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Better Together

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Local arts groups of all types and sizes give budding artists and seasoned pros a place to share and be inspired

If you’re a visual artist in Seminole County, chances are there is an art group here that’s right for you. Some organizations are geared toward professional and emerging artists who are serious about showing and selling their work. Other groups are a combination of seasoned pros who want to share their knowledge and newbies who are eager to learn.

Here is a look at a trio of groups with strong roots – and creativity to spare – in Seminole County:

P.O.W. Artists
The Pastel Oil and Watercolor (P.O.W.) Artists are working together to combine their love of art with their desire to help the community.

Kenneth Harris, an oil painter, founded the group in 2012 with two other artists – one who worked in pastels, the other in watercolors. The group has since added a few members who work in one of those three mediums, but it has remained small and close-knit.

“We really want to be a group of artists for causes,” says Kenneth, who owns a custom-framing business and art gallery in Altamonte Springs.

P.O.W. Artists have exhibited at the Casselberry Art House, at a Winter Springs church, and at venues in New Smyrna Beach and DeBary. Sometimes, the members invite other local artists to exhibit alongside them.

The group’s current show, The Journey to Recovery – Art Heals, is on display until January 2, 2017 at Gateway Center for the Arts in DeBary. Kenneth came up with the show’s healing-through-art theme in response to his wife’s successful battle with colon cancer. He wanted to inspire others who are or have been struggling with illness or addiction.

Over the summer, the group also formed a partnership with a Casselberry restaurant. Every other month, the artists bring prints of their work to the restaurant for one night. A percentage of proceeds from that night’s food and print sales is donated to New Hope for Kids and SafeHouse of Seminole. The P.O.W. Artists also plan to help families in need during the holidays.

“I’ve always wanted to be connected with the community,” says Kenneth, a native of Jamaica. “It’s important to be connected to charities and to give back.”

For details about P.O.W. Artists, call Kenneth at 407-285-1789.

Florida Sculptors Guild
Amy Wieck remembers when the Florida Sculptors Guild (FSG) was so small, it would have been a stretch to call it a               grass-roots group.

“We were the seeds. We weren’t even grass,” laughs Amy, who helped found the group in 2007 and is now president.
Since then, the guild has grown into an active, nonprofit organization of about 35 professional and emerging artists from Central Florida. These 3-D artists work with traditional and non-traditional materials, including metal, clay, wood, stone, mixed-media, and found objects.

“We definitely want to establish ourselves as the resource for sculpture in Florida,” says Amy, not just for sculptors but also for the public.

The group has exhibited at venues in Seminole, Orange, and Osceola counties, including the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens in Winter Park. The guild also participates in many community events, including Casselberry’s EarthFest. At the events, members often invite kids and adults to learn about the sculptural arts through hands-on projects. One tried-and-true activity is making sculptures out of common or recycled items, such as cardboard.

Amy, a Longwood resident, says the group wants to do even more outreach projects. In recent months, the guild took part in the Cardboard Art Festival in Orlando and Maker Faire Orlando, among other events.

The Florida Sculptors Guild will have an exhibit at the Historic Sanford Welcome Center, at 230 East First Street. The show, FUNctional – Sculpture With a Purpose, will open with a reception from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 19, as part of the Sanford Art Walk. Admission is free.

The guild typically meets at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, rotating between the Casselberry Art House, the Polasek, and Crealde School of Art in Winter Park. For details, visit FloridaSculptorsGuild.org.

Seminole County Printmakers
Larry Vienneau wanted to keep in touch with the many talented students who have taken his printmaking classes at Seminole State College over the years. What better way to do that than to form a printmaking club?

“I wanted to create a group in which I could go beyond being a teacher,” says Larry. “I wanted to be a coworker                        and collaborator.”

The Lake Mary resident began by starting a Facebook group that has grown into an organization called the Seminole County Printmakers. Earlier this year, they opened a small studio in downtown Sanford. The organization is open to current and former SSC students and to artists who live or work in Seminole County. Of the group’s 40 or so members, about a dozen are active in the studio. Some are professional fine-art printmakers, while others are novices.

The group’s members work in a variety of relief printing processes. Relief printing involves cutting or etching a printing surface so all that remains of the original surface is the design to be printed.

One of the group’s stars is Chelsea Smith, who frequently exhibits and sells her fine art prints at festivals and other events throughout Central Florida. She was recently chosen as the poster artist for the 42nd Annual Mount Dora Arts Festival, which is February 4 and 5. Chelsea, who specializes in copper plate etchings, took her first printmaking class from Larry.

“She’s wonderful,” says Larry, who is a painter as well as a printmaker. “She kids me and says, ‘You got me addicted. This is all your fault.’”

Larry hopes to get more members interested in showing and selling their work. In September, the Seminole County Printmakers took their first step in that direction by setting up a booth at Lake Mary’s WineART Wednesday in Central Park. Another one of the group’s goals is to offer printmaking workshops for the public.

The Seminole County Printmakers studio is on the second floor of 116 East First Street in Sanford, above the Imperial 
at Washburn Imports. 

For details, email SeminolePrintmakers@gmail.com or visit SeminoleCountyPrintmakers.Blogspot.com.

Are you part of an active visual arts group in Seminole County? Tell us about it at JHoppes@LakeMaryLife.com.

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