MARCO ISLAND — Mackle Park became a kaleidoscope of color, sight and sound Sunday as Arts Afire! engaged the senses with its 2012 theme: A Walk with the Masters. Lest people think it was a high brow affair, it was not.
A casual stroll along Mackle Park’s lake and past the dog park offered viewers the curiosities of living art, performed in a casual way. Moments of motionless poses were interspersed with welcomes to passers-by, friends and family. Sun, breeze and chattering birds blended with guitars and flutes creating an afternoon reminiscent of Americana at the turn of the 20th century.
The Magic of Marco Big Band rounded out the entertainment with easy listening favorites that attracted more than 400 people and brought couples to the dance floor.
The event, sponsored by the City of Marco Island through its Arts Advisory Committee, was conceived to showcase artistic and cultural talents on Marco Island. Participants from theater, church, education, local organizations and the historical society found a place to make their art at home.
The People’s Choice Award for the day’s offerings went to The Island Players portraying Sir John Tenniel’s “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party,” a work created in 1865. A popular favorite was Marco Island Lutheran Church’s “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci. Members in the scene orated significant biblical passages appropriate to the scene.
Cheerleaders in uniform from the Marco Island Academy posed in Henri Matisse’s “The Dance” from 1909 while Popeye and Olive Oil, replete with sunglasses, held up spinach, pipe and Sweet Pea for authentic effect.
At 4 p.m., the more serious task of announcing the city’s 2012 Flame Awards took place. Keith Dameron won the Cultural Leadership Award for his years of assistance, both locally and county-wide, in orchestrating, assisting and promoting cultural events.
The individual artist award went to Marilyn Wirth. She was lauded for her years of passion for teaching and painting and for her team spirit in the community. Gary Grant was named Marco’s top emerging artist.
“This year he stepped on stage for his first performance and literally brought the house down,” said Jo-Ann Sanborn as she announced the award.
The Public/private Art Business award was given to Sandi Johnson, known for her multiple connections in the art community. Johnson is an integral part of Marco Island’s Beautification Advisory Committee and the Marco Island Foundation for Arts. She also runs two area businesses in home building and real estate.
The Marco Island Historical Society captured the Arts in Education award for the level of history and culture its new museum has brought to the island. The five awards and categories were established in 2011 when the first Flame Awards were given.
Awards were presented by Marco Island’s City Council Chairman Jerry Gibson and Councilors Joe Batte and Wayne Waldack.
Art Advisory Committee members said they were pleased with the event and the support they received from the city and the community.
“I think it worked,” said committee member Craig Gruesel. “It was a beautiful day, and people had fun with it.”