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Nature Coast Art League Summer Programs

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Although the Nature Coast Art League is taking a break from its monthly meetings for the summer, this creative and innovative group remains active throughout the season–continuing to paint and draw beautiful artistic images as they sculpt and carve out plans for the future.

The mission of the Nature Coast Art League (NCAL) is to increase public awareness of the arts, to promote the visual arts, and to encourage and support artists in Hernando County and the surrounding areas.

“On a year-round basis, we offer opportunities to participate in Create Along / Open Studio sessions that are included in membership fees and are also held at People Helping People (1396 Kass Cir, Spring Hill) on Mondays, excluding holidays and days of Membership meetings,” said Jana Withers, NCAL MEDIA Coordinator. “Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. September through May and 9 a.m. to noon during the summer months of June, July, and August.”

In addition, NCAL members can take advantage of additional arts opportunities outside the county. “We also have a year-round reciprocal agreement with the West Pasco Art Guild (WPAG) in downtown New Port Richey, FL. They own their own building with a large educational area, a gallery for art exhibits, a gift shop, and kilns for creating in clay,” Withers explained. “They offer classes and workshops for both adults and children year-round. NCAL members pay their members rates for classes and workshops and vice versa. WPAG members pay NCAL member rates for NCAL workshops.”

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Back here in Hernando, those who wish to join NCAL this summer can join the ranks of these talented artisans at a special membership rate.

“Membership Fees to join NCAL are valid for a full year from September to September of the following year. Individual $40, Family, $50. We accept memberships during the year and they are payable each September,” Withers explained. “Individuals and families can join now and their membership will be good until September 2025 because it is so late in the year. That is extra months for joining now.”

NCAL members, says Withers, enjoy a plethora of benefits throughout the year, including multiple outlets and opportunities for them to make, show, sell and even win honors for their art.

“September through May includes Monthly Membership Meetings, Artist Demonstrations, Workshops, opportunities to exhibit at Art in the Park, Monthly Selections for Artist of the Month, participation in fund-raisers to offer art scholarships to students, and more,” said Withers. “Meetings are held from 10 a.m. to noon on the third Monday of each month, excluding holidays, at People Helping People at 1396 Kass Circle, Spring Hill, FL 34606. Meetings are moved to an alternate Monday if a holiday is involved.”

In other organizational news, the Nature Coast Art League installed a new roster of leaders and administrators for the upcoming season—also bidding farewell to those tried and true officers who have served the club well in this and previous years.

“As we end our meetings in May, we begin preparing for the start of our new season in September by saying farewell to those Officers and Directors who have served and welcoming new Board Members,” said Withers. “All positions are held by volunteers who agree to serve a minimum two-year term.”

Withers pays special tribute to a departing board member who devoted nearly two decades to her post. “Our Membership Officer, Joan Annicchiarico, served 19 years in her position. She significantly contributed to the success of NCAL and has always been dedicated to helping every member succeed in their endeavors,” she said. “Over the years, Joan created processes for maintaining membership records, programs to bring in new members, interviewed students for Art scholarship awards, judged student art shows, chaired member art shows and fundraisers and so much more! 19 years of giving is the best way I can personally describe Joan and we thank her immensely!”

Debra Bouton, she says, has accepted the Officers position for Membership and has an extensive background in Marketing, Real Estate, and more.

Withers also honors departing secretary Julie Stantz. “Secretary Julie Stantz ensured all board meeting minutes were complete, well-formatted, and promptly distributed to all board members for review and approval,” said Withers. “The Board sincerely appreciated the work Julie did to provide an accurate account of meetings as they are legal documents. Julie was also instrumental in creating Christmas tree decorations for our tree at the Spring Hill Botanical Gardens and frequently brought in refreshments for all members.”

Susan McManus, a retired art educator and teacher, is the newly appointed NCAL Secretary. “I completed a BS Degree from NYC University System and was awarded a Masters Degree from LIU. I worked as a secretary in Manhattan for Robert Miller Mfg, Reynold Securities, and American Express. I also volunteered as secretary for Staten Island’s Art Council,” she said. “I finished my Masters degree and my family and I moved to Spring Hill, Florida. I worked at Springstead High School for 18 years as the Art Teacher. During that time I developed the pottery program for Adult Education programs.”
NCAL also welcomes a new director for its popular Create Along program. “Jennifer Stahl has accepted the position of Create Along Director and brings with her a wealth of information from previous positions held with Art Organizations,” said Withers.

Withers heralds the achievements of Dia Mentalewicz, departing treasurer. “Dia Mentalewicz served as Treasurer and her attention to detail was evident in maintaining records of expenses and revenues, providing monthly treasurer’s reports and special itemized reports when requested, submitting payments for rent, insurance, exhibition fees, etc., in a timely manner, and in submitting IRS tax forms,” she said. “Dia was also the primary Creator, Coordinator, and Illustrator for the NCAL 2024 Fundraising Cookbook.”

Interviews are currently being conducted for the open NCAL Treasurer’s position. Officers and Directors continuing for 2024-2025 include: Ed Barker, President; Brandt Emerson, Vice-President; Mary Ellen Caesar, Director: Jana Withers, Director.

Caesar has designed a colorful new NCAL brochure that also includes a membership application. She greatly looks forward to an exciting new season of creating and showing art here in Hernando County.
“Nature Coast Art League is proud of its representation in our local art gallery, Gallery 201 at City Hall in Brooksville,” she said. “Several of our members are regular exhibitors and some have been chosen as featured artists at the gallery. Some are already working on pieces to enter in the next call for art – Visual Lexicon.”

Brandt Emerson – NCAL VP, also greatly anticipates the group’s planned participation in the Hernando County Fine Arts Council’s 2025 Art in the Park event.

“We will be starting to prepare for our participation in next year’s Art in the Park,” he revealed. “We will be forming a small committee tasked with making our initial plans for the show next year. Hopefully, it will all come together early enough to make everything go smoothly during the entire process.”

To learn more about the Nature Coast Art League, visit https://www.facebook.com/NatureCoastArtLeague. Mail membership checks to Nature Coast Art League, PO Box 6284, Spring Hill, FL 34611.

Diane Becker [Courtesy photo]
Diane Becker [Courtesy photo]
Kathy Schemmel [Courtesy photo]
Kathy Schemmel [Courtesy photo]
Mary Ellen Caesar [Courtesy photo]
Mary Ellen Caesar [Courtesy photo]

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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