By Charles Petty

A group of talented artisans will transform the Bob E. Hales Center on McIver Street in downtown Sanford into an art gallery that would be the pride of any town.

The Sanford Brush & Palette Club will put on the 57th annual Art Show from October 1 through 8, which is free to attend, features various mediums, and is an opportunity for the members of the club to showcase their work (as well as sell it) to the general public. Click here for daily hours.

The club started over 50 years when several friends got together to paint in a friend’s kitchen. Since then, the organization has blossomed to over 100 members, and prides itself on being a beacon for artistic expression in Lee County.

“It is an amazing opportunity to share and to give back the joy of art with our community,” said Gael Hogan, who has been with the club since 2004 and is the current ambassador and a former president.

Hogan helps represent the club in the wider community and raise awareness about its various artistic endeavors. By representing the club publicly, she is able to bring attention to the club’s various charitable programs. She enjoys “walking and talking the show” to showcase art and its power for bringing communities together.

“We want to create a community event that brings people together,” she explained, emphasizing the role that art can play in making communities thrive.

The show will showcase over 900 pieces of original artwork, many of them for sale. A holiday boutique will also be on site featuring Christmas and holiday items. An interactive art event will be included inside the gallery where artists on the floor will be creating various works in real time to demonstrate their talents. The public can sit and talk to them and take in the art being created.

In addition, there will be an “Art After Dark” event on October 7, a time to swing by after dinner and experience art after the main events of the day have wound down.

There will also be a raffle at the event, with tickets for $1 apiece or $6 for 5. There will be three pieces of art one could potentially win. T-shirts are also available for purchase at the show this year for $20 apiece. Funds raised go to Art Angels (SBPC is a nonprofit organization), a subcommittee of the club which raises money for art supplies for students and teachers in Lee County. Donations can also be made here.

For Karen Rushtaz, the art show chairwoman, coming into the club was for enjoyment and growth.

“My friend Lisa Mathis was a member for several years when one day I asked if I could join in order to learn how to improve my drawing skills,” she said. “After taking a few lessons, I went to abstract art and fell in love with the medium.”

Rushatz has been in the club for nearly 11 years and will be helping with show operations for the third time.

“In order to join the club, all you have to be is 18 and older with a love of art and live in Lee County,” she continued. “We have free memberships for art teachers whether they live in Lee County or not.”