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By Cornelia Seckel
ART TIMES March 2007

The “time off” during the month of January went by too quickly as did the several weeks since we got back. I did do some exploring while I was in Florida, and since my return have pretty much been catching up with a little “out and abouting.” I was in Pompano in the southeastern part of Florida for a few weeks and did discover some of what Broward County has to offer residents and visitors. Next month we’ll have a travel report from Laurie Spiegel about the art scene in and around Sarasota, Florida.

Curated and organized by The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, “Cradle of Christianity: Jewish and Christian Treasures from the Holy Land” includes priceless artifacts excavated in Israel during the last century and is now at The Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale until April 15. From Florida, the show travels to Atlanta to the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, Atlanta, GA from June 16-October 14, 2007. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, a dream 25 years ago that became a reality in 1985, offers world-class dance, theater & music throughout most of the year. The Museum of Discovery and Science has over 200 fascinating interactive exhibits for adults and children. Also, there are more than 550 not-for-profit Broward-based cultural organizations that include numerous Art Galleries, Arts Festivals, Museums, Dance, Music, Theater and service organizations. Each month the Jazz Appreciation Fest takes place with 4 stages set up along the Ft. Lauderdale Riverwalk. Who can still believe that all Southeastern Florida has to offer are warm weather and the beach? Several artists I know have relocated, others that go just for the winter — all report that this region is not a cultural wasteland but a thriving cultural center. Then there are the other venues like community centers in towns and those connected to gated communities. The Legends of Doo Wop (Frank Mancuso, Steve Horn, Tommy Mara, and Jimmy Gallagher) have been playing to standing room only audiences from New York to Los Angeles. I saw them at the Pompano Civic Center along with 900 other mostly 60-75-year olds. They delighted us with “Gloria”, “Guardian Angel”, “Duke of Earl”, “Stand By Me” “16 Candles” just to name a few. Actually, I can’t remember the names of other songs but I sure remembered the words and sang along as we were brought back to the days of American Bandstand. What a fun evening!

Vero Beach, Florida has my favorite citrus grower (Poinsettia Groves) and the Vero Beach Museum of Art boasts of being the largest cultural arts facility of its kind on Florida's Treasure Coast. They offer national and regional art exhibitions, a sculpture garden, studio classes, gallery tours, museum store, workshops, seminars, family events, and cultural celebrations. Gary Erbe is part of their current show, “The Reality of Things: TrompeL’Oeil in America”, which will be on view until May 6. Also on view is "George Rickey-Kinetic Sculpture: A Retrospective," through May 20. Gary is an award winning and excellent artist who has reached out to other artists and organizations, curating many exhibits including, among others: Allied Artists of America Members Exhibition at The Butler Institute of American Art, The Salmagundi Club Collection “Henry Gasser, Beyond City Limits”, The Pastel Society of America Invitational, “The Martinos: A Family Legacy”, "Gabriela Dellosso: An Artist's Journey", "Paul Ching Bor: Watercolors" and "John R. Grabach: Century Man".

Just one local note: The Hudson Valley artist cooperative, Summergroup, will begin their 25th year with a new name: Long Reach Arts. There are two celebratory exhibits scheduled — on March 3rd at Donskoj Gallery in Kingston, NY and on May 6 at the Pritzker Gallery @ Casa del Arte in Highland, NY. This well established group has maintained a strong presence in the Hudson Valley and has been a model for subsequent cooperatives. I remember with fondness going to MASC in Poughkeepsie (home for the coop from 1982—1990) and meeting hard working and committed artists. Over the years, members and exhibition locations have changed but not the mission of the group. They keep membership between 15 and 20 artists.  Of the original group five are still active members.  Artists apply for membership and go through a screening process with acceptance coming from a unanimous vote of the members.  With so many talented artists in the Valley, there is a temptation for them to have a large membership, but keeping it at a fairly small number assures each member greater attention. Summergroup (Long Reach Arts) meets every month, sharing meals and enjoying one another’s company while, at the same time, doing the necessary business required of a busy artists’ cooperative.  They discuss each one’s work and share advice and helpful information. The work for each exhibit and maintenance of the organization is shared among the membership, with each member taking specific responsibilities. No wonder they have lasted this long. Congratulations — we hope to see them around for years to come.

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