Flamboyant artist Leoma Lovegrove describes herself as “event driven.” Driven is more like it. This dynamo of creative energy has spent a frenetic 2011 opening galleries in the River District and Sanibel Island, painting out loud all over southwest Florida, and escorting a 10-by-18-foot canvas around the Cape, Fort Myers and Naples to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.
So it is understandable that for 2012, Lovegrove has decided to scale back a little. “I’ve decided to focus my attention on my gallery and gardens in Matlacha,” said Lovegrove from a comfortable patio chair in her waterside garden on a cheery Wednesday afternoon. “I just don’t have the time it takes to maintain a gallery in Fort Myers or even Sanibel.” A visit to Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens makes one wonder how she ever had time to try.
Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens is one of Matlacha’s most colorful landmarks. It is a whimsical reflection of the artist, the fulcrum from which she maintains her international headquarters, artist studio and island gift shoppe. In the historic fishing village now described by locals as a “quirky artists’ haven,” Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens sets the tone for the entire gallery district with its flamingo pink roof, polka dotted walls and mix of art, pop sculpture and gift ideas.
To reach it, visitors coming from Fort Myers or Cape Coral must traverse the Fishingest Bridge in the World. Once across, they’ll find Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens sandwiched between Island Visions and WildChild Art Gallery, and across the boulevard from Frills I and II and Trader’s Hitching Post (with its trademark mannequin of an sunglassed Indian decked out in a white hard hat and yellow and bright orange roadside safety vest).
While the vast majority of visitors arrive at the gallery by car and even bus, some do come in by boat. The botanical gardens in the rear of the gallery looks out on a salt water canal that leads to Matlacha Pass, a huge expanse of water ten miles long and nearly two miles across at its widest point. The Pass’ channels, potholes, oyster bars, grassflats, sandbars and mangrove shorelines attract anglers and kayakers year round, and some in this maritime enclave choose to visit Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens by boat rather than car or on foot.
To accommodate watercraft, the gallery provides dockage – painted peacock blue and decorated with white bottomed Prussian blue bottle trees that are trimmed with fluorescent paint so that they glow in the dark during nighttime events. The artist herself has been known to tie up at the dock after a morning or afternoon on the water, where she goes to escape the gallery’s hustle and bustle and paint to the soothing sound of lapping water in the tradition of Claude Monet, who rigged a flat-bottom boat with a canopy so that he could paint en plein air along the banks of the Seine.
But don’t get the impression that Lovegrove’s life on Matlacha is quiet and serene. Lovegrove has enough projects afoot to make the White House chief of staff look like a slacker. And if the artist with the angel-wing sunglasses has her way, you’ll not only regularly see her about town, you’ll be reading about her in the news on a weekly (if not more frequent) basis.
For more information about Leoma Lovegrove, her art or Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens, please call her at 239-283-6453. The gallery’s website is under construction, but you can follow her at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Leoma-Lovegrove/84825669804 and the gallery at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lovegrove-Gallery-Gardens/136690993041625.
[To read more about Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens on Art Southwest Florida, please click here.]