BROOKSVILLE — Rhonda Hancock can't count how many trips she's made up and down a ladder during her tenure as Brooksville City Hall Art Gallery coordinator. But a day spent hanging paintings usually meant a night on the couch nursing a sore back.
"I absolutely loved doing it," said the 57-year-old Hancock. "But it often made me realize that I'm not as young as I used to be."
After nearly five years of hanging paintings, coordinating exhibits and bringing the public closer to Hernando County's art scene, Hancock has decided to resign from her part-time city post.
Hancock, whose last day will be April 29, said her decision was based on personal reasons, as well her desire to spend more time creating her own art.
"I've enjoyed every minute of it," Hancock said. "But it left very little time for me to work on my painting. I just thought it was time to give someone else a try."
A longtime volunteer at the gallery, Hancock took over as coordinator in 2007 after the retirement of gallery founder Mary Alice Queiros.
Paid about $6,000 annually, Hancock is in charge of assembling five seasonal art exhibits, including the annual 5th Congressional District Art Competition. In addition, she also coordinates the city's monthly Art and Market Walk events.
The largest public gallery in Hernando County, the facility operates weekdays during regular City Hall business hours. Hancock said that each exhibit contains about 100 paintings, plus sculptures, carvings and crafts.
Although primarily a showcase for local artists, the gallery's reputation for displaying quality works has attracted its share of renowned painters, such as Tampa abstract artist Kurt Holyoke and Sarasota still life painter Faith Bradburn Keller.
But for Hancock, one of the biggest thrills has been to provide lesser-known artists a platform with which to display their talents.
"I'm constantly amazed at how rich our community is in artistic talent," Hancock said. "Being able to share that with others has always been a great joy for me."
City Manager Jenenne Norman-Vacha praised Hancock's diligence and eye for choosing quality work to exhibit.
"The gallery has brought a great amount of prestige and presence to our city," Norman-Vacha said.
Norman-Vacha said she hopes to begin interviewing candidates for the coordinator next week.
Hancock said she plans to keep in close contact with the gallery.
"It's been a huge part of my life for a long time," she said.
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.