Show of hands, please: how many of you are familiar with Marco Island Foundation for the Arts? Better known as MIFA? Hmm, it’s true that their office and Local Color Gallery are a little hard to find, tucked into the side corridor at the Esplanade, and perhaps they don’t get quite the media coverage that the larger and longer-established non-profits get, but they are definitely doing some mighty good work and their 2011 schedule is full of surprises.
MIFA incorporated and was granted not-for-profit status in 2003. President Sandi Johnson can quickly quote their mission statement, “to promote arts in public places on Marco Island,” which doesn’t put a whole lot of limits on their community involvement. They have an excellent scholarship program for Island students; they orchestrated the children’s tile project now in place at Mackle Park; they’ve installed 4 public sculptures in the community – you all know Marco Man at City Hall, now go find the other 3! – and replaced the stolen statue, Happy Travelers, in Leigh Plummer Park. MIFA also participated in the United Arts Council’s fundraising “Pioneer Postcard” project with Marco Island Historical Society, and in the City’s Conservation Day Celebration. They are also the co-sponsors for the Artist Colony at the Esplanade in a joint venture with the Art League of Marco Island.
One of my favorite MIFA events is the Left Bank Arts Festival at the Esplanade. It was originally the brainchild of artist-member Nancy Rhodes who wanted to design a less formal Arts Festival that would accept a broader and more relaxed style of exhibitors without sacrificing quality. Left Bank has been so successful that this year there will be 4: January 15, February 12, March 12, and April 16. While some artists will set up traditional white canopies anddisplay tables, others will take the more Parisian approach of painting at easel next to a bin of unframed works for sale. I still do several outdoor fine art festivals each year and can assure you that my fellow artists and I don’t often get the opportunity to let our hair down and shed the standard show regulations. It is, absolutely, fun for all.
New this season is the screening of art-related films on disc; “Movies at MIFA” is FREE and will be held in the Local Color Gallery. Jan 12: “Mary Cassatt”, Jan 26: “Shakespeare in Love”, Feb 9: “La Vie en Rose”, Feb 23: “Frida”, March 9: “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, April 13: “Modigliani”, and April 27: “The Red Violin”. Show times are 5:00 and seating is very limited, so reservations are a must. For those still preferring the big screen, MIFA also sponsors a film series held at Marco Movies. This years films include Babette’s Feast, Eat Drink Man Woman, and Like Water for Chocolate.
As in years past, the public is invited to enjoy luncheons, fashion shows, theatrical productions, and the 3rd annual Marco Masters Art Fest. There’s a lot going on and I urge you to type on over to their web-site for the complete schedule of events as well as information on how you can become a member. It doesn’t cost much and the reward is rich.
Marco Island Foundation for the Arts, www.marcoarts.org, 740 N Collier Blvd, Ste 102, 239.642.0528.
Tara O’Neill, a lifelong artist, has been an area resident since 1967. She holds Bachelors Degrees in both Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida, Tampa, and currently has a studio-gallery at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade on Marco Island. She can be contacted through her web site www.taraogallery.com.