Upcoming Turtle Installations and a Sizable Art Show Hail the Creative Scene Post COVID

Palm Coast is working its way back to pre-COVID vibrancy this month as one of the area’s best-known artists opens a significantly sized show, promising young artists are afforded space for their own show and preparations are underway for the installation of another three specimens on The Turtle Trail as sponsored by the Palm Coast Arts Foundation.
It is an encouraging re-emergence post the pandemic say locals associated with the city’s creative community arts, despite the fact that a year of economic shutdown has left the local situation limping its way from the adjective dismal with hopes that the coming fall will bring continued uptick in opportunities.
“I have to be honest,” said Lisette Otero-Lewis, owner of Galleria d’Arte located on St. Joe Plaza Drive. “The art community is really suffering right now.”
Yet, the woman who was optimistic enough to open her studio in October 2020 as the pandemic raged on, said she believes in the future of creative expression in Palm Coast.
Her gallery hosts the work of William “Bill” Mazziotti in his most recent exhibition titled, “Then and Now” which takes a look at work from his early career that featured figurative expression versus Mazziotti’s current work that is dominated by the abstract.
The show is sponsored by the Garguilo Art Foundation created by Arlene Brophy and Tom Garguilo, who as a couple established the foundation in 2000 and have long been a mainstay of financial support for artists based in Palm Coast and Flagler County.
“I really like his (Mazziotti) work because he goes from two extremes,” Garguilo told Palm Coast Magazine in a recent telephone interview, noting he is also a fan of a series of still life work done by Mazziotti that is also being included in the show that opens on August 14 with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. in the west wing at Galleria d’Arte (see page 22 for details).
The exact number of pieces being displayed was not available at press time as final selections were being made from among what the artist brought for consideration to the installation.
“The artists always bring in a lot of work and then we select from that,” Gargiulo explained. “It is hard to tell just how many pieces will be selected until we begin the process. If we select big pieces, then there will be fewer just because of the amount of space. But no matter what is selected, it will be a very good show with Bill.”
As part of her commitment to arts development in Palm Coast, Otero-Lewis is hosting lesser-known area artists along with another well-known Palm Coast artist in the east wing of her gallery for the month of August.
Again, not all selections were made by press time, but what we can tell you is this: Multiple younger artists ranging from recent high school graduates to university students get the rare opportunity to have their works hang alongside those of Jan Jackson, the 2020 Flagler County Artist of the Year and owner of Grand Gallery on Colbert Lane in Palm Coast.
Jackson’s selection by the GAF was supported financially by a grant from The City of Palm Coast and sponsorship by Otero-Lewis. Jackson was officially recognized in March 2021 with a show when COVID-related restrictions eased and allowed for a social distanced showing.
Much of Jackson’s work features the inclusion of bone. Her interest in doing so emerged when her ex-husband sent her the pelvis of a monkey he killed. Quickly, she discovered that bone material added depth to the pastels of animals she was painting. Future works would include the skulls of a bear, a deer and a wildebeest. Eventually even the chicken bones from her meals became part of her creative expression. The skeleton of a bird squashed in her daughter’s driveway was decorated with jewels to create a piece called, “The Early Jeweled Bird Gets the Agave Worm.”
Also anticipated in the east wing is the digital art of a local woman in her 90s who is displaying her work for the first time.
In yet another nod to the renown and well-protected loggerhead turtle population of Flagler County beaches, three more installations to The Turtle Trail are underway, according to Nancy Crouch, executive director of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation which oversees the trail.
The first is titled, “See Turtle” and, in a bit of a switch-up from using local artists, it is being produced by John Bramblitt, a visually impaired artist from Texas who has received three U.S. Presidential Service Awards for the art workshops he teaches. He has appeared on numerous national television programs and his story of overcoming blindness brought on by complications due to epilepsy was featured in the magazine, “Psychology Today.”
“He was the perfect choice for creating this turtle sculpture,” Crouch said of the request by the doctors at Tomoka Eye Associates on Hospital Drive where “See Turtle,” will be displayed. “They wanted the entire process to honor visual impairment.”
Details of the turtle’s exact appearance are being kept under wraps locally. Crouch said she doesn’t want to ruin the surprise when it is unveiled. But if you are too curious to wait, the artist is occasionally posting limited updates on his social media.
“I can tell you, it is very colorful,” she said.
Themes of the next two planned turtles: The first is based on the jazz music of Louis Armstrong with his hit song, “What a Wonderful World” playing a large role in the design. The second is an ode to Norman Rockwell.
“We are slowly trying to come back,” Crouch said in regards to the financial status of the arts foundation and of area artists in general post the pandemic. “Our operating budget relies heavily on events and when things dry up so quickly as it did during the pandemic, it gets tough. Right now, we are all working as volunteers because everyone is still so passionate about the arts.”
— By Amy Armstrong