Ocala Art Group exhibit spreads out in larger gallery at the Appleton Museum of Art – 2013

Workers with the Ocala Art Group and the Appleton Museum of Art hang the new exhibit “Toast to the Arts: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”. The exhibit opens Saturday November 2, 2013 and runs through January 5, 2014.  Photo and Story -Rick Allen/Star Banner

The Ocala Art Group comes downstairs at the Appleton Museum of Art this year for its annual “Toast to the Arts” juried show that opens Saturday for a run into early next year.

The Ocala Art Group comes downstairs at the Appleton Museum of Art this year for its annual “Toast to the Arts” juried show that opens Saturday for a run into early next year.
Themed “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” the show includes work in drawing and painting mediums, some sculpture and even a peek into the world of an old battered suitcase.
“It looks like it’s going to be a great show,” said Cindi Morrison, executive director of the Appleton.
The Appleton is offering free admission for the exhibit’s opening reception beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday. All of the galleries will be open for the evening. Judged awards will be presented to winning artists at the reception.
But the most-coveted accolade, the People’s Choice Award, won’t be bestowed until the show closes Jan. 5. During the course of the exhibit, visitors will be encouraged to vote for their favorite pieces.
In recent years, the 200-plus-member group’s annual exhibit has been displayed in the balcony gallery overlooking the ground floor of the Edith Appleton wing at the museum. That meant only 30, maybe 35, pieces could be exhibited.
Being down on the freshly sanded and re-polished wooden floor of the first-floor wing this year allows 90 works by local artists to be on display, said Vandy Shake, OAG president.
“We have a lot of talent that many people are not aware of,” she said. “This is an opportunity to showcase their work.“
Morrison, she said, “allowed us to exhibit downstairs. And we wanted to acknowledge her confidence in us by putting on a really good show.“
Every year, members of the Ocala Art Group, which has been promoting art and artists since 1950, audition their work for inclusion in the show. This year, OAG turned to technology — an Internet call for entries — to widen the field beyond Marion County and its immediate neighbors, Shake said.
Through CallForEntries.org, more than 300 artists from North Central Florida and beyond, some as far as Coral Gables, submitted work, Shake said. Each was given a score by a judge to winnow them down to the 85 artists displaying.
Because the submitters’ names were withheld from the judge, “each artwork stood on its own merits” in the initial judging, Shake added. “It was win-win for the artists.“
And to get in “as many artists as possible,” she continued, each of the 85 selected artists was limited to only one work — although three will have two pieces in the exhibit. Shake added she had two submissions of her own with equal scores, but she opted to display only one.
To honor the 25th anniversary of the Appleton a year ago, OAG’s 2012 display was titled “A Toast to the Arts: A Silver Salute to the Appleton.” Members liked the “Toast to the Arts” so much, Shake said, they decided each successive exhibit will carry that banner, with a subtitle addressing the theme.
This year’s theme is “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”
“Each artist gives a reflection of their mindset, their storytelling,” Shake said. The suitcase, called “installation art,” is “whimsical,” she said, “an old-style suitcase containing memories of a trip you might have taken once.
“It’s nice to see the artists use the world from different perspectives.“
With a goal of tightening ties between the museum and the area artistic community, Morrison said she’s thrilled by this OAG exhibit. “I’m glad the OAG opened up the show to artists beyond the county,” she added.
“The Ocala Art Group has been involved with the museum for a number of years,” Morrison said. “And this is another strengthening of the relationship.“