface, texture and shape that “best display the natural features of each stone.”  Veranda E’s Executive Chef Michael Kang “builds seductive blends of Asian, American and European flavors on a plate with the skill of a master culinary architect.”  The two share a passion for color and design, and together they will delight guests’ senses from palette to palate.

The evening features a presentation by John Merchant, creative cocktails, sit down dinner and wine pairing, and beverages. A pop-up boutique of the artist’s work will be featured in The Hotel Escalante’s Courtyard for the evening, and 30% of the proceeds will be donated towards the Naples Art Association’s ART Connects programming. Space is limited. Tickets are available for $75 and are all-inclusive.

For more information, please visit or call 239-262-6517.



Lab Theater’s ‘Death of a Saleman’ provides rare op to see great American classic beautifully performed (01-013-14)

Willy 1Death of a Salesman opened at the Lab Theater of Florida last weekend. “It’s a rare opportunity to see a great American classic and see it beautifully performed,” notes Louise Wigglesworth, who directs the show.

“The play’s been on my bucket list for a long time,” Wigglesworth reflected when asked what attracted her to the production. “I like the idea of Arthur Miller celebrating the common man. Holding up his hopes and dreams and struggles, even when he has the wrong dreams.”

Those dreams, to be sure, are materialistic. Through Willy Loman, Death of a Salesman publicity shot 2Arthur Miller depicts a culture in which money equates with success which, in turn, serves as the yardstick by which all of us measure a person’s value. But it’s not just his or her value to family, friends and society at large. It’s how each of us determines our own self-worth.

Under the yoke of that conundrum, Willy Death of a Salesman publicity shot 1Loman is prepared to do whatever is necessary to come out on top, even romancing a secretary and bribing her with nylon stockings to get past her desk and into her boss’s office. Moral values and personal integrity are inconveniences in Loman’s competitive business model. Only success, as measured in money, possesses import and value, with disastrous results.

To judge whether these insights are still relevant today one need look no further than to Alex Rodriguez, Willy 2Lance Armstrong or the legion of professional athletes willing to take performance enhancing drugs in order to further their on-field success, thereby securing mega-salaries and astronomical off-field endorsements and a claim to a place in their respective Halls of Fame. But doesn’t the money = success = perceived self-worth equation also explain why a handful of powerful Wall Street financiers were (are still?) willing to wreck their own companies and the U.S. economy in the quest for unprecedented bonuses and self -aggrandizement?

But Wigglesworth understands that there’s so much more to Death of a Salesman. Laboratory Theater“The play also celebrates Linda’s love of her husband, even though she is painfully aware of each of his shortcomings. And [Willy’s] struggle with [his son] Biff to understand who he is – that he’s more comfortable in nature raising livestock than working in a city working as a salesman – speaks for people having the courage to refuse to allow someone else to impose their life on him.”

Laboratory Theater Exterior 2 (3)Part of Arthur Miller’s genius inheres, as well, in the adroit use of irony to make his points. “[Younger son] Happy has lived in the shadow of who his father thinks Biff is,” note Wigglesworth. “Happy’s dream is more of his father’s dream than his own. In the end, he finds the determination to take over the family. He finds his purpose.”

It is because Death of a Salesman operates on so many individual and interrelated levels that the show receives raves and accolades each time it is revived in New York and other venues. It is also why Southwest Florida residents and visitors should planning on seeing this production during its run at the Laboratory Theater of Florida. The show’s remaining performances are on January 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30 and 31, with its final performance taking place on February 1. Tickets are $12 for students, $18.50 for seniors and military on Thursdays, and $22 for adults. They are available for purchase at the door or online at There will be an audience talk-back after the Sunday, January 26 performance. All guests are welcome to participate.



The Englishman to present ‘The Florida Four’ on January 16 (01-13-14)

unnamedThe Englishman Gallery will present “The Florida Four” on January 16, with an opening reception from 6-9 p.m. The Florida Four is a professional group of well-known and collectible representational American painters, all having a common interest in capturing the timeless natural essence of the southern landscape. The artists have unique painting styles, but each is passionate in their pursuit of beauty. Their paintings transcend the scene, and invite you to share in the experience of being outdoors. The Englishman Gallery is located at 1190 3rd Street South in the heart of the Third Street South Gallery District. For more information, please visit



Hot Works announces winners of 13th Bi-Annual Estero Fine Art Show (01-12-14)

The 13th Bi-Annual Estero Fine Art Show™ was held on January 4 & 5, 2014 at Miromar Outlets. Juried by art professionals who each have more than 30 years of art experience, this fine art and fine craft fair showcases original and personally handmade work in disciplines that include paintings, sculpture, clay, glass, wood, fiber, jewelry, photography, and more.

