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Marco Island Center for the Arts did not have to search hard for the artists whose works are on its walls this month. Two of them walked right in.

Judith Carlin, who has 12 works in its main exhibition, "Art for Social Justice," chanced to meet gallery committee chair Barbara Parisi in the center's gift gallery. (The exhibition's reception is 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 9; see information box.)

"With many of these artists that's how it happens. They stop in to see the art and then they go to the gift gallery, and someone strikes up a conversation," Parisi said. 

Even the artist exhibiting her wildlife art in the center's La Petite Galerie, Jan Fontecchio Perley, first came there as a visitor to the center, she said.  

In this case, Parisi began talking with Carlin and asked to see some of her art, which Carlin had on her cellphone.

"I knew her art was a good fit for this exhibition, so I asked her to send some more," Parisi said. "She lived in the Village (Greenwich) for a while, and she brings some edge to the show."

Carlin's strong colors and blunt situations may be controversial here, Parisi added, but "they say things that need to be said."

In "Hard Decision," a gaunt woman, bottle in hand, pauses beside a rehabilitation center. The myth that has been planted in her head is clearly splashed on the walls: "They hypnotize people in AA & rehab. Don't go!"

In another, a vortex of anger and fear — shouting people with fists raised, agonized children holding their ears — swirls around a young girl's worried face. "Stop Fighting" is its title. 

Committee members already knew the two other featured artists: Pat Kumicich, and Nic Provenzo, a Naples artist and photographer who now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

"He spent time in Central America, so he saw a lot of the issues there. Pat lives in Naples, but her work speaks to all women's issues," she said.

Provenzo's enhanced photographs create situations that recall ideals discarded, as in the buffalo herd that ambles through "The Red Road."

In another, directed at Collier County, a stark mythical "memorial" offers scant solace to an African-American man. He's surrounded by hanging granite pillars with an attempt at information, some of it simply labeled "unknown."

Provenzo wrote in his artist statement that "I am interested in 'Photography' as an instrument of 'Propaganda,' which by its definition may or not be construed as truth. I am interested in challenging comfortable notions of  'White Middle Class America' at every opportunity afforded me. You as the viewer must decide if my efforts make you think at any level on the 'human condition.'"

Pat Kumicich's quilts raise questions in a subtle style that couches hard questions in the soft medium of fabric. There are seven that include women under various emotions: frustration, awakening or determination, as in "Silent No More." In it, a clear-eyed portrait deftly incorporates a newspaper collage of women's stories speaking to long-ignored injustices.

The committee, Parisi said, required all three to submit art and biographies and then made choices for what would best represent the theme. 

"Everyone has a strong voice. We particularly like that the works are in three mediums — quilt, paintings, photographs," she said. 

"It might not sell," she said of the art, "but that's not what they're there for."

'Art for Social Justice'

When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays now through July 30, with an opening reception  5:30 – 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 9 

Where: Marco Island Center for the Arts, 1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island

Admission: Free

Information: marcoislandart.org or 239-394-4221

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