Burgeoning City Also Grows Artistically
Varied galleries help fill desire for bigger arts scene
Cape Coral is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States and, no doubt, the weather and the water are a big draw. The city has seen rapid expansion in such industries as home building, tourism, restaurants—but also in organizations and institutions related to arts and culture. Two interesting examples—one private and one public—are the Broken Shell Gallery & Boutique and the art gallery at Cape Coral Lee County Public Library. Both are a reflection of the burgeoning area’s desire for a bigger art scene. Broken Shell Gallery & Boutique, located on the newly revitalized Cape Coral Parkway, opened in November of 2017. Cape Coral Lee County Public Library had an art gallery in its original plans, and first opened the building’s walls, halls and glass cases to local artists in 2003. Ever since, the library has continued to expand its exhibits and they are changed nine times a year.
BROKEN SHELL GALLERY & BOUTIQUE
Gina Lynne Turek is the owner of Broken Shell Gallery & Boutique, which features items such as watercolor paintings, metal art, sculpture, mixed-media pieces, and photographic and blow-glass works. Also included are palm frond art, wood creations, jewelry pieces, hand-painted furniture, handmade soap, body scrubs, candles and much more. “We currently have over 40 talented artists who display their works in the gallery,” explains Turek. She is a self-taught artist who has sold her own work nationally and internationally. “My dream was always to open a gallery so artists have a place to display their works,” she adds. The unique gallery offers adult classes on topics such as painting, palm frond art, karma boxes, decorative wine glasses, and “paint your pet,” as well as a selection of children’s classes—at least two classes per month that vary in age groups and theme. There are also a variety of events, including “meet the artists” and birthday parties. Fundraisers are held for beneficiaries such as local foster children and the Cape Coral Animal Shelter. Plus, there’s a vintage boutique with amazing items that include porcelain and china dolls, and collections focusing on everything from The Beatles to Star Trek. There’s even a year-round Christmas room. What’s additionally great about the gallery is that it is close to coffee shops, restaurants and other local businesses. Thus, a trip to the gallery can be for a few hours or can turn into a fullday experience. Broken Shell Gallery & Boutique posts events, classes and more info on its Facebook page at facebook.com/ pg/thebrokenshell/events.
CAPE CORAL LEE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
On the walls of Cape Coral Lee County Public Library’s cozy alcoves, along its wide hallways and under three lighted glass display cases are a large variety of artworks by local artists—both adults and children. The library’s art gallery is managed by volunteers who belong to the nonprofit Friends of the Cape Coral Library.
The volunteers assist with all tasks related to running the gallery. “Our goal is to give local artists and crafts people the opportunity to share their work with the library patrons and visitors,” explains art gallery chairwoman Monica Rahman. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art and has been organizing the library exhibits as a volunteer for the past seven years. Rahman explains that she “firmly believes that the visual arts, as well as other cultural pursuits, are valuable assets not only to the creative individuals themselves, but also to the community at large.” Cape Coral resident Joyce Boyd says she does more than stop by to check out the books at the library: “Seeing the artwork on the walls is another great reason to stop by the library, and I do stop in and see the exhibits nearly every time they change.” A recent exhibit included winning entries from children’s artwork from a “Coloring the Earth” contest. The theme was “Let’s Protect Our Loggerhead Sea Turtles” and the works were displayed on alcove walls. The Friends of the Cape Coral Library organization posts information about gallery shows and other information at capefriends.org. Each gallery is fascinating in its own way. And as Cape Coral’s population continues to grow, the city is bound to see more and more art galleries and cultural experiences popping up.
Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.
Broken Shell Gallery & Boutique offers a full schedule of classes for adults and children. The gallery displays artwork by local artists, and the boutique features jewelry, handbags, soaps and more.
The art gallery at Cape Coral Lee County Public Library is operated by the Friends of the Cape Coral Library. Exhibits are changed nine times a year.