CJ’s on the Bay has unveiled a new art installation to coincide with the renovation of their dining room. The multi-piece artwork was conceptualized by Marco Island local Amber Bragenzer, depicting sea life to fit the nautical theme of the restaurant.
Part of the renovation process was to remove the booths which lined the interior wall adjacent to the kitchen, explained General Manager Laura Owen, leaving them with additional space along the wall to hang a decorative piece. To match their aquatic theme set by the new metallic fish sculptures from FishBone Design, they sought out Bragenzer to create a custom work of art for them.
“We knew right away we wanted a local artist,” Owen said, “After a while we said that Amber is an amazing artist, let’s give her a shot.” Previously Bragenzer worked at CJ’s for several years while she studied graphic design at Hodges University in Naples.
“This was the first time I’ve done paintings, especially ones of this size,” Bragenzer said, “It was a real learning experience for me when it comes to planning a painting which stretches that far on so many different canvases.”
Bragenzer notes the challenges which come with drafting out an extensive art project, especially finding a consistent flow between each individual canvas. “I start out with a sketch and lay out how it’ll look on a smaller scale, working from the center outwards.” The subject of the two paintings, turtles and manatees, are of significance to her – having a particular fondness for animals and the local wildlife. For many years she volunteered for various animal rescues and shelters around the island, primarily for the no-kill rescue, For the Love of Cats.
“It took a couple months to put everything together,” Bragenzer explains, given the number of canvases and planning on top of working at the Marriott which served to complicate the project.
“There has been a very positive response to the artwork,” Owen said. The positive reception to her work has improved Bragenzer’s motivation, “It’s pushing me to definitely pursue this [rather] than leave it as a hobby.”
Now armed with her degree in graphic design, Bragenzer plans to move to Austin to further her career and find more career options in the artistic space. “I always hope to be painting,” Bragenzer said, “And if I can turn that into a career that would be fantastic.”
CJ’s on the Bay is located in the Esplanade at 740 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island. For more information visit cjsonthebay.com or call 239-389-4511.