Celebrating the arts: Annual gala teases Art Center’s future plans

Lance Shearer

In the original “talkie” motion picture “The Jazz Singer,” Al Jolson famously promised, “you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.” At the Marco Island Center for the Arts annual gala Saturday evening at the Island Country Club, the brain trust running the center seemed to pick up on that line, promising wonderful but unspecified things in the works.

Special honoree Jackie Pierce, center, receives a butterfly bowl from former president Rosemary Wick and Hyla Crane. The Marco Island Center for the Arts held their annual gala Saturday evening at Island Country Club.

“We’ve got some great stuff coming,” promised Arts Center president Jim Richards, a sentiment echoed by executive director Hyla Crane and former president Rosemary Wick. Wick was thanked for her years of service, with Richards presenting a crystal gavel to her, along with a kiss and a hug.

Richards also credited Wick to a large extent with the Art Center’s return to profitability during her five-year tenure, after a rough patch during the economic downturn when the group’s finances were shaky.

Wick also, along with her husband Michael, and John and Emily James, acted as co-chair for the gala, and took the lead in lauding “special honoree” Jacquelyn Pierce. Wick and Crane gave a hand-etched bowl with a motif of butterflies, Pierce’s favorite, to her, along with a glowing recital of her many charitable and civic endeavors. They also highlighted “one of Jackie’s beloved quotes – ‘Earth without Art is Eh.’ ”

Pierce in response expressed great surprise at being honored by an arts organization – “I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler,” she said.

Marco Island attorney Bill Morris, acting as master of ceremonies, urged attendees to “take another look at the silent auction. My wife has been upping all your bids, and I can’t afford all those items.”

For the live auction, Jon Foege took the mic, starting by hawking paintings by two Marco Island Academy students, senior Diana Almazan and junior Anna Zeidman, before moving on to lots including trips to Asheville, Charleston, Indian Springs Resort in Georgia, and “the Ultimate NASCAR Driving Experience.” Auction items also included pricey wines, and a gold pendant created by Kathein Jewelers of Marco in the shape of an artist’s palette. This was purchased by Richards, who on the spot presented it to Crane, in thanks for her service with the Arts Center.

Musical entertainment was provided by Billy Dean and Dawn – but in the vocal department, the show was stolen by eight-year-old Lola Green, who brought down the house with her rendition of “Over the Rainbow.”

The Marco Island Center for the Arts has a full slate of shows, concerts, workshops, with a flower and plant show co-sponsored by the Calusa Garden Club up next on March 3 and 4. For more information, visit the center at 1010 Winterberry Drive, call 239-394-4221, or go online to www.marcoislandart.org.