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Nature Coast Art League’s Create Along summer art classes

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For more than 75 years, the mission of the Nature Coast Art League has been to increase public awareness of the arts, promote the visual arts and encourage and support artists in Hernando County and the surrounding areas. Now, while the league is taking a break from their regular membership meetings for the summer, members are going to continue convening and creating throughout the summer! All the while preparing for an exciting new season of Nature Coast Art League (NCAL) activities.

NCAL’s Create Along sessions will continue to meet during the summer on Mondays from 9 am to 12 pm, holidays excluded, at People Helping People, 1396 Kass Circle in Spring Hill. The Create Along sessions are open to all Nature Coast Art League members and are an open studio forum in which members are encouraged to do their own thing and create. “The Create Along continues on Monday mornings with members working independently on their own artwork,” said Ed Barker, incoming president of the Nature Coast Art League.

While one participating artist might compose in pen and ink a rendering of a beloved family pet, another could paint and shade a whimsical, wintery snowman illustration. Many Create Along attendees paint ebullient floral portraits with watercolors, oils and acrylics, with these masterworks assuming various sizes and forms.

Yet, regardless of the particular art project that each member chooses to conjure in any given session, members unite in their common goal to talk and laugh, share ideas, enjoy light refreshments, and create, of course!

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Joan Annicchiarico, a member of the NCAL board, explained that Isabell Papazian is the lovely woman who created the Create Along sessions. “We had a large membership, and the meetings were fun and filled with sharing our talents.”

Annicchiarico defines the Create Along sessions, which run continuously throughout the year, as a valued group activity and tradition in the Nature Coast Art League.

“I would open and make coffee, and I always had cookies. We also had summertime fun before the heat of the day. Great way to start your week,” she said. “It hasn’t changed much, some new folks and ideas.”

“We continue to find Create Along Mondays the best way to begin our week,” she summarized.

In addition, NCAL’s Create Along sessions have, in the past, featured fun and informative art demos as well as special projects that doubled as valuable community outreach. In 2022, the Nature Coast Art League’s Create Along artists designed 140 Christmas cards for residents at the Brooksville Healthcare Center in Brooksville.

As an added bonus, those who join the NCAL now can pay the organization’s current membership rate ($30 per individual and $40 per family) and participate in this summer’s Create Along sessions, avoiding the $10 or $20 difference in the fall as membership rates increase to $40 per member and $50 per family.

The 2023-2024 season of the Nature Coast Art League is set to run from September through May. Now under the leadership of President Ed Barker, a watercolor artist and art instructor who was the NCAL January Artist of the Month and recipient of numerous art awards, He got his start in the art scene in his native Wisconsin, locally at the Blueberry Festival in Brooksville and in Tarpon Springs art competitions for painting and photography. His work has also been featured in several galleries in New Port Richey and Brooksville.

Aside from his recent exhibit at the Spring Hill Library, Barker has also taught Introduction to Watercolor courses at the Hernando County libraries. Separate from the NCAL as well, Barker also participates actively in “The Shadow Chasers: Plein Air Artists.”

“As president of the Nature Coast Art League,” he said, “I plan to attend as many of the sessions as possible and listen to what the members want most from the league.” The new NCAL board members who have joined Barker are Vice President Brandt Emerson, Treasurer Christopher Spatola, and Director Gloria Gifford. They join longtime board members Joan Annicchiarico, Mary Ellen Caesar, Richard Deso, Julie Stantz, and Jana Withers.

For more information or to pay membership fees for the Nature Coast Art League, write P.O. Box 6284, Spring Hill, FL 34611; or bring the fee with you to your first fun and enriching Create Along session.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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