Artists from all over the nation and beyond were celebrated for their creative energy at the third annual "Paint the Beach...Sandcastles to Shrimpboats" at the Gala Collectors Preview Party inside an erected tent in the Santini Marina Plaza parking lot last Friday.
Awards and prizes were given to winning artists who had their framed artwork on display for all to view. Sponsored by Fort Myers Beach Art Association, Santini Marina Plaza and Fish-Tale Marina, the event featured musical performances from the Cypress Lake String Quartet and hor's d'ourvres from the Santini Marina Plaza restaurants.
After we had the first Paint the Beach Gala, I thought it was incredible. I'm glad to see that it is being received tonight just like it was the first year," said Fish-Tale Marina owner Al Durrett, one of the events sponsors and dignitaries. "I want to say a special thank you to the artists. The money generated here is going to a great cause."
A record number of artists attended this year's weeklong event, which was begun by the members of the Fort Myers Beach Art Association. The volunteer organization is comprised of a group of 200 members, who loved to paint and appreciate art, according to FMBAA President Meg Bushnell.
"This group has so much energy and vitality," she said. "We are going to continue it. It's a wonderful affair. I urge you to find a piece of original art and purchase it. There is nothing like having something that is truly yours and no one has anything else like it."
A live auction involved a half-day fishing trip donated by Capt. Phil Pica, a trip for two to Key West on the Key West Express, a two-night stay at the Comfort In, and a tapas party for 40 donated by Skye's Restaurant.
2012 Paint the Beach
- Award winners
1. David Belling - 'Tenders"
2. Julie Nusbaum - "Herons Peek"
3. Neil Walling - "Lovers Key Sunrise"
- Special award "Most representative of the beach":
Sheila Thorton - "Path to the Beach"
- Merit award: Susan Armstrong - "Heavenly Biscuit'
- Merit award: Mary Moran - "Lead Me On"
- Honorable mentions:
Priscilla Coote - "Gimme Shelter"
Gail Trent Risner - "Beach Cottage For Rent"
Brian Christensen - "Low Tide"
Kathryn McMahon - "Morning Sky At Parrot Key"
Joan Roberts - "Joint Effort"
Maria Magdalene Toaquiza Ugsha - "The Proud Shark Fisherman"
- Quick Draw: 1. Neil Walling "Blue Umbrellas"
* Judged by Kevin Dean, director of Selby Gallery,
Ringling College of Art & Design
Awards were given to the top three judged paintings and honorable mentions as well as two merit awards and a special award for "Most representative of the beach."
'There was a lot of very interesting pieces," said Judge Kevin Dean, director of Selby Gallery, Ringling College of Art & Design. "Congratulations to you all."
Artist David Belling's painting entitled 'Tenders" gained $1,000 for first place, while Julie Nusbaum's second-place piece named "Herons Peek" notched $750 and Neil Walling's art named "Lovers Key Sunrise" took third and received $500.
"Art is part of the fabric of this community. The success of this art show shows you how important it is," said Bud Nocera, president of the Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
With the help of the Beach Art Association, Beach Elementary School fourth and fifth graders again created their own paintings and had them displayed in the festival tent. Principal Larry Wood, who celebrated his birthday that evening, thanked all those involved.
"These people mean so much to the Beach, the arts on the Beach and to the kids on the Beach," he said. 'They have just given multi-thousands of dollars to our school and promoted the arts in this community."
Beach Mayor Bob Raymond applauded the festival as a whole.
"This is one of the best things for the image of Fort Myers Beach that we've ever had," he said.
The festival continued throughout the weekend with a Quick Draw painting competition at Times Square, a musical performance by the North Fort Myers Academy Steel Drum Band, an "Imagination Station" where children were allowed to set up and produce their own artwork and a Saturday evening Jazz Cafe with singer Jo List performing and accompanied by a pianist.