In order to encourage the juried artists to bring their very best work, a second round of judging takes place on the first day of the fair. This year, that judging was conducted by industry advocate Joseph Halbrucker, whose credits and experience include five years as General Manager with Sunshine Artist Magazine, a nationwide art publication for artists and art fairs. In addition, Halbrucker was Director of Anthony Lawrence Gallery in Winter Park, FL. Mr. Halbrucker considered technique/execution, originality, and booth appearance in awarding $1,500 in cash awards:

 Juror’s Award of Excellence $500

  • G. Jonathon Stopper, Jewelry
  • Michael Banks, Painting

Artist Awards of Excellence $100 each

  • Sherry & Steve Whorl, Glass
  • Eric & Jeanne Zumwalt, Clay
  • Sally Bright, Sculpture
  • John Seevers, Mixed Media
  • Marvin & Bonnie Bower, Fiber

The fair is sponsored by Hot Works, LLC, and produced by Patty Narozny, a show director with a national standing and reputation, in conjunction with the Institute for the Arts & Education, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that focuses on visual arts and community enrichment.

“Join us on November 15 & 16, 2014 for the 14th Estero Fine Art Show™, located at Miromar Outlets,” invites Director Patty Narozny. Event hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is free admission and free parking. For more information, please visit



Naples Art Association issues call to artists for Chalk Art 2014 (01-12-14)

Chalk Art 1The Naples Art Association has issued a call for Chalk Art 2014 on historic 5th Avenue South. Seasoned artists, artists in the making, schools, scouts and civic groups are all invited to display their creativity in an event that draws thousands as Neopolitans and winter visitors each time it takes place.

Chalk Artist 06 (3)“Please show off your creative, artistic talents and help us transform 5th Avenue South into a huge color splashed canvas on Saturday, January 25th,” states Naples Art in its call to artists. “Chalk Art 2014 will be a great celebration of artists and their creative works of chalk painting, located on 5th Avenue South. All proceeds will benefit the Pelican Bay Rotary Scholarship Fund. This event is being held in one of the most popular tourist months in Naples, and you will have great exposure for your work.”

Chalk Artist 14 (3)The Naples Art Association will match artists with a sponsor, or you can get your own sponsor or purchase your own chalk square. Chalk, brushes, water and mixing containers will be provided to all registered artists.

The rules are simple and straightforward. The sponsor’s name must go at the top of each sponsored square. Artists may not use any portion of their assigned square for self-promotion Child Artist(unless the artist has purchased their own square). However, artists may hand out business cards or other collateral to interested passersby. Sponsors may not influence the content of a square – content is open to artists’ creativity, with the exception of sponsor name written across the top of the square.

Last year produced a terrific response from the art community. In addition to entertainment, live music, fashion shows, Patchouilly 01 (2)food and huge color-splashed canvases of chalk painting, the culmination of Chalk Art 2014 will be the announcement of cash prizes and People’s Choice awards. The three artists selected by the celebrity panel will receive $1,000 for 1st Place, $600 for 2nd Place and $400 for 3rd Place, and for purposes of the judging, the size of the artist’s square does not matter. The judges are only interested in originality.

Couples 01 (5)But the spectators who turn out for Chalk Art 2014 will also have their say. There are three sizes of squares, and each square size will be awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for a total of 9 winners, all determined by the public voting with tickets they purchase from the Pelican Bay Rotary Club on site. So participating artists and their sponsors are encouraged to get their family, friends and patrons to come and vote. It only costs $1.00 a ticket or 6 tickets for $5.00 or 15 tickets for $10.00 or 50 tickets for $20.00.

If you would like to be a participating artist, please email to




Craft Guild’s annual ‘Fine Craft Bash’ at Cape Coral Art Studio January 26 (01-11-14)

craft guild 4On Sunday, January 26, 2014, the Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild will hold their annual Fine Craft Bash at the Cape Coral Art Studio. From novice to expert, artisan to collector, there’s something for everyone who attends the Fine Craft Bash.

Lorraine Capps' Wave Rider and Other Fused Glass“Choose from a full day of workshops taught by the Guild’s artists, watch a stone sculpture demonstration, and participate in the raffle for fine crafts donated by Guild artists all to help benefit the Art Studio and the Guild’s scholarship fund,” the Guild encourages in its press release announcing the Bash. “The workshops are three hours long and attendees will take home what they’ve created in class. Workshops start at 9 .am. and end at noon, when everyone breaks for a brown bag lunch. Then a new set of classes resume at 1 p.m., concluding at 4.”

At 2013 von Liebig Craft Guild Dimensions in Art 4Workshops include fused glass, raku pottery, silversmithing, basketry, loom weaving, mosaics, beadweaving, stained glass and doll making. The cost for workshops are $35 for one class, $60 for 2 classes. Guild members and students receive a discount; $30 for one class and $55 for two. For registration and class information, please call the Cape Coral Art Studio at 574-0802. The studio is located at 4533 Coronado Parkway in Cape Coral.

