Art in the Park

by Julie Clay

THIS year’s Lineup of exhibitions at the von Liebig Art Center promises to be yet another exciting, visually stimulating season of artistic splendor. The Naples Art Association has put together a schedule of exhibitions, festivals, education programs and special events to delight art fans of all types. Here we’ve highlighted but a few of the shows and events planned for the upcoming year.


Taylor Wells, von Liebig Executive Director, points to a uniquely election year-type exhibition entitled ‘Political Animals — Donkeys and Elephants in American Art’ as one of this season’s most intriguing events, as well as being the first of its kind either here or nationally, “It’s a great prelude to the highly competitive political season.” Opening four days prior to the presidential primary and running through February 24, ‘Political Animals…’ promises “fair and balanced” treatment of these amusing icons representing the country’s two major political parties. Close to 30 works in various media ranging from bronze sculpture to watercolor and oil painting will be featured. Visitors will be asked to do their civic duty and vote for their favorites. Guest curator, William J. Meek, III,has gathered works by acclaimed artists including Milton Avery, Bob Kane, Kathy Spalding, Eliot O’Hara, Adolf Dehn and Robert Vickrey.

Back on the local scene, internationally acclaimed artist and sometime Naples resident Bob Kane will be the spotlight in ‘Bob Kane: From His Collection to Yours’. On January 17, 240 Kane fans will have a chance to own a framed watercolor donated by him. Here’s how it works: throughout the evening, tickets will be drawn to find out which 60 lucky guests will take home a Bob Kane watercolor original. Each winner will have just 90 seconds to make his or her selection. Also, Kane has donated an oil painting to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. And in this intimate setting, Wells says, “Bob gets to meet his collectors, they get to meet him,” adding that all the pieces have been mounted and framed. This type of event has also proven to be a very successful moneymaker for the Art Association. Tickets to participate in the drawing are $325 for NAA members and $350 for non-members. Participants may purchase more than one ticket to further their chances of winning.

The 29th annual Naples National Art Festival puts southwest Florida in the spotlight February 23 & 24 in Cambier Park, located in the heart of beautiful downtown Naples. The event features hundreds of artists from all over the United States and the world displaying and selling their creative works. Last year 275 artists from 35 states and four countries participated. Collectors, homeowners and businesses alike can browse acrylics, prints, lithographs, watercolors, photography, sculpture, pottery, glass, jewelry and more. The Art Festival is southwest Florida’s oldest and most respected exhibition. It’s also a premiere collecting opportunity for those looking to discover emerging artists as well as snag new works from more established ones. Food vendors and entertainment round out the event, with a $3 donation requested to benefit education programs at the von Liebig Art Center.

On the heels of the Naples National Art Festival comes ‘Third on Canvas’ on February 27. The fun actually begins February 19 & 20 when artists from all over the country will paint at various locations throughout the historic Third Street South district. Members of the Third Street Merchants Association will then each ‘adopt’ an artist and display their finished painting in their stores February 21-24. The paintings will be exhibited at the von Liebig Art Center on February 26 & 27 and culminate with a live and silent auction Gala event on the 27th. Tickets will run $95 for this event and include wine, champagne and a supper buffet with proceeds from the sale of the artwork to be divided between the artist and the Naples Art Association.

March 1 brings the 2008 Naples Designer Show House ‘The Drama of Art and Design’. Yes, there will be paintings, photographs, ceramic and pottery by Naples Art Association member artists, but no, we won’t be looking at them in a park or a gallery. This time, we’ll go to a newly constructed Old Florida-style home at 723 Mooring Lane, where the individual rooms themselves will be decorated by local interior designers, using the members’ creations. This event is sponsored by several local businesses, and purchasing advance tickets is recommended.

Later this season the von Liebig will host a traveling exhibition of documentary photographer Brynn Bruijn’s works, entitled ‘Curiouser and Curiouser: What a Wonder Is This World!’ Selected images from his life’s work details everyday life in places around the globe, including Africa, China, Europe, Russia and Tibet, while textual references from Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic Alice in Wonderland show us Bruijn’s world of adventure while encouraging us to look at the ordinary in extraordinary ways. ‘Curiouser and Curiouser…’ runs March 8–April 27.

Rounding out this season’s offerings is ‘Art Encounter 2008’, a juried awards exhibition. Running May 10-June 29, ‘Art Encounter 2008’ will highlight recent works in installation, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and works on paper by artists from all regions of Florida. ‘Art Encounter 2007’ featured 69 works by 50 artists.

Wells notes that, outside of these events and many others running through the area’s busiest season, the von Liebig Art Center is open year round with programs of interest for all ages and interests, including a summer kids’ program called ‘ArtScool’. Last year, over 1,000 students participated in ‘ArtScool’. “The Naples Art Association pursues outreach opportunities throughout Collier County via exhibitions and educational programs featuring emerging and established artists,” he says.

in the beginning

The Naples Art Association had its modest beginnings in 1954 as a not-for-profit visual arts organization established by local artists Grace Lake, George Rogers and Elsie Upham. Members began to meet and exhibit work regularly as an outdoor painting group. Interest grew, shows became more frequent, and in 1968, the NAA began its search for a permanent location. In 1992 the Naples City Council voted to give the Naples Art Association 8,000 sq.ft. of city land in Cambier Park on which to build a home. Major funding was provided by the state and a lead private gift from seasonal resident Suzanne and the late William J. von Liebig, noted cultural and medical research philanthropists. In 1998 the von Liebig Art Center was officially dedicated and opened its doors to the public, debt-free. The two-story, 16,000 sq.ft. facility houses six studios, lobby gallery, a main exhibition gallery, four galleries-in-the-round, two collection storage vaults, library resource center, administrative offices and a catering kitchen.

Exhibitions are free and open to the public. The von Liebig Art Center’s hours are 10am-4pm, Monday-Saturday and 1-4pm Sunday. The Center is located at 585 Park St. in Naples and also features an extensive art library. Call 262-6517 for more information about events, programs and exhibitions. •

from the January-February 2008 issue

Richard Segalman's 'Homage to Avedon' is one of the works in the exhiition, 'Political Animals – Donkeys & Elephants in American Art' on view thru February 24
von Liebig Art Center
585 Park Avenue

Mon-Sat 10am-4pm & Sun 1-4pm

Taylor C. Wells
von Liebig Executive Director

Triangle Pose
Courtesy Health & Harmony Center