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Center decks the walls with 3 new art shows

The Arts Center opened three shows on Friday that packed the walls of the galleries with art and its floors with people. Water _ much on our minds these day _ was the unifying theme of both the Members' Show, entitled "H2O," in which participants were asked to use water as an image, subject or component of the media, and the juried "Uncharted Water," 36 works that all use water media. The third show is an exhibition of work by young artists in the Youth Corps called "Artasia."

The Members' Show, with about 100 works, is always a big draw. The exhibitors are a mix of professional artists and gifted amateurs who have studied at the center for the sheer pleasure of creating. It's a wonderful opportunity for many of them who otherwise would not have a chance to show their work and a service the Arts Center provides to the community to encourage understanding and appreciation of the arts.

Arts Center executive director Evelyn Craft said a call to artists was sent throughout the Southeastern United States, "and to our credit, the jurist (Edward Minchin) selected all Florida artists. And another honor was that so many in the show study with Judy Dazzio (a popular teacher at the Arts Center)."

One of them was Beverly Abell, best known for her decades teaching a Bible study class, who came with Joan McKeithen and Carolyn Dalessandro. Her Lady of Vermeer is a charming homage to the old master. The Silverberg family were out in full force. Don and Jane Silverberg, along with their son Ed, came to celebrate daughter Terri Gross' inclusion in both shows _ her sunflowerlike blossom was chosen for the big display window _ and granddaughter Evie Gross, who was also in the Members' Show.

Ditto for Kally Harvard, in both shows, who came with daughter Maria and sister-in-law Susan Harvard. Maria Harvard graduated in 1998 from the University of Florida with a degree in construction, one of the few women in that program, she said, and is here interviewing for a job. Is she handy with a hammer and saw? I asked. Sort of, she said. The point about that kind of degree is you learn how to tell others how to do it, I guess.

Maria Castagliola, a professional artist, is readying a big show that will open at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art in the fall, inspired by the work of Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. Together we admired, along with her husband, Paul, an Arts Center trustee, a beautiful little bowl created by Katherine Snyder in sterling and gold, the piece I most wished I could purchase. (It is $1,800. Oh well.)

The Members' Show, with about 100 works, is always a big draw. The exhibitors are a mix of professional artists and gifted amateurs who have studied at the center for the sheer pleasure of creating. It's a wonderful opportunity for many of them who otherwise would not have a chance to show their work and a service the Arts Center provides to the community to encourage understanding and appreciation of the arts.

So I moved along to board president Anthea Penrose, chatting with Herb Snitzer and Carol Dameron. Snitzer, too, is readying a show for a fall opening. The photographer is best-known for his pictures of jazz greats, but his new work is about boxing. In that same exhibition are works by William Eggleston, an internationally known photographer.

There is a lot to see, too much for one visit. Catching my eye the first time through were Always a Drop to Drink, a functioning and charming water fountain by Sean Manning with a ceramic tank and stacks of ceramic cups to use and then to keep; Model by Martha Cooper Maddux, a portrait poignant for all its vibrant colors; and Water Damage by BASK, a young man who won the Best of Show award.

Familiar faces in the crowd were Dr. Perry and Lisa Everett, Beth Reynolds, Jane Peppard, Pinellas County Arts Council executive director Judith Powers Jones, Ann Wykell, Donna Fletcher and Malcolm and Phyllis King. And we welcome to the area Roger Zeh, the new development director at the Museum of Fine Arts, wife Sally and daughter Darcy, a teacher with Pinellas County schools.

New officers for the Stuart Society of the Museum of Fine Arts are: Bettye Black, president; Bonita Cobb, president-elect; Fran Risser, vice president; Pat Eckert, recording secretary; Mary Perry, corresponding secretary; Ruth Kent, treasurer; and Bernice McCune, parliamentarian. The group will be busy. They are in the second year of a three-year commitment to raise $350,000 for the museum's capital campaign to expand the facility.

Coming and going: Greta Myers is back from a three-month stay in Illinois that sounds, from her description, like an extended sleepover. "My daughter had twins," she said. "I've had five children of my own, but never anything like twins. I spent the entire time in my pajamas and didn't once sleep through an entire night." So do not call her just yet; she probably will be napping.

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