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Issue 664

10/31/2013 at 4:07pm

Paint The BeachArt is In the Air at the 2013 Paint the Beach

The island will be awash in art next week as the Fort Myers Beach Art Association's 4th Annual 'Paint the Beach - from Sandcastles to Shrimpboats' begins on November 5th. From Tuesday through Thursday, 60 artists from all over the world will set up at various locations all over Fort Myers Beach and Estero Island, creating beautiful images ‘en Plein Air' - meaning 'in open air'. This is the first year that the event has seen so many artists sign up to participate that there is actually a waiting list in case someone drops out.

The event begins on Monday evening, when many of the artists will gather to pick up their goody bags chock full of things like gift certificates and coupons provided by local businesses and friends. These art supporters include Gavin's ACE Hardware, Fish Tale Marina, Smokin Oyster Brewery, Esterra Spa, Italian Ice and Cafe, John and Jean Kakatsch, Edward Jones Investments, Plein Air Magazine, Watercolor Magazine, Chartpak with T-shirts for the event being underwritten by Beach Pub.

The following morning, participating artists will check in at the Fort Myers Beach Art Association between 7am and 10am to have their canvasses and/or paper stamped. Each artist will then have until Friday morning, November 8th to produce one or two framed and ready to hang pieces of art, all of which must be done without the assistance of photography. In past years, artists have been seen painting from the top of the Matanzas Bridge, in Time Square, Bowditch Point Park, the Matanzas Pass Preserve and Shrimpboat Lane (Main Street on San Carlos Island) just to name a few.

On Friday morning - after enjoying a continental breakfast provided by Truly Scrumptious - the artists will deliver their creations to the Festival Tent in Santini Marina Plaza between 9 and 11am. Members of the Fort Myers Beach Art Association (FMBAA) and those participating in Paint the Beach will then have the opportunity to attend a Winsor Newton watercolor demonstration by the FMBAA's Larry Leach at 1pm.

Islanders will get their first glimpse of the artists' efforts at the Award's Ceremony and Preview Party on Friday night between 6 and 9pm, where folks will listen to live entertainment while noshing on hors d'oeuvres provided by the restaurants of Santini Plaza. There will also be a cash bar, and attendees will have the opportunity to purchase art and/or raffle tickets for paintings donated by FMBAA artists.

"The raffle paintings are available for viewing now as we asked each of our painting groups to submit one,” said the Association's Michelle Buelow. "They are created by notable beach artists like Lisa Grunter, Gretchen Johnson and Barb Ballantine, and can be seen at our gallery on the corner of Donora and Shell Mound.”

A special treat in the Festival Tent will be a display of artwork from Beach Elementary's 4th and 5th grade classes. The artwork was created by the students last week with the aid of art teacher Holly Nichols and FMBAA members, who donated the materials and offered tips to the young artists. All the students' work will be on display throughout the weekend.

Tickets for Friday's gala are available in advance for $30 at the Association's gallery, online at or at the Fish Tale Marina Office. They will also be available at the door for $35. The party on Friday isn't the only time the art will be shown, however, as the artwork will be in the Festival Tent all weekend, with all music and events free to the public.

On Saturday, the tent will be open for anyone to see and/or purchase artwork from 11am to 7pm. 'North Fort Myers Academy of the Arts Steel Drum Band' performs from 12-2pm, and Jo List performs with Joe McConaghy during the Jazz Café from 3-5pm - with food and beverage service from Skye’s. List's performance will coincide with a special demonstration by artist Julie Nusdaum.

"Julie will be doing a watercolor demonstration on 'Yupo' paper - which is plastic,” Michelle told us. "This is a very intuitive form of art, so we thought it would go great with the music.”

After Nusdaum's demo, Michelle herself will be doing a pastel demonstration between 5 and 7pm.

Saturday is also the day for the popular 'Quick Draw' competition, where artists will have two hours to create artwork either in Time Square or up and down Old San Carlos Boulevard.

"This event is full, too, as some of the artists who could not get into the main event have signed up for Quick Draw, instead,” Michelle told us. "They will have between 9am and 11am to complete their work, after which it will be displayed in the Festival Tent at noon for judging and awards.”

The festivities continue on Sunday, where the art will be on display and available for purchase between 11am and 2pm, with the winners of this year's raffle being announced at 2pm.

Michelle explained that this year's event will see artists from as far away as Ecuador.

"We've got folks coming from all over the country and Ontario, too,” she said. "Since the Festival Tent can only hold about 120 paintings, we had to limit it to 60. We did extensive advertising this year in Plein Air Magazine and in several online Plein Air groups, so we had to start a waiting list as the interest grew.”

For more information on this year's Paint the Beach, visit

Keri Hendry Weeg