By Natalie Strom
It was late summer and the natives were getting restless. The slow, humid days dragged on and the mosquitoes – while not as bad as usual – pestered in the ears of us as we sat in front of our a.c. units to keep cool. We needed something fresh. We needed something new. And we were in the mood to get creative. Because we’re artists; all of us in one medium or another.
And so it came to be, that on October 7, 2012, 12 artists from Goodland came together under the pavilion at MarGood Park and established The Goodland Arts Alliance. Painters, graphic designers, jewelry makers, sculptors, shell artists, photographers and multi-media artists, all from a one-square mile island, brought their unique talents to the table to form this new 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It’s mission statement: “to preserve, promote, and advance the cultural presence in the Village of Goodland through art, history, and education.”
The 12 founding members of the GAA are Tara O’Neill, President; Judy Wittwer, Vice President; Celeste Navara, Secretary; Natalie Strom, Treasurer, Darren Clack, Juliet Gross, Sherri Morrison, David Fuller, Jim Freeman, Denise Santos, Margi Fortune and Joanie Fuller.
“Residents of Goodland have always been proud of its musical and artistic talent. We all have searched independently for mediums to express ourselves and are excited to be able to come together to share, learn and educate others,” said Tara O’Neill, GAA Board President. “This has been a goal of mine for quite some time. We have great plans in store.”
The Alliance’s first order of business is to establish a viewing gallery at the new MarGood Park Interpretive Center. Thanks to the work of Steve Carnell and Nancy Olson of Collier County Parks and Recreation, the GAA will be featuring works by Goodland artists within the center as soon as January. A Grand Opening of the Interpretive Center will be accompanied by “The Founders Show” which will feature the works of the 12 original members of the GAA.
Before “The Founders Show,” members of the GAA will be hoping to drum up membership at the Goodland Christmas Bazaar. On December 7 and 8, GAA members will be selling their artwork as well as Goodland Arts Alliance t-shirts featuring the GAA logo, designed by founding member, Sherri Morrison. The Christmas Bazaar runs from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM both days and is located at the Goodland Boat Park.
Membership forms will also be available during the Christmas Bazaar. The cost per year is $25. Anyone may join – whether you are a working artist or have no artistic ability whatoever. The goal is to provide ongoing support to the community of Goodland and artists and future artists of all mediums across Southwest Florida. Initial support is crucial to continue the campaign of art, music, history and education in Goodland.
The Goodland Arts Alliance is also currently working on its first outdoor art and musical festival fundraiser. Current plans are to hold the festival on March 10 at MarGood Park, but County permitting awaits.
Future goals of the GAA are to work with the County towards possibly leasing a permanent home at MarGood. The GAA would like to see historical re-enactments performed at MarGood Park, as well as musical festivals, art shows, educational experiences and an established artist colony. While the goals are lofty, our hopes are higher.
In a very short amount of time the Goodland Arts Alliance went from a collection of thoughts to a vision, and now to a reality. Thanks to the help of Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala, Steve Carnell, Nancy Olson and attorney Craig Woodward’s ongoing advice and support, Goodland may soon be known as, “A Fishing Village with an Art Problem.”