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A rotating art show has adorned the walls of the Town Hall chambers for years. Photo by Kurt Schultheis.
Longboat Key Wednesday, May. 1, 2013 4 years ago

Town Hall displays atypical art gallery and exhibit

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Where do you start if your walls are looking bare?

Many Longboaters check out galleries on St. Armands Circle and downtown Sarasota, or venture out to the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, a Division of Ringling College of Art and Design.

But there’s another place you might not have considered: Longboat Key Town Hall.

Town Hall is the place you go to vote or pick up a building permit or tell the Longboat Key Town Commission how fed up you are with your neighbor’s boat trailer or the state of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.

But in the commission chambers, there’s a collection of between 18 and 22 pieces of original artwork that changes every two or three months.

The Town Hall art exhibit is currently in its 12th year and has now featured more than 100 artists, all of whom are local.

“It’s not your traditional gallery,” says Susan Phillips, assistant to the town manager, who is responsible for the art show. “You don’t necessarily expect to wander into Town Hall and find a good-quality art exhibit. I think it’s a real treat and an unknown.”

The town used to sponsor an art show every year at the Arts Center. And, every year, the Arts Center gave the town a painting; the collection grew so large that Town Hall ran out of wall space.

After the town had the old Town Hall building demolished in 2002, it moved its collection to the new police department building. The town arranged for the Arts Center to start coordinating a show at Town Hall, but, eventually, the town began handling the show itself.

Buttonwood Cove resident Barbara Jendrysik is the only artist to submit work for every Town Hall art show.
“I tell all my friends to go over to Town Hall to look at my paintings,” Jendrysik says. “Another thing that’s great is when people vote (at Town Hall), you’ve got the exposure from voters.”

Because the exhibit is in a town building, there is a rule you wouldn’t find at most art galleries: no nudity — a guideline that’s been in place since the show started.

Pieces should be at least 12 to 15 inches framed and no larger than about 5 feet tall.

The submission date for the next exhibit is May 6. The exhibit will be installed May 13. Interested artists should email Phillips at [email protected].

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