Exhibit showcases European artists

Anita Anderson and Daniela Banatova are two artists with a lot in common. They are both passionate about art and determined to stimulate the artistic pulse of Marion County.

But these two women aren't just all talk and no show. They co-founded a non-profit organization called the Spirit of the International Art to expose American artists to art from other countries and vice versa. Through this organization, Anderson and Banatova plan to have an exchange of art from other countries, particularly Europe, with the artists around this area.

Only official since January, the organization has already scheduled a series of projects, including art exhibitions and several European trips.

Through April 30 nearly 20 pieces from European artists - ranging from oils, watercolors, photography and computer graphics - will be on display at Gallery East as part of the new group's first international art show. Most of the art in the show will feature Czech Republic artists and one German artist.

Hiroslavaua Veselkova's photography is bold, bright and striking, like her photo of a Jewish cemetery in Prague. The oil paintings by V‡clav Svejcar are dream-like, mystical images with soft dripping colors. His work reflects his near-death experience when he was a navy sailor in the Czech & Slovak Navy. While on a navy ship off the African coast, his appendix burst and he needed immediate medical attention. He was rushed to a hospital and during surgery he was pronounced clinically dead and was later revived.

A second exhibit of international works is planned for November in Ocala. This time artists from countries like India, China, Columbia, Germany and Poland will display their works.

Banatova moved here six years ago from her native country of Czech Republic with her husband. She has a master's degree in art history and specializes in the art of bobbin lace, a handmade lace using a pillow to hold pins around which thread is intertwined. She also taught history for several years and frequently judged international art shows. She met Anderson, a member and teacher at Gallery East, at a FAB (Fine Arts on Broadway) meeting and soon find out they lived around the corner from each other - Banatova in Belleview and Anderson in Candler.

Anderson has been in Ocala since 1979 and she would like to see some more development of the arts in Ocala. She wants to encourage artists to break out of the mold of painting flowers, fruit and landscapes - subject matters often painted by Florida artists.

Currently Anderson has about 14 pieces of her art in a gallery in Ostrava, Banatova's hometown.

"We want to show European art," Anderson said. "We want to stimulate and make people aware in this town that they enjoy art and that they have an appreciation for it. We are trying to spark interest and open the eyes of Ocala."

Anderson said her other reasoning for doing this is to make the public understand and more aware of the importance of art.

"They're taking it out of the schools and they're putting it on the back shelf and in Europe art is part of their life," she said. "Without art we won't progress. Everything in this world stems from art."
Anita Anderson, right, and Daniela Banatova hang "Secret of the Sanctuary", right, and "Mystic Creation" both by Antonin Gavlas of the Czech Republic, at Gallery East on East Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala.

The Spirit of the International Art currently has a call for local artists who are interested in exhibiting their work in Europe. The deadline for submission is April 25 and artists will be notified by mid-August whether they were selected for the exhibition in the Czech Republic.

Banatova said next year the group plans to have an exhibition in Prague.

On April 29, seven artists will travel to Amsterdam, Prague and Vienna for eight days as part of the group's first European trip. The group also has two others planned, which are still available for booking, organizers said.

From Aug. 31 to Sept. 13, local artists will travel to Prague to attend art workshops focusing on graphic techniques. The trip, at a cost of $2,650, includes a guided tour of the city and National Museum, hotel accommodations with buffet breakfasts, two full-course dinners and a ride down the Moldau River.

A professor at the art university in Prague will conduct the workshops in his studio five to six hours daily. Enrollment is limited to 13 people.

"They will create five original pieces under his supervision," Banatova said. "When they return those pieces will be exhibited in Ocala and in Czech Republic."

The next trip is a 10-day excursion to Paris, Prague and Vienna. From Sept. 14-24, artists will be able to visit and paint in each city. It costs $1,950 and includes airfare, hotel accommodations, meals, taxes and guided tours of each city, castles and museums. A non-refundable deposit of $200 is due by April 25.

