Friday, 12 February 2010 13:08

Clearwater Free Clinic Former Patient Ernest C. Simmons Featured Artist at Martinis and Matisse Featured

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Frank Crum and wife Brenda with painter Ernest C. Simmons and winners Cyndi and Steve Heller - Photo by Simean SkolfeldMartinis and Matisse is possibly one of Clearwater's most “cosmopolitan” fundraisers. On January 30th, for the seventh consecutive year, guests sipped on martinis courtesy of Bonefish Grill and sampled delicious entrees from restaurants like Carrabas and the Baystar Restaurant Group while slipping tickets into over-sized martini glasses to bid on the work of local artists, filling the lobby of the Frank Crum building. Early in the evening, these glasses contained a ticket or two, enticing attendees with the hope of taking home the pieces they coveted. By the end of the event, they were brimming to the top with bids, each ticket representing a donation to the Clearwater Free Clinic.

While Martinis and Matisse provides stiff drinks and even stiffer competition for artwork, sometimes it takes only one raffle ticket to win.

“I was just telling someone, I never win anything!” an astonished Cyndi Cantonis Heller gushed as she claimed her prize, a Happy winners go home with their paintings – Photo by Simaen Skolfeldstunning and lifelike Ernest C. Simmons painting of a native green heron. As sponsor of the event, Heller and her husband Steve received one ticket to bid on the Simmons painting. “The piece is spectacular,” said Cyndi, adding that she and her husband have, “admired the painter for years.”

As luck would have it, the Heller's one ticket was the winner, and Cyndi and Steve took home the Simmons original. “It just goes to show,” said Cyndi, “you can have just one ticket in there and win.” Cyndi is also on the board for the Clearwater Free Clinic, which, she reminds us, “is a worthwhile cause.”

Ernest C. Simmons was the night’s featured artist – an apropos honor, Simmons having been a patient of the Clearwater Free Clinic when he was a young, struggling artist living in Downtown Clearwater. Stricken with a health condition, but unable to afford care, Simmons turned to the Clearwater Free Clinic, and received the treatment he needed. Now successful in his craft, Simmons says, “it has come full circle, where I can give a $4,800 Happy winners go home with their paintings – Photo by Simaen Skolfeldpainting, and help other up-and-coming artists,” who might need the Clinic’s help. An avid wildlife painter, Simmons is active in wildlife fundraisers, but, “this is one of the few I had personal interest in because they helped me when I was in need,” he says, “It would be only right to give back.”

The Clearwater Free Clinic, operating since 1977, provides health care for low-income and uninsured individuals, filling the need for quality treatment for those who aren’t unfortunate enough to qualify for government assistance, yet can’t afford health insurance. TheHappy winners go home with their paintings – Photo by Simaen Skolfeld non-profit clinic operates independently, without government funding. It is run by volunteers and funded entirely through donations, and is a remarkable example of the generosity of the private sector.

The Clearwater Free Clinic is located at 707 Ft. Harrison Ave, Downtown Clearwater, and is open Monday – Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., or later if necessary.

For more information, or to make a donation to the Clearwater Free Clinic, visit

Read 2072 times Last modified on Wednesday, 17 February 2010 12:15

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