I usually save my “year in review” for mid-summer, but as I am now exiting the role of gallery committee Chairperson at the Marco Island Center for the Arts, I am consumed with reflection. It’s been a full two years since I was hood-winked…that is to say, invited…to accept the position (what could they have been thinking?) It was an honor then, and today remains an honor, and so much more. More: more knowledgeable of what galleries and museums go through to stage a successful exhibition; more tolerant of some practices; more impatient of others; more far-reaching and more forward-thinking; and certainly more dependent on others. I beg your indulgence.
During my tenure the Center weathered mighty storms: a deep financial crisis, a waning of involvement, and the loss of two executive directors in one year – indeed the Center operated for many months without anyone at the helm. It prevailed because of a committed Board of Directors, including Dave Rice and his Project Rescue team; the beleaguered but dedicated administrative staff of Cindy Crane and Linda Henning; a tiny but mighty army of volunteers; and the loving support of a community that would not allow the 40+-year cultural institute to go dark. Blessings on you all.
The committee itself was a force, eight effervescent minds bouncing ideas about like pinballs…ping, Ping, PING, tilt! Drat. Ping, PING…WINNER! Bells and whistles. And then identifying and utilizing everyone’s individual strengths to make “it” happen. I am in awe of each of them.
They strove to bring in new and exciting exhibits while still showcasing the member-artists who are the clay, sweat, and paint, the bricks and mortar, of any arts organization. They reached out to, and collaborated with, other area non-profits. I cannot stress enough the importance and benefits of collaboration, especially in the arts.
I’m proud of the quality of exhibits the committee delivered: Forme de la Femme, Bras for Life, Salute to Service, Maine Fiber Artists, Florida’s Native Americans, and themed-specific calls to artists of all media. I’m ridiculously fortunate to have worked with fellow ‘committeers’ Inez Hudson, incoming chairperson, has an unlimited ability to think outside the box; Nancy Garrison supervised every hanging/staging; board president Ken Stroud had strong, original insights (and still allowed Nancy to boss him around); Betty Newman and her team of intake volunteers kept our professional integrity intact; Rick Granneman, artist, scientist, and much needed voice of reason; Sandy Moore Howe, voice of the Clay Guild, took a lot of dirty jobs, including outdoor festival organizer; and the ever-positive Carolyn Burger, who kept us from spinning into infinity.
The skies are clearing and the future looks bright for the Marco Island Center for the Arts. Current executive director, Lynn Holly, is willing to reach not just over the bridge, but across the globe. Her staff is to be recognized for their talent and inventiveness.
As for me, I will continue to volunteer at Marco Island’s only Center for the Arts – perhaps you would find the Center a suitably lively and important place to volunteer your expertise and talent. Along with the gallery committee, assistance is needed for the gallery shop, the education committee, youth scholarship committee, hospitality, docents, mechanics and maintenance, promotion, clerical, just name it. The rewards are infinite.
Marco Island Center for the Arts, 239.394.4221, www.marcoislandart.org
Tara O’Neill, a lifelong artist, has been an area resident since 1967. She holds Bachelors Degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida, and currently has a studio-gallery at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade on Marco Island. Contact her through www.tarao gallery.com