In addition to the art shows and trips, the group is also working on a major project that will allow people to witness first-hand the process of creating a piece of art.

"We're looking for sponsors because we want to bring a sculptor from overseas to work on a piece of artwork in Ocala on the downtown square," Banatova said. "The artist will probably work there for about two weeks. The final work will stay with the sponsor."

Banatova said she hopes the artists and art exchange concept will inspire artists from both countries with new ideas.

"I think it's important for artists to see different movements in the art and in Europe it's a little bit different point of view over there," she said. "Ocala needs this.




Ambassadors of art
Artists from around the world display their work at Gallery East as part of international exhibit

Take a trip through the streets of Peru or get lost in a haze of electric colors from the mind of a Chinese artist.

This month at Gallery East the artwork of 12 artists from around the world are a part of special exhibit organized by Spirit of International Art, the non-profit organization formed this year that works to promote U.S. artists in Europe and European artists in America with art exhibitions and oversea field trips.

Several of the artists in the exhibit are quite well known in their home countries and abroad, such as Jinsheng Song of China and Switzerland resident Viola Motyl-Palffy.

Song has six paintings in the exhibit, the most of any artist. Most watercolor pieces are delicate and detailed landscapes painted in a neutral palette. In contrast, he has one abstract piece in the show, bursting with a myriad of colors. He has won top awards in art shows in the United States, including New York and places in Florida such as Cocoa Beach and Alachua County.

Motyl-Palffy is an internationally known artist whose massive watercolor paintings have been exhibited in galleries and art centers in many countries in Europe, Asia and the United States. Since 2001, her work has been published annually in "New Art International," a leading art anthology that selects and features the work of new and established artists of Europe, Asia and the Americas. In the 2006 edition, it states her work "intrigues both the eyes and the mind while being drawn into her brilliant contrasts between darks and lights with warm, hushed undertones."

In 2002, Rudolf Schuster, then president of the Slovak Republic (Slovakia), invited her to conduct a month-long, solo exhibition in the Presidential Palace, equivalent to the White House in America.

Motyl-Palffy, born in Sobrance, Slovakia, splits her time living in Citrus Springs and Switzerland. She spends six months a year working in the states, promoting and exhibiting her work. In the new exhibit at Gallery East, she has two pieces on display. With its shades of lavender and gold, the two paintings embody what has become her signature style - soft, surreal images steeped in symbolism.

She thinks of art as a window into a new world. "I do not just paint what I only see," said the former art teacher for 37 years. "I look inward."

This is the Spirit of International Art's third exhibition of international works, and the second one at Gallery East. In October, the works of Milly Sheffer, the late Dolores Jones, Herbert Burkholz and Janice Breeden of Virginia were displayed in a gallery in the Czech Republic. Next month, more art from overseas will be displayed at Belleview's All About Art featuring artists from Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland and China.

Daniela Banatova, president, and Anita Anderson, vice-president, both artists, said exposure to different types of art helps artists grow, learn and possibly become less inhibited.

"These works are more based on philosophical thinking and more abstract," said Banatova of the international works. "American artwork is based more on what you see, actual images."

Peru painter Luis Samanamud and German artist Hanne Leder also have original works in the exhibition. The rest of the artists in the show hail from the Czech Republic: Josef Kremlacek, Eva Damborska, Danuse Markova, Jiri Neurwirt, Antonin Gavlas, Jarmila Kralova, Vaclav Svejcar and Lenka Kovalova.

Although the artists live in different parts of the world, their works, while diverse in media and subject matter, seem to depict the same dream-like imagery, such as the mystical mode reflected in Svejcar's piece or the softness of Kravola's oil painting on paper. Aside from paintings, Damborska displays her abstract textile art, while Neurwirt showcases his unique style .



Quiet giant
Exhibit celebrates the late Doris Jones for her contribution to the Ocala art community

On the second Friday of each month, Gallery East celebrates its exhibits with a wine and cheese reception. But for the last few parties, something has been missing from the social event.

