It started out as a rebellion, and is well on its way to becoming an institution. Five Painters and a Potter, a group showing by a collection of longtime Naples artists, will return for its 11th annual outing Sunday at the Clay Place, Jim Rice’s studio in East Naples.
“We were rebelling against the Fifth Avenue galleries, and the giant shows downtown,” Rice said. “But this thing has really grown. We must have had 800 people here last year.”
One thing the group won’t have this year, except in memory, is Jerry Vallez. One of the original members of the group, Vallez died in September at age 87, and this year’s show is being held in his memory. He painted many local scenes but was best known for his nautical works.
There will still be five painters joining the one potter at the event, however. Goodland artist Tara O’Neill will make her debut Sunday as “the new kid,” the fifth painter of the group. Her impressionist oils have focused on scenes near her home in Goodland and the beach. O’Neill, the president of the Goodland Arts Alliance, has hardly had a chance to take a breath, after coordinating a 25-artist show last Sunday in Goodland.
“Tara definitely fit the criteria — she’s been here a long time,” Rice said.
All of the longtime painters have deep roots in Naples. Fisher, Paul Arsenault, Natalie Guess, and Jeff Fessenden have come to define fine art in Naples, with color-filled images of local scenes and landmarks, some of which have disappeared since being depicted by the artists’ brushes.
Five Painters and a Potter has become a community event which people circle on their calendars months ahead of time. Along with the art and the artists, refreshments and live music are provided. The featured entertainment will be bluegrass band Capt. Joe and the Bottom Feeders, fronted by Joe McNichols, whose day job is a charter fishing captain. Naples Daily News managing editor Eric Strachan also has been known to deliver a set on acoustic guitar.
Phil Fisher, known for his vibrant watercolors, said he has a lot of new work to show.
“I paint on location a lot. My new paintings, watercolors and oils, are very tropical. But they don’t stick around. I need to create more pieces.”
Rice said he had been working hard getting ready for the show.
“I’m producing like crazy. I’ll sell in one day what it takes me months to make,” he said.
Fisher said selling art is the idea behind the show.
“It’s great to see old friends, but we want to make new ones, too. We’re looking to sell, not just have a party.”
Having the event at the Clay Place gives patrons the chance to see what Naples looked like before the Ritz-Carlton or Mercato existed.
“This is a great way for people to see real old-time art in a tropical setting,” Rice said. “You don’t get any more local than this.”
IF YOU GO
5 Painters and a Potter
What: Featuring works by Paul Arsenault, Jeff Fessenden, Phil Fisher, Natalie Guess, Tara O’Neill and Jim Rice
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 17
Where: The Clay Place, 1555 Shadowlawn Drive (Off Davis Boulevard, west of Airport-Pulling Road), Naples
Cost: Free admission