SEBASTIAN – The Sebastian Arts Center has been open for a few months but it wasn’t until Friday evening that the Sebastian River Arts Club made it official.
Art Club members and visitors alike toured the rehabilitated center, marveling over the massive pieces of hanging art on the walls from featured artist Frits Van Eeden.
“It’s really exciting to get someone of this caliber,” Club President Richard Gillmor said of Van Eeden, a Melbourne-based artist known for his large life-like-yet-abstract work.
“This puts us on the map,” Gillmor said.
First-time visitor Arlene Sala said she was excited to see the Arts Center open. For her, seeing skilled artists’ work serves as an inspiration, she said.
Sala considers herself an amateur painter, working on small canvases trying to get the details just right.
“I’m working to loosen up,” she said.
Those were the same first steps as featured artist Van Eeden.
“It took years for that to sink in,” he told the audience, explaining that he, too, once struggled to get every detail just right.
When a professor entered one of Van Eeden’s piece in a competition, he was surprised to see it was a piece he had spent so little time on – a piece depicting two cobras sparing each other.
The piece had a sense of movement to it – as though the viewer was truly watching the cobras dance, he said.
His professor told him to keep his art loose or risk losing that spontaneous movement.
Though Van Eeden has shown his work in countless galleries and museums, he was impressed with the Sebastian Arts Center.
“It’s good to have a home for every arts group,” he said.
Gillmor and other members of the club worked to fix up the interior of the building, which had once been office space for the city government.
“This is a real art gallery,” Gillmor said, later adding, “Historically, people have looked south to Vero (Beach) for culture.”
With the opening of the Sebastian Arts Center, north county residents don’t have to travel to Vero Beach – unless they want to.
The Sebastian River Art Club hosts art classes taught by fellow members and are open to the public. Currently a painting class is being held on Tuesdays at the center for $10.
Van Eeden will be giving a painting demonstration at the Arts Center on Thursday, March 10 from 4 to 6 p.m. His art show continues through March 22.
The Sebastian Arts Center is located at 1245 Main Street, next to the Historic Sebastian School and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and as class schedules permit.
For more information about the Arts Center, call (772) 918-4203.