Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2021 Windermere Fine Art Show, it also inspired several locals to discover their inner artists.
And later this month, when the show makes its triumphant return to the town of Windermere, there will be some new faces.
Although Windermere’s Michael Beck never had any formal training, art has been a hobby of his since he was in the fifth grade.
However, when the pandemic hit, Beck found himself unemployed — and at home with his wife and three children.
“I started working on my art again and found myself staying up to all hours of the night perfecting my skills,” he said. “I was drawing with my kids at breakfast and teaching my 7-year old-how to draw. My wife started to take notice and with her pushing and amazing support, ‘Art by Mike B.’ was created.”
Beck specializes in graphite portraits of people and pets, as well as landscapes and buildings.
“I really love being able to capture my subject’s personality,” he shared. “Whether it be a pet, grandchild or even landscape, there is something unique about each moment that I try to capture and showcase in the portrait.”
For more, visit artbymikeb.com or find Beck on Instagram, @Graphite.Mike.
Windermere Arts Chair Anne Scharer started the show as the Windermere Art Affair in 2016. Since then, it has grown into a staple event. This year, the show will feature more than 80 artists — more than 30 under age 18— and their creations in clay, pottery, painting, sculpting, woodworking and more.
“Seeing how happy the artists are when they sell their artwork and they realize that what they’ve done is truly good enough … I think that’s what really inspires me about these individuals,” Scharer said.
The show, set to take place on Saturday, Feb. 26 and Sunday, Feb. 27, will feature awards, vendors, live entertainment, food, drinks and even live performances from Amanda Finnegan’s Finnegan Academy of Irish Dance and jazz music from Richard LaFrate.
Like Beck, 16-year-old Lydia Erickson also is excited to showcase her work. Erickson always had an interest in art but fell in love with painting because of free time during the pandemic.
As for her pottery, she started under the introduction of her ceramics teacher in her freshman year of high school.
“I originally found a love for wheel-throwing by learning to make mugs and planters,” she explained. “I started painting with watercolors and progressively moved to gouache-based artwork.”
Because of her admiration for nature and animals, she mostly creates works focused on landscapes, food and pets.
“There is always something new to learn about in art and this has always been so motivating for me,” she said. “I love to try new techniques and experiment with styles, and visual art really has no limit to what you can create. Art is never boring to me because of the endless possibilities.”
Find Erickson on Facebook at Tinywatercolors.
Beck and Erickson — relative newcomers to the art world — will be joined by Windermere artist Lisa Mamounas who has sold her work throughout the United States and internationally, as well as showcased her work at the SOBO Art Gallery.
After the passing of her father more than three years ago, Mamounas decided someone should make use of his art supplies. She said what happened next was a transformative experience.
“I could hear my father’s voice and his laughter while painting with his things,” she said. “Memories of him and my mother flooded through me.”
Painting brings her joy, and she hopes others feel it, too.
She loves to paint flowers, beaches and abstracts.
“I love the Windermere art show because it gives local artists such an opportunity to shine,” she said.
Find Mamounas on Instagram @Lisa_Mamounas_Art.
Funds raised from the show will help in beautification of the town and to Windermere police officer Lori Sipek and her son, L.T.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Scharer said she was approached by the town of Windermere seven years ago to put together an art show.
Although she said she had no idea where to begin, the first show in 2016 featured 65 artists and multiple entertainers.
Since then, the show has grown and expanded to feature a multitude of creative minds from across the world.
After the show was canceled because of COVID-19 in 2021, Scharer said coming back during the continuation of the pandemic has been challenging.
“Even though this year has been difficult, I didn’t want to give up,” she said. “I just kept going.”
Born and raised in Sarasota, Scharer said she grew up appreciating the arts. She fell in love with Windermere when she moved to the town in 2008. She said she loves the natural beauty of the town, how quaint it is and the welcoming community.
The goal of the art show is to inspire others, help the artists showcase their talents and help them sell their work.
“I love inspiring young people, because they have such a challenge, way more than I ever did as a kid, and I inspire the adults, too,” she said. “Many of them never have even done an art show before but I pick them, and I say, ‘Hey you can do this; you’re so talented.’ It just makes my heart happy, because then they blossom and go on to do cool things.”
Windermere Fine Art Show
WHEN: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27
WHERE: Main Street, downtown Windermere