For so long, Doris Jones was a beaming fixture at the gallery's receptions, standing right by the door greeting everyone with her warm and smile.

"She liked to see everyone when they came in," said Anita Anderson, artist and longtime friend. "She said that was her position, and she was a fine greeter. She made everyone feel welcome."

Jones, founder of Gallery East, passed away June 5 at the age of 91, leaving behind a void the Gallery East family will never replace. Jones was a talented artist who was a quiet giant in Ocala's growing art community.

To remember and celebrate her legacy, Gallery East is hosting an exhibition.

"A Celebration of the Life and Art of Doris Jones" features about 20 pieces of artwork from Jones that spans her lifelong career. The exhibit will be displayed until the end of the month. Usually Gallery East features the artwork of two member artists and one guest artist. This month, the Jones exhibit will fill most of the gallery. Daniela Banatova is the guest artist.

"She didn't want a funeral or a memorial or anything, but we thought since so many people knew her and she had lots of patrons of her work, this would be a great way to celebrate her as an artist and what she meant to the community," said Angee Chase, president of Gallery East.

Jones is best known for her watercolors, but also dabbled in etching, printmaking, weaving and sculpture, Anderson said. Chase said Jones was a very successful artist and many people here were a fan of her work. "I have her art in my bathroom," Chase said.

Anderson, who teaches at Gallery East, first met Jones through the Ocala Art Group. She said Jones was a kind person who truly had a big place in her heart for the arts. Jones always said anyone could be taught to draw or paint if the interest was there.

"She was an inspiration to all of the artists. She was full of energy and ideas and was just a very interesting person," Anderson said.

Jones was born in Mexico, and her family moved to the United States when she was a young girl. She was a graduate of the prestigious Pratt Institute School of Art and was an art instructor in New York City and Connecticut. In 1998, Jones founded Gallery on the Square, a non-profit organization formed for art education and charitable purpose. On Feb. 2, 1999, it moved to the current Six Gun Plaza on Silver Springs Boulevard and simply became Gallery East, an art gallery that provides exhibition space for local artists and art classes for adults and children.

She died of natural causes while on a visit to New York for her grandson's wedding. She was mother to Linda Jones Roccos, Karen Jones and Thomas Alan, all of whom live in New York. She had seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. The family has given Gallery East several original works by Jones to display and to sell. Proceeds will help keep the gallery functioning in its mission as a source for artistic growth and education.

Like most of the artists who are members of Gallery East, Jones volunteered her time working in the shop. "She still climbed the ladder and hung her own pictures," Anderson pointed out.

Chase said Jones was "a big participant in the community here." She was a member of the Ocala Art Group and was a part of the group's All-Members Show, which was on display at the Appleton in March. Anderson called Jones' work "outstanding" and said in nearly every art show Jones took home a ribbon.

And it wasn't just art that made Jones' heart skip a beat. She loved all things cultural. She was a docent at the Appleton and volunteered at the Ocala Civic Theatre and with the Ocala Symphony Orchestra.

Despite her age, Jones stayed "on the go all the time," Anderson said.

In April Jones was one of seven people who traveled to Amsterdam, Prague and Vienna as part of an eight-day trip with the non-profit art organization Spirit of the International Art. It was a trip Anderson said Jones told her she had to take. An avid traveler, Jones felt Prague was basically the last place on her checklist of places to visit.

During the trip, Anderson said, when others would lag behind Jones was always pushing forward. "She did much better than any of us with keeping up," Anderson recalled. "She told her kids it was an adventure she would remember the rest of her life. She had a beautiful time . . . She told me she knew it would probably be her last trip."

Jones' work will be part of the Spirit of International Art exhibit in the Czech Republic in November.

As soon as she returned from Europe, Jones went on a two-day trip with the Appleton Museum of Art "Trips 'N Tours" to Tampa and Naples. The day they came back, Gallery East was having its monthly reception and Jones took her place right at the door.

