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Sunday, April 14, 2024 at 1:57 PM

Explore the Plethora of Artistic Corners For Admiring and Creating Brilliance

“The Face of Immokalee,” 2018-23, by Michelle Tricca
“The Face of Immokalee,” 2018-23, by Michelle Tricca

Whatever your intentions for art – simply appreciating it from the sidelines or getting knee-deep in the hoopla – art organizations throughout Southwest Florida provide plenty of opportunities for art exploration, 

“Flowers,” 1970, by Andy Warhol from the exibit Andy Warhol: A Life in Pop | Works from the Bank of America Collection
Courtesy photos

from exhibitions featuring local artists and late masters to single-night workshops and multiweek classes for all skill levels and preferred mediums.

¦ Alliance for the Arts

A visual and performing arts center, the Alliance exuberantly embraces art in its myriad forms. Year-round, it hosts gallery exhibitions featuring both established and emerging artists, captivating theater and music performances (with a spotlight on bluegrass), lively art festivals, and an array of creative classes catering to all ages and interests. Representing a vast network of 50+ arts and cultural organizations, along with a membership of 1,200 artists, this non-profit organization thrives on curating unexpected communal experiences. From jazz to hula and belly dancing, seamlessly blending art and exercise, to vibrant greenmarkets and night markets held at its expansive 10-acre ArtsPark on McGregor Boulevard.

 The 2023-24 theater season features “Clown Bar” (Nov. 9-26), “Which Way to the Stage” (Jan. 18-Feb. 3) and “The Women who Mapped the Stars,” a Feb.8-18 fundraiser for the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium at the Planetarium. As the Alliance’s signature juried show, the all-Florida exhibition (March 1-30), now in its 38th year, attracts artists throughout the Sunshine State and entries in drawing, painting, printmaking, video, photography, glass, textiles and digital media.

The Alliance also offers Fringe Fort Myers, a three-day non-juried lottery-drawn festival in late May, the greenmarket every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and the night market featuring local artist booths and open-mic performances. 

— 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers
239-939-2787, artinlee.org

¦ The Baker Museum

Start your visit by exploring – and playing with – the museum’s 20 or so outdoor installations. Created by internationally renowned artists, including kinetic artists Yaacov Agam and George Rickey, glass artist Dale Chihuly, and stripe-and-color-loving conceptional artist Daniel Buren, the large-scale sculptures represent the nation’s largest concentration of public art and are designed for an interactive, immersive experience that shifts with light, wind and the environment.

 The Baker’s permanent 3,500-work collection emphasizes 20th and 21st century American and Mexican contemporary works – “Dawn’s Forest,” the museum’s iconic monumental sculpture by Louise Nevelson and selections from the modern collection of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegün (on display Feb. 10 to June 16). Ongoing exhibits include “Chihuly Collection,” and “Magritte: Reflections of Another World” featuring six never-shown-in-North-America paintings by the artist known for his amusing surrealism. 

Its 2023-24 show schedule also features Tamara Kostianovsky’s “Botanical Revolution” (through April 7), the annual “Florida Contemporary” exhibit (Oct. 14-June 30), American photographer “Frank Stewart’s Nexus” (Oct. 14-Jan. 7), “The Art of Food” (Nov. 18-March 10), the public art project “The Faces of Immokalee” (Nov. 18-April 28), “George Gershwin and Modern Art” (Feb. 10-June 16) and “Andy Warhol Portfolios (April 6-Sept. 8).

 — 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples
239-597-1111, artisnaples.org

“Red Wood,” 2018, by Tamara Kostianovsky from Tamara Kostianovsky: Botanical Revolution

¦ BIG ARTS Sanibel

BIG ARTS, the hub of everything art on Sanibel and Captiva, returns to regular programming in December with a host of holiday events following an extended Hurricane Ian intermission. Its full calendar hits a high note in January with performances by Grammy award-winning vocalist Judith Hill, Metropolitan Opera soprano Susanna Phillips accompanied by clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Myra Huang of the New York Philharmonic, bluegrass groups Twisted Pine and Alan Bibey & Grasstowne, plus tributes to Neil Diamond and piano men Elton John, Billy Joel, Jerry Lee Lewis, et al. There’s also contemporary dance a la Bodytraffic, the comedic “Late Night Catechism – Sister’s Summer School” and spring concerts presented by BIG ARTS concert band and community chorus. 

 BIG ARTS is also the island destination for artistic pursuits, with one-day workshops in watercolors, fused glass, drawing and Zentangles, which resumed in October, and multi-week classes beginning in January. 

