For many years, the town of Longboat Key has provided a space for local artists to shine.
On Longboat Key, where inspiring scenes are everywhere and “island time” encourages folks to slow down and appreciate the finer things in life, there’s no shortage of local art.
Including in the Town of Longboat Key Town Hall.
Several times a year, assistant to the town manager Susan Phillips tracks down local artists to curate an exhibit in the common areas of town hall, as well as the commission chamber. The artwork ranges from classic Floridian beach paintings to striking wildlife photography to colorful abstract art and off-kilter minimalist art. There are currently a dozen artists who have works on display in the hall.
“I get a wide variety of art and then I just see what works, with a theme or a color scheme,” Phillips said. “Then you just kind of move the order around until something clicks.”
Typically, the town hosts a reception for the artists to interact with the public and show off more of their art. The annual reception, planned for this week, has been canceled in the wake of the coronavirus spread. The gathering would bring about 150 people together, said Susan Phillips, which is too many in the uncertain time of the pandemic.
“We did not want to run the risk of the single person becoming sick, or even have the stress of it or the concern of someone being exposed,” Phillips said. “It's an unfortunate series of circumstances but it's an easy decision to make.”
The exhibit in Town Hall changes every three months and is always organized by Phillips. In the early days, she found artists at the Longboat Key Center for the Art. Then, some artists would come in and see the art and inquire how they could be part of it, and the word-of-mouth spread took off.
“They bring art and I hang it,” Phillips said. “It's pretty simple and I never know what I'm going to get. That's the fun of it. The point of it was to encourage people to come in and appreciate our local talent.”
Lynn Armstrong-Coffin is a modern minimalist artist who has been in three shows at town hall. This would have been her first reception, and she found out about the show after reading about it in the paper and visiting with her neighbor.
“I'm very pleased that our town does this for us artists, and they're very supportive,” Armstrong-Coffin said.
She has been an artist in one way or another for her whole life, beginning as a graphic designer and illustrator, and later houses and kitchen. These days, she appreciates the time to do her own thing.
“I'm really having a really good time now where I am in my art career,” Armstrong-Coffin said. “I'm able to do my own art and I've started to show and compete and get into galleries.”
Right now, Armstrong-Coffin does typically abstract black-and-white, hand-created designs.
“I don't do landscapes and palm trees and things like that,” Armstrong-Coffin said. “I do contemporary art. My work is still hand-done artwork.”
Patrick and Sandy Bogert
Patrick and Sandy Bogert are a couple of part-time Longboaters who split their year between Longboat Key and Quebec. They’ve been in the art show and participated in the annual reception for about three years now, they said.
“This is a glorious place to paint or take photographs,” Sandy said.
Luckily, they both do just that. The couple has a studio at their Longboat Key home in which Sandy makes her nature-inspired oil paintings and where Patrick keeps his cameras for snapping photos of the wildlife. Sandy, a lifelong artist, was a kindergarten teacher and began focusing full-time on her art after retiring. Patrick was a real estate photographer for years before turning to wildlife and nature.
“It (real estate photography) was bland but fun to try to make it fun,” Patrick said.
The Bogerts have several pieces of art in the hall, including a tetraptych of Sandy’s. She wanted the four pieces to be able to stand together or apart. Patrick has a wall of five photos from Longboat Key to Stonehenge.
Barbara Jendrysik knows the annual shows better than anyone. She’s been in every single one.
Jendrysik is an artist and illustrator who began in the art exhibit when her friend, Leona Sherwood, got involved and asked Jendrysik to join her.
“It's great to be able to exhibit to the Longboat community through the town hall,” Jendrysik said.
Jendrysik is an artist and illustrator who has illustrated six children’s books. She does a lot of portraiture and figure work, she said, but is currently working on a painting of the view across from Bayport on Gulf of Mexico Drive, where the foliage parts to show a wide view of the gulf.
“I'll do landscapes and things and I’ve started experimenting with pouring paint,” Jendrysik said. “I’ve gotten a little bit more abstract in my work.”
Now in town hall, Jendrysik has a bright vertical painting of fish and coral and other sea life, which she said reminds her of “The Little Mermaid.”
“It’s a picture of life under the sea as colorful,” Jendrysik said. “It’s sort of whimsical and I think children would really like this painting.”