SUN PHOTO/MIKE FIELD
Sisters Holly, left and Trina Rizzo sing
the Rogers and Hammerstein classic
"Sisters, Sisters," during
the Sunday afternoon performance of the
Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and
Orchestra, part of the third annual
With perfect weather and people in a party mood, the third annual artsHOP was called the best ever by organizers from Cultural Connections, which represents nine Island arts and cultural groups that present the weekend of activities.
“It was for the people to celebrate the arts and for the arts to celebrate each other,” organizer Marsha Bard said.
“It was a great weekend for Anna Maria Island’s arts and culture. Something I feel we can all hold our heads up and be proud of,” event chair Melissa Williams declared.
“All reports coming in from each of the events suggest this has been the best year yet: sold out performances at the theater and concert, higher than usual attendance throughout the entire gallery walk, a fantastic garden party and turn out for the Historical Society’s book launch and loads of enthusiasm throughout the weekend for the drum circle.”
“It was a wonderful sense of community,” organizer Dorothy Blum, added.
On Friday, Holmes Beach hummed with activity at the Gallery Walk. People strolled through the courtyard of the AMI Art League admiring the hand-painted floor cloths and watching artists’ demonstrations, while listening to the bluegrass sounds of Myakka.
“I feel it went very well,” League Director Holly Collier said. “It took a community effort to make this a success.”
Collier said three of the top four award winners in the Island Gems show sold their work. Winners were Dee Pastorius, best in show for her watercolor, “Sea Turtle;” Bettina Sego, first place for her triptych, “Paradise Lost;” Robert Harper, second place for his oil painting, “Sea Oats Silhouette;” and Bonnie Murray, third place for her mixed media, “Aquarium,”
At Island Gallery West, pianist Sam Wade played blues piano, and artists were on hand to explain their techniques, while merchants in the area were generating record crowds.
Marlane Wurzbach, of Island Gallery West, said, “Our members enjoyed showing the more than 400 visitors a good time.”
Wall to wall
At the Artists Guild of AMI, people purchased art and danced to bluegrass played by State Road 64.
“The feedback from the merchants and people attending was wonderful,” Midge Pippel, co-president of the Guild said. “I visited all the sites and there were record crowds.”
“The Guild was wall to wall people, and many people commented on the quality of the art they saw. They were in a celebratory mood and loved the music.”
“People were so happy,” Joan Voyles, co-president of the Guild, added. “There was a wonderful ambiance. People were discovering places they didn’t know were there.
“I really appreciated the business sponsors and growing support for the event. More businesses are seeing an economic benefit by cooperating and supporting the arts. It improves the quality of life, and that’s what it’s all about.”
In Anna Maria, people stopped by The Studio at Gulf and Pine to make their silent auction bids on the turtle art, and owner Rhea Chiles noted, “The art was so much finer and creative than we anticipated. It’s one of the best shows we’ve ever had in the gallery.
“People were so inspired by their love of the turtles and what Turtle Watch does on the Island. It was wildly successful.”
The one act plays at the Island Playhouse generated an overflow audience on Friday and nearly sold out on Saturday, said Island Players President Dolores Harrell, who added, “The audience loved them. It was a good program for artsHOP because people didn’t have to concentrate on an entire play.”
The winner of Friday’s raffle basket of $150 in art supplies from Keeton's Art and Office Supply was Dorothy Kelly, of Holmes Beach.
Book a hit
On Saturday morning, the mood also was festive as people lined up at Belle Haven Cottage waiting to purchase autographed copies of Carolyne Norwood’ second volume of Island history. Many bought multiple copies for Christmas gifts, and Historical Society Treasurer George McKay reported that 136 were sold.
“Everyone was so enthusiastic,” Norwood said. “It made my five years of writing worthwhile. It was very uplifting to have such a successful day.”
After receiving their books, visitors were ushered into Belle Haven garden for refreshments and old timers including Elizabeth Moss, John, Jim and Judy Adams and Renal Hook traded stories.
Late Saturday afternoon, people gathered at The Studio to learn the winning bidders of the turtle art auction. At press time, the preliminary total was $3,500, but some art has not yet been claimed.
Sunday’s concert by the Anna Maria Island Concert Orchestra and Chorus also was a huge success.
"What a performance and absolutely amazing, are words that were repeated by concertgoers again and again.” AMICCO Executive Director Jeanie Pickwick reported. “The Rizzo sisters opened the program with a stirring rendition of the national anthem. The violin concerto performed by Daniel Andai received a standing ovation.
“AMICCO chorus member Martha DiPalma who sang "You'll Never Walk Alone," nearly brought down the house, and there was a rousing round of applause after each soloist performed, including Joy Leitner, Chalyce Sullivan and the incomparable voices of Robert Lischetti and Douglas Renfroe.”
For the final event of the weekend, a group of about 30 gathered at Manatee County Public Beach late Sunday afternoon for a drum circle. Beachgoers danced in the sand as the rhythms filled the air and the sun set behind them.