A Place for All Things Cre­ative

The Art League of Fort My­ers is a hub for arts and com­mu­nity

Gulf & Main - - CONTENTS - BY DAVID ACEVEDO

THE ARTS

Art cen­ters and or­ga­ni­za­tions are para­mount en­ti­ties for any city. They en­rich our cul­ture and pro­vide a plat­form for all sorts of cre­ative ex­pres­sion. And one of the most im­por­tant art groups in our area is the Art League of Fort My­ers. Its mem­bers work tire­lessly to con­tinue the league’s mis­sion—and bring even more color to our world.

Es­tab­lished in 1956, the league tran­scended from an idea to a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, mov­ing from one lo­ca­tion to an­other—ac­com­mo­dat­ing its growth and so­lid­i­fy­ing its rep­u­ta­tion within the com­mu­nity. Set­tling in its cur­rent down­town space in 2003, the group was es­sen­tial in the es­tab­lish­ment of the Fort My­ers Art Walk in 2008, along with other com­mu­nity lead­ers.

The league’s River Dis­trict lo­ca­tion pro­vides mem­bers with great ac­ces­si­bil­ity and par­tic­i­pa­tion in mul­ti­ple events through­out the year. And the mem­bers re­main as ac­tive as ever, con­duct­ing char­i­ta­ble and ed­u­ca­tional outreach pro­grams and col­lab­o­rat­ing with other non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions. Its main gallery is filled with the beau­ti­ful art­works that range from paint­ings in var­i­ous medi­ums, to sculp­tures, cus­tom jew­elry and fine crafts.

Bar­bara Gage Mul­ford is one of the league’s most ded­i­cated mem­bers. Af­ter mov­ing to Southwest Florida in July of 2017, she de­cided to join sev­eral art asso­ciations in the area. How­ever, the wel­com­ing and sup­port­ive mem­bers of the league made it her first choice.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion is close to home, has a great space, ro­bust web­site and is very sup­port­ive of teach­ers,” says the artist, who teaches classes and hosts paint gath­er­ings reg­u­larly at the venue. “The depth of ex­pe­ri­ence, tal­ent and knowl­edge of the mem­bers is fan­tas­tic and, best of all, I feel like I’ve made a new fam­ily here.”

It is pre­cisely that warm and wel­com­ing at­mos­phere that makes the Art League of Fort My­ers so spe­cial. The open stu­dio hours are fun, as are the cre­ative gath­er­ings, in which be­gin­ner, in­ter­me­di­ate and pro­fes­sional artists share space and cre­ate. Ev­ery Wednes­day and Satur­day, artists, stu­dents and friends are at the league—bead­ing, sketch­ing, col­lag­ing and paint­ing.

The league is a haven for the muses, Zen for most—and a re­treat for all. Best of all, these ses­sions are en­tirely free and open to the pub­lic. This is just one more ex­am­ple of how much the or­ga­ni­za­tion gives to our com­mu­nity.

The Art League of Fort My­ers of­fers a va­ri­ety of classes and work­shops, in­clud­ing the fol­low­ing: draw­ing, water­col­ors, acrylics, oil paint­ing, paint pour­ing, mixed me­dia, stained glass, resin, pho­tog­ra­phy, chil­dren’s classes and paint par­ties. Art­works cre­ated by mem­bers are avail­able for pur­chase.

Be­cause of its ac­tive sched­ule, mem­ber­ship has re­cently in­creased by 10 per­cent. League mem­bers au­to­mat­i­cally be­come Art Coun­cil of Southwest Florida (ACSWF) mem­bers. It is com­posed of sev­eral art leagues and asso­ciations and has ex­hi­bi­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties, calls for artists and other events. The prospect of show­ing and sell­ing works in area art gal­leries and cen­ters is very im­por­tant for emerg­ing and es­tab­lished artists. In­for­ma­tion on the ACSWF is avail­able at acswf.org.

The year 2019 starts with many ex­cit­ing events at the league. In Jan­uary, it hosts a judged mem­bers-only show, “Cel­e­bra­tion,” with cash prizes go­ing to se­lected rib­bon win­ners. The “Best in Show” artist en­ters the Southwest Florida Win­ner’s Cir­cle. The show’s open­ing re­cep­tion is Fri­day, Jan. 4, start­ing at 6 p.m.—in con­junc­tion with the night’s Art Walk event.

Feb­ru­ary brings “Edi­son Pa­rade of Art,” a ju­ried show that

The league of­fers a va­ri­ety of classes and work­shops, in­clud­ing the fol­low­ing: draw­ing, water­col­ors, acrylics, oil paint­ing, paint pour­ing, mixed me­dia, stained glass, resin, pho­tog­ra­phy, chil­dren’s classes and paint par­ties.

is open to ACSWF mem­bers. The show awards cash prizes and its open­ing re­cep­tion is Fri­day, Feb. 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. Also in Feb­ru­ary, the league hosts a stu­dent art show­case with work cre­ated dur­ing their var­i­ous classes. And each month, an artist is fea­tured in the gallery. Wilma “Dolly” Dempsey and Brooke An­der­son are Jan­uary’s and Feb­ru­ary’s fea­tured mem­bers.

Art pa­trons, artists and en­thu­si­asts of the arts are en­cour­aged to visit, pro­mote and sup­port the ef­forts of the Art League of Fort My­ers. Smil­ing faces are sure to wel­come you at the door of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s home, at 1451 Mon­roe St., be­neath the City of Palms Garage. Find out more at artleague­of­fort­my­ers.org or by call­ing 239-275-3970. David Acevedo is an award-win­ning vis­ual artist, arts writer, gallery owner and cu­ra­tor liv­ing in Cape Coral, Florida. He has a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from the Univer­sity of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez cam­pus. Acevedo is the founder and pres­i­dent of the DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts, lo­cated in Royal Palm Square in Fort My­ers.

From left: Ode to Ned, acrylic by Bar­bara Gage Mul­ford; Scream­ing Bromeliad, acrylic by Feb­ru­ary’s fea­tured artist Brooke An­der­son; Rock & Roll Heart , acrylic by Jan­uary’s fea­tured artist Wilma “Dolly” Dempsey.

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