Fine Art At The Magnolia Returned For 5th Year
by James Coulter
Stephen Koury loves nature. He loves to be out in the natural world. And he loves to take what he sees there and replicate it on his canvas. His nature paintings of flowers, birds, and other flora and fauna display such vibrant colors, and they all appear natural enough to sprout to life from out of his canvas.
He attributes his vibrant, almost realistic artwork to his medium of gauche, a style of painting that applies layers upon layers of acrylic paint to create bright, brilliant colors. Such a unique art style, coupled with years of practice, has allowed him to capture the natural beauty and colors of the natural world.
“I want my painting to be accurate so they [other people] can feel as they can reach in and touch the animals,” Koury said. “Ipaint in very thin layers. So when you paint on red on top of red on top of red, you get this really vibrant color, that is not one application of colors, it is several layers. So what you see is several layers red on top.”
Koury has been attending Fine Arts at the Magnolia in Lakeland for the past five years. He participated in this year’s show last weekend. He loves the indoor art show because of how well his artwork sells there, especially with it being indoors during the hot and humid summer when outdoor shows are otherwise unfeasible, he said. He also loves the camaraderie among his fellow artists and art buyers.
“I love people,” he said. “I love talking about artwork and what I do. Honestly, I love to see the other artists, but the real icing on the cake is being able to talk to other buyers and people who are art lovers who come to look.”
Koury was one of the several dozen artists who attended Fine Arts at the Magnolia on Saturday and Sunday. The annual indoor art show showcases artists and craftsmen from across the state. Many of them, like Koury, are local Lakeland residents.
Greg Jones was another Lakeland artist who has been attending the show ever since it started more than five years ago. His artwork proves to be quite eclectic, if not sometimes eccentric. Often, he will start with a random item like an air conditionerfilter and work his way from there, to where, he usually does not know.
“To reach inside and free the creative child within each of us is basically what may art is about,” he wrote in his handout flyer. “I seldom know what direction the work will take. I simply follow paths through the woods as I did as a child growing up.”
His unique approach to art has allowed his artwork to win more than 1,200 awards in art competitions around Florida, with him receiving more than 100 Best of Show Awards. He loves traveling and sharing his art, but he also appreciates being able to attend local shows like this in his hometown.
“It is a nice quaint little indoor show that does well in the summertime,” Jones said. “It is a chance for me to sell some of my smaller items that I do not take to the outdoor shows, because for the outdoor shows, it is for awards. I keep coming back because if the sales. They are pretty good. Probably I see a lot of my friends here in town. My family and friends love to come here.”
Betsy Bohrer is the local artist who started the show more than five years ago. After being forced to cancel last year’s show, she was thrilled to reunite with her fellow artists and share their love of art.
Bohrer is a mixed media artist who loves to combine the themes of nature and femininity, especially motherhood, often being inspired by her own experiences.
“I think about the layers in life and how things are not perfect all the time or permanent,” she said. “So when I am roofing and tearing paper, it is the non-permanence of things and I am repurposing it into the adaptation of living. So they are about motherhood or the connection to the earth and rejuvenation.”
The only thing she loves more than creating and sharing her work is appreciating the artwork of others, which is why she started her indoor show.
“We are very much like a family,” she said. “These artists are supportive of each other, and the show, and the community has been amazing, she said. I love the show. It is my show. I created it. I would have to say that I have been painting for 35 years, and this show has been my opus. So I love this show because of the smallness of it, the time of year, and it is community-oriented with the family. That is what makes me love it so much.”