Art and Culture In An Island Paradise

There is something about a gallery walk that brings out the best in people. A sense of relaxed camaraderie prevails. And when it takes place on a beautiful island, at a time of year when many part-time residents are returning for winter, very pleased they are escaping the winter snows, the atmosphere is all the more festive.

ArtsHOP Gallery Walk Anna Maria

Such an event took place on Anna Maria Island on November 14, when various arts and cultural organizations banded together for the ArtsHOP Gallery Walk. The balmy air that evening made walking, driving or riding the trolley from one venue to the next an absolute pleasure. Paradise was found that night. The arts were celebrated.

The hub of much of the activity was the Anna Maria Island Art League Gallery in downtown Holmes Beach. The lovely little courtyard provided the perfect location for a variety of organizations to set up tables to promote their cultural programs for the upcoming season. Larry Stokes provided live music. A stunning oil painting of a white egret in the mangroves by local artist Robert Johnson was on display and raffle tickets for this painting were on sale. The recipients of the raffle proceeds were also present: three owls and a hawk sat on perches under the banyan tree with Wildlife Education & Rehab director Ed Straight. Of all the birds, the little screech owl named “Mr. T” was my personal favorite.

Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center, in Bradenton Beach, rescues hundreds of injured and sick animals on Anna Maria Island , with the help of devoted volunteers. In honor of this important island organization, the theme of the art exhibit in the Anna Maria Island Art League gallery was “Fauna and Florida .” More than 200 people came through the gallery to view the artistic tributes to local wildlife that night.

Other exhibits were presented at the nearby The Artist’s Guild of Anna Maria Island and Island Gallery West. The Studio at Gulf and Pine, in Anna Maria City, presented a more regional show featuring landscapes by Women Contemporary Artists.

The depth of the cultural life on Anna Maria Island is truly impressive. To think that such a small island has its own symphony orchestra and chorus, and community theater! It looks like the upcoming winter will provide plenty of diverse cultural events, and ArtsHOP was a very successful start to the season.

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