"I asked her, 'Doris, what are you doing here?' I told her to go home and rest," Anderson said. "She winked and asked me 'Are you ready to go back to Prague?'"

Chase joined Gallery East last August, and in November she and Jones were the featured artists at the gallery. On the gallery's Web site, there's a scrapbook link that shows pictures of the opening reception that month. Jones is seen with a big smile, wearing a chic, bright orange top, her snow-white hair perfectly styled.

"She was such an elegant lady and spoke so distinctively," Anderson said. "She always looked nice and held herself real well. She had such an air about her."



Artistic spirit
Woman travels long road for her art

Her pictures tell a story of strength and motion; exuding an overwhelming realm of energy and passion; a passion that speaks in brilliant colors mesmerizing those who take a moment to peer deep within.

The brilliant works are those of Shores resident Anita (Nita) Anderson.

Her creativity started years ago as a young child in Ocala. But it was Ocala High School English teacher, Mr. Pickens, who Anderson remembers igniting the fire.

Anderson was a doodler and Pickens seemed to notice it; daily. Rather than reprimand this budding artist, Pickens bought her art supplies and requested she draw him a picture. That picture was just the start of so many more to come.

Devoted to her family, Anderson's art was put on-hold as her husband's job took the young family traveling across the country.

She used this opportunity to enjoy the various galleries and shows.

Once the children began their own lives it didn't take long and she was back in full force, paint brush in hand.

Eventually Anderson took her talents to the classroom, working with young and old alike; bringing to them a whole new world. She continues teaching at Belleview's All About Art, as well as the Artist's Hub and Gallery East. She has also taught for nearly two decades at Central Florida's Community College Adult Education program. In between the gallery and teaching, Anderson does what many artists dream of doing - spending days traveling to such places as Amsterdam, Prague and Vienna.

Some time ago she had the opportunity to meet a neighbor, artist and Czech native, Daniela Banatova. Their love of art gave way to the "Spirit of International Art."

The pair work hard bringing art from around the world to Marion County. They are working equally hard to send pieces from local artists to other countries as well. Plans are currently under way to bring several European sculptors to Ocala to do live sculpting exhibits in 2007.

For Anderson, home is definitely where the heart is. Anderson colors our world as she shares her gifts and passion with neighbors in and around Marion County.



Tour Europe with an artist as guide

THE VILLAGES - A Czech Republic-born artist and Ocala resident is bringing her art history background to residents of The Villages and surrounding areas by sponsoring two-week art tours of Europe.

Daniela Banatova is co-founder of Spirit of the International Art, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for new and accomplished artists to immerse themselves in art centers of the world, including Prague, Paris, Amsterdam and Vienna.

The tour allows time to leave the group and paint on one's own for several hours before moving on to the next venue.

All transportation costs, taxes and hotel arrangements are included in the price.

Banatova entered an art talent competition in her hometown of Ostrava at age 14, winning over 400 other artists. Her accomplishments earned her a seat in the School of Art Design, where she graduated with honors in her specialty, bobbin lace. Banatova continued to develop her talents at Masaryk University, Brno, where she earned her master's degree in art history and aesthetics.

She has operated a school for young artists and has published a philosophical magazine.

Immigrating to Ocala with her husband and teenage son in 1999, she has displayed her bobbin lace creations at Ocala's Appleton Museum, and in Ostrava, Brussels and Prague.

Banatova describes her unique and demanding art.

"Bobbin lace textile art dates to Cyprus in the fourth century A.D. Spreading through Europe, this art form engendered several schools of design in Venice, Spain, Flanders and France. Bobbin lace was a luxury reserved for the nobility and dignitaries, and was used for ceremonies and special occasions.

"My designs come from nature and man, for we also are of nature. I also borrow from Gothic architecture in creating my designs around lines and spaces to create different patterns. Working in black-and-white and color, I arrange these patterns in the abstract.

"The main tools used in bobbin lace are of wood, and straight pins with ball heads. My lace is cotton thread of many colors and different weights.

