The October exhibit at the Marco Island Center for the Arts was supposed to have been the September exhibit. Featuring off-island images primarily from on-island artists, it was titled, in homage to Dr. Seuss, “Oh the Places You Have Been.”

Then Irma intervened. A number of artists, along with many other residents, found themselves making unplanned trips to escape the oncoming hurricane, and the exhibit, like much else on the island, was put on hold.

So, post-storm, what’s the state of the arts on Marco Island? Just the fact that artists and art lovers could gather on Oct. 10, exactly one month after Hurricane Irma blew through, for the regular “Second Tuesday” opening reception, in an undamaged art center, tells the story. A roomful of guests mingled, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres by Mindy Star and cornbread baked by executive director Hyla Crane, sipped the complimentary wine, and swapped stories of how they and their homes fared during the storm.

More: Hurricane Irma: How Marco Island weathered the storm

Painter Jo-Ann Sanborn won first place for her “Grand View,” although it did not involve a trip longer than out to a vantage point of a hardwood hammock in the Everglades.

“I didn’t expect to win – it’s a local scene – but that’s where I go,” she said. Sanborn ended up taking a much longer trip to escape Irma, traveling out to Denver.

“We did okay at the house,” she said. “We had some water inside, lost trees, and screens, and a little bit of roof.” Hurricanes, Sanborn pointed out like a true tree hugger, are actually beneficial for the Everglades – “but not so great for us.”

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Many of the other artists at the reception reported similar experiences, with downed trees, pool cages ripped up, and roof damage, but a general sense of a bullet dodged. Double threat couple James Robellard and Judith Chinski – he’s a photographer, she’s a painter – were out of town anyway when the storm struck.

“We were in Canada anyway,” said Chinski. We did fine – one tree, one tile.” In addition to the Great White North, their travels as reflected in the works they showed were extensive, with Judy’s paintings of Arles and Cuba, Jim’s photographs of Western landscapes. His black and white study “Lone Pine, CA,” reminiscent of Ansel Adams, took third prize.

Second place went to Linda Chambers for “Corkscrew Sanctuary – Swamp Song,” another day trip image, a pastel closeup of a creekside reflection.

In La Petite Galerie, a companion solo exhibit by photographer Barry Howe portrayed a longtime passion and labor of love. He had photographs of every Major League Baseball stadium, which he showed individually and also had made into a composite poster, of which, he said, he had sold 3,000 copies.

“Since I shot those in 1991, only four or five of those stadiums are still standing,” he said, so he went back and reshot them in 2000. The home he shares with fellow artist Sandy Moore Howe fared better, with the familiar litany of tree limbs, pool cover and “a couple of roof tiles.” Barry attributed their good fortune to more trees and their neighbor’s house, which acted as a wind break.

The art center itself, said Crane, was very fortunate in its experience with Irma.

“We had some drainage pipes damaged, but we were very lucky. We had our power back Wednesday after the storm, so we opened up as a cooling station, and did activities to keep kids occupied while their parents dealt with things.”

Showing they have a broad view encompassing many art forms, the center hosted “writer of the month” Joanne Simon Tailele, who displayed her six published volumes in the lobby.

“I have three novels, two memoirs, and a children’s book,” she said. “It’s female fiction, but definitely not ‘chick lit’ – my themes tend to be heavy and dark.” Tailele had “wet carpets, in a fourth floor condo,” and lost screens to Irma, choosing to ride out the storm with friends in Golden Gate.

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:


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