21 paintings on display at Avalon Park West
This Friday’s artist reception at the East Pasco Gallery of the Pasco Fine Arts Council is an opportunity to meet Suzanne Natzke, an accomplished watercolor artist whose works have been recognized nationally.
The public is invited to this free community affair between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Avalon Park West Welcome Center in Wesley Chapel. Attendees will also enjoy live music by Jared Violin, and complimentary wine and refreshments.
Natzke is a Pasco artist known for her variety of subject matters, including animals, landscapes, florals, and even abstract.
“When deciding what to paint, I follow my nose and pursue things that interest me,” said Natzke.
The artist has 21 paintings on exhibit at the show — primarily work that has been completed in the past three to four years.
“My style is more impressionism than realism, but in recent years it has become more contemporary by using harder edges, which create movement and make my paintings more dramatic,” said Natzke.
By comparison, Natzke said traditional watercolor paintings use softer edges, colors that flow and bend, and lines that are lost in the painting.
“A painting is a very static, two dimensional thing. I try to bring life to my work by creating a sense of motion – like the wind blowing through a landscape, or a sense that something is about to happen in the scene,” said Natzke.
All but two of Natzke’s paintings at the show are watercolor. One is mixed media and the other uses an acrylic Gesso underneath the watercolor to give it texture.
Her favorite piece on exhibit is of a young girl with an owl resting on her leather glove, which she calls, “An Owl Named Winston Churchill.” This painting recently received a prestigious honorable mention at a national show hosted by the Georgia Watercolor Society.
Natzke regularly enters art competitions in Florida, California and Georgia. These are very competitive shows, with hundreds of entries and only 80 to 100 artists invited to exhibit, she explains. Natzke is proud to be a signature member of the Florida Watercolor Society, which means her work has been chosen at least three times to be exhibited at its annual show.
A Michigan native, Natzke moved to Florida in 1985. Then in 2001, her family moved to Trinity in West Pasco County, and she had more time to explore her interest in painting.
“I was a stay-at-home mom looking for something to do,” said Natzke. “I had been inspired by all the beautiful artwork at the Tarpon Spring Fine Arts Festival, and thought to myself — now here is something I could do from home.”
So, she set up a studio in her Trinity home with the help of her mother, who painted as a hobby.
“I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing, and really needed classes and direction,” said Natzke.
She began taking classes at the Pasco Fine Arts Council in New Port Richey, and kept taking classes for four years, until she developed the skills and techniques to be good enough to begin exhibiting her work. Over the years, she has studied under several local and nationally renowned artists, and today is an instructor herself.
Natzke’s very first teacher was Jo Baughman, who today is the director of the Pasco Fine Arts Council, the group partnering with Avalon Park West to bring the arts to the east side of Pasco County.
One of the main goals of this partnership is to introduce people to local artists with monthly exhibits and demonstrations, and also to offer art classes for youngsters and adults.
“People tell me all the time that they could never paint,” said Natzke. “But, that’s not true. Anyone can learn to paint with lessons, practice, desire and enthusiasm.”
And that is exactly the plan for the new East Pasco Gallery of the Pasco Fine Arts Center.
“We want to have art classes and workshops for our community, and a place to share artwork created by students and adults,” said Stephanie Lerret, senior vice president of marketing and community relations for the Avalon Park Group.
“As it turns out, the Pasco Fine Arts Council has been providing these types of programs for years, and all it needed was a place in East Pasco to bring their programs and exhibits to our residents in Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, San Antonio and Dade City.
“It is our vision to build Downtown Avalon Park West as the cultural and event center of East Pasco County.”
After Natzke’s “Moment in Time” show closes Oct. 22, a new artist will be featured at the Avalon Park West Welcome Center. A total of six artist exhibits, one competition and two art demonstrations are scheduled for the East Pasco Gallery through next May.
Next spring, the Pasco Fine Arts Council is bringing its annual Middle School Photography competition to Avalon Park West. The exhibit, with hundreds of photos by participating Pasco County students, will be on display at a new charter school, Pinecrest Academy Wesley Chapel, that is being built at the entrance to Avalon Park West. Pinecrest will be open for the 2020-21 school year.
“This is a photography competition we hold in conjunction with Pasco County Schools, where students earn first, second and third place recognition in each grade level,” said Baughman. “It is very exciting to finally have a location to put on a show for these youngsters, and to share these outstanding photos with the public.”
For more information on the artist schedule and upcoming events, please visit AvalonParkWest.com.