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Artist returns to create more watercolor memories

By Staff | Feb 19, 2009

If you’ve been anywhere near Captiva island within the past 20 years –whether as a resident or an annual guest — chances are you might have run into Madith Mantyla.

Probably best recognized as a talented artist and faithful patron of Jensen’s Twin Palm Cottages and Marina, Mantyla has been coming down to Captiva for over 20 years, always staying in cottage 14, denoted by a small sign aptly labeled “Madith’s Studio.”

“The Kaihlanen family are friends of mine and they used to stay here on the island. They knew my husband and I were going to travel down this way and they were the ones that got us to come here. Luckily, Jensens had a few nights available, so we came and stayed and came back ever since. We just loved it,” Mantyla said.

And the rest was history, in more ways than one.

For those of you that have never seen her work, Mantyla is not just an accomplished artist, but a kind of archivist, chronicling and capturing historic island locales and preserving the memories of this unique island for the people that love it so dearly — and yes, she does take requests.

“I’m known as the memory artist. All the old houses, I think I’ve painted every old house on this island over the years. People come to me and ask me to paint certain places, either their place or a place that’s just a special memory for them,” Mantyla explained, listing homes, seascapes, restaurants, stores and bygone but fondly remembered establishments such as Timmy’s Nook as oft requested pieces of hand-painted memorabilia.

“They’re special memories for people. A lot of people that I’ve done this for have a wall in their home where they come from, and the wall is strictly Captiva, their favorite place,” she said.

Though she lives in Cape Ann, Mass. for most of the year, and draws just as much inspiration from northern land and seascapes, Mantyla’s annual three month stay on Captiva is something she always looks forward to.

“It’s the light, it’s the openness. I love having the opportunity to be able to go out on boat trips. It’s very enlightening and very special. There’s a very special feeling the island has here. I’m definitely an ocean person” she said.

Mantyla is not a professionally trained artist but she says she’s taken night courses, some of which were held at BIG ARTS on Sanibel, though she admits that since she was a little girl, she wanted to paint.

“When I first came here and I was painting, I was over in Paradise Garden, and John and Denice Beggs were great, they always found a place for me in the Garden, and they’re good friends with the Jensens of course [and] the Jensens have always been very enthusiastic and supportive of me,” she said.

Mantyla’s works are on display in several cottages at the Jensen resorts and will soon be displayed and sold at The Bubble Room, a place that has served as inspiration for Mantyla on many occasions.

She welcomes visitors and usually takes requests, for everything from sunsets to coconuts.

“The biggest thing with my work is the emotional feel that people have for the place,” Mantyla said, noting that people that approach her with requests usually want to maintain and make permanent a special moment or place that they can keep with them.

And as for Mantyla, she will continue to make her annual trip to the island, and she will continue to paint, preserving memories for those who wish to take a piece of Captiva home with them.

“I just feel, that this is my second home.”

If you’d like to visit Mantyla’s home away from home and look through or purchase some of her prints and paintings, she tends to be in cottage 14 at Jensens Twin Palm –just look for “Madith’s Studio.”