Goodland gets ready for an Art Extravaganza
Leave it to someone on Goodland to combine fine art and funky fun. Local oil painter Tara O’Neill hosts her 14th annual Art Extravaganza from 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30, at Little Bar Restaurant.
Set among the antiques and groovy vibes the waterside restaurant is known for, Ms. O’Neill and this year’s featured artist, Karen Swanker, will show and sell their works amongst Little Bar’s live music regulars and artistically arranged light bites. Many of the elements — like mango mimosas — have been mainstays of the extravaganza since Ms. O’Neill’s inaugural event; others, like adding a featured artist to the lineup, are more recent innovations.
“On my 10th anniversary — you should always bump it up on your 10th — I decided to introduce other artists,” Ms. O’Neill says. “Some are well-known and some aren’t.”
A native Pennsylvanian, Ms. Swanker spent her professional life as a commercial graphic designer. Upon retiring, she decided to dust off her fine art training and dabbled in watercolors until settling into acrylic and oil painting. She now splits her time between Marco Island and Wyoming and enjoys painting a wide variety of subjects, from the island’s burrowing owls to Rocky Mountain aspens. She especially enjoys capturing the serenity of water lilies at Naples Botanical Garden and in hidden spots around Marco.
“I just always seem to drift back from what I’m doing to these water lilies. They’re very restful and peaceful,” she says. “I really love painting water lily ponds and lotus in the style of Monet.”
After citing the king of impressionism himself, it’s odd that her second medium would be one as contemporary as found objects — or garbage she finds on her daily walks. To items such as crushed metal and pieces of wire and plastic, she applies a layer of metallic paint and then artfully arranges them in assemblage boxes.
“It’s a statement on how much is dropped and left on the ground and won’t biodegrade,” she says. “Also, it shows people a different way of creating art instead of with a paint and a brush that goes back and forth.”
The Goodland Art Extravaganza is Ms. O’Neill’s end-of-season celebration for the community and an opportunity for the public to purchase some of her work before they head back to cooler climes.
Describing herself as an “expressive impressionist,” she tries to illuminate the ordinary in her oil paintings. “I like to think of myself as both a magnifying glass and a telescope, finding the extraordinary within the ordinary,” she says.
Although she tends to work in series of subjects —anthropomorphized beach umbrellas or Goodland cottages,, for example — she is currently fascinated with the sky and the horizon, as evidenced in her painting “Evening Tide.”
“Now I seem to have my head in the clouds,” she says. “My whole life, more than anything else, I’ve been captivated by the sky. It’s funny to come late in life to that motif now. Sometimes I don’t even bother with the horizon; sometimes I just shoot for the sky.”
Her Art Extravaganza isn’t a stuffy kind of viewing. Guests of all sorts are bound to drop in and enjoy the fun, which includes “silly silver tray service,” “creative refreshments creatively served” and the sounds of Little Bar Restaurant’s favorite musicians, including Raiford Starke and Merrill Allen.
“The parking lot is likely to be filled with as many dented up pick-up trucks as Lexuses,” Ms. O’Neill says. ¦