The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 5 - November 3, 2010


Colorful murals brighten up Holmes Beach

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

From left, Joel Cocciolone and Chad "Cheeta" Ruis
in front of their mural by the skate park.

HOLMES BEACH – A non descript wall on the city’s newest comfort station by the skate park has become an explosion of color thanks to two local artists – Joel Cocciolone and Chad “Cheeta” Ruis.

The pair began their collaboration the morning of Oct. 23 to coincide with the School’s Back Grom Skate Competition, said organizer Mark Boltwood, of Six Third Productions, which promotes art and entertainment in the area.

“They started at 10 a.m. so they could have it in progress during the skate competition,” Boltwood explained. “Bands were playing and the kids were doing their runs behind them.”

“We like to tie in to live events so people can see art going on around them. It’s makes it more meaningful.”

“We’re bringing art out and it inspires others, Ruis said.

“And gets them involved,” Cocciolone added. “There’s awesome energy.”

The inspiration for the piece was the Island lifestyle said Cocciolone.

“We decided to do something totally Island – the feeling, the bright colors,” he said. “We talked about what we wanted to accomplish and then sketched it out. We took what we’re known for and combined our styles. I knew it would work well.”

“It’s like free style,” Ruis added. “You start with a plan then it becomes spontaneous.”

Sponsors of the mural were Bob Ferrara, Waste Management and Keeton’s Office and Art Supply.

The other side

Cocciolone also painted a mural on the side of the comfort station facing the field during the Real Florida Festival/Founder’s Day event held in the spring. It is another explosion of color featuring a skater, a surfer and the Island trolley.

For that event, Boltwood organized a Grom Skate Contest and the proceeds from the registration were donated to the Island trolley because all three believe strongly in keeping the free trolley.

Cocciolone said he grew up around art and was inspired to become an artist by his mother, an art teacher at Bayshore High School. He said he and Ruis have collaborated on other pieces, and he is always learning from other artists around him.

Ruis studied art and graphic design in Tampa and worked in a graphic design business for 15 years. He said last year, he began to pursue his art and get involved in local art events.

Both do commissions and can be contacted on Facebook as Joel Cocciolone and Cheeta art or through

Life inspires loggerhead turtle art

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Clockwise from top left: Kay Vontz models her necklace.
Kay Vontz's necklace features an amber and sterling
silver turtle with adventurine nuggets and chips and
sand blasted sterling silver beads (PHOTO PROVIDED BY
KAY VONTZ). Paul Arnold turns in his painting titled,
"My Sweet Caretta." Auction co-chairs
Rhea Chiles and Deborah Webster show Webster's auction
art that was influenced by Australian aboriginal art.

This week’s artists that have contributed turtle-themed art for the annual artsHOP silent auction are Deborah Webster, Paul Arnold and Kay Vontz.

Deborah Webster is originally from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where she was a high school at teacher for 30 years, and she and her husband ran an art gallery.

She also has painted with mixed media and oils using handmade paper for 30 years and exhibits in solo and group shows around the country. In 2007, she received a Fullbright Fellowship to study Australian aboriginal art.

“I usually do abstract work with a water themes,” she explained. “So this piece I did for the show is not my normal work. It was inspired by my travels through Australia.”

Two years ago, she and her husband moved to Anna Maria. She and Rhea Chiles are co-coordinators of the turtle art show named Calling All Turtles.

Paul Arnold is the son of Leroy Arnold, former mayor of Bradenton Beach. He attended Bayshore High School, where he was voted most talented. He majored in fine arts at Ringling College of Art and Design. He works in a variety of media.

He designed T-shirts for Key West Willy’s, three Bridge Street festivals and Bayfest 2004. He designed Officer Pete Lannon’s Superman T-shirt, won the T-shirt design contest for the Ringling Bridge Run and designed three calendars sold at

He has worked as a framer at Michaels, in an art production company and at J&J Graphics in Anna Maria. He is currently with Auto Trim design.

Kay Vontz, a Florida native, majored in commercial art in college and worked in Germany as a commercial artist before moving to Jacksonville and creating cityscapes and abstracts in acrylics, gouache and oil.

After moving to Austin, Texas, she took an introductory metals class and was hooked. She then enrolled in the metals program at Austin Community College and began a career designing and making jewelry.

She moved back to the area 10 years ago and has sold her jewelry at Island Gallery West. She currently sells it at The Studio at Gulf and Pine.

The turtle art will be displayed at The Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12 and 13. Bids will begin at 50 percent of what the artist wants for the piece and increase in $10 increments. Bidding will be closed at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and winning bidders will be contacted.

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