Naples – WOW – where do I begin?

The past few days we’ve been living large in the sunshine state and boy has it been an adventure! Palm trees, ocean breeze, and art, art, ART! Covered in galleries, street vendors, and collectors’ store fronts, Naples is a veritable Mecca for tourist and residents looking to shop for something unique. Which makes it a FANTASTIC place to make your first gallery premier!

As some of you undoubtly know already, Captured Sky was there as part of the Naples Art Association’s National Art Encounter Exhibition. The National Art Encounter is one of the organization’s “most competitive exhibitions…and features artwork from artists across the country.” This year, the competition received work from two hundred and sixty-five artists from thirty-five states. Of the two hundred + entries, only a small handful were selected for inclusion in the brick and mortar exhibit. Captured Sky was one of thirty-seven to receive such an invitation! Since this was such a big step for us, one for becoming a nationally juried art form and two for going on display in such a prestigious gallery, we decided to join in the excitement and head to Naples for the premier!

My Mom, who’s been overwhelmingly supportive of my dreams and art, graciously flew us both out (me from TX and she from SC) the Thursday before the show.


I really enjoyed flying over the beautiful mountains. The picture doesn’t give them justice, neither did the little submarine windows.


First, my mom and I met up in Charlotte so that we could then travel the last leg of the journey together, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, to Ft. Meyers International Airport.


When we got there, the first things that stood out were the beautiful palm trees! The scenery was such a welcomed relief from the cold grey skies we had been experiencing in the preceding weeks in TX. It was definitely starting to feel more like spring break!


So we grabbed ourselves a rental car (who also happened to be a Texan hiding out in the sunshine state) and headed South to Naples.



The von Leibig Center is located in the heart of Naples’s 5th Avenue shopping and historical district. It’s a beautiful area with all platform of entertainment, retail, and dining. The city is set up wonderfully for pedestrians and tourists and, lucky for us, my mom found us a fabulous hotel right down 5th! We could (and often would) walk to anywhere we wanted to go.


By the time we were checked into our room it was kind of dark, but since we knew our trip would be short we decided to head out on foot to explore 5th Avenue anyway. We wanted to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about.






Boy, it sure did not disappoint! Everywhere we looked were fascinating sights and sounds to behold. Twinkling lights, delicious smelling eateries, and street performers at nearly every corner serenading the public and providing musical accompaniment to our evening affairs.




It really was an amazing environment, so alive with colors, scents, sounds, and people; we were having a hard time resisting the urge to stop and photograph everything. Although, we may or may not have caused a couple of pedestrian pile-ups doing just that. But we walked the length of 5th and ended at the City of Naples Beach. It was a comforting climax to our little journey. The salty ocean breeze blowing through our hair, soft waves breaking on the shore. We walked with our feet bare through the sand and water, which at this point was pretty cold, but so refreshing. By now, it was too dark for our cameras to capture the moment, but it will remain forever captured in my mind. My first time in Florida, feet in the clear beautiful sand, ocean waves crashing against my shins and I look up at the sky and know it was her who brought me here. My alluring mistress and our seductive love affair. She gave me Sampson, and Sampson gave me Naples.
The next day was the 13th, premier date! My mom and I were super excited but not sure what to expect so we decided to head up to the gallery first thing in the morning to scope the place out. When we get there I am simply blown away. The place was GORGEOUS! Not only did it have dozens of palm trees surrounding it’s street corners, but also fabulous moving-art wind ornaments lining the walkways to the door.







As we walked inside we continued to be impressed. Magnificently unique art adorned the walls and shelves. Everything from molded pots to digital photographs were represented in the center. We introduced ourselves to the receptionist and she directed us to the gallery where Sampson was. I hadn’t seen him in over a month since shipping him off to be installed for the show. It was a surreal moment walking down the hallway and into the big bright white lights of the gallery showroom. And right when we walked in, guess what? There was a lady checking out our boy Sampson! Probably just standing there contemplating the complexity of his super sonic techincolor wind-blown awesomeness!!







While we were scoping things out in the gallery we met a really cool cat, Mr. Kenny. Kenny is in charge of installation, set up and break down of the various exhibits at the center. He thought our concept of Captured Sky was pretty sweet. He really couldn’t believe that both my mom and I jump out of planes! He was a super friendly personable guy, so he showed us around the rest of The von Leibig and gave us our own personal mini tour of the place, both inside and out.


The members’ gallery.


The various art classes.



The library.



The balconies.


The world’s longest clay link chain (I’m serious, they’re in Guiness for it! The children made it!).


My favorite piece of art in the center…


Outside there was all manner of things to check out.


Like the pavilion.



Their outdoor stage.


Whoa, these wealthy benefactors!


They had public tennis and shuffleboard courts…Nana was whoopin’ some tail on that shuffleboard.



And then a bunch of other odds and ends, cool things we saw…







They even make their water lines extra pretty!


Somebody had a sweet ride…


After our little tour it was about to time to head back to the hotel and start getting ready for the actual show. But since this post is getting a little on the long side we’re going to break it here and pick up in our next post with the BIG PREMIER! Join us as we step out of the jumpsuit and into heels for, probably, one of the classiest shindigs a skydiver has ever actually been invited to!