Art Extravaganza: Tara O’Neill brings a friend to the Little Bar

Lance Shearer

It makes a nice finale to the season, said Tara O’Neill. As she has for 15 years and counting, the Goodland artist held her “Art Extravaganza” Saturday and Sunday at the Little Bar in Goodland, where she spent years dispensing wisdom and cocktails from behind the bar.

Popo Flanigan, left, and Tara O'Neill. Artist Tara O'Neill hosted her 15th annual Art Extravaganza at the Little Bar in Goodland over the weekend, with guest artist Popo Flanigan.

Now that O’Neill has become a full-time serious artist – to the extent that Tara is ever serious – part of the “Five Painters and a Potter” group, president of the Goodland Arts Alliance, and with her work on display at venues throughout the area, it was great to be back in one of her old haunts. The late April show, she said, gives her a chance to say goodbye to people leaving for up north, and say hello to year ’round worker bees who have been busy all season, and now “come out of the woodwork.”

Even Little Bar co-owner Niki Bauer stepped over from the barroom to the side room, host a little later every year to “Spammy Jammy,” and bought one of Tara’s paintings.

“We love having Tara here,” said Bauer.

O’Neill brought a friend along, Naples artist Popo Flanigan, who also displayed her canvases, featuring riotous tropical colors and a post-Impressionist style reminiscent of Henri Matisse.

“I love Popo, and I love her artwork,” said O’Neill. “We met 12 years ago, both submitting work for a juried show, and in five minutes it was like we’d known each other forever.

“It’s more fun to collaborate, and have someone else there,” said O’Neill, who started inviting a guest artist to her extravaganzas on the 10th anniversary, “to shake things up a little bit,” and has continued the tradition since. Whereas Flanigan, to some degree, has a set way of looking at the world in her paintings, O’Neill seems to change “periods” like some women change handbags, with stretches of her past devoted to depicting docks, houses, umbrellas, fruits and vegetables.

“This year has been tough, thanks to Irma,” said Tara, who is still wrangling with the insurance company over the house she owns in Goodland that had an oak tree come through the roof. “There was four months when I couldn’t paint at all.”

Every Monday afternoon, she does a painting demonstration at the Blue Mangrove on Marco, and this year, she said, “I just painted a little orchid flower. Now I’ve done that for 12 weeks, and that’s what got me through.”

People urged her to capture the destruction wrought by Irma in Goodland, she said. “I said, ‘why don’t I just shoot myself,” not wanting to focus on the storm any more.

Paul and Jory Westberry, renting a house in Goodland since their Isles of Capri home was destroyed in the storm, came by to check out the art. Capts. Otis Tavlin and Nancy Anderson, whose charter sailboat on Isles of Capri took major damage, did the same, and Nancy’s outfit essentially blended into the Popo Flanigan paintings behind her.

“It was a great weekend. People were in and out all day long, the rain held off Sunday, and sales were good,” reported O’Neill on Monday morning. As an artist, you can’t ask for much more than that.