GULFPORT - Nine larger-than-life geckos will be the centerpiece of a live auction to benefit local charities as well as a public art installation in Gulfport’s Waterfront District. Each of the large steel geckos will be reimagined, manipulated and decorated in a variety of media by local artists.
The geckos went on display beginning July 21 at the Gulfport Waterfront District. The art pieces will be auctioned during the sixth annual Gecko Ball on Saturday, Aug. 23. Each gecko will be a prized collector’s art work and will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist. Organizers initiated the Artists’ Gecko Auction five years ago with much success, and due to its popularity, the auction is now a part of the tradition of annual Gulfport Gecko-related activities in late summer.
Artists selected to create geckos for this year’s auction are Michael Chapman, Denise Keegan, Denise Lange, Lenne’ Nicklaus-Ball, Stephen Oliver, Owen Pach, Hugo Porcaro, Jonathan Schork and Cindy Tremaine.
The finished geckos will be on display at these nine Gulfport locations in the weeks leading up to the Gecko Ball: Backfin Blue Café (2913 Beach Blvd.), Beach Bazaar (3115 Beach Blvd.), Domain Home Accessories & Gallery (3129 Beach Blvd.), Little Tommie’s Tiki (5519 Shore Blvd.), Mangia Gourmet (2930 Beach Blvd.), Peg’s Cantina & Brewpub (3038 Beach Blvd.), Pia’s Trattoria (3054 Beach Blvd.), Stella’s Deli (3119 Beach Blvd.) and Yummy’s (2914 Beach Blvd.).
Advance bids will also be accepted for geckos at these preview locations.
The annual Gecko Ball has become known as Gulfport’s Party of the Year. This year’s theme is “Roaring Geckos,” evoking the Roaring 20s era of Americana, including its music, dance moves, outfits, hair and fads. In addition to the live auction of the artist’s geckos, the event includes several dozens of silent auction items, costumes and costume contests, dinner buffet, cash bar, live music, dancing and more.
The Gecko Ball will be held at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom, 5500 Shore Blvd. S. Tickets are $35 each and are available in advance at Gulfport Beach Bazaar, 3115 Beach Blvd. or online with a credit or debit card at GulfportMA.com. A portion of proceeds from Gecko Ball, as well as Gulfport’s Gecko Pub Crawl on Aug. 9 and GeckoFest on Aug. 30 will benefit local charities to be determined, as well as fund the commission of a public art installation.
Artists from Gulfport or with ties to Gulfport have volunteered their time and talent to create a gecko. Biographical information has been contributed by the participating artists.
Gulfport artist Michael Chapman’s signature works are brightly-hued watercolors, though he also works in acrylics, pen and ink and photography. His art has been shown locally in Gulfport and St. Petersburg, as well as throughout the Denver Art District where he formerly resided.
Denise Keegan has primarily worked in painting but has recently broadened to mixed media art work, incorporating recycled materials. Her work has been shown in a number of Gulfport locations.
Sarasota artist Denise Lange’s floral elements and bright, tropical palette mark her paintings and other art work. She is an active contributor to the crew of the Industrial Arts Center of Gulfport (IACG), including contributing graphic art and design for the IACG’s website.
Lenne’ Nicklaus-Ball has displayed her mixed media art work in public and private galleries throughout the Eastern U.S., as well as having been involved in over nine museum exhibits and several public art projects. Her work has also been purchased by private collectors in the U.S., Europe and South America.
Educated in architecture and furniture design, Stephen Oliver is also well-known locally as a graphic artist and designer of his popular “Give Peace” t-shirts and apparel which he sells at local events. He was recently selected to create a public art installation, commissioned by the Gulfport Merchants Association, adjacent to the historic Gulfport Casino. His public sculpture is due to be unveiled in mid-summer.
Gulfport glass and metal artist Owen Pach currently serves as President of the Industrial Arts Center of Gulfport. He began blowing glass in Ybor City in the early 1980’s and has worked with prominent glass artists from around the world during his career which has taken him to Jacksonville, Virginia and Philadelphia, among other locations. His work is included in numerous private and public art collections.
Hugo Porcaro (also known as The Reverend Hugo) spent most of his childhood on St. Pete Beach, crediting his upbringing in a vacation land for inspiring his bright palette and whimsical imagery. A resident of Gulfport since adulthood, he has become a popular fixture on the Tampa Bay art scene, his paintings have been widely collected internationally, and his work has been included in several museum collections.
Jonathan Schork identifies with a wide range of creative processes including painting, photography, sculpture, couture, literature, film and theatre. He is an award-winning creator of public sculptures. He has been an active participant in Gulfport’s artistic community since arriving a few years ago. His studio in Gulfport’s Alley of the Arts is a hub of creative activity for himself, partners, students and guests.
St. Petersburg native Cindy Tremaine has called Gulfport home in the past and currently works with students in Pinellas County Schools, including Gulfport Elementary. What started as a simple repair to a bird bath a few years ago sparked in her an interest in mosaic art which has since led to the creation of many glass mosaic art pieces, as well as the development of Moonstar Glass and Sun Mosaics with her partner.