In its 91st year, the Gainesville Fine Arts Association is putting on a new face and rolling out new programs in an effort to bring the local art community together like never before.
Founded in 1923 by Nelly Trezerant, C. Addison Pound and F.W. Buchholz, the nonprofit’s mission is to value, foster and celebrate the visual art contributions of its members.
While that mission hasn’t changed since new President Karen Koegel came on board, she said that the GFAA will strive to follow the mission more closely by implementing several new initiatives.
To start, GFAA has established a mentorship program by which budding or new-to-town artists are paired with an existing artist who knows the area and can help the newcomer find places to exhibit or simply get new work framed.
GFAA has also started a sponsorship program for new members who may not be able to afford their first year’s dues, wherein one of GFAA’s established 200 members pays for their first year’s membership to help them get off the ground.
Koegel would also like to bring affiliated industries, like photographers and framers, into the GFAA in a mutually beneficial relationship, as well as get involved in community initiatives to support causes like breast cancer and diabetes awareness.
Koegel is considering scaling back GFAA’s venue selection in an effort to build up the organization’s presence in a handful of areas. If the base is strong, she said, then the GFAA can reach out into the community. GFAA is an all-volunteer organization, so her management strategy is to encourage success in small spurts so that members don’t get burnt out.
Koegel said that taking the position has been worth it in the two months since she came on board because of the changes already implemented. The next step, she said, is to bring in new faces and expand into new areas like digital art and sculpture. An upcoming workshop will reflect that idea by focusing on producing art on the iPad.
The GFAA’s next big event takes place on March 7 through 9 in the Town of Tioga. The Winter Fine Art Fair will feature local artist Jenn Garrett’s human trafficking sculptures, a 10-and-a-half-foot-tall dragon sculpture called Monty and pachyderms cut out of crepe myrtles by artist Mike Weiss. More than 100 artists will line Tioga’s streets, and live music – Friday night by Gruv Therapy – and entertainment will play from the main stage and wander through the crowd.
The fair will also feature a student art show for students to get a feel for exhibiting, a kid zone a Friday night light spectacle along the exhibition booths.
The fair is run completely by GFAA volunteers, including Helen Rucarean, the former event planner, who Koegel said is still out winning sponsors year after year.
“Everybody has been working hard in a way I can’t imagine,” Koegel said. “This is our biggest event ever, and it’s a lot of work, but anything I can do to create opportunity for artists I do, and our Board feels the same way.”
To learn more about the GFAA and grant opportunities, visit www.gainesvillefinearts.com.