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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 6 months ago

BLACK TIE: Art association's gala to bring splash of masquerade to Winter Garden

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With the Winter Garden Art Association’s fifth annual Splash Gala right around the corner, it’s time to create your mask for the big masquerade.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

A splash of color here, a splash of carnival fun there and a whole lot of community support sprinkled into the mix have helped shape the Winter Garden Art Association’s annual Splash Gala fundraiser into a growing success the last four years.

Next week, gala attendees will dive into the world of masks and mysteries with WGAA’s fifth annual gala, which follows a Venetian masquerade theme this year.

“A Splash of Masquerade” is encouraging guests to break out their best dresses, fanciest suits and most creative costumes for the evening. Masks are optional but encouraged. 

“We think that a masquerade sounds so much fun and have wanted to do it for several years, but we wanted to wait until we were big and experienced enough to pull it off,” said WGAA board member Elizabeth McKinney. “We thought our five-year anniversary mark was the perfect time.”

The Winter Garden Art Association is a nonprofit that aims to expand public access to art and provide support to local artists, as well as to educate the community and celebrate the importance of visual arts and culture within it. WGAA is housed in what was once an old fire station — now the SoBo Art Gallery — on South Boyd Street in Winter Garden. 

The annual gala serves as WGAA’s signature fundraiser, and proceeds provide support for the organization to continue offering the many programs and classes it hosts. McKinney said it has grown from 175 attendees in its inaugural year to nearly 300 this year.

Expect to see and dress in the colors of the Venetian masquerade — gold, silver and fuchsia — along with lots of glitter and feathers, and don’t forget a mask. Guests also will have the chance to bid on silent- and live-auction items, including a chance to ride in Universal’s Mardi Gras parade. In addition to the live music, two artists will be sharing their talents by painting throughout the evening.

Because admission to SoBo is always free, the funds raised at the gala are essential in keeping the exhibitions running and allow the association to continue bringing in quality art.

“We always have plans — we have more plans than we do money,” McKinney said. “Everything is free, and finances allow us to have workshops — and pay instructors — for both professional artists that want to learn more about they’re doing, or for those who want to learn something different. It gives the whole community a chance to come and express themselves. It’s extremely important to do that. We have children’s programs, programs for those suffering with Alzheimers, and with the help of some sponsors, we have a program at Edgewood Children’s Ranch.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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