Every month, Northeast Florida residents hit downtown for First Wednesday Art Walk to see great art, witness performances and get acquainted with what's new. While most art walkers enjoyed the entertainment outside, artists and guests gathered inside Southlight Gallery for the opening of its Members' Choice and Reunion exhibits.
Southlight Gallery is celebrating its fifth anniversary as a downtown gallery that features a diverse collection of art. The gallery felt the best way to celebrate its progress was to give new artists a chance to display their work and to bring veteran artists back to the gallery.
Southlight sent an open call to artists for their July guest exhibit Members' Choice in which the artists could select pieces to submit to the gallery to be judged for first-, second- and third-place prizes. The juried winner, Jeffrey Luque, called it a huge honor to receive recognition for his work. Though there was no monetary prize involved, he said the bragging rights were worth more than cash. Luque, a Jacksonville native, says he’s glad that Jacksonville has such a diverse art scene. After moving to New Mexico for a few years, he noticed the art scene was a bit dry but Jacksonville is much more vibrant.
That’s exactly the kind of environment that Pam Zambetti, the gallery’s manager, tries to foster. She says that she seeks diversity in the art that is selected to hang in the gallery. To her it's very important that artists have the chance to express themselves and display the pieces they think best reflect themselves. The diversity of subjects and media isapparent in each room of the gallery. Some rooms feature sculptures, black and white photography and beautiful watercolor paintings with bright colors bleeding into each other to create vivid beach scenes.
Lois Newman, a veteran of Southlight, is responsible for a few of those watercolors. An avid surfer and swimmer, she paints on location (or en plein air) in Costa Rica and depicts beach scenery through her art. After first studying painting and drawing at the University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville, she has continued 10 years later. She says she is happy that she has been blessed with the opportunity to paint and to have found something she’s passionate about.
Over the past five years, Southlight Gallery has made a name for itself here in Jacksonville and has become well-known to other galleries in Florida. In August, the gallery will feature its final summer guest series, The Augustines, with art from St. Augustine’s Butterfield Garage. Zambetti is glad to be recognized by other galleries in Florida and hopes to continue to collaborate with featured guests.
In five years, Southlight Gallery has made an impression on the local arts scene and has become one of the most well-known galleries downtown. Zambetti hopes to further the gallery’s mission by continuing to give local artists the exposure they need.