Kate Seitz Alice Melzer and Lorraine Capps2Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild’s mission is to encourage high standards of performance and accomplishments in fine crafts. Guild members achieve this mission by means of participation, promotions and education through shows, exhibitions, demonstrations and art scholarships. SWFFCG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is the only area art group dedicated solely to fine crafts and 3-dimensional works. Over the past 33 years, the Guild has become a well known dynamic and evolving organization of local artists, craftsmen and craftswomen. The Guild’s members combine old world craftsmanship with contemporary techniques to produce unique works of art. Many members are award winners on local, regional and national levels.

The Guild’s home is located at the Cape Coral Arts Studio, 4533 Coronado Parkway, Cape Coral, Florida 33904. For information on exhibits and membership, please visit



‘Art After Dark’ returns to Crayton Cove art district Saturday night (01-10-14)
Map of Crayton CoveThe Galleries of Crayton Cove present “Art After Dark” on Saturday January 11, 2014, from 6 to 9 p.m.  Crayton Cove is a professional artist community in Old Naples on the Bay which is comprised of Arsenault Gallery, Earth & Fire, Nora Butler Design, Phil Fisher Gallery, Naples Ship Store, Art Gallery Old Naples 2 and Guess-Fisher Gallery. During Art After Dark, the galleries stay open late and welcome the public inside to discover the newest offerings by the artists represented in these concurrent receptions. All the galleries are are  located within a one-block walk of the intersection of 8th Street S. & 12th Avenue S.

Fisher and Guess to present paintings and batiks that feature sites from recent trip to Italy and France (01-10-14)

Cote D'Azur #1726On Monday, February 3, 2014, the Phil Fisher Gallery will present watercolors, oils and batiks painted by Phil Fisher and Natalie Guess en plein air during a recent trip to Italy and France. The public is invited to vicariously experience their journey through their numerous paintings of various scenes of Italy and Provence, and discover why so many artists through the ages have been inspired to make lasting images of these areas.

Inside Bleu Provence 05 (3)During the exhibition, which is titled From Northern Italy To The South Of France, Bleu Provence will be offering a wine tasting, and Travel Concierge Susan Agnelli will be available to answer questions about travel opportunities.

Phil Fisher has been painting in oil and watercolors for more than 40 years. “I love being around the water, so have a particular love for boats (especially sailboats), beaches and palm trees,” Phil professes. Phil 2010“I love the tropical light and colors of the islands.” His palette expresses Phil’s emotional connection with the light he experiences in the various destinations he visits, which have included over the years Italy, San Miguel, Mexico, The Bahamas, Florida, Ohio, New England and Northern Michigan.

NicoleCAfter being introduced to the medium in high school and experimenting with it for about six years, Natalie Guess has been creating and teaching batik for over 32 years. Her artwork is included in numerous private collections, as well as corporate and museum collections at Northern Trust Bank, Lely Corporation, Bank of Illinois, Lee Memorial Health Park, McDonald & Company Securities, Inc., and the permanent collection of the Naples Art Association at The von Liebig Art Center. With work featured by local, national and international publications, including Batik for Artists and Quilters by Eloise Piper and The CEO Advantage Journal 2011, Guess has been instrumental in getting batik recognized as a fine art media.

Come and enjoy the charms of these two beautiful countries through the eyes and brushes of Phil Fisher and Natalie Guess. Phil Fisher Gallery is located in 810 12th Ave. S. in Naples’ Crayton Cove art district. For more information, please telephone 239-403-8393 or visit


‘Death of a Salesman’ opens at Lab Theater on January 10 (01-08-14)

Laboratory TheaterArthur Miller’s American masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, will open at The Laboratory Theater of Florida on Friday, January 10. The Laboratory Theater production stars Mitch Haley as the iconic salesman, Willy Loman, and Joann Haley as the enabling Linda Loman.

Death of a Salesman publicity shot 1Rob Green plays Biff, the disappointed son, and Stu Colon performs as the Lomans’ other son, Happy. Rounding out the cast is Rick Sebastian as next-door neighbor Charley, Bill Molesky as Ben, the fantasy older brother who only exists in Willy’s mind, and Mary Powell, Jeffrey Schmitt, David Jennings, Caitlynn Crawford, Ken Bryant, and Taylor Adair.

Louise Wigglesworth is directing the production. Wigglesworth worked for three decades in secondary college theater arts education in New Jersey, also directing classic and contemporary plays and musicals. Death of a Salesman publicity shot 2Her eight years in Florida have been spent directing plays such as The Lion in Winter, Picnic, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Shakespeare in the Park. For Lab Theater, Louise has directed The Stronger, Twenty Seven Wagons Full of Cotton, The Laramie Project and The Rimers of Eldritch, and she wrote the world premiere stage play of Camus’ The Plague. Lab Theater will host a staged reading of Louise’s new play, In the Shade of Old Trees, later this season.

“It’s a very honored play, very decorated, and for obvious reasons,” says director Louise Wigglesworth. “The cast is strong and experienced and the more we work, the more we discover.”

