Under the Oaks gets off to a wet start

VERO BEACH — Torrential downpours Thursday and Friday canceled the opening day of Under the Oaks at Riverside Park, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the Vero Beach Art Club committee members who hosted the show or the artists who participated. The artists, sponsors and invited guests who gathered Friday night at the Vero Beach Museum of Art for the opening night buffet dinner had sloshed through ponds of water to get there, but umbrellas and soggy thoughts were all left at the door.

Artists for the show come from all over the United States and Canada, and one from as far away as Israel.  Despite the rain, by Friday morning all but 35 of the 210 artists had checked in and were ready to go.  Artists helped one another set-up the tents and everyone was hoping for better weather Saturday and Sunday. It’s been quite an experience for first year co-chairs Chris Pierce and Sharon Sandel.  “It was a total “drowner” today; we swam,” said Sandel with a resigned smile.  “Some tents had four-inches of water.  This liquid sunshine doesn’t cut it.”


Lionel Ogilvie, a Vero Beach Art Club member, is the Show Manager.  “When we hit the dirt, he takes over,” said Pierce. And, because of extensive flooding in the park, his grounds people had to do some major rearranging, picking up whole tents to move them to drier ground.

Lillie Taylor had recruited about 60 people to volunteer at the event and said,  “I had to call them all this morning to tell them not to come.”

This is the 59th year for the highly regarded show and its superior status is maintained through its stringent rules and quality control.  “Teams walk around the show, checking to make sure that only original works are hung.  They can sell prints, but they must be clearly marked as such,” said Pierce.

An extensive jury process whittled the group down to about one-third of the 600 artists who had applied.  Under the Oaks features one-of-a-kind works in a variety of mediums, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, pottery, creative crafts, pastels, sculpture and jewelry.  About one-quarter of the artists are Vero Beach Art Club members, there are a few other local artists and the rest are from out of town.

Christina Tascon, Office Manager for the Vero Beach Art Club introduced me to Yoram Gal, an artist from Israel who had clearly traveled the greatest distance to participate in the show.  When I asked how he learned of Under the Oaks, Gal said “I was in the United States doing a show and saw this one listed as a top show.  I started this show in 2005 and won best watercolor; I’ve been allowed in every year since.”  Gal said he tries to schedule three or four shows each trip and was headed to a show in Alabama after this weekend.

I spoke for a while with Vero Beach resident Lee G. Smith, who has participated in the show for the past eight years.  “I came from Cape Cod and had done outdoor shows there.”  Indicating that she generally does quite well at the show because of its high attendance Smith said with a smile,  “I go home happy.”

“Even though it rained today, artists live for the beauty in life and that’s what we’re focused on,” said Sandel.  “We’re looking to have a wonderful show going forward.”

Smith agreed saying, “There’s a rainbow in there somewhere.”

The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.  Judging for the event, which generally occurs on Friday, will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and award winners will be announced Saturday afternoon. {igallery 164}

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