Friday, July 19, 2013

Art Takes Flight at the Regional Southwest Airport

Welcome Return by Peter Zell
On my recent trip to Rochester, something unusual happened:  I arrived at the airport 90 minutes before my departure time.  Anyone who’s flown out of the Fort Myers airport (RSW) knows that getting checked in and through security there is a completely different animal from, say, braving the Continental terminal at Newark Airport.   As I was walking to my gate wondering what to do with my extra time, I noticed a Leoma Lovegrove painting on the wall.  Then I saw a work by Peter Zell.   What was going on? 

Having those few extra minutes gave me the opportunity to enjoy the most recent exhibit of the Art in Flight program, a collaboration between the Port Authority of Lee County and the Lee County Alliance for the Arts.    In fact, I even had time to give Krista Johnson, director of Exhibitions at the Arts Alliance, a call to find out a bit more about the program. 

You're Home by Doug McGregor
The current exhibit is called "Honor, Country & Heroism."  One of the purposes of the exhibit is to provide returning soldiers with a warm welcome home.   The show includes a variety of works by local artists that share the themes of patriotism and appreciation for our troops.  A number of the works were done by veterans -- a nice touch.    

James Henry Taylor by Krista Johnson
One of my favorite works in the show is Johnson's own submission, entitled James Henry Taylor.   When Johnson was organizing the show, she realized that she could create a work using the jacket from her father's WWII Navy dress uniform.  When I commented on how small the jacket was, Johnson shared that her father joined the military as a scrawny 16 year old. He ended up in the Philippines just as the war was ending.  Johnson remembers her father talking about his disappointment at not having been able to make more of a contribution to the war effort.  He was thrilled when he heard her idea for developing a piece for the show using his jacket.

"Honor, Country & Heroism" will be on display at the Fort Myers Airport through October 15th, when it will move to the Arts Alliance for a two week stint (that just happens to coincide with Veterans’ Day).  Next up is "Oh, the Places We Will Go," a show featuring the work of Lee County students.  It promises to be fun, and if you buy one of the works from the show, a portion of the proceeds will go back to the Lee County school district's arts education program.

The next time your plans include a trip out of RSW, take a look around as you head towards your pat down by TSA.   It's the artistic equivalent of stopping to smell the roses.  

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