Laboratory Theater Exterior 2 (3)Assistant director Nykkie Rizley adds that “Death of a Salesman is relevant today because we are still striving for the American dream and constantly reassessing what that dream is. Willy Loman and his sons are deeply flawed characters and Linda Loman enables all of them. These are parents who are teaching their sons that they don’t have to work for anything, that they are already great. It’s totally unrealistic and a serious disservice to the kids. It’s their tragedy.”

Death of a Salesman premieres at 8 p.m. on January 10, 2014. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. for the opening night reception. Other performances are on January 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30 and 31. The final performance is on February 1.

Tickets are $12 for students, $18.50 for seniors and military on Thursdays, and $22 for adults. They are available for purchase at the door or online at There will be an audience talk-back after the Sunday, January 26 performance. All guests are welcome to participate.



Art festival season heats up January 11-12 weekend with four shows (01-07-14)

DSC03741__t588 (2)On Saturday, January 11, 2014Naples Artcrafters will host a juried fine art and craft show in beautiful Cambier Park in downtown Naples. The event features incredibly diverse and talented local artists that will share paintings, photography, glass art, jewelry and metal work, as well as handcrafted sculptures, pottery and much more. The show takes place on 8th Street South, one block south of fabled Fifth Avenue South, behind Starbucks and within view of the band shell and Cambier’s Quilt, the first public art project at a municipal building under the City of Naples’ public art ordinance.

Glass Art Logo TooThe Bonita Springs National Art Festival moves to Riverside Park in Bonita Springs this year, and its first of three fine art festivals takes place on Saturday, January 11 and Sunday, January 12. In 2011, Bonita Springs National was ranked the #10 art festival in the nation by The Art Fair SourceBook and #11 by Sunshine Artist Magazine. This festival stresses quality and originality, with the 211 artists juried into the show from across the United States, Canada, South America and even Europe exhibiting and selling original paintings, drawings, pastels, photography, handcrafted jewelry, clay works and ceramics, glass art, metal sculpture and more. Riverside Park is located at 10450 Reynold Street or 27000 Old 41 Road in central Bonita Springs, Florida 34135.

The 29th Annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts takes place in downtown Cape Coral on January 11-12, 2014. Scheduled to participate in this year’s festival, are over 300 artists from such categories as; fine crafts, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, and sculpture.

site_header_en (2)On Marco Island, the Art League of Marco Island Fine Craft Fair also takes place on January 11 & 12, 2014. This fair is held at 1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island, Florida 34145, which is across from the new Esplanade Shoppes, Residences and Marina right in the center of town. Now in its 15th year, this craft fair provides browsers and art enthusiasts with some of the region’s best original artwork, including paintings, watercolors, photography and digital art, ceramics, pottery, glass, clothing, children’s clothing, jewelry and mixed media work.

To see the full 2013-2014 art festival and fair calendar, please click here.



1st Wednesday Underground ART takes place in Naples Art District on January 8 (01-07-13)

49785_640x638On the first Wednesday of each month from November through April, the 26 galleries and independent artist studios who comprise Art Alliance Naples open their doors to the public from 5-8 p.m. Called 1st Wednesday Underground ART, the event is a unique opportunity to not only visit some of southwest Florida’s most interesting galleries, but immerse yourself in the smells, sights and sounds of the studios of more than 80 emerging and mid-career artists working in a broad cross-section of genres and media. January’s event takes place this Wednesday, January 8.

012 (2)Sandwiched between Goodlette Frank Road and Airport Pulling Road, the Naples Art District acts as a refuge for local artists, allowing 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, owner and artist of namesake Rosen Gallery & Studios, and member of Art Alliance Naples. “We hear from so many people they never realized there were so many studios and galleries in the industrial park.”

Sweet Art Exterior 01This 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 Underground ART evening. This affords art lovers 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.

031 (2)Underground ART is free, and many of the galleries and studios serve complimentary wine and light fare. Participating galleries and studios have maps and information sheet so that you can find your way around the Naples Art District, which lies in the Pine Ridge Industrial Park north of Pine Ridge Road and west of Airport Pulling Road. For more information or a list of the galleries and studies who participate in 1st Wednesday Underground Art, please click here.



FLAG 7 juried exhibit opens on Friday at Alliance for the Arts (01-07-14)

Alliance BldgAn exhibit featuring work by 16 members of the Florida Artists Group opens on Friday with a reception from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Alliance for the Arts.

Since 1949, FLAG has held annual members’ juried exhibitions in different Florida cities. This year, they have chosen Fort Myers. The non-profit organization’s members are professional artists whose work has achieved national or state-wide recognition. Their purpose is to “stimulate attainment of the highest standards of creative art within the State of Florida.”

