Tuesday, 31 March 2009 14:22

Artists in Action International 2nd Anniversary in Downtown Clearwater

Written by  Heidi Lux
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(left to right) Vice-Mayor George Cretekos, AIAI President Jack Potter and Executive Director Pat Luefan - Photo by Simaen Skolfield
(left to right) Vice-Mayor George Cretekos, AIAI President Jack Potter and Executive Director Pat Luefan - Photo by Simaen Skolfield

Clearwater, FL - On March 21st, Artists in Action International (AIAI) celebrated their anniversary in addition to having a Grand Opening of their new Mission: Beautification Gallery space located conveniently downtown at 400 Cleveland Street.

The Mission: Beautification Gallery provides an opportunity for local artists to be seen. A few people I talked to had this as their first showing of artwork. Like Andrejas Lazdins, who found out about AIAI through Craigslist. He attended The International Academy of Design and Technology and does photographic and graffiti art, but this is his first time displaying his artwork.

Mel Pomerantz has been drawing his whole life, but at 83, this is the first time his work is being shown. “I figured, it’s time. Get them out, because everybody’s told me how great they are.” He hopes that taking the few pieces he had in his house and presenting them would stimulate him, and it has.

Among the speakers that evening were Jack Potter, Founder and President of Artists In Action, and the Vice-Mayor of Clearwater, George Cretekos, who referred to the gallery as “another jewel in our crown.” Awards were presented to the most active and enthusiastic volunteers, and the partygoers were entertained by the rocking jams of Honkabilly Blues.

A crowd gathers around Robert Schoeller’s piece, “Wave I” - Photo by Simaen Skolfield
(left to right) Vice-Mayor George Cretekos, AIAI President Jack Potter and Executive Director Pat Luefan - Photo by Simaen Skolfield

Jack Potter’s reason for founding the group is that he saw it needed to be done, and took the initiative to put the group there. The group’s purpose is to help artists become more professional, profitable and prolific. Jack wants to help with the renaissance of Clearwater and make the gallery a destination point where people can go to get many different varieties of art. Jack himself is an artist as well and had four pieces of his digital art on display.

Dawn Shannon from Intuition Salon and Spa got onboard with the Mission: Beautification project when she was approached by her friend, Pat Luefan. “I like the idea that you can create the downtown that you want,” she says. She was instrumental in getting the artwork displayed in the vacant Cleveland Street windows, then joined Artists in Action and got that group involved with the gallery. Dawn believes that the presence of art can have a positive effect on the environment. Within three months of the gallery’s opening, the stores in the city block around it pressure-washed and upgraded their facades and the library and city hall started carrying local art.  The city also added sculptures downtown on Cleveland Street.

Throughout the night, people were buzzing about how much they loved the larger space. The new gallery is planned to host more events, classes and seminars, including Poetry by Candlelight the first Friday of every month. Anyone who has ever written a poem is invited to come and receive non-critical feedback from a receptive audience. Updates on events and more information are available on their website, www.artistsinactionint.org.

The Mission: Beautification Gallery is open on Fridays from 6-10pm, Saturdays from 10-4, and by appointment.

Read 891 times Last modified on Thursday, 09 April 2009 12:58