Hello friends,

Hope you all are taking advantage of this wonderful weather we’ve been having. So much sun shining and grass growing it’s actually starting to feel like spring! Now, if it can just continue through the weekend so we can catch some sky we’ll be in business.
Speaking of good weather, you know where you can always catch some rays? The sunshine state, Florida! In today’s blog we’re telling (and showing) all about our BIG premier in Naples as part of the association’s National Art Encounter, a juried fine art competition. If you’re just now joining us and would like to know a little more about the competition and the events leading up to the premier, you can read our first two blogs here:

National Art Encounter – the first steps
National Art Encounter – CS does Florida

When last we wrote, we were finishing off our tour of The von Leibig Center and the beautiful grounds surrounding it with our animated instafriend and tour guide, Kenny, who does most of the installations for the center. It was getting long in the afternoon at this point though and the premier was at 5:30. So we grabbed a quick (and DELICIOUS) lunch from this awesome joint along the boardwalk and headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up.



We were really glad we went ahead earlier to scope out the town and gallery, because judging by their appearance, this was going to be a classy affair! According to our invitation, the reception would be sponsored by Dinners by Design, Sweet Ginger’s Gelato and Grace Lakes Florist. Again, all really classy sounding things! My Mom and I took turns rotating through the shower and little mirrors in the hotel as we eagerly primped for our fancy foray into the art world. A final rub of lip gloss and a spritz of perfume and the transformation was complete; from grungy skydivers to tailored socialites, we were ready to hit the town!


Kenny had told us about a free parking garage behind The von Leibig so we parked there and walked in from the back. As we approached the center there were already people gathering on the patio which was taped off by signs reading ‘VIP Reception’! VIP, that’s me!



I felt pretty excited! Excited enough to jump over the tape and go right on in!…Just kidding. I considered it, but quickly deemed it a less than ideal entrance to make in my dress and heels. You can take the girl out of the DZ but it’s hard to take the DZ out of the girl. We made our way around to the front. The golden sun of late afternoon broke through the palms and kissed our skin. The wind drove the kinetic sculptures in the front of the center and gave us an authentic coastal sound as we approached the entrance. It was the perfect setting for Captured Sky’s first appearance in a brick and mortar gallery!




We were greeted at the door and presented with name tags, ‘Michelle Nirumandrad: Exhibiting Artist.’ I put my tag on with pride, even if it was only made on sticky paper, I wore it like a badge of honor.


The energy was high as we walked into the foyer. Already alive with chattering patrons and artists, the scene was very different from the still one we had experienced earlier that day. We walked further towards the back into the actual gallery and right off the bat, there’s a woman looking at our piece of sky! The reception technically hadn’t started yet so the gallery area was still fairly quiet. This made it all the more specially to see Sampson attracting the gaze of some of the few eyes that were in there.


But it didn’t take long before the gallery started to fill. We made our rounds and checked out all the cool art and people.






It was so exciting and so fancy! When we went back out to the patio there were easily double the number of people there than when we first arrived. They served us drinks and had ladies bringing us hors d’oeuvres as we mingled.







Never had I felt so pampered before. It really was such a classy shindig! What was even more cool was all the attention we were getting. People seemed to be really excited and curious about Captured Sky.

“Oh hey, you guys are the parachutists, right?” The center’s director of education, Callie Spilane, called out to us, “you guys are just the talk of the show.” And it wasn’t but a moment after our conversation with her that a gentleman by the name of Shea Lindner, the center’s communications and program manager, introduced himself and asked if I could tell him a little more about my work and let him photograph me with my piece. Everyone wanted to see and hear more! He congratulated me on my inclusion in the show.
“This is a very competitive contest,” he told me, “definitely our most competitive.” And boy did we feel flattered to be there!
After he finished talking with us another man, who’s name I regretfully didn’t catch, that was there to write on behalf of the community likewise asked for a photo-op and for me to explain to him my inspiration. I told him I love everything about the sky and being up there if I could I’d stay there forever. But since I can’t, I had to find a way to bring a little piece of it down with me. He seemed in awe then told me to smile as he “made me famous.”




It’s kind of hard to see because of the other people, but there I am, professional artist, getting my picture made, telling my story, becoming famous! 😛 It really was a proud moment.
And although we didn’t take home any of the cash prizes that evening, we left feeling like winners! Everyone was so friendly and so interested in what we do that it left us feeling encouraged that Captured Sky will continue to be a success in the artist community. We learned a lot from the experience and other artists and look forward to implementing some of their suggestions in the coming months. We definitly felt like it was a success…we also felt worn out…but it was totally worth it and we loved every minute!