Honey Costa-Whale WatchingThe FLAG 7 juried exhibit features work by artists in Lee, Collier & Hendry Counties, including: Ahlin, Janis Balabon, Cheryl Bogdanowitsch, Pam Brodersen, Patrice Burkhardt, Joanna Coke, Honey Costa, Cheryl Fausel, Gay Germain, Cecily Hangen, Joan Klutch, Richard Rosen, Joan Sonnenberg, Susan von Gries, Patricia Zalisko and Peter Zell.

Pam Brodersen-El ToroArtwork by Alliance instructors and their students will be featured in the Member Gallery during the FLAG 7 exhibit. Fort Myers artists Leo Johnson will hold a Gallery Walk on Saturday, January 11, from 10:00 to 11 a.m. Leigh Frizzell Hayes is the FLAG 7 exhibit sponsor. The exhibit remains on display and open to the public during normal business hours until Saturday, February 1. For more information, please visit or call 239-939-2787.

The Alliance campus and galleries are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. The Alliance is located at 10091 McGregor Boulevard just south of Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers. Kindly visit for additional details.



Lorelei finds new home at Ft. Myers-Lee County Garden Council (01-06-14)

17 Leaving the LibrarySince 1961, a finely-sculpted Italian marble sculpture by the name of Lorelei has graced the front entry of the Fort Myers-Lee County Library on Jackson Street. But when the library moved to its new 40,000-square-foot quarters at the corner of First and Royal Palm Boulevard, Lorelei was left behind. Headless and in need of significant repairs and conservation, it seemed for a time that the woeful German siren might be sold, or even abandoned. But today, the firm of Flint & Doyle moved Lorelei gratis to her new home in the Berne Davis Garden at the Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council.

33 En Route“When we read about Lorelei’s plight in the River Weekly, we knew we had to do something,” said Kay Holloway, as she and a group of Council members waited anxiously for the four-man Flint & Doyle crew to expertly unload the five foot tall sculpture from the flatbed truck on which the statue made the short trip from Jackson to Virginia Street. “We are over-the-top excited to bring her here,” added Second Vice-President Sandy Kavouras. “It feels like she’s finally coming home.”

38 Unloading the SirenLorelei never actually spent time on the Garden Council grounds, but she did reside in the well-tended garden of Evelyn D. Rea from 1930 until a short time after Rea’s death in 1959. A member of the Periwinkle Garden Club, Rea maintained a well-tended garden at her residence on the Caloosahatchee River not far from the Garden Council grounds. The oldest garden club in Lee County, the Periwinkle was Mina Edison’s garden club, and she and husband Thomas were among the first guests to admire the sculpture after Ms. Rea installed Lorelei at her home following her return from Italy, where she found and purchased the sculpture that was created near Rome in 1880 by Boston-born artist Emma Elisabeth Phinney.

In the Hibiscus Garden, East View, Wide AngleThe Periwinkle was one of nine garden clubs who banded together in 1957 to form the Garden Council. Today, it is one of the Council’s twenty member garden clubs, eight plant societies and two affiliates which, together, boast more than 1,800 individual members throughout Southwest Florida. The Council moved to its current location on Virginia in 2007 compliments of a long-term lease from the City of Fort Myers. Now the Garden Council is returning the favor, assuming responsibility for Lorelei’s custody, conservation and care. You see, had the Garden Council not stepped forward to offer Lorelei a fenced-in new home, the City might have been compelled to de-assession the piece from its public art collection because it does not have the money needed to properly repair and maintain the 133-year-old white marble sculpture.

View from Behind the Fountain 1Last March, the City’s Public Art Committee hired a conservator to examine Lorelei and tell them what it would cost to replace her missing head, left elbow and toes, which were lost when the statue was damaged by one or more vandals on the night of October 29, 1997. The culprits were never caught, and the missing pieces have never resurfaced. Replacing the head could cost between $5,000 and $10,000 depending upon whether ceramic or marble is used. But conservators Rosa Lowinger and Laruen Hall don’t think the missing body parts should be replaced because the vandalism is now part of the sculpture’s history. “We agree,” states Garden Council president Debbie Wyatt-Stotter. “She’s beautiful just the way she is.”

Lorelei Front View 2Well, almost. Lowinger and Hall emphatically recommended that the sculpture be cleaned and the marble stabilized. Moisture from the plants that surrounded her in the landscaping bed in front of the old library, UV damage from direct sunlight and exposure to more than half a century of wind and rain have caused the marble to flake. The resulting spalling can be treated through injection and other repair methods (at a cost more than $6,000). But the repairs will only be a temporary fix unless the Garden Club also takes measures to protect Lorelei from the direct sunlight, rain, leaching from standing water, and wind. For now, Lorelei stands in full sunlight in the Council’s hibiscus garden. To protect the statue from future environmental damage, they will either need to move her indoors or cover the sculpture and surround the plinth on which she stands with river rock that promotes drainage of stormwater away from the delicate marble – all of which entails further significant cost.

