It seemed likely Country Club's Lydia Kaeyer would be displaying her beautiful seascape watercolor paintings during the Lakewood Ranch Art League exhibition that opened April 1 at the ComCenter in Lakewood Ranch.
Then Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
On April 1, Kaeyer was getting ready to hang her "Soldiers of Ukraine" painting, one of four she will place in the exhibit with the hopes of raising money to benefit those living in Ukraine or displaced by the war.
"I have no connection whatsoever (to Ukraine)," said Kaeyer, who has won first place awards (professional category) for her work at the Maine Lobster Festival and at the Beaufort Art Association Show in South Carolina. "But we all were so devastated by the death and destruction. The Ukrainian flag was everywhere. I felt I had to express myself."
Kaeyer will donate 50% from the sale of any of her war-themed paintings to the Peace Presbyterian Church of Lakewood Ranch to distribute to Ukrainians in need. It should be noted the ComCenter takes no percentage of any sale during its art exhibitions.
"These paintings were out of my comfort zone, but it had to be done," said Kaeyer, who has a summer home in Maine which leads to her work focusing on seascapes, lighthouses and architecture (her late husband Richard Kaeyer was an architect). "I think they came out OK."
Mary Ellen Slenker, president of the Lakewood Ranch Art League, said 14 artists would be featured in the exhibit with 75 paintings. The work is mostly watercolors and oil and when a painting sells, the Lakewood Ranch Art League replaces it with another work. It is the fourth year the Lakewood Ranch Art League has participated in the exhibit.
Slenker has her own work displayed.
"I'm the elephant lady," she said, standing in front of elephant watercolor paintings. "I went to the Myakka Elephant Ranch last Thanksgiving, and I was amazed by their massiveness. But there also is a kindness and a gentleness in their faces."
Slenker said the exhibit is a great gift to the community by the ComCenter, which hangs the artwork on the walls of its main lobby on the first floor.
"It is fabulous, another dimension to Lakewood Ranch," she said.
Lakewood Ranch's Jane Trame was showing her fluid acrylic abstract painting "Tumultuous Waves."
She said the painting, listed at $395, reminds her of Florida and the strong wave action.
"I love the colors," she said.
Will everyone love the colors? Trame said it isn't likely but that art is open to the viewer's interpretation.
"You've got to have a rough outer core," she said of being a painter.
Laurie Blake, the client services coordinator for the ComCenter, said the exhibit has run since the building opened in 1999.
"It's a win-win situation," Blake said. "We use four to five groups, and each displays its art for five to six months each. It's a win-win situation. It keeps the art fresh, and our walls our decorated."
ComCenter offers executive offices and virtual office service plans, along with meeting rooms. For more information, call 782-1234.