The art of the pour: Center mixes art, cocktails for colorful event

Lance Shearer

Marco Island never needs much of an excuse for a party. You can’t spell “martini” without “art,” and with not much more underpinnings than that, the Marco Island Center for the Arts threw a fundraiser Thursday evening, connecting the two.

Candlemaker Alexis Lessarde, right, offers a sniff of one of the martini candles she made and is selling at the gallery's giftshop. The Marco Island Center for the Arts held "ARTini," a drinks-themed fundraiser and party, Thursday evening at their gallery on Winterberry  Drive.

ARTini had live music, a silent auction of martini-themed items including paintings by Betty Newman and painted martini glasses by Mary Kane, and of course – martinis. Four “personality plus” bartenders, or in one case a duo, served four different takes on the signature cocktail, and attendees were encouraged to sip the various options, and vote with their tips on whose drinks, and mixology, was best.

ErinMia Michman pours for Sharon Walklett. The Marco Island Center for the Arts held "ARTini," a drinks-themed fundraiser and party, Thursday evening at their gallery on Winterberry  Drive.

Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dianna Dohm served up the classic – “gin or vodka?,” she asked as she poured – appropriately clad in pearls and long black gloves. Samaria Lewis, manager of the Lilly Pulitzer Esplanade, served Cosmopolitans.

These days, it seems a martini is any drink someone wants to serve, as long it sits in the iconic glass, and the “Sweet Dreams” chocolate coffee concoctions poured by real estate broker Becky Irwin, and the “Hurricanes” offered by ErinMia Michman and Joey Waves of the Marco Patriots, proved the point. Their drink was essentially a tropical planter’s punch, but they packed enough punch to come out on top of the standings when tips were tallied and winners announced at the end of the evening.

Candle artisan Alexis Lessardo of the Marco Island Candle Co. made the rounds with a “hot” martini, one of three candle scents she created in martini glasses, and is selling through the gallery’s giftshop, among other outlets. Along with lavender and lemon, the candle is available in “Rosemary’s wick,” a rosemary-scented concoction named in honor of longtime Center for the Arts president Rosemary Wick, who recently stepped down.

Mindy Star minded the hors d’oeuvres table, and uncorked and poured wine for those who could not get with the martini program. And as every canny auctioneer knows, an open bar is one key to a successful auction.

Kristi and Jeff of the Kellogg Duo sang to the hits, such songs as “Footloose,” “Happyness,” and “Hey Mick” setting an upbeat mood. But as always on Marco, the tune that really got the crowd into it was Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”

The backdrop for the festivities was the “East Meets West” exhibit currently hung in the main gallery, along with Vera Ripley’s paintings in La Petite Galerie. The exhibits will be up until Jan. 30.

For more information and upcoming events, call the Marco Island Center for the Arts, 1010 Winterberry Drive, at 239-394-4221 or visit the Center’s website: