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Artful Life

The Accidental Speaker

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com I am an artist. I am not a public speaker. I can talk about my art to any group, but beyond that I’d rather chew glass. I am actively involved in several cultural non-profit organizations. I am not an organizer. If you’re wondering about my organizational skills just ask my husband. (Hint: He does the bookkeeping in our home, and for good reason.) So, how is it I recently found myself standing at a podium with about 70 or so Goodland residents seated in neat rows before me and three highly-respected Collier County representatives on ... Read More »

No Problems, Just Solutions

Young Artists Acadamy students  drawing in the gallery of Marco Islands Center for teh Arts. photo by Tara O'Neill

Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com I am so fortunate. Despite the days that close in utter weariness due to facing a multitude of challenges, most mornings dawn with the waking certainty of how fortunate I am. For one thing, I now use the word challenges, where once I would have used the word problems. One recent shine of fortune was to be invited to instruct at the Young Artists Academy at Marco Islands Center for the Arts. The Center’s executive director, Hyla Crane, was challenged with resurrecting a bygone program that instructs dedicated 12-18 year old artists Saturday mornings for ... Read More »

The Art of Seeing

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ARTFUL LIFE Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com “What I have not drawn, I have never really seen.” — Frederick Franck, “The Zen Of Seeing”   I recently visited my dear friend, Barbara Sills, who lives in the Orlando area. There’s lots going on in Orlando — all the time — and Barbara is never at a loss when it comes to trying new and interesting things. In fact, she’s downright intrepid. I’ve known Barbara nearly 40 years, and she still never ceases to surprise me. Although I try to expect the unexpected, my friend managed to thoroughly gob-smack me on this last ... Read More »

Would You Like Mustard with Your Monet?

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Nothing like starting your day with a good laugh. Last week, I heard a joke on National Public Radio. I agree with you: NPR isn’t famous for it’s hahahas. What does the artist say while working? “Would you like fries with that?” I just laughed and laughed, especially because at the time I was just parking my truck at the restaurant where I hostess part-time, and I’m an artist. They say the trick to good joke-telling is timing. You betcha. Another time, I might have reacted differently. But, I love my hostess job. I work ... Read More »

Flat Out Gorgeous

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ARtful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Chances are that if you’re reading this in the paper, you live here year-round, or you are someone revolutionary enough to visit Florida in summer — when the really exotic stuff happens. Yes, it’s hot; it’s buggy; it rains alot. But, the number one complaint among Floridaphiles is that it’s so darn humid. Some days are like breathing through a wet army blanket, but it’s easily worth it to experience the extravagant theater of summer skies. Are you on Facebook? Facebook is flush with South Florida sky photographs, and not just sunrises and sunsets but ... Read More »

To Thine Own Self…

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com I recently overheard a conversation between two professional photographers. One emerging; the other well-seasoned — both artistic. The seasoned artist is fabulously known for a certain genre of photographs, with a few variants, and is quite successful. The emerging artist utilizes a wide-range of subjects. “I admire your dedication to your subject,” says our emerging artist. “Don’t worry,” says the seasoned artist, “you’ll find your niche.” “I hope not!” says the emerging artist. And I said, “Bravo!” I was witnessing, and admiring, a sense of adventure in the emerging artist that was too strong to ... Read More »

Language Has a Slippery Slope

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Is there really no escaping the fate of eventually sounding just like our parents? Is today’s music really just noise? (I know mine was to my parents.) Are kids today really wearing horrible statements for clothing just to get a reaction from “us” (as we did to “them” 40-50 years ago)? Is language truly a dying art? Zounds, methinks not. Oh right, no one says “zounds” anymore, and “methinks” it’s amazing that spell check has nothing to say about, well, about methinkings. Or zounds. Huh? Like everything else, language is, of course, constantly evolving. I ... Read More »

Why We Do It

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Self-deprecating humor is not in my DNA. I figure the rest of the world has enough opportunities to critique us that we don’t have to steal anyones’ negative thunder. That being said, I seldom miss the chance to laugh at myself when I do or say something foolish, and for that, there’s plenty of opportunity. Recently, I had a happenstance chat with Linda Chambers, an artist I greatly admire and a fellow instructor at Marco Island Center for the Arts. She commented on how stridently I market my work and myself. “I have to,” I ... Read More »

The Story of the Story of Belle

Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Elizabeth Belle. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

ARTFUL LIFE  Tara O’Neill  taraogallery@marcocable.com I haven’t seen the movie “Belle,” but I can tell you it is a testament to the power of art. It’s a period film rich with elegant costumes and lavish sets embodying the true story of a mixed-race daughter of a British admiral who became an unwitting force of change in 18th century societal mores and instigated the end of slavery in the British Empire. A fascinating story — tremendous, really — but for me the more interesting tale is how the story came to be told, and the movie made. So here it is: A ... Read More »

A Meeting with Mr. Misguided

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill You are NOT going to believe what happened to me. This story begs the question: If someone is misguided, then who or what guided them there? I recently participated in a Naples event called “An Evening on 5th.” It involved visual artists and musicians scattered up and down the avenue to enhance the dining and shopping experience of the out-and-abouters. Sounded nice. I rather like talking to folks when I’m at my easel; I feel the more information the public has about the creation of art, the better for artists. The event was well organized, although ... Read More »

