The delayed Naples Art & Design Expo opens Thursday, Nov. 19, a double-hinged door to the importance of its L-shaped neighborhood behind Naples Boulevard:
- There is a vendor or manufacturer for nearly every aspect of home design — upholstery, stone, furniture, draperies and cabinetry — inside the busy buildings in the boxy district behind Naples Boulevard.
- Similarly, the art studios that nestle against the design trade businesses hold everything from glass sculpture to classical portraits to small ceramics, dyed fabrics and wall-gulping abstracts.
With the same ingenuity that married peanut butter and chocolate into a candy bar, commerce and art have collaborated for three days of open houses and demonstrations. Their mission: To bring people a sense of the entire aesthetic of home design. Two specific workshops on Friday, Nov. 20, demonstrate ways of pairing art and furnishings (see information box for times locations and free registration instructions).
Small art sizes can work large
Artist Valerie Blauvelt and designer Diane Torrisi open the workshops with a look at art in sizes and shapes, and how it can set a distinct theme for a room. The two are working with four small pieces and a large personal favorite of both, an African-inspired work with muted tones.
“I like doing a lot of small art,” said Blauvelt, who pointed out that people who can’t afford large pieces can cover the same spaces with four smaller, less costly works. In truth, hers start as one large piece, she said. “I want them all to be integrated, to have the same look and feel.”
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The particular ones she’ll use in her Friday talk, four marbleized 8-inch squares, were sold out from under her “to go over somebody’s bed,” Blauvelt conceded, laughing. “I told her she could have them after the show.”
“When you buy a piece of art you generally have a different relationship with it than you do with, say, the table and sofas,” said Naples Art District president Paul Brody. It’s one of the reasons Torrisi likes to introduce her clients to the artists; there’s an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the processes that, for instance, created the rolled rod textures and the wildlife collage on Blauvelt’s large painting.
Blauvelt shares space in Art2Amaze gallery with its owner, art photographer André Spatz, doubling the opportunities for visitors to get small-art inspiration alongside its larger works.
Over at Art Edge Gallery, Sandee Mahler carries works from at least three different artists, but a trio of her own works will give designer Carrie Coldiron the opportunity to work show different design directions.
Texture and pattern are as important as color
Simply matching design colors to your art works is half the job, as Coldiron demonstrates with two looks. For more traditional, with a lightly embossed Greek-key pattern or a slubbed gray linen set off a “Breathe In,” a shoreline horizon; a 3-plus foot horizontal abstract, “Teal Party,” gets velvety teal pillow and buff leather for a contemporary ambience.
Coldiron says she finds a good number of homebuyers here are trying to add a new decor dimension. Yet there’s a sense of identification that needs to be part of it, added Mahler:
“What I find a lot of times is the people from up North who come here are looking for something they can identify with,” she said, nodding toward her rocky shorescape. “But yet they don’t want it painted perfectly. They’re trying to get a little more edgy, into that contemporary feel.”
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She and Coldiron actually worked together on a commissioned piece for a client’s home, adding the colors but putting in a pop of sunset as a focal point and conversation starter.
The four talks Friday are free, but require reservations so social distancing can be maintained. Masks will be required indoors. Before and, for the morning sessions, after the talks, visitors can wander through showrooms, galleries and stores identified with bright pink signs as participating in the expo. Locations will be open Saturday, too, to add lots of browsing time.
The original expo was to be March 19. Four days before the original date, coronavirus pandemic restrictions shut down all gatherings. So the map of its studios and galleries has a sleeve over it with the new dates for the talks; they’re available at all participating stores and online at naplesartdistrict.com.
The proponents of the expo hope it is a triple win: for businesses, artists and homeowners.
Emilio Sadez, owner of three design furnishings showrooms in the district, called the area a design conduit most people aren’t aware of: “I honestly believe, and this is a serious belief, that nearly every home built in Collier County passes through this industrial section in one way or another.”
He would like to see people more aware of the versatility they could avail themselves of there, and that includes the ability to design a house right down to the art that goes into it.
Brody, whose organization embraces a neighborhood of more than 70 working artists and galleries, wants to bring in art during that process, rather than afterward.
“Often art is a final selection for décor. And sometimes it isn’t budgeted,” she said. The result is a lovely setting with nondescript walls.
“To see a beautifully designed room with a giclée reproduction on the wall — it’s regrettable for the many, many people who appreciate art,” she said. This weekend, she hopes, will bring art a place right in the budget with the bricks and mortar.
Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Reach her at 239-213-6091.
Art & Design Expo
What: Open houses and demonstration inside showrooms of furniture, design contractors and fabrication companies along with artists’ studios in the district, plus Friday talks.
When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 19-21. Friday talks on designing with art at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Art2Amaze Gallery, 6210 Shirley St., Suite 108; and blending contemporary with modern with art (2 and 3:30 p.m. Art Edge Gallery, 2180 J&C Blvd.)
Where: Naples Art District bounded by Airport-Pulling and Pine Ridge roads. Maps at each location marked by fuchsia signs.
Admission: Free. For social distancing, reservations are required for Friday talks at 239-249-1977. Information and a map: naplesartdistrict.com