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Lakeland Arts Association’s 52nd Annual Fine Art Exhibition at Florida Southern College Melvin Gallery Opening


By Sharon S Surrency

Lakeland Arts Association

LAA 52nd Annual Fine Arts Exhibition at FSC / Melvin Gallery


Since the Lakeland Arts Association’s (formerly the Lakeland Art Guild) Fine Arts Exhibition inception in 1972, the LAA has sponsored an annual exhibition at Florida Southern College Melvin Gallery. The affiliation of the LAA with FSC for the annual exhibition goes back to 1972. Under the LAG leadership of Chryssie Taverides, John Streetman, director of the Polk Museum of Art, initiated the annual LAG Fine Art Exhibition. As a professionally juried and judged exhibition, monetary awards were established, and a Peoples’ Choice Award was initiated. While the monetary awards were selected by the judge, the public voted on their personal Best of Show – an award that sometimes meant more to the artists than the cash awards!


By 1975 the LAG needed a new venue for their annual juried exhibitions. Floyd Bombard, then LAG president, agreed that Mary Lou Hartweg would discuss the possibility of holding it at FSC Melvin Gallery with Dr. Donna Stoddard, chair of the college’s art department. The Lakeland Art Guild was awarded a March date on a probationary status for three years. If the shows were successful, the LAG Fine Art Exhibition would become part of the FSC Festival of Fine Arts. Upon Dr. Stoddard’s retirement, the LAG held the annual March exhibition under the auspices of Downing Barnitz. Upon his retirement, newly named chair, Dr. Hiames Rogers moved the date from March to three weeks in May.


The LAA 52nd Annual Fine Arts Exhibition at FSC Melvin Gallery is coming up with an Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony July 19, 6:00 – 8:00pm. The exhibition will hang through August 5. Artists will compete for an award package of $3000.00. This year’s juror and judge is Dr. Alex Rich, director of the Polk Museum of Art. Dr. Rich will present the awards at the opening ceremony with remarks about the winning selections.

The history of the Lakeland Arts Association goes back to the 1950’s. The trio of founders included Mary Carter, Winnie Shelheimer and Murray Goldsborough who brought the guild to life in 1952, naming their organization the Lakeland Art Guild. In 1956 the guild was incorporated, a logo created, and the Lakeland Art Guild became official.
The Lakeland Art Guild enjoys a rich history spanning their days at Tigertown at Joker Marchant stadium to today. In 2022 the Lakeland Art Guild changed their name to the Lakeland Arts Association with a new logo that projects a diverse community of creatives. The Lakeland Arts Association is one of Polk County’s oldest and most prestigious arts organizations.

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Carl Fish

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