The Marco Island Foundation for the Arts’ Left Bank Art Fest, held Saturday at the Esplanade, was deliberately low-key.
“We kept the exhibitor fees low to encourage people who wouldn’t normally exhibit to come and show their stuff in a non-threatening environment,” said MIFA founder and president Sandi Johnson. “Students can get in for $20, and MIFA members only paid $40.
“It’s wonderful, they’re selling art, and everyone’s happy.”
Over 40 artists and craftspeople exhibited their work on a beautiful spring day, while hundreds of shoppers browsed the collections, chatted with the artists, paused for a beverage at CJ’s and, sometimes, went home with a piece of art to hang.
“It’s amazing there is so much talent on such a small island,” said Diane Zinkevicz of Marco Island, as she inspected paintings by artist Carolyn Burger.
“I like having shows by local artists. You’re supporting our own art community, and you can recognize the scenes.”
Carolyn Burger, also a Marco resident, said she was having an excellent day.
“I sold three pieces so far, which is great. I sell more on Marco than in Naples.”
Burger belongs to a group called Marco Outdoor Painters, which meets to paint each Wednesday.
“It’s a gift to outdoor artists,” she said, pointing out her latest oil painting. Careful,” she added, “That one’s still wet.”
Painter Susan Wold, who splits her time between homes on Marco and Indianapolis, was painting an acrylic portrait, from a photograph of a young girl at the beach, during the show.
“I’m trying to work myself into a niche, getting commissions for portraits,” she said. “People know my work, but not my portraits.” A part-time island resident since 1994, she has devoted much of her painting to scenics before focusing on portraiture.
Not all the talent was strictly local. Scott and Diana Drake came from Port Charlotte to show their distinctive lamps and chandeliers. They set up their work in a black-shrouded tent, to show how the lights in their pieces shine through the shells and bits of glass they use to make their stained-glass creations.
“We’ve had a great day,” said Scott, adding that he believes they are the only people in the country using their time-consuming, labor-intensive copper foil method.
A photographer based on the Isles of Capri, Carol Kinkead, showed beautiful nature scenes and closeups at her booth. Patty Bott got off work at CJ’s and stopped by to look at her photos. Bott particularly admired a stunning action shot of a bird flying just over the water titled “Skimmin.’ ”
“This is a good show, with a steady crowd and a variety of artwork,” she said as she left. “You see a lot of the same subject matter, but each artist has a different take.”
As the artists were packing up their stands, tents, and easels, Bott came back to the mall and bought the skimmer photograph.
This was the third annual Left Bank show for MIFA, said Sandi Johnson, emphasizing they are distinct from the Art League.
“We’re on a mission to promote all the arts, visual, literary, and performing, in public places on Marco Island. We felt that local artists needed an outlet.”
The group maintains a gallery, Local Color, in a space at the Esplanade donated by the landlord. Their next major project, with an unveiling set for the coming November, is Artquest 2010, which will involve placing sculptures throughout the island.