"After sketching my piece to size on Kraft paper, I set the paper around the edges with straight pins. I start at the outside and work toward the image's center, crisscrossing bobbins and lace to create my dominant and secondary patterns.

"When a section is completed, or the bobbin thread exhausted, I make a knot and glue another length of lace to it. All connecting knots are hidden on the underside, because the work will be turned over when finished. Hair spray stabilizes the shapes until I remove the pins holding the work."

Sensing a vacuum in opportunities for local as well as European artists in diverse media to present their work, Banatova has created a "hands across the sea" program.

European artists display and sell in America, and regional artists are invited to display and sell in European galleries. She believes this interchange of ideas and works between different cultures is mutually beneficial to all who become involved.

Banatova and her business partner, Candler resident Anita Anderson, receive no salary or other monetary return from this not-for-profit venture.

Banatova can be reached at 245-4728 and Anderson at 687-2667, or online at spiritofinternationalart.

Contact Bill Stokes at 750-6952 or
Artistic venture
Women plan art culture exchange

Spirit of the International Art is a non-profit organization promoting American artists in Europe and European artists in America. Although this organization is only eight months old, the co-founders Daniela Banatova and Anita Anderson, have years and years of artistic experience.

Banatova, president of the Spirit of the International Art, was born in the Czech Republic and moved to Belleview in 2001. Her artistic educational background includes graduation from a fabric design school, and a Master's Degree in the History of Art. Her vast experience in the art world includes owning and publishing an art philosophy magazine, a teaching position at an art school for talented artists, and she also established and ran a private school for young artists.

Daniela has won art and design competitions all over the world including first place in the Young Artists Exhibition in Prague in 1987. This is just one of a myriad of other international artistic awards and competitions that she has won. Her works have been sold to private collectors throughout Europe, Australia and the United States.

Anita Anderson, the Vice President of the Spirit of the International Art, is a native Floridian who has lived in Marion County for many years. She currently teaches oil and acrylic techniques at Central Florida Community College. She has been teaching for almost 20 years. She has studied under some well-known artists and attended many seminars. Some of Anita's art is in a gallery in Daniela's hometown of Ostrava, in the Czech Republic.

Both of these accomplished artists are very passionate about stimulating the artistic talent throughout Marion County and beyond. They plan to have a program that exchanges art with other countries, particularly Europe, with the artists in and around Marion County.

On Sept. 9 The Spirit of the International Art along with All About Art will sponsor an Art Extravaganza in Belleview. There will be art from many areas of Europe as well as a showing by local artists. The show will be held in the afternoon from 4 to 7 p.m. at the All About Art Complex at 5162 S.E. Abshier Blvd. The event offers something for every art lover. There will be food and beverages, live music, and many fascinating forms of art to enjoy.

Anita and Daniela will join other artists who will be teaching different art forms and techniques throughout the afternoon.

For more information about this unique event, contact Anita at               (352) 687-2667       , or Donna at All About Art at               (352) 307-9774       .

Daniela Banatova, at right, president of Spirit of International Art; and Anita Anderson, vice president, discuss the upcoming art

Artist seeks to put south Marion on the international map

BELLEVIEW - South Marion County hasn't been part of the international art scene, but that doesn't mean there's no world-class art to be found.

Czech Republic native and south Marion resident Daniela Banatova knows there's great art and artists in the area - and she's determined to put local, mostly undiscovered artists on the international map.

"We have a lot of artist people here," Banatova said, "and more and more are coming here."

However, there weren't any organizations to represent these artists. Seeing the need, Banatova formed a nonprofit organization, The Spirit of the International Art.

"Belleview and Summerfield didn't have any art clubs," Banatova said. "That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to open up a club for all artists to be able to show their work."

In August, local artists will be able to show their pieces in one of the art world's biggest international communities: Prague, the Czech capital. The deadline to submit work is March 25, but Banatova says there has already been a huge response, not just locally, but nationally.