Lorelei with Garden Council President Debbie Wyatt-StotterBut Wyatt-Stotter, Holloway and Kovouras seem committed to provide Lorelei what she needs so that she can be enjoyed for generations to come at her new home on Virginia in the Berne Davis Gardens. The Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 1:oo p.m. on Tuesdays. Lorelei will be officially re-dedicated and presented to the public and Garden Council members from 10:00 a.m. to 2:o0 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18. The gardens are located at 2166 Virginia Avenue (off McGregor Blvd), Fort Myers, Florida 33901. For more information, please telephone 239-332-4942 or visit



Sally Bright basketry conjures images of topographical landscapes and biomorphic shapes (01-05-14)

Sally Bright 1Sally J. Bright is one of America’s most talented and creative basketry artists. She is one of 120 artists who are exhibiting their work at this weekend’s 13th Bi-Annual Estero Fine Art Show.

Bright is a sculptor who just happens work in the genre of basketry. She weaves topographical landscapes and non-representational shapes that capture action and emotion rather than an objective, readily-discernible motif. Her media include rattan, palm and a mix of metals, and acrylic paint, which she applies via airbrush to the finished wall-hanging or freestanding 3D work.

Sally Bright 2“I began collecting baskets as a teenager in Southern California – always searching the local shops for the most unusual ones, never thinking about where they came from,” Sally reminisces. “The synchronicity and realization of my life long love of basketry came full circle after moving to Michigan as an adult years later.”

Sally Bright 4Her life-changing moment occurred one day when she happened upon a new craft shop announcing basket weaving classes. “I instantly envisioned that once I learned to make baskets I would combine the traditional craft of basketry with my creative arts background to create organic sculptural designs unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Before I knew it, the images in my head were becoming a reality. My traditional basketry weaving techniques enabled me to develop my very own peerless art form by freely using my imagination and creative interests.”

Her work is abstract in the sense that she leave it to the viewer to assign their own interpretations and meaning to her work. Many are biomorphic, suggesting amoeba, paramecium and other single-cell organisms. Others conjure images of rolling hills, mountain ranges and the Amazon rain forest. “None of my sculptures are pinched or squeezed,” Sally explains. “The shapes you see are woven that way.” There is no armature or skeleton, which makes even her largest wall hangings extremely lightweight and easy to move.

Sally Bright 3Not surprisingly, Bright has won numerous Best of Shows and Awards of Excellence across the country in the 10-15 shows in which she exhibits each year. She enjoys the art festival experience, which affords her the opportunity to share her art, inspiration and process with countless admirers and future collectors. “I’d exhibit more, but I also need to put in my time in the studio,” she quickly adds. “After weaving artistic works for almost 30 years, I still strive to continue pushing the definition of ‘basketry;’ to increase the complexity of my work; to stimulate the imagination of the viewer; and to create beauty.”

The Estero Fine Art Show™ takes place at Miromar Outlet Mall this weekend. This high-quality juried art show opens at 10 a.m. today and runs until 4 p.m.



SWFL Museum of History partnering with True Tours for River District walking tours (01-05-14)

SWFL Museum of History Building 1The Southwest Florida Museum of History has partnered with True Tours to offer educational and entertaining historical walking tours of downtown Fort Myers. The museum and True Tours have long offered separate historical walking tours, so they forged a public-private partnership to eliminate redundant activities.

play“We’re excited about working with True Tours. They offer a professional tour with new stories to tell and innovative ways of telling them,” says museum director Matt Johnson. “That’s what True Tours specializes and excels in.”

Beginning Wednesday, January 8, two tours will be offered each Wednesday and Saturday – at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. – through season.

At the American EagleTrue Tour owner Gina Taylor, the former executive director of Lee Trust for Historic Preservation, has extensive knowledge of local architecture and culture, and continues her research to add interesting dimensions to each story about local landmarks and town founders. Her goal is to create an enjoyable and memorable experience for visitors and residents.

“The tour is always evolving as I discover interesting facts,” she says. “I think participants should feel entertained while learning history. There’s a lot of local color to share.”

Original Photo of USCT (2)Tour-takers will learn about the original military fort (the city’s namesake); a deep rivalry that fueled the establishment of the business district; historic landmarks and colorful characters; and tales of life in this unique community along the banks of the Caloosahatchee.

  • What: Historical Walking Tours of My River District
  • When: Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (arrive 15 minutes early)
  • Where: Departing SWFL Museum of History, 2031 Jackson Street, Fort Myers
  • Cost: $12 + tax and gratuity. Space is limited; reservations required. Add museum admission for only $5.
  • Call: Museum (239) 321-7430, Tuesday through Saturday. Call True Tours off-hours and weekends at (239) 945-0405 for reservations.



Leoma Lovegrove and True Tours team up to offer Matlacha Island Historic Walking Tours (01-04-14)

Leoma at Team Tourism 2013Artist Leoma Lovegrove and True Tours announced yesterday that beginning Friday, January 10, 2014, True Tours will begin guiding a newly-expanded Matlacha Island Historical Walking Tour. The tour will offer participants a fresh look into the rich history of Matlacha Island that locals and visitors alike will not want to miss.

