Around the globe, individuals, families and communities are currently being faced with similar experiences of "confinement" due to COVID-19. We're finding ways to work, stay entertained and stay inspired inside our homes, which in turn is allowing Mother Nature a much-needed break. This world crisis is causing many to begin to see what effects our actions have on our planet and is making it clear we are all deeply interrelated. The problem our planet faces today is so much bigger than most realize. Change has to come fast and that change has to happen on a very large scale.
About 12 years ago, the Weinaug family purchased an old marina in Central Florida to make a statement. They wanted to build a carbon neutral sustainable business that the community, state and country could be proud of. Over the years, they have transformed what was a dilapidated marina into a place where the community and visitors alike can learn about sustainability in a hands-on, exciting and fun way. Today it is called Wekiva Island. Wekiva Island's mission is built around sustainability, art and learning. With these pillars as a backdrop, the Island has taken on many initiatives to better the property, the surrounding community, the state’s natural resources, and ultimately, the planet as a whole. One of those initiatives is the Wekiva Paint Out, which they have hosted for the past ten years. This is an event where artists from across the country come to set up their easels along the Wekiva River and find inspiration en plein air to support efforts to save this incredible wild and scenic river called the Wekiva. Each year, part of this event includes a special evening called the “Wekiva Paint In” where artists come and paint within the boundaries of Wekiva Island.
The Great American Paint In was birthed to create a “plein-air like” paint in event that would allow artists to paint their emotion from their own personal boundaries during this pandemic. After we return to our regular state of normalcy, Wekiva Island will showcase these stories of the pandemic in their art gallery on property, Gallery CERO.
Gallery CERO’s name comes from Wekiva Island’s mission of sustainability. Wekiva Island took on the 2030 challenge, vowing to go carbon neutral before any other business in Central Florida. To do so, the Weinaug’s utilized their trademarked toolbox C.E.R.O.® which stands for Conservation, Efficiency, Renewables, and Offset. Now nearing completion, Gallery CERO aims not just to exclusively represent artists, but to serve as a space to showcase for beautiful natural works from artists around the world for the community to enjoy, just as the Wekiva River showcases the natural beauty of our special Florida hydrology.
The gallery is expected to open prior to Christmas at Wekiva Island, just north of Orlando. The space will host art classes, special events, exhibitions, projects, educational programs, art and more. Stay tuned for details on its grand opening.