MAGGIE FIELD | SUN
The Island Art League building at 5312 Holmes Blvd.
in Holmes Beach remains locked after the organization
closed last week.
The art community was stunned last week when the Anna Maria Island Art League closed its doors with no notice.
On Thursday, May 17, Joan Voyles, president of the Artist's' Guild of Anna Maria Island, the other longstanding art group on the Island, made the announcement at the monthly meeting of Cultural Connections, an organization representing the Island's nine Island arts and cultural groups.
"The Art League has a sign on its door that says, 'Closed until further notice,'" she said. "We do not know the situation, but most of the people on the board have resigned."
Christina Reginelli, who was hired as the organization's executive director last fall, said she put the sign on the door on Friday, May 11, and left the organization.
Reginelli and two former board members, who recently resigned, met with The Sun on Friday, May 18. The board members asked to remain anonymous.
"We all have been shocked and upset," said one. "None of us wanted this to happen. Instead of rumors spinning out of control, we would like the community to know that the Art League is closed due to financial difficulties."
Another said, "Everyone in the community has been very supportive and concerned."
However, later that afternoon, Laura McGeary, president of the Art League's board of directors, said, "We have no plans to close the Art League. I wasn't aware of the sign on the door, and I put up a new sign that says we're on vacation."
McGeary could not say when it would reopen, but said that Reginelli is no longer with the organization.
The AMI Art League was formed in 1989, and has been at its current location since 1993. It offered exhibit space, classrooms, a members' gallery, a darkroom, an art library and picnic grounds.
It held monthly exhibits from October to May, offered classes and a scholarship program for children and adults, hosted the annual Manatee High School Art exhibit as well as exhibits by faculty, students and regional artists and held the annual Winterfest and Springfest juried fine arts and crafts shows.
Building owner Susan Thomas said, "They've been there for so long. We hate to lose them. They have been very good for the Island.
"We hope they can work things out and stay. They have great classes and shows. They have been great tenants and take care of everything."
Asked if there is any hope of resurrecting the organization, one board member replied, "None of us know what the future will be, but I do believe there's interest and energy and vision for the arts in this community and hopefully something good will come of this in the future."
When asked if she would return as director, Reginelli said, "I hope to be a part of the art community on Anna Maria and can find a different position that can foster my creative ideas."
One board member stressed, "Christina has been such a wonderful asset to the Art League."
Voyles recalled, "A year ago, there was the beginning of a discussion to merge the Artists' Guild and Art League into one visual arts group. Then there was a change in leadership in the Art League and everything was dropped."
Reginelli said artists could remove their artwork from the building on May 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.