Lovegrove started the tours two years ago because so many of her gallery’s visitors inquired about the island’s history and evolution into a 021 (4)quirky artists’ enclave that some now call “the new Key West” or “Key West North.” Revamped and expanded, the tours will tell the story of how Depression-era squatters transformed fill dredged up from the bottom of Matlacha Pass to create a causeway across the mangroves into a thriving fishing community that was virtually put out of business overnight by a net ban that went into effect in 1992. But Matlacha was resilient, and over the next two decades, the island’s fishing shanties and shacks were converted into artists’ studios and galleries that attract visitors from around the world.

100_2260 (3)“Learn about how this quirky fishing village transformed into a haven for painters, authors, musicians and global tourism,” the joint press release states. “Visitors will have a whole new appreciation and understanding of Matlacha Island as they spend time exploring the restored historic fishing shacks in the designated historic district. Guests might even catch a glimpse of a famous artist creating in the midst of it all.

100_2189 (2)All tours begin with coffee at 8 a.m. in Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens‘ magical waterside courtyard that overlooks Matlacha Pass. Reservations are required and can be made by calling True Tours at (239) 945-0405 or online at

True Tours offers historical walking tours that educate and entertain guest with stories of local Southwest Florida history. To learn more, please visit

playLeoma Lovegrove is an impressionist-expressionist painter known worldwide for her splashy, artistic depictions of the Florida lifestyle. Located in the heart of Matlacha Island on the southwest coast of Florida,Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens is one of the most colorful landmarks in the Sunshine State. The Gallery is located at 4637 Pine Island Road, NW on Matlacha Island. To learn more, please



Estero Fine Art Show opens today under cloudy skies at Miromar Outlet Mall (01-04-14)

Estero October 2012 EThe Estero Fine Art Show™ takes place at Miromar Outlet Mall this weekend. This high-quality juried art show opens at 10 a.m. today and tomorrow and runs until 4 p.m. both days.

The event occurs on the southeast side of Miromar Outlet Mall, near the intersection of Corkscrew and Ben Hill Griffin Roads, Estero October 2012 Dgiving art lovers an unparalleled opportunity to combine a day of art browsing and buying with shopping and dining at a venue that’s been voted Southwest Florida’s “Best Factory Outlet Shopping Center” 15 years in a row. One hundred twenty local and internationally-acclaimed artists will be present throughout the two-day event and live art demonstrations afford numerous opportunities for patrons to witness first-hand the various processes that the artists go through and the techniques they employ in order to create high-quality artworks in their chosen medium.

Fountain of the Tortoises 3In addition to richly landscaped covered walkways throughout the mall, Miromar boasts a number of exquisite fountains. The one located in the hub fronted by Gap and Oakley is patterned after the Fontana della Tartarughe (Fountain of the Tortoises) in Piazza Mattei on Via Dei Funia in Rome, Italy. The original was built between 1581 and 1588 by Giacomo della Porta with bronze figures by Taddeo Landini (1550-1596). The original concept was that of male figures riding dolphins (thus the fountain’s first name, Fountain of the Dolphins). But when the fountain was restored in 1659 at the request of Pope Alexander VII, the dolphins were replaced with male figures pushing tortoises toward the upper basin (and the fountain became known as the Fountain of the Tortoises).

Another Fountain 2Nearby Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club is the #1 residential community in the United States. It is the only Florida community ever to win the National Association of Home Builders’ Gold Award for Community of the Year. The 1800 acre residential community features a 700 acre freshwater lake, three miles of private white sandy beach, and signature championship golf all within one luxurious setting. The National Gold Award was presented to Miromar Lakes for its excellence and superiority. EsteroLogo1.14_websiteMiromar Lakes also holds the honor of Best Clubhouse in the United States for its Beach. This truly puts Miromar Lakes in a class of its own, as no other community has ever won both #1 Community and #1 Clubhouse in the United States.

“This event brings a great buying audience,” notes Hot Works Executive Director Patty Narozny, who combines the art festival with a youth competition and show.

In addition to free live entertainment, there is free parking and free admission. For more information, please click here.



Festival goers have three art shows from which to choose this weekend (01-02-14)

EsteroLogo1.14_websiteThe 13th Bi-Annual Estero Fine Art Show takes place at the Miromar Outlet Mall on Saturday, January 4, and Sunday, January 5, 2014, giving art lovers an unparalleled opportunity to combine a day of art browsing and buying with shopping and dining at a venue that’s been voted Southwest Florida’s “Best Factory Outlet Shopping Center” 15 years in a row. This top-notch fine art & craft event brings to Estero, Florida new original paintings, drawings, pastels, photography, ceramics, clay, glass, sculpture, wood working and carvings, fiber art and art jewelry from the ateliers, studios and workshops of some 120 local and internationally-acclaimed artists.

