Saturday, December 4, 2021


Tara O’Neill 

A different sort of beast was roaming in full display at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on Tuesday, November 15. Rare and wonderful Florida Artists were out in numbers for the opening reception of the Rookery Bay Annual Painting Exhibition sponsored by the United Arts Council of Collier County and the Friends of Rookery Bay. (While the Florida Artist is not on the endangered list, it is often considered a threatened species, especially in these times of economic uncertainty.)

Since 2004, the UAC (which I have told you to join about a million times) has teamed with Friends of Rookery Bay (also worthy of joining) to put on 19 different exhibitions: painting annuals, photography annuals, pastels, works on paper and all-media exhibits. The creative minds who put on these shows are an equal match for the artists who participate in them.

According to UAC Director Elaine Hamilton, “The collaboration between the United Arts Council and Rookery Bay is perfect. So many of the local artists capture the beauty of nature on canvas, and the art gallery at Rookery Bay is a great place to showcase these works.”

The natural surroundings of the venue are not only beautiful, but are also uniquely and exquisitely suited to the Learning Center‘s mission. Part of this mission is, according to their website, to “create an opportunity for people to increase their sense of wonder for nature by stimulating and celebrating personal expression through the visual arts.”

If you have been thinking about visiting the Reserve, now is definitely the time. These exhibits are always juried by highly qualified professionals, insuring that the art will be top quality. This year’s juror is Barbara Hill, former Executive Director of the Von Liebig Center for the Arts in Naples and currently owner of Hill Fine Art Consulting. Eighteen artists made the grade this year, out of a field of 29. They’ve come from Sanibel, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Naples, Marco Island, and Goodland; all to share their interpretations of nature with you.

The exhibit runs through the end of January. Arts Council www.uaccollier. com, 239-263-8242. Rookery Bay Research Reserve,, 239-417-6310

Tara O’Neill, a lifelong artist, has been an area resident since 1967. She holds Bachelors Degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida, and currently has a studio-gallery at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade on Marco Island. Contact her through www.tarao

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