With Warmest Gratitude...
Femart Gallery, Inc. celebrated our fifth year as a nonprofit organization dