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Artful Life

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 »

Nurturing Confidence

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ARtful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com It’s not very often I write a follow-up to a previously published column, but I did get some interesting communications on my last Artful Life column entitled, “Confidence, the Good Kind.” So, I would like to revisit the topic of nurturing confidence in folks young and old, and including ourselves. The most interesting call I received on the subject came from a semi-retired school teacher from New Hampshire. Here’s what she had to share: “Ask a classroom of first- and second-graders who in the room can sing, and 95 to 100 percent of those students will ... Read More »

Confidence, the Good Kind

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com As I stack more years in the back of the cart than the front, so do many of my friends. Our knees and hips creak, our ankles swell, and our necks and shoulders stiffen… and let’s not forget the vague memories of sleeping through the night without having to get up. These challenges I take in stride, what I don’t appreciate is hearing over and again that “it’s hell getting old.” And the alternative is…? What amuses me is that you hear this much more from people in their fifties and sixties than you do from ... Read More »

Letting go to move on

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com I am often asked about how professional artists are able to let go of their creations and if there is great difficulty in the act of releasing the products of one’s imagination. The work of the soul, so to speak. My response, for me personally, is always a healthy and hearty, “heck no!” And, while I’m in no position to speak for all artists (it simply can’t be done), I know from those I speak with and read about that the prevailing tennent is that the work we do today is leading to the work we ... Read More »

In Defense of Defiance

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Artful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Ah! Back from sabbatical… and by sabbatical I mean vacation to Ireland. Before leaving, I wrote a column about how traveling can refresh one’s perspective, or even grant a whole new one (and it seems my perspective was woefully in need of a tune-up). So, for you generous readers who did not begrudge me a column-free month, I bring you further thoughts on perspective inspired first by a wholly American occurrence, and further by personal immersion into a distant culture. Shortly before I left, long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad had, on her fifth attempt, completed her swim ... Read More »

Ins & Outs of Perspective

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ARtful Life Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com When I was but 18 years old, I travelled to Ireland with my best friend Diane Sweeney (now Fowler). It wasn’t our intention just to visit Ireland… we had big plans: we, with dollars hard-earned from waitressing, babysitting, and what-have-you-ing, were going to TOUR EUROPE. We spent months making plans while poring over maps with exotic place names like The Black Forest… Giverney… Italy. We were going to see it all. It just so happened that the least expensive airfare from the U.S. to anywhere in Europe was Ireland. My Dad was from Dublin, I had ... Read More »

HUWA!

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ARTFUL LIFE Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com Despite a widely held belief to the contrary, an artist need not be in the mood nor sublimely inspired in order to create. And neither do you. Of course, by my standards you are all artists, making the latter statement a trifle redundant (the difference between the artist’s life and the artful life is often just a matter of media.) Here’s one scene: a snow-white, ice-cold canvas stares blankly at you from a rigid easel; it’s time to work, but you have no fresh idea, you don’t have that feeling, that mood. You begin to ... Read More »

It was just my imagination…

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ARTFUL LIFE Tara O’Neill taraogallery@marcocable.com I recently had the privilege of speaking at the Marco Island Historical Museum – I was relating my 46 years on Marco & Goodland to my exhibit of oil paintings at the time, South Florida: a Villager’s View – and was very pleased with the lively Q & A period that followed. There was a strong turn-out and the questions were all interesting and thoughtful. There was a question from another artist asking if I had a favorite painting [from my own body of work] and I didn’t hesitate to say no, and further explain ... Read More »