Naples, Florida is extremely fortunate to boast The von Liebig Art Center which is a prestigious 16,000 square-foot center on Park Street. Home to the active Naples Art Association, the center is the perfect complement to the many art studios, galleries and theaters that can be found throughout the local area.
The Role of the Naples Art Association
Although the Naples Art Association (NAA) has been in existence for over 60 years, The von Liebig Art Center was only completed in 1998. The building was designed by local architect Alfred French and paid for through local donations, including benefactors Suzanne and William von Liebig after whom the center was named. It has changing exhibitions of American Contemporary artworks with a particular emphasis on Florida artists.
The NAA remains a non-profit organization since it was founded in 1954 by E. George Rogers, Elsie Upham, Grace Lake and 34 other local artists. They created art exhibits and taught at various venues with the aim of promoting local artists. The mission of the association remains “to promote and advance education, interest and participation in the visual arts”. The NAA assists artists of all ages and levels and inspires all those with an interest in the arts.
The Naples Art Association puts on a lively program of events from music, jazz and arts concerts to Art in the Park and the ARTScool summer curriculum for young budding artists. Art in the Park was first held in 1957 and is thought to be the oldest outdoor art show in the area.
One of the main annual events is the Naples National Arts Festival that takes place in late February attracting over 22,000 visitors. The first exhibition was held in 1978 in the restored Naples Depot and now takes over Cambier Park and along 8th Street South. It is considered one of America’s Top 10 art festivals – quite an achievement from such humble beginnings. The festival represents works from over 260 artists and offers $5,000 in cash prizes.
The von Liebig Art Center
The two-story building incorporates six studios, a lobby gallery, main exhibition gallery, four galleries-in-the-round, storage vaults, administrative offices, a library, gift shop and kitchen. It hosts many impressive displays and exhibitions and admission to the center is free. One of the most interesting galleries to browse is the NAA Members’ Gallery in the Cuthbert Studio. The season has four exhibitions showcasing the works of local member artists.
The center hosts a series of classes and workshops in all types of visual arts and is a great place to meet new friends with like-minded interests. Classes range from beginner to advanced level in drawing, painting, clay, fiber art and multi-media. With studio rentals and classes for all ages, there’s something for every budding artist. Those looking for original gifts will find plenty of jewelry, pottery, glass and notecards along with original paintings and prints on sale in the gift shop.
Next time you are visiting the shops in Naples, drop into The von Liebig Art Center and see what’s going on. With activities, entertainment and events throughout the year and a thriving gift shop you are sure to find a way to financially support this exceptional working art center as it so richly benefits the local community.