Local artists prepare to celebrate 100 years of Gainesville fine arts at the downtown Artwalk

Skip Snow with his art piece, “Kin.” (Ga’Shanti Bright/WUFT News)

If an aspiring artist were to ask Skip Snow for advice, he said he would tell them, “Have a day job.”

Snow is one of the artists who showcased his work at the Gainesville Fine Arts Association’s most recent Artist Meetup.

But the organization’s next meeting will exhibit art much older than Snow’s. At its centennial anniversary on Sept. 29, artists will gather to celebrate GFAA’s support of art and artists over the past century.

The Gainesville Fine Arts Association hosts the Artist Meetup every second Thursday of the month, and artists from all over Gainesville are invited to the art gallery to speak about their work.

“We are trying to support emerging and accomplished artists,” said Carly Shooster, the operations assistant of the gallery.

Snow worked for the National Park Service for 38 years as a biologist before retiring in 2013. He always had an interest in art, for which he blames his college roommate. But he never pursued that passion, he said. After retiring, Snow said he decided to explore art, specifically the intersection between art and science.

“A lot of my work is environmentally oriented,” he said. “Working for the National Park Service was the best job I ever had.”

Snow said he created his art piece by using primarily air currents and fungi mushroom spores.

He said he likes to think of this work as an action painting because the paint and the colors are from the spores of the mushrooms.

He was given the merit award by the Gainesville Fine Arts Association for his work. “Kin” was one of the many creative pieces showcased at the meetup.

Peter Senesac (left) and Michelle Nagri with their art piece, “Inertia.” (Ga’Shanti Bright/WUFT News)

Michelle Nagri and Peter Senesac, a couple who explore paint and photography, presented their art piece titled “Inertia,” which they created during COVID-19.

They said that during the creative process, they discussed how hard it was to start painting a blank canvas. “We talked about inertia,” Nagri said. “It’s a lot to overcome that – quite intensely nothing.”

They wrote the word on a blank canvas and started working on the same piece at the same time. Working on one canvas with two different styles did not bother the couple, they said, as they enjoyed being open to each other’s ideas.

“Sometimes we may disagree on the orientation,” Senesac said. “But I like the way we work on it.”

Nagri and Senesac began collaborating in 2017 and have an art business together called Wild Together Art.

Dawn Schulz with her art piece, “Vendetta’s Day.” (Ga’Shanti Bright/WUFT News)

Dawn Schulz, a local beekeeper and massage therapist, collaborated on her piece, “Vendetta’s Day,” using elements she found around her house. From coffee beans to her pet’s hair to actual bees, Schulz says she loves incorporating her life into her art.

“It’s like having all the live elements that end up dying,” Schulz said. “That’s part of all our processes – we will live and die.”

Schulz, who is from Argentina, said she tries to include a piece of individuality and her roots in most of her works. She says she hopes emerging artists trust in their inner voice and “chase down those ideas.”

The Artist Meetup is free to the public, and people from all backgrounds are encouraged to come out to support or enter their work.

“A rut people get into… is that the first things they make suck and then they don’t finish them,” said Grant Tomko, a 20-year-old artist who attended the meetup to show his support. “But everyone here started somewhere. And if you can appreciate their art, then eventually someone’s going to be appreciating your art.”

The Gainesville Fine Arts Association was founded on Dec. 14, 1923, by three women who were interested in spreading the message of art. They wanted to extend art programming beyond social clubs, so they founded the GFAA, Shooster said.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary, the Gainesville Fine Arts Association will host a history exhibition on Sept. 29 featuring its work from every decade since the 1920s. The exhibition will take place during the monthly Artwalk Gainesville.

“We’ve been working on this all year,” Shooster said. “It’s really nice to finally be able to share it with everyone.”

About Ga'Shanti Bright

Ga'Shanti is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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