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BIG ARTS committee shares passion for art with island

By Staff | Nov 14, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED The BIG ARTS Visual Art Committee is made up of Deborah Butler, Peter Zell, Bea Pappas, Bunny Ospa, chair Diane Olson and Kathy Taylor; not pictured is Annie Wainwright.

BIG ARTS was founded by a small group of artists who wanted to share their love for the arts with the community. Today, that legacy lives on with the volunteers who give their time to serve on the Visual Arts Committee.

Alongside staff, the committee assists in bringing world-class artists to Sanibel, as well as to show off local talent. That talent will be on full display in the new dedicated gallery as part of the 2020 Dream Season. The committee is comprised of seven members and chaired by Diane Olsen, who is serving her second year in the position.

“I have a feeling one should try and participate in things they are passionate about,” she said on why she chose to volunteer as the chair. “It’s a great way to share your passion with the community.”

Olsen talked about the committee’s objective in terms of exhibited art.

“We try to bring in interesting art we think the people on Sanibel will enjoy,” she said. “At the same time, we’re part of the community and we don’t want to close our doors. We have the San-Cap Art League show and juried shows, which gives local artists an opportunity to hang in the gallery.”

The committee’s commitment to balancing local talent with world-class artists is reflected in the 2020 lineup. It will kick off on Jan. 25 with “A Time for Joy,” by renowned artist Mally Khorasantchi.

“This is the type of artist we should start the season with,” committee member Deborah Butler said. “Her work is massive, it’s colorful, it’s organic, and I think it fits in with the island lifestyle.”

The season also features the Sanibel-Captiva Art League’s 44th Annual Juried Show on March 5, a bus tour of Naples area galleries on March 18, “Joshua Horkey: Fight or Flight” on April 4, Art by the disABLEd on May 1 and a Florida Southwestern State College Student Exhibition on June 6.

Putting together a season is no small feat and it takes input and contributions from all members.

“We plan our shows two to three years out,” Butler said. “We go out into the community, Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota or wherever we can. If we see an artist that we think fits our gallery, we write down their contact information, do some research and present them to the committee.”

The committee compiles and reviews the potential artists, then makes its season selections. When it makes its decision on which artists to show, the commitment to quality and community is ever present.

“First of all, of course, they have to be good,” she of the selection criteria. “I think we try not to limit it to any one kind of art. It can be 2-D or 3-D, representational or abstract, it might be cartoony or Keith Haring style. I think there is an audience here that’s well educated and loves art, they’re used to a fairly sophisticated level of artist.”

All fine art exhibitions are free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.bigarts.org or call 239-395-0900.