Friday, April 16, 2010
Matlacha (that's pronounced MAT-la-shay)
You like to travel. You like adventure. You like art. You like funky little places tucked away from civilization and the passage of time. You should go to Matlacha, FL. Located on the Gulf Coast around Sanibel this artist's community is on a wee little island in the sound before the somewhat larger Pine Island. There is only one road in and after you cross the bridge you are greeted with a string of brightly colored buildings. The community is what locals (and real estate agents) refer to as an "Old Florida" community: there is a certain look and feel that recalls a bygone era before the developers really got a hold of southern Florida. It is the type of place where even the local deli has a ridiculous amount of character. You can walk along the strip visiting the various boutiques and galleries that have everything from beach kitsch to fine art to giant rocking chairs. I was with my dad and stepmom after lunch, so we didn't spend a lot of time in this awesome place. I definitely need to go back when i have more time to spend in each place and also to get a chance to photograph the telephone poles leading from Matlacha to Pine Island, which are vibrantly painted. We spent most of our time in two of the galleries. The first, Wild Child Art Gallery contains the work of over 100 southwest Florida artists. Obviously i couldn't take pictures inside, but there were some metal sculptures that made my heart race and a wooden bench that my dad really wants to get for his porch. They have everything from windchimes to jewelry. It was nice to see local artists highlighted. Speaking of local color, my favorite place in Matlacha was the Lovegrove Gallery. Shirley kept saying, wait till you see the garden, wait till you see the garden while i was walking through the gallery building with my mouth already hanging open. The bursts of neon color against the white walls was dazzling. Mosaic creatures inset in the floors made me want to go home and break pottery to remake it into something cool. There were paintings and mosaics and a transformed couch installation and fused glass and more paintings. It was delicious visual overload. I loved it. And then we walked out into the garden. Holy crap! Did someone create a tiny corner of the Nikiverse in FL? Can't you just imagine us eating chicken salad and drinking watermelon margaritas from vintage glassware in this boat-turned-table? There are mosaic pathways leading to tucked away art vingettes, a workshop where you can paint your own souvenir coconut and even a stage. There is a strict no photography policy, since everywhere you look there is proprietary art, but when the artist, Leoma (yes, one person created all of this) was talking to me she said that i could snap a few quick pics in the garden for this here little blog. THANKS, LEOMA! I kid you not, i could live in that garden reading books, listening to music, sipping fruity beverages and creating art happily for the rest of my life. If you find yourself in the Naples-Sanibel-Ft Myers area you owe it to yourself to visit Matlacha. In fact, i would say that it is worth a daytrip from Tampa or the Keys. The people are friendly and the place is like a dream.