Monday, January 30, 2023

Center for the Arts ‘Fly Me to the Moon Gala’ Celebrates 60s Mod Fashion

Photos by Scott H. Shook  | This group of ladies came as the Angels. Cathy Ahern, Nancy Bridwell, Becky Irwin, Linda O’Brien, Teresa Perkins, Sharon McLaughlin, and Mohndera Gezall.


Mother Nature couldn’t have been more kind to the donors, sponsors and organizers of the Marco Island Center for the Arts as they staged a COVID-inspired open-air Fly Me to the Moon and Let Me Play Among the Arts Gala, Saturday night under an impressive tent that would have made the Barnum and Bailey circus people proud. 

Temperatures began to dip into the low-60s as the gala commenced, allowing everyone to feel perfectly comfortable in their 60s-mod-inspired outfits. It’s safe to say that the crowd at the well-attended gala nailed it with outfits that represented the best of 60s Mod Fashion. 

A polished auctioneer, Chris Marchand, with over 3,000 auctions under his belt, an elegant master of ceremonies in former news anchor Rachel Pierce and a polished entertainer in Charlie Blum, who sings Sinatra, added to the professionalism of the event. Allyson and Jim Richards were recognized as the special honorees of the event. 

But it was a 15-year-old Marco Island Academy student—the Art Center’s youngest member—who stole the show.



Zoie Swift was billed as the event’s guest speaker. Her father, Brooks Swift, accompanied his daughter to the gala. His role was to comfort and support his daughter as she poured over her speech as her big moment approached as the event unfolded. 

Proud father Brooks Swift comforts his daughter Zoie as her artwork is auctioned. Her piece brought $450.

Despite a bit of stage fright, Zoie Swift approached the podium and began to address the crowd of 16 eight-top tables that were full of art center patrons. 

Swift was doing a great job when the moment appeared to become a little too much for her and she momentarily froze.  

The receptive audience, who was already spellbound by the young artist’s clever speech, sensed Swift’s dilemma and responded with a long, thundering ovation. Recomposed, Swift triumphantly delivered the balance of her speech. 

Auctioneer Marchand returned to the podium and loosened up the bidders and the donations began to pour in for the Art Center, who just celebrated their 50th year in 2020. Gifts from Saturday’s Gala will fund the Art Center’s dynamic art exhibitions, educational classes, along with onsite and online workshops for adults and children. 

One of the highlights of the auction came when a piece of Swift’s artwork fetched a $450 donation. Cathy Auten, Will Rheiner, along with Dianna and Kevin Doltan were awarded prizes for best outfits. 


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