PINELLAS PARK – On Sept. 2, 1964, a handful of artists met in the home of Fritz Uekerus to form the Pinellas Park Art Society.
Their mission was simple: They wanted to educate the community on art, to showcase local talent and to support visual arts and self-expression.
Fifty years later the nonprofit organization is still going strong. Today it has nearly 200 members and continues to introduce new programs.
The group will celebrate its Golden Jubilee at an open house Sunday, Aug. 24, 1 to 5 p.m., at Park Station, 5851 Park Blvd. Attendees are invited to enjoy the current exhibit, “50 Years of Art,” and interact with local artists performing various demonstrations. This event is free and family-friendly.
Since 2010, watercolor artist Richard Jansen, who is also a retired elementary school teacher, has led the organization as president. Thanks to his efforts, as well as the efforts of other volunteers, PPAS has attracted new, talented instructors, including Robert B. Lewis of the Florida Highwaymen and graphite pencil artist and author Mike Sibley.
The past two years, inspired by a scholarship Jansen received as an artistic teen growing up in Poughkeepsie New York, Pinellas Park Art Society has begun awarding $1,500 college scholarships to local students studying art.
The group has also participated in a number of off-site exhibitions. Locales include Stirling Gallery in Dunedin, Kahwa Coffee in St. Petersburg, the Largo Library and St. Petersburg College. The art society also continues to showcase monthly exhibits at Park Station and award ribbons to the best work.
As for the organization’s future, Jansen plans to establish art programs for local youth and a variety of workshops to accommodate adults juggling a busy work and family schedules.
And in the fall, PPAS will have work on display at the Greater Pinellas Country Fair in October, and for the first time its members will participate in the annual Florida Botanical Garden’s Diggin’ the Arts Festival.
For more information about the Pinellas Park Art Society, and a full schedule of its classes, workshops and monthly art shows, visit www.pinellasart.com.