Gulfport glass and metal artist Owen Pach has created a gecko for this event each year since its inception. This year’s creation incorporates forged steel and hammered copper in a “spontaneous” creative process.
GULFPORT - Seven larger-than-life steel 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 has been reimagined, manipulated and decorated in a variety of media by local artists. The geckos are now on display in locations throughout the Gulfport Waterfront District until Friday, August 23rd and will be up for auction during the fifth annual Gecko Ball on Saturday, August 24th at the historic waterfront Gulfport Casino Ballroom (5500 Shore Blvd. South). Doors for the event open at 6 p.m. and the party continues until 11 p.m. Each gecko will be a prized collector’s art piece and will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist. Organizers initiated the Artists’ Gecko Auction four 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 August and September.
The seven finished geckos are on display at the following Gulfport locations in the weeks leading up to the Gecko Ball: Beach Bazaar (3115 Beach Blvd.), Domain Home Accessories & Gallery (3129 Beach Blvd.), J’s (3128 Beach Blvd.), Neptune Grill (5501 Shore Blvd.), Peg’s Cantina & Brew Pub (3038 Beach Blvd.), Pia’s Trattoria (3054 Beach Blvd.), and Salty’s (5413 Shore Blvd.). Advance bids will also be accepted for geckos at their preview locations.
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 local and New Hampshire native Peter Bourgoine has worked in a variety of media, including music, painting, sculpture and stone work, but has always been drawn back to working with wood for most of his life, specifically wood turning. His gecko is made from a particularly colorful piece of box elder, meticulously cut and assembled.
A self-taught artisan metalsmith and jewelry designer since 1998, Gulfport local Doug D’souza has also worked in etched and carved glass. Born in India, D’souza moved to the U.S. at the age of 18 and has lived in Florida since 1994. As an artist, he is drawn to metal and works with silver, gold, copper and bronze, as well as modern materials including metal clay, aluminum and plastic. His colorful gecko is fabricated from textured aluminum and Plexiglas.
A veteran entertainer, fire dancer and musician, Jeff Greene expanded into the fine arts with his move to Gulfport in 2007. He works in what he calls “cosmic space painting” and has dubbed his piece “Gadactic Gecko.” Gulfport glass and metal artist Owen Pach currently serves as President of the Industrial Arts Center of Gulfport. A Tampa native, 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. He has taught glass blowing to students for many years. He has created a gecko for this event each year since its inception. This year’s creation incorporates forged steel and hammered copper in a “spontaneous” creative process.
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. He teaches sculptural welding at the Industrial Arts Center of Gulfport. His gecko, “Geckosaurus Gulfportiana Hortus,” is a welded metal creation replete with plant life that is whimsical and fun, but also rooted in nature and biology.
Gulfport folk artist Victoria Anne Wenners is perhaps best known as the “Empress of Henna,” sometime creating up to 30 pieces of body art a day at outdoor venues, festivals and other events. She has worked as a scenic artist, faux finisher, sign painter and muralist since 1991. She originated the gecko form that is used by all of the artists as a starting point for their creations. She has been working in mosaics for the past five years, lending this art form to her gecko this year, a creation that both shines and sparkles.
Linda Worsham is one of the two members of the mother/son artists’ collaborative GypsyCat Creations with her son Matt. Working primarily with recycled materials, she creates mixed-media sculptures with a touch of whimsy. Repurposed fabric is applied to the surface of her pieces in a process similar to papier-mâché. Her gecko was formed from packed recycled plastic around the metal form for body, then applied with textured metallic fabric and smooth cotton adhered to the surface.
The annual Gecko Ball has become known as Gulfport’s Party of the Year.This year’s theme is “Gecko Night Fever!,” evoking the 1970s disco era, including the music, dance moves, outfits, hair and fads of the 70s. Colorful and fun décor with a disco and gecko twist will take over the Gulfport Casino Ballroom.
Admission includes cocktail hour hors d’oeuvre, a 70s-inspired dinner buffet, full cash bar, drink specials including the infamous “Geckotini,” a live disco DJ and dancing, posed commemorative and candid photos for sale, silent auctions and other surprises. Costumes are encouraged but are not mandatory. A costume contest will determine some of the best outfits in the house. New this year: a Gecko Queen and her Court will be presented to the assembled Ball-goers.
Tickets are $30 each and are available in advance with check or cash at Gulfport Beach Bazaar (3115 Beach Blvd.), Domain Home Accessories & Gallery (3129 Beach Blvd.) and Couture’d (5401 Gulfport Blvd.) in Gulfport. Tickets may also be purchased online with a credit or debit card at GulfportMA.com. While they last, tables of eight may be reserved by purchasing as a group in advance.
For more information on the Gecko Ball or Artist’s Gecko Auction, contact Daniel Hodge at 727-366-4086 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More gecko fun
The Gecko Ball takes place one week prior to GeckoFest, Gulfport’s largest street festival of the year, on Aug. 31, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Gecko Fest is free and open to all. The Gecko Pub Crawl is another component of Gulfport’s Gecko-centric activities, this year taking place on Saturday, Aug. 10.
A portion of proceeds from each event will benefit a planned public art installation in the Waterfront District of Gulfport. Another portion of proceeds this year will be used to purchase equipment for the Gulfport Little League Program, as well as needed supplies for the Gulfport Senior Center Pantry.