The Coastal Star

Ocean Ridge: The 'arts connection' of Ocean Ridge

By Margie Plunkett

Ocean Ridge’s first art exhibit was so successful that even the painting Commissioners voted to buy at half price was sold. An enamored resident
purchased the seascape by Max Matteson instead, but the town won, too — the
sale brought in a $600 commission.

“When the resident wanted to buy it, it was a win-win situation,” said organizer Dr. John Wooten. Before that sale, the exhibit generated more than $1,800 in
commissions and donations to support Ocean Ridge’s new Art in Public Places.
More than 100 people attended the opening of the exhibit.

The works of painters Matteson and Olga Moore and sculptor Steven Greenhut were displayed at the show that opened Feb. 25. The artists donated 30 percent of
pieces that sold, the organizer said.

“We sold six paintings so far. We collected $500 in donations on opening night. We made another $500 for silent auctions,” Wooten said. “It was very successful. I couldn’t have been happier.”

The opening of the next exhibit is already set, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 25. “We’re going to celebrate the creativity and talent” of students at Gulf Stream
School, Wooten said. Different
forms of art will be displayed, with two from each grade at the school.

Money collected at the initial exhibit will help defray costs at the second event. For instance, Steinway is donating a piano for musical performances, but the
Art in Public Place’s group is responsible for paying transportation and tuning
of the instrument. The Coastal Star is
an event sponsor and Wooten hopes other local businesses will help with
contributions for expenses such as refreshments.

Wooten said he was grateful for the many residents who have helped with the art project to date as well as providing seed money.

Council approved, with one dissenting vote, a motion to buy the Matteson seascape for $900 to commemorate the first art exhibit, as Commissioner Betty Bingham
explained at the April 5 meeting. The motion set off a debate about whether
funds collected during the exhibits were considered tax dollars. Commissioner
Terry Brown also challenged whether the Town should be spending money for art

But, Wooten cautioned then, “If what you raise is considered tax dollars, it’s going to be difficult to continue this program.”

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