WINTER GARDEN There’s a new show in town - one that only comes around once a year.
On Feb. 2, SoBo Gallery will kick off a two-month-long exhibition featuring watercolor paintings from the Central Florida Watercolor Society.
But it’s not just an exhibition; it’s a juried competition between CFWS’s best watercolor painters.
“The calibre, the standard of the work is very, very high,” said Gabriella West, a cofounder of the Winter Garden Art Association and the SoBo Gallery. “You have the best of the best from the Central Florida Watercolor Society, then the best of their work.”
SoBo Gallery hosted the juried exhibit for the first time last year and decided to make it a repeat event for 2017.
“It’s wonderful to have something on the west side (of Orlando),” said Kim Minichiello, member of the CFWS and 2nd vice president of the Florida Watercolor Society. “People are very excited because there’s now a venue to host exhibitions.”
The CFWS was founded in 1998 by a group of watercolor artists in Orlando. Today, the society has about 150 members from all across Central Florida and is part of the state’s large network of watercolor societies.
Last year, nearly 50 paintings were featured during the exhibition at SoBo Gallery, and this year’s event is expected to feature roughly the same number of paintings.
“It was amazing,” West said about last year’s show.
The gallery regularly holds exhibits for local artists to participate in, but this upcoming show is unique in the fact that it showcases only watercolor paintings.
While showcasing an entire exhibition of a single medium might sound boring, it is anything but, said Mary Keating, co-chairman of the association’s board of directors.
“All these different artists have different techniques,” she said. “There are also lots and lots of different subject matters.”
Some paintings feature vivid colors; others are painted in softer tones and some even look like they are as real as a photograph.
As a watercolor painter herself, Minichiello said that the variety was one of the things she loved about the exhibition.
“It’s amazing to me that when we’re all using the same materials, the variety of techniques and subject matter is astounding,” she said. “It’s the heart, the head and the hand that goes in to each piece. It’s mind-boggling.”
The exhibition also allows beginner painters a chance to see where there talents could one day lead to, Minichiello said.
“Art is like anything - you have to practice,” she said. “People don’t think art is that way, but it doesn’t just happen overnight.”
Many of the artists who submitted work for the exhibition have been working at their craft for decades, Minichiello said.
During last year’s show, the Winter Garden Art Association purchased one of the featured paintings - a painting by Minichiello, in fact - with the goal of creating a private collection of artwork that can one day be displayed at the gallery. They plan on purchasing another piece from this year’s exhibition to grow the collection, Keating said.
The exhibition will open with an art show reception, where the first-, second- and third-place awards will be given out in addition to several honorable mentions. The paintings were all judged by Jaimie Cordero - an award-winning watercolor painter from South Florida.
“We do this because we love it,” Minichiello said.
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].