VERO BEACH — Gallery owners were thrilled with the turnout at last Friday’s Gallery Stroll, with people coming out in droves, popping in and out of the galleries, shops and restaurants of the 3-D (Downtown Dine and Design) District.
“We were a little worried about the weather earlier in the week, but it turned out to be perfect,” said Lee Orre of the mild evening. Lee and Dawn Orre, owners of Tropic Art & Frame, were hosting the start of a juried art show, Sunrise for Sun Up which features artwork in a variety of media to benefit the Sun Up Center. The show will run through the end of the month.
As he greeted Lee G. Smith, one of 41 local artists who participated in the show, he noted that her spectacular oil painting “Sunset and Gulls” had captured the attention of a buyer almost as soon as it was hung.
“We finished putting the show up yesterday afternoon and the painting was sold this morning,” said Orre. “We’ve got some really great pieces. I hope we sell them all.”
“We’ve always supported Sun Up. They’re self-funded and don’t get any money from the government,” added Orre, noting that Dawn’s sister Diane, an adult with special needs, is a Sun Up client.
“She goes to the Goodwill Adult Training Center (ADT) in the morning and Sun Up in the afternoon. They teach her life skills and all sorts of things. It’s a good organization.”
In a tent outside the gallery, Sun Up’s executive director Dennis Bartholomew and board president Mary Beth Vallar were selling chances for donated gift certificates to local businesses and artwork created by Paul Davis and by Bartholomew. It being a “Chinese Auction,” clients at Sun Up had attractively painted take-out containers in colorful sunrise and sunset scenes which were used to hold the raffle tickets,.
Having just learned that Sun Up’s van would need $1,100 worth of repairs, everyone was hoping the show would do well.
“On top of everything else in the life of a nonprofit, to have an unexpected expense like that is really tough,” said Bartholomew.
The organization recently changed its name from the Sun Up Center for the Developmentally Disabled to the Sun Up Center Life Skills Academy.
“We’re focusing on peoples’ abilities rather than their disabilities and taking the option of working towards something,” explained Bartholomew.
Gallery 14 across the street was hosting a “last call” reception for its Our Beautiful Ocean invitational exhibit to benefit FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.
As we arrived, Gallery 14 partner Lila Blakeslee was introducing artist Paul Davis to Bermuda Bay residents Mary and Dennis Caverly, who had just purchased his exquisite painting.
“When I first saw it I thought it was a pastel,” said Mary Caverly. “Then I saw that it was an oil and I asked, how did he do that?”
“I told her I do it with love,” said Davis.
“He has so much atmosphere, feeling and love in his work,” said Caverly in admiration.
World renowned event planner David Mond, labeled the “Architect of Style” by former Vogue Magazine editor Billy Norwich, was enjoying his first stay in Vero Beach, visiting friends Chris Foster and Mark Wygonik.
“I love it,” said Mond of our little piece of paradise. He’d only just arrived at the gallery, but added, “I already see something I like.”
It’s been a great exhibit,” said Lila Blakeslee of this second annual exhibition of pieces evoking oceans and marine life.
“I think art and people’s feelings about the ocean are so intertwined,” said Dr. Margaret Leinen, executive director at Harbor Branch. “People relate to both at a personal and emotional level.”
There are now nine galleries participating in the First Friday Gallery Strolls, scheduled monthly thru April along 14th Avenue in downtown Vero Beach.