"We've gotten responses from artists from all over the country," Banatova said. "So far, we've got about 50 artists in all."

A few artists, like Marion County's Milly Sheffer, showed their work overseas last year and are looking forward to this year's exhibition. They see a lot of value of showing their work to new audiences.

"There's a lot of satisfaction of showing my work and being part of the cultural exchange," said Sheffer, who visited Amsterdam, Vienna and Prague last year with the group. "If an artist does work of which he is proud, he naturally wants to share it with a new audience."

Banatova will hold an informational meeting for artists interested in displaying their work overseas. The meeting takes place 6 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at All About Art, at 5162 S.E. Abshier Blvd. in Belleview.

Putting together international exhibitions is not all Banatova is doing with the fledgling group. She will also host free art lectures at All About Art next month. At 10 a.m. Saturday, March 17, she will lecture about historical European art, and she will talk about ancient Egyptian art at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 21.

Banatova has the background to speak on almost any art topic. She graduated with honors from Masaryk University's School of Art and Design in the Czech Republic, earning a master's degree in art history and aesthetics. She moved to Marion County in 1999, and she has displayed her own art at the Appleton Museum in Ocala, cultural centers in Europe like Madrid, Brussels and Prague, and other venues.

She says she's enjoying what she calls her greatest endeavor, shaping the art culture of south Marion County.

"So far, the response has been great, and we're really excited," Banatova said. "I think it's going to keep growing and getting better."

For more information about The Spirit of the International Art, call Banatova at 245-4728.

Contact Joe VanHoose at or 732-0742.



Marion students' artwork showcased in international exhibit

Jennifer Kerbo kept a bicycle in her room the entire summer before her 10th grade year.

It was for an assignment for her art class. The teacher wanted the students to create a piece of artwork by using a bike in an interesting way. Using graphite pencil, Kerbo's favorite medium, she created a "hyper realism" image of the back wheel. She focused on the pedal and the intricacies of the spokes and chain.

"I had the bike in there for a while," said Kerbo, now a junior at West Port High School. "It took a long time. But kind of a labor of love though."

Now Kerbo can call her labor of love an award-winning piece of art.

Last week, she won first place for the complex drawing in the second annual International Exhibition of Student Artwork. The art show, presented by the non-profit group Spirit of the International Art, features 260 pieces of art from Marion County middle and high school students and 30 students from Trebic and Ostrava in the Czech Republic. The works will be displayed at Brick City Center for the Arts until Friday. The gallery is at 23 Broadway St. in downtown Ocala.

Kerbo plans to use her first-place drawing as an entrance piece into Rhode Island School of Art and Design. She thinks the student art show is a great opportunity for a young artist.

"I think it's really nice. It's good for the students because we can put it on our resume, and it's also good to be recognized for your hard work," she said.

Artist Michele Faulker judged the show, which is grouped in the categories of ages 10-14 and 15-18. She said it was a labor-intensive and difficult task.

"Each work is wonderful in its own right," she said. "I really was very pleasantly surprised to see that we have such talented students out there and the future of our creative county is in good hands. If this is any indication, we've got a very talented group of young people coming up in Marion County."

One of those talents is Travis Snow. Although he prefers working with graphite, it was his self-portrait painting that snagged second place in the 15-18 category. Snow, also a junior in West Port's arts program, got interested in art as young boy. In middle school, his interests turned to music, and he joined the band. But with high school ahead of him, he decided to quit the band and get back into art.

In the painting, set against a patchy grayish-blue sky, he wears a dark suit with his asymmetrical haircut peeking out from underneath. At last Monday's opening reception, he was shocked to find out he got a ribbon. In fact, he didn't know his work was even in the show.

"I had no idea," he said with a shy smile.

After the exhibit ends, the six top winners' works will be hung in State Rep. Kurt Kelly's office in Tallahassee. They will be displayed during the entire session, March 4 through the first week of May. Another 40 pieces from the show, chosen by Faulker, will travel to Virginia and Europe. After three weeks in Virginia, the works will go to the Czech Republic to be displayed.