 Gallery exhibits now through Jan. 31 include Mariapia Malerba’s manatee mural “In the Blink of An Eye” and a retrospective of experimental artist Bea Pappas. The gallery also showcases paintings by Dana Roes and poetry by Brandi George in “Involution” (Oct. 27-Dec. 10), the Sanibel-Captiva Art League’s 48th annual juried exhibit “Imaginary Lines” (Dec. 15-Jan. 28) and shows by Shah Hadjebi, Al Chailosky, Wendy Klemperer and students from Florida SouthWestern State College.

 — 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel 

239-395-0900, bigarts.org

¦ Arts Bonita

Find your happy place. Arts Bonita, formerly the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs, offers a bevy of fine-art and fun art experiences. Over 50 multiweek classes and year-round sessions cover categories from coiled basketmaking, stone carving, metalwork, mosaics, mixed media, glass and jewelry as well as painting, pottery, pastels, drawing and sculpture. The Atelier program caters to serious students of the human form, following the time-honored academic traditions in cast drawing, figure study, anatomy and still life. 

 Arts Bonita also offers workshops, daylong mini-workshops and single evening BYOB-optional sessions – our kind of night class – and hosts exhibits showcasing the work of its students, faculty and members. This fall it features the exclusive “America’s Everglades: Through the Lens of Clyde Butcher” (Oct. 2-Dec. 29) highlighting the black-and-white photos of internationally renowned local photographer Clyde Butcher. The show is so big it’s displayed at Arts Bonita’s Visual Arts Center on Old 41 Road and the Performing Arts Center on Bonita Beach Road. 

 The two locations also offer dance classes, PG-friendly open mic nights, documentaries, concerts, and plays.

“America’s Everglades: Through the Lens of Clyde Butcher”

 — Visual Arts Center, 26100 Old 41 Road

Performing Arts Center, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs

239-495-8989, artcenterbonita.org

¦ Marco Island Center for the Arts

Open studios and multiweek classes in clay, drawing, painting, pastels and stone channel creativity and artistic expression. The center’s popular clay curriculum covers the spectrum of tiny thrown teapots and cups, each produced from less than a pound of clay, plus wheel-throwing for neophytes, mold-making, sculpture, and themed instruction for crafting cookie jars, sea creatures and large hand-built figures. It also offers single-day specialty classes exploring collage, basketweaving, Chinese brush painting and batik, plus illustrated watercolor journaling during a plein-air session at the Naples Botanical Garden.

As part of ¡ARTE VIVA!, Collier County’s yearlong tribute to Hispanic arts and culture,  the center’s La Petite Galerie features colorful “terra guitarra” paintings by musician and guitarist Bruce Hecksel (Oct. 9-Nov.21) and “Just Another Canvas: Tattoos as Art” (Jan. 8-Feb. 27) with individual shows by Myriam Kriel and Margarita Angel. The gallery schedule also includes the Clay Guild’s “Shape Shifters” (Dec. 4-Jan. 2), the members show “Past and Present” (March 4-April 2) and student exhibits and the Collier County High School competition in April.

 — 1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island

239-394-4221, marcoislandart.org

¦ Naples Art Institute

The institute’s multiweek sessions and short-term workshops cater to aspiring adult and child artists with introductory sessions covering the basics of oils, acrylics, watercolors and drawing and classes in all mediums and art styles for advanced students – from abstract, trompe l’oeil and realism to artist-specific instruction for painting like Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe and Vincent Van Gogh. The organization also offers private lessons and a kid-centric Lego art studio and classes in comics, creative clay, drawing, collage, printmaking and college credit-earning portfolios for students pursuing the College Board’s AP Art & Design program.

 The institute hosts the Naples Invitational, a biennial survey featuring local contemporary artists through Oct. 15. Coming exhibits include “Victor Vasarely: The Absolute Eye” (November through January), “The Power of Photography: Iconic Images from the Collection of Peter Fetterman” (February through April) and “Childhood Classics: 100 Years of Picture Book Illustration” (April through June).

 — 585 Park St., Naples

239-262-6517, naplesart.org

¦ Visual Art Center

Local art is the focus of the downtown Punta Gorda center, where open studios and on-site classes cater to an array of artistic interests and exhibits in three galleries feature plenty of local flavor. Artistic expression runs the gamut from drawing, painting and portraits to fiber, jewelry, glass, pottery, photography and sculpture. The center’s youth program includes parent-and-child holiday-themed crafts for 5- to 7-year-olds, multimedia painting for 8 to 12 years, and landscape, faces and figures, color theory and still life for teens. 

Local artists are well represented in annual and special exhibits: the holiday showcase featuring gifts and art under $200, the 3D glass and pottery “Through the Fire” display (Jan. 9-Feb. 1), the National Art Exhibition (Feb. 16-April 12), Charlotte County student showcases in April and the member showcase (July 9-Aug. 23). 

— 210 Maud St., Punta Gorda

941-639-8810, visualartcenter.org