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Sanibel Masters Art Festival


sanibalName: Sanibel Masters Art Festival November

Date: November 29 and 30, 2019.

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

Hours. 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Place: The festival is held on the grounds of The setSanibel Community House on Periwinkle Drive, Sanibel’s main street. The Sanibel Community House has been an island fixture since 1927 and touts itself as The Gathering Place on Sanibel Island. “Every resident and visitor will be driving by the location during the festival and we benefit greatly from the high visibility,” notes organizer Richard Sullivan. Once on the causeway, continue sanibel-island-07for 3.5 miles before turning right at the first stop sign onto Periwinkle Way, the main thoroughfare on Sanibel Island. Continue for 2.2 miles until you see the Sanibel Community Center where the Art Festival is held.

Description: This festival has been a Sanibel Island Thanksgiving weekend tradition for 26 years. It showcases paintings in oil, acrylic and watercolor, drawings and pastels, 2D and 3D sanibel-island-06mixed media and collages, photography and digital art, woodworking, sculpture, ceramics, glass, fiber art, and jewelry produced by no more than 100 artists and artisans from around the country. (There are 70 outdoor booths and 30 indoor spaces.) Because of the size of the show, visitors have the opportunity to interact with the artists, learn a little about their inspiration, find out how they made their sanibel-island-01artworks, and purchase fine works of art at reasonable prices directly from the artists (or commission a specific work of art if they do not find precisely what they want). In addition to fine art and crafts, the festival is renowned for its gourmet food booths and live entertainment.

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

Sullivan also limits the size and chooses intimate settings for his festivals in order to give participating artists and festival goers a reasonable opportunity to converse about the art on display in the show.

“Our artists need to spend time with the collector,” explains Sullivan. “To explain what he has has value and quality. He can only do that at a small show that’s designed to bring in sophisticated patrons …. People [who] appreciate art.”

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

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

Organizer: Boulderbrook Productions

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


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

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

  • Bonita Springs Invitational Art Festival on November 23 & 24, 2019;
  • Art Festival at the Sanibel Shops on December 7 & 8, 2019;
  • Sanibel SCA Art Festival on January 17 & 18, 2020;
  • Sarasota Masters Art Festival on February 1 & 2, 2020;
  • Bonita Springs Invitational at the Promenades on February 15 & 16, 2020;
  • Boca Grande Masters Art Festival on March 7 & 8, 2020;
  • Peace River National Art Festival on March 21 & 22, 2020; and
  • Bonita Springs Masters on March 28 & 29, 2020.

Fast Facts.

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

Last edited August 7, 2019.


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