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Artists share work, themselves to benefit BIG ARTS

By Staff | Jan 22, 2009

Some artists will say art just happens, for others it takes years of training and honing of skills. But regardless of which path an artist must travel, some kind of support is usually needed to get them to their destination.

In order to help fledgling artists get to their destinations, BIG ARTS with the help of local prominent artists is sponsoring BIG ARTS The BIG SECRET on Saturday, Jan. 24.

The BIG SECRET artworks is a block party, live art performance, and live auction. For $100 you get an Art Voucher to redeem in secret artworks auction, as well as admission into the live art performance and block party. The $15 ticket gets you into the block party (without art voucher). The Block Party begins at 6:45 p.m., with beverages, food, and music by Little Eddie and the Fat Fingers, who play a mixture of Chicago blues, jazz, boogie, and rock ‘n roll. Various funky street performers will entertain during the party.

Local artists have been creating works to support BIG ARTS artworks event. Many island favorites including Darryl Pottorf, Ikki Matsumoto, and Myra Roberts have donated work for the live auction.

Jonas Gerard will stage a live art performance in BIG ARTS Schein Performance Hall beginning at 8 p.m. Watch as Jonas interprets sounds and emotions as he paints, then bid on this painting. William Zimmer of the New York Times, said Gerard’s “energy embodies the sensation he has of swimming in a world of sound, shapes, and emotions.”

More than 150 artists have donated their time and talent to produce 8″ x 10″ mini-masterpieces for the BIG SECRET artworks event. The ‘secret’ art and a list of artists’ names can be seen on BIG ARTS website, www.BIGARTS.org.

Co-coordinator of the event Shareen Groce said she received an enthusiastic response from artists in donating the 8×10 pieces.

“The artists are eager to support the BIG ARTs Scholarship Fund which gives financial assistance to area art students.

The soul of the event – the contributing artists – know the value and importance of supporting the youth.

“I think the most important thing is for our education,” said wooden table maker Fritz Neal.

Neal, a retired utilities manager from Indiana, creates one-of-a-kind wooden tables out of wood from different tree species from around the world.

He got into his craft in 2000 when he wanted to make shelves for his home. Since the building boom was in high swing, he was able to find many pieces of scrap wood from dumpsters. Neal then took the pieces he found and created his shelves and then started on the tables.

He donates his tables to charities and good causes. His tables are available at Jungle Drums on Captiva. He only takes a portion of those proceeds to buy supplies to make more tables. The rest goes to a worthy cause, he said.

Neal has donated a table in the BIG SECRET live art auction.

Popular island artist Myra Roberts has two pieces in the live art auction – both reminiscent of her love of the islands and the way of life here -including the cultural opportunities at places like BIG ARTS.

“BIG ARTS has always been an inspiration to others,” Roberts said. “I am very proud to be a part of it.”

Roberts paints vintage art of former Hollywood pin-up girls such as Marilyn Monroe. She also has a repertoire of sophisticated pieces of strong women including Frida Kahlo, well-known Mexican artist. Her art hangs in galleries throughout Southwest Florida. Her collection of vintage style dog paintings can be purchased at Lily’s & Co. Jewelers.

Visiting artist Jonas Gerard will be on hand to paint during the BIG ARTS BIG SECRET fundraiser. Gerard who self describes his work as abstract expressionism uses bold strokes and hues to create pieces to music that seemingly take on lives of their own. His work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and abroad. In 1976, former President Gerald Ford acknowledged Jonas’ “We the People” pieces as a Bicentennial Portrait of the U.S.

For the effervescent man, art is spontaneous, a release of energy. He said he gets into a trance-like state when he is painting and the creative energies just flow out. For him art is never planned or analyzed – it just is.

“Art happens all the time,” he said. “Every bit of my life is about making art.”

And renowned artists Ikki and Polly Matsumoto are delighted to have donated their work to the fundraiser. Ikki has given a piece called the Rainbow Flight to the fundraiser. And Polly has donated a weaving called The Lodge of Chama. The piece is sign made of twigs based on a town in northern New Mexico, Polly said.

Polly who is known for her weaving art got her start in the medium when a relative asked her to keep her weaving loom for her while she traveled abroad to study.

She figured she should learn how to use it since it was there. A class and years later she is a prominent weaving artist.

The couple who resides in Ohio is delighted to help future young artists thought the fundraiser. But Ikki cautions young artists to not just hang onto the laurels of their creativity or talent. There is more they will need to make in the world of art.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “Young artists should learn about business.”

The Matsumotos will be back on Sanibel in mid February for an art event.

Proceeds from the sale of BIG SECRET artworks will support BIG ARTS Scholarship Awards Program. Event is sponsored by Bank of the Islands, with the support of Deborah and John La Gorce, and Susan and Craig Scott.

For further information about events at BIG ARTS, to purchase tickets, to sign up for workshops, or to become a member, stop by BIG ARTS, 900 Dunlop Road Sanibel, call (239) 395-0900, e-mail info@BIGARTS.org, or log on to www.BIGARTS.org.