They return to Marion County in the fall.

Daniela Banatova and Anita Anderson created Spirit of the International Art two years ago to expose American artists to art from other countries and vice versa through art exhibitions and art-themed trips to Europe.

Last year, 60 pieces were displayed at Gallery East in the inaugural international student art show. Because of the greater number of entries this year, the show moved to a bigger venue - Brick City. However, holes could not be put in the walls, and with so many unframed pieces, they needed a way to display them.

Banatova came up with the idea to use large fishing nets to display the artwork and clothes pins to attach them to the netting. The result is a massive spread of beautiful images of animals, flowers, fruit and portraits.

Anderson couldn't hide her joy when she saw it. "I am overwhelmed," she said near tears at the reception. "You can't imagine how happy this makes us."

Banatova is also proud of the show's growth and the students' passion for the arts.

"It was so great to see the different art," she said. "It's very colorful, and the kids have such bright ideas .Ê.Ê. It's so delightful. It's happiness."

Plans have already begun for next year's exhibit. Students from Argentina, Germany and India will join the Czech Republic in the international show.

"I'm working to get kids from Poland and Slovakia so it will be huge," Banatova said.

Christine Burgos Robles, an eighth-grader at Howard Middle School, was excited about being in the show and seeing other students' work. She had a white, three-dimensional sculpture of a parrot, which placed at FAFO's Ocala Art Festival last year.

"I built the whole thing out of cardboard, stacked it and laid it on top of each other," she explained. "Then I got a wet piece of watercolor paper and then put it on top of cardboard grid and then pressed it down with tools to accentuate each feather," she explained.

Don Browning, well-known artist and member of the Florida Arts Council, said each student who submitted a piece received a certificate of display. Browning helped Banatova and Anderson get a grant through the Gammon Foundation to cover the costs of hosting the exhibit at Brick City.

He said the talent he sees in the gallery is "staggering."

"You're not going to be able to stop them now."


BELLEVIEW - The idea of bringing art to Belleview was a concept Daniela Banatova came up with several years ago when she first moved to the area.

Now with several local businesses on board to serve as exhibit halls, Banatova hopes the community will embrace the effort to expand the city's cultural base.

The first self-guided tour sponsored by the Art Club of Belleview takes place Thursday evening, with art enthusiasts traveling to five businesses where the works of approximately 20 local artists, with a handful of European-based artists, are on exhibit.

"The art will be on display for two months, and then we will rotate other works," Banatova said.

Painter Anita Anderson will have works at several locations, including the Belleview Chamber of Commerce. She has art on display in Ocala, but said the tour in Belleview is good because it's close to her home.

"I'd like to see the Belleview art community grow to rival that of Ocala," Anderson said. "So we are glad this is in Belleview."

For Kazuko deBie, Belleview is a hub for artists in the club who live in or near the city.

Debbie Hendrix, Chamber office manager, said it is hoped the tour will bring people to the city to view the showcase of art, but also to see area businesses up close.

"Daniela has had other businesses call since the tour was organized to see how they can get involved," Hendrix said.

Banatova, originally from the Czech Republic, said she felt there was a big hole in the city when she arrived seven years ago because of the lack of an art community. "I came from a very cultural place in Europe, and I'd like to see us have something like that here for people to enjoy."

In addition to the art club, Banatova and Anderson formed the European art exchange program, Spirit of International Art. Work from the local group is shipped to Europe for display, and the group receives a collection of work shipped here.

Banatove is hoping to attract visitors from The Villages and those passing through town.

"As a traveler, what would you do in Belleview? You might stop and eat, but likely you will go to The Villages or Ocala because they have more of an atmosphere. But tours like this, and an art museum, could bring them here," she said.

Banatova would like to see the building being vacated by the Belleview Library turned into an art center to host exhibits and offer art classes to children and adults.




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