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Lovegrove paints light bulbs for Edison Estate fundraiser

By Staff | Dec 13, 2010

Artist Leoma Lovegrove wears some of the light bulbs she painted as holiday ornaments to help raise funds for the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

More than 130 years ago, Thomas Edison was among the first inventors to discovered that a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb glowed but did not burn up for 40 hours. Today, we call that invention the light bulb.

But it was only a few years ago that artist Leoma Lovegrove was asked to reinvent the light bulb. Reinvented as an ornamental piece of art, that is.

As Lovegrove recalls, Chris Pendleton, CEO of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, asked her to create a Christmas ornament several years ago as part of a fundraiser for the Fort Myers museum. It didn’t take much of a leap for Lovegrove to decide that a painted light bulb would be an ideal choice.

“I wanted to do it because of my lifelong love affair with Thomas Edison,” said Lovegrove, whose gallery on Sanibel opened in October.

Lovegrove is no slouch when it comes to creativity and hard work herself. Each of the light bulb ornaments for sale at the Estate’s Creative Cottage is the result of no less than a seven-step process that she perfected. In previous holiday seasons, she produced 150 of the popular ornaments.

A newly-painted batch of Lovegrove's light bulb ornaments hang to dry at her Sanibel gallery.

This year, she has created 500 of them. In groups of 100, the Matlacha resident painted bulbs in primary pigments of red, green, blue, yellow and white.

Besides the obvious artistic value of an original work by an internationally recognized artist like Lovegrove, the embellished bulbs may soon have historic value as well.

While the incandescent bulb has continued to be the most well-liked lighting device for more than a century, it isn’t by any means the best lighting answer. The bulb is at the moment losing popularity to its more power effective competitor, LEDs (light emitting diodes).

In fact, the incandescent bulb is on the way out. It was banned in Cuba in 2005, and will be discontinued in Argentina, the Philippines, and Australia after 2010. Since the European Union and Canada plan to outlaw light bulbs after 2012 and many states in the U.S. set to follow suit thereafter, the days of the light bulb are numbered.

“To me, my ornaments are sort of like saving the light bulb for future generations to enjoy,” Lovegrove added.

Both standard bulbs and floodlights have been turned into holiday ornaments by Lovegrove.

Sales of Leoma Lovegrove’s creations benefit the education program of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates enabling them to work with youngsters in the arts, history and science in a very historic and scientific atmosphere.

While Lovegrove’s “standard” light bulbs — priced at $20 each — are offered at both the Edison & Ford Winter Estates and her gallery located in the Tree Tops Center, her ornaments created out of floodlights — priced at $45 each — are available only on Sanibel.

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. During the month of December, it is also open nightly until 9 p.m.for visitors to see the millions of holiday lights in the homes and gardens and the special display of Lovegrove’s magical and brightly painted ornaments.

Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens, located at 1101 Periwinkle Way, is open Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 472-1900 for additional information.