Street ShotThe Naples Art Association‘s Downtown Naples New Year’s Art Fair returns to Naples’ Fifth Avenue South on the weekend of January 4-5, 2014. Last year, the artworks on display were valued collectively at nearly $15 million. As in years past, every category will be represented, from original oils and acrylics on canvas, panel and galvanized aluminum to watercolors on paper, 2D and 3D mixed media, limited edition prints, photography, digital art, metal sculpture, wood carvings, ceramics, hand-crafted jewelry, leather works and more. Because of its national ranking (Sunshine Artist ranked it as the #62 festival in the nation in 2011) and the beautiful weather in southwest Florida during this time of year, the Downtown Naples New Year’s Art Fair draws 200 of the finest artists in the country, which explains why more than 15,000 art enthusiasts turned out for this art fair last year.

029 (4)Art in the Park will run alongside the Downtown Naples New Year’s Art Fair on Saturday, January 4. Art in the Park not only features work by Naples Art Association member artists in booths set up on Park Street outside The von Liebig Art Center, but art demonstrations by NAA artists plus art projects for the whole family. There are projects inside The von Liebig Art Center for the kids as well. Art in the Park is not just an add-on to the Downtown Naples New Year’s Art Fair. It is a festival that has stood on its own merits for more than 57 years.



Only two more nights to enjoy Edison Ford ‘Holiday Nights’ (01-02-14)

January 4 is the final night of Edison Ford Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.  Edison Ford will be open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday.

2013 Holiday Nights - Seminole Lodge 1Edison Ford was chosen by the USA Today “10 Best” editors as one of the 10 best historic homes for the holidays. The short list included The White House, Mount Vernon, Monticello and the Biltmore in North Carolina. Florida destinations making the USA Today 10 Best list were The Ca’d’Zan, the spectacular Venetian Gothic mansion and former home of circus tycoon John Ringling and his wife Mable, which offers Sarasota visitors 2013 Holiday Nights - Exchanging Presents 1Art After 5 extended hours on Thursday evenings throughout December, and the Vizcaya in Miami, where visitors can see what the mansion might have looked like when wealthy industrialist James Deering decorated it for the holidays while listening to Christmas tunes on the estate’s custom-built pipe organ.

During the holidays the homes and gardens of Thomas and Mina Edison and Henry and Clara Ford are seasonally decorated.  Throughout the day visitors have the option of a self-guided tour or a guided tour with an Edison Ford site historian. Special holiday tradition tours are at 6 and 7 p.m.

2013 Holiday Nights - Seminole Lodge Grounds 2Holiday Nights cost:

  • Self-guided tours: adults $15, children $2 (6 -12);
  • Guided Tours: Adults  $20, children $11 (6 -12);
  • Edison Ford Members FREE.

The Edison Ford is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The Edison Ford is the winner of the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures” at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site. For additional information call 239-334-7419 or visit



Artists prepare for 13th Bi-Annual Estero Fine Art Show at Miromar Outlet Mall (01-01-14)

EsteroLogo1.14_websiteA panel of art professionals has selected more than 125 artists for this weekend’s 13th Bi-Annual Fine Art Show at the Miromar Outlet Mall. As many of the artists participating in the show hail from frigid, northern climes, they are busily heading south for the show ahead of the menacing winds of white-out conditions associated with Winter Storm Hercules, which is expected to dump as much as 18 inches of snow across Michigan and the northeast.

Among the local artists taking part in the festival are Estero mixed media artist Anne De La Croix, Fort Myers artists Adams Serra (photography) and Estero 1027 DeLeon8Anisa Steward (jewelry), Bonita Springs painter Kimberly Marshall, Naples artists Charlotte Burnett (jewelry), Julianne Lardas (fiber). Belisario Manrique (painting) and Gilles Peltier (digital and sculpture), Cape Coral artists Kimberly Colvard Oberholtzer (painting) and Svetlana Kuznets (fiber) and Bokeelia sculptor Wayne Francis. To see the full list of Estero Fine Art Show artists and their booth locations, please click here.

Estero October 2012 A (2)The bi-annual Estero Fine Art Show™ takes place twice a year, January 4 & 5, 2014 and November 15 & 16, 2014. It is sponsored by Hot Works Fine Art & Fine Craft Shows, which has a national and standing reputation. The event takes place 100% outdoors at Miromar Outlets, an award-winning mall located just east of I-75 and adjacent to Miromar Lakes, voted the #1 community in the nation in which to live.

Estero October 2012 DThis art fair is a high quality, juried fine art and fine craft show with world-renowned and top-notch local artists. The jurors each have more than 30 years’ experience, whose focus is technique/execution, originality and booth appearance. All forms of disciplines are for sale including paintings, sculpture, clay, glass, fiber, wood, photography, jewelry and more. All work is original and personally handmade by the artist in the show.  The event is open Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is free admission and free parking.




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