Harmony, Discord and Composition

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Passion vs. serenity; active vs. static; harmony vs. discord. These aren’t just the building blocks of artful compositions, but of all human relationships. What we seek is balance – and it’s not one-size-fits-all – it’s personal. In color theory, the juxtaposition of color-wheel opposites – oddly called compliments – creates a super-charged vibrancy (just put a dot of purple paint in the middle of a yellow sun and watch for a solar explosion). Color-wheel neighbors, however, create a calmer, more soothing composition. Elsewhere in visual arts, a horizontal line is perceived as static, a vertical ... Read More »

It’s only fair

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ArtfuL Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com I have been judged and juried; I have judged and juried. Both roles are difficult. But, in the name of fairness, both are required of an artful life and, by my tally, a civilized life. I have juried multiple art exhibits and never is it easy, mostly because there is so much good work… How, after agonizing over 1st and 2nd place recipients, do you choose from the eight to 10 remaining contenders for 3rd place? Unlike jurors in a courtroom, jurors of art are invited; they are invited for their expertise and, oddly, their ... Read More »

Reclaiming Clarity

Dawn over Myakka River State Park, viewed from tree-top boardwalk. PHOTOS BY TARA O'NEILL

ARtful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com I am interrupting my regularly-scheduled column to report on a fiercely fabulous and impromptu experience… Yes, I did have another column prepared for this issue, but a recent trip to Myakka River State Park seems to have trumped my previous topic. The park is near Sarasota and just barely ten miles off Interstate 75. Needless to say, the park is hypnotically beautiful: old-growth trees, plentiful wildlife, a serpentine river, a sparkling lake and a treetop boardwalk from which you can see for miles. All of this can be viewed online. Along with multiple campsites, it ... Read More »

A Personal Resurrection, 2014

''Resurrection'' by Tara O'Neill

Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Two dates best herald the end of high-season in Southwest Florida: April 15 and Easter. Before April 15, many of our part-time residents find it necessary to haul it on home to talk taxes. As for Easter, it marks the end for tourists in general; although why this should be I’ve never understood – especially since the date is all over the calendar – but there you have it. For the worker-bees who remain year-round, end of season – on either date – has much different meanings. It’s over… working six to seven days a ... Read More »

Our Enchanted Hours

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Nearly every day during season, about 4 p.m., our home falls under a spell of enchantment. Music begins to whisper through our thick, backyard foliage from somewhere within the two-story condos that run behind our residential street. When the first tentative strains reach my ears I rise from my desk or easel, as though lightly hypnotized, and make my way to the back lanai… likewise does my husband, from whatever part of the house that was occupying him, with two glasses of wine in hand. We sit by the pool. We listen. It’s live music ... Read More »

WHO TAUGHT WHOM?

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Have you ever dreaded something that turned out to be wonderful? Of course you have, it’s part of the whole human experience. I suppose, likewise, we have all looked forward to things that in the end fell short of our desires — but that’s not for today’s discussion. I like this lesson much better… Once upon right now, I teach drawing at Marco Island Center for the Arts, and have for three years. I have always preferred the larger classes because I believe it can be vastly rewarding to students when they interact with a multitude ... Read More »

Gender & the art of language

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Sticks & stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me… To that childhood rhyme I say: ahh, baloney. Words can hurt, and deeply. The damage may be subtle, a slow insinuation into the core of your being, and with suffering so much longer lasting than a temporary scrape of the flesh from a stick or a stone. Last week a friend of mine, a proud and loving father of a high-spirited eight-year old daughter, was recounting to me his daughter’s triumph on the school track where she out-raced most of the boys in ... Read More »

Learning to Crawl

The ‘Daring Dozen,’ founders of the Goodland Art Alliance. Front row (l-r): Denise Santos, Margi Fortune, Tara O’Neill and Joan Fuller. Back row (l-r): Judy Wittwer, Darren Clack,
Natalie Strom, Julie Gross, Celeste Navara, Sherri Morrison, Dave Fuller and Jim Freeman. PHOTO BY TARA O’NEILL

Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com In November 2012, our community lost a great woman, and I lost a great friend with the passing of Helen Tateo. Helen was an inspiration to me for so many reasons and for so many years, but today, it’s her artful side that brings her into this column. In the 1960s, she owned the first art gallery on Marco Island. She was also one of the 12 founding members of the Art League of Marco Island (now the Marco Island Center for the Arts). The Center/Art League today, nearing its 45th birthday, is a thriving, ... Read More »

Gender and the Performing Arts

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Everytime I sit down to write about gender in relationship to the arts, I get so bogged down in the enormity of the topic that I eventually give up altogether. But the subject means a great deal to me, so perhaps if I can succeed in addressing only specific aspects one column at a time (avoiding the massive manifesto), I can finally share some insights and observations. On Jan. 26 of this year, I watched the Grammy awards on TV. Very hip of me, I thought, since I’m usually in bed by 9 PM. The ... Read More »

That Four-Letter Word

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Inspiration for this column came from participating in my first outdoor art festival of the 2013-14 season. The Goodland Holiday Bazaar, sponsored by the Goodland Civic Association, was an unqualified success according to organizers, vendors and visitors. (I received many kind congratulations on the event, but must state again that other than showing up, I had nothing to do with it. Kudos to Connie Fulmer, Noreen Seeger, Natalie Strom and their hardworking team of volunteers.) This is one of my favorite events for several reasons. Unlike the more formal juried shows I do, this one is ... Read More »