Community Collaboration: A Children's Nonprofit and Local Creatives Unite for The Arts
The Joy of Art, a weekend pop up exhibition at The Peach, showcased local artists and a community of supporters.
One painting shows a seaside port town, otherwise known as the Villefranche-sur-Mer, where a row of colorful homes and sailboats stretch across the canvas in vibrant pink, yellow, and orange hues. Nearby hangs two masks, in a mosaic, intended to be worn by Costa Rican natives when the Spanish invaded centuries ago. Other artworks are images of animals and nature painted or sketched on canvases, including minis, as well as on paper. And several photographs in the form of acrylic and metal hang, in a glossy shimmer, on the white, concrete wall.
No, this is not simply an art exhibition looking at various scenes in nature or artist inspirations. It’s a fundraiser for Arts For Smiles, a Palm Beach County nonprofit dedicated to enriching the lives of children through the arts, especially those in need both financially or in illness. It’s a cheerful, soulful, laidback of an exhibition, designed through an open call process, meant to benefit both Arts for Smiles and the local artists who show their work.
It’s the kind of exhibition that attracts friends and family and die-hard art lovers from within the community. It’s also the kind of exhibition that takes a tremendous amount of planning, months in advance, attracting local artists to submit creations that encompass all things joy. The show is called ‘The Joy of Art’ after all.
Along with creating the two-day event, the mission of Arts for Smiles is also a theme interwoven into the show itself. Arts For Smiles officially started in the early days of 2020, becoming a full nonprofit in December of 2021. Although the organization experienced setbacks due to the pandemic and Covid precautions, the last few years have been busy for Carolina King, founder of Arts for Smiles.
The organization’s core mission is to promote healing through the arts to those who need it most. Though the focus is primarily on children, Arts For Smiles also works to promote the arts in adult populations. This includes their inaugural art exhibition, The Joy of Art, appealing to both new and seasoned artists within Palm Beach County, some of whom that do not exhibit their work on a regular basis, if at all.
In order to create the show, Arts for Smiles was granted access to a complex of funky industrial buildings off Georgia Avenue, ingeniously called The Peach, an art collective with several structures on site. Over the years, this quaint but lively section of West Palm Beach has morphed into a notable art and entertainment destination, boasting an impressive lineup of galleries, popup shows, music performances, and barbecue. Look for multi-discipline artist, Craig Mcinnis, a powerhouse in the local arts community, who also has walkable studio space on site.
Among the handful of artists exhibiting in the popup exhibition, Ann Fichera, deserves a special mention. This was not only her first time applying to a show, she also won first place for the People’s Choice award during Saturday’s reception. Her watercolor paintings come to life in a way that brings a sense of joy and delight. “Ann is an incredibly sweet and talented person,” says Carolina King. “I’m so happy that our exhibition was her first show and I’m sure there will be many more in her future.”
Another artist, Charles Moses, the second place winner, showcased several oil paintings including the image of Villefranche-sur-Mer in addition to a portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. His paintings strike a delicate balance between realism and abstract interpretation, using colors and shapes and light to bring each painting to life.
When it comes to nurturing a local arts scene, having a community of supporters is just as important as the artists themselves. Establishing a personal connection becomes the building block between collectors, artists, organizations, and galleries—all critical components in the fueling of local arts. In turn, the art scene transcends its local communities and culture into something that benefits everyone—everywhere—from the tiniest corner of the neighborhood block to the big cities and decadent art shows. To be sure, most every emerging and seasoned artist started in the local arts.
The Cultural Council for Palm Beach County, for example, has been immenesly successful in the promotion of creatives, with well established events throughout the year, showcasing both amateur and professional artists, in addition to providing economic benefits, local tourism, new jobs, and new opportunities. Out further west, the Wellington Art Society also encourages and promotes the local art scene with year-round exhibitions and shows.
And, yet, more opportunity for local artists is always needed—and appreciated. Which is why ‘The Joy of Art’ exhibition came at just the right time and for all the right reasons: creative collaboration in the spirit of community togetherness.
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