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Art Association draws full house

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Jan 15, 2020

Fort Myers Beach Art Association member Pat Franzak takes a look at a wall full of “mini master” works at the association's open house Jan. 9 at 3030 Shell Mound Boulevard. NATHAN MAYBERG

The Fort Myers Beach Art Association Open House lived up to expectations Jan. 9 with a large crowd of visitors interested in viewing and learning about art. Advanced artists were stationed around the workshop/gallery giving lessons on oil painting, sketching, alcohol on ink and collage, as the public got one of its last chances to view the “Art Divine” show and dozens of “mini masters.”

For a small town such as Fort Myers Beach, there are some serious artists. The art association boasts two signature members of the American Watercolor Society in Sue Pink and Cheryl Fausel, association publicity director Pam Flaherty said. Pink had a mini master watercolor up for sale at the open house.

“We have a wide variety of talent,” Flaherty said.

The “Art Divine” show features larger works of art for under $150 while the $10 “mini masters,” mostly small matted works of watercolors on Yupo, collage, acrylic paintings and alcohol ink on Yupo, go up on the wall for viewing once a year at the open house and then back into bins for art seekers to find.

Flaherty and Pat Franzak each picked out stunning watercolor hummingbird mini master works with glitter made by Elaine Curry.

Fort Myers Beach Art Association members Pam Flaherty (left) and Pat Franzak (right) bought these watercolor mini masters of hummingbirds created by association member Elaine Curry (center). NATHAN MAYBERG

Curry says each work took her only about a half an hour. “I just like the little hummingbirds,” she said. Curry works at a fast pace and takes on many projects. “Elaine is the Energizer Bunny,” Flaherty said.

Curry is a native of Canada who said she “came in looking for art classes” one day and was drawn into the group by Flaherty. “I was a fashion designer first,” she said. Curry worked in film and television as a makeup artist in Canada, getting to meet musical artists like Coldplay, Christina Aguilera and Bruno Mars.

Franzak, of Michigan and Fort Myers Beach, has been a member of the group for about 20 years. Born into an artistic family, Franzak said she has learned a lot as an artist since joining. “There are so many retired teachers in this group,” she said. “I learned so much from everybody else. It’s an amazing group.”

Franzak’s mother, grandmother and about a dozen other family members were artists. Her mother painted portraits of her children. Franzak’s favorite type of art is watercolors for their “spontaneity.”

Town Councilmember Joanne Shamp was at the collage table of artist Michele Buelow. Shamp has been a member of the association for the last decade. “I was never an artist until I came to the island,” she said. Shamp said she comes from a scientific background, having run a company in Ohio with her husband Dan that made body braces and prosthetics. “I never knew I could draw, paint or anything,” Shamp said. The workspace at the association’s building at 3030 Shell Mound Boulevard, allows participants to “relax and enjoy yourself,” she said. “Don’t not come to the art association thinking you can’t make things like a Rembrandt.”

This watercolor “mini master” is by Sue Pink, one of two Fort Myers Beach Art Association members who are signature members of the American Watercolor Society. NATHAN MAYBERG

Next up for the association is the “Winter Open,” which opens Jan. 13 and runs through Feb. 6. On Jan. 19, there will be a gallery talk by artist Francesco Gillia followed by an award show for the “Winter Open.” The group’s student scholarship fundraiser will be Jan. 23 with a “paint around” featuring four artists doing collage work over each other’s pieces in 10-minute intervals.