MARCO ISLAND — Sputtering slightly, the flame of “Arts Afire!” stayed alive, after City Council agreed to allocate $2,000 to fund the event. This year’s Arts Afire will be a scaled-back, one-day event, taking place March 18, rather than the nine-day extravaganza held last year.
The City of Marco Island Arts Advisory Committee was hard at work in their meeting Tuesday afternoon, hammering out details of what is, for all intents and purposes, a new event. The heart of the festival, as conceived by the committee, will be a series of tableaux, with various island groups recreating famous paintings in a series of settings around the lake at Mackle Park.
Committee members congratulated member JoAnn Sanborn, who went in front of City Council Monday night and secured the funding, when the Council members seemed primed to reject the request. Sanborn deferred the credit to fellow member Craig Greusel, whom she said urged her to get back up in front of the Council a second time.
“Craig said ‘you get back up there,’ and I just looked them in the eye,” said Sanborn. Councilman Frank Recker nominated Councilman Chuck Kiester to enact “American Gothic,” Grant Wood’s classic portrait, but didn’t specify whether he would trust Kiester with a pitchfork. Also during the Council meeting, Bill McMullen volunteered to provide the website for the event.
The event is to be titled “Arts Afire – A Walk with the Masters,” and each group participating will be able to choose the painting or artwork they wish to portray. While locations will be assigned at the discretion of the Arts committee, paintings to act out are first come, first served.
“I want the Shell Club to do the “Birth of Venus,” said Sanborn. Greusel said his Marco Lutheran Church is taking on Da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” He volunteered to be the point man for contacting organizations. Each group will be allowed to solicit donations for their effort, and keep the proceeds, with the top fundraiser winning the “People’s Choice” award.
As was done last year, the group will also hand out awards for a variety of categories: Cultural leadership, individual artist achievement, emerging artist, public/private art business, and arts in education. Nomination forms, including the criteria for each award, will be available at City Hall, at the Rightside Gallery in the Esplanade, where Sanborn has her studio, or on the city’s website, and possibly the Arts Afire site, once it is updated.
While many details remain to be finalized, the hours of the event, from 1 to 4 p.m., are set. There will be food available, or people can bring a picnic of their own. With a little planning and the right picnic basket, they could emulate a Renoir oil, and maybe even win something. A brainstorming session will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, January 17 at Mackle Park, with all interested groups and individuals welcome.
The Arts Advisory Committee also looked further into the future, considering an exhibit called “Architects of Air.” This traveling show has appeared worldwide, from the Sydney Opera House in Australia to Cardiff Castle in Wales, with dozens of stops the Czech Republic, Sweden, Italy, Russia and Singapore. The works consist of luminary sculptures the audience can walk through, said Sanborn, who brought the idea to the committee – “sort of walking through a Chihouli.” With a target date of next November, the group is looking for sponsors to help defray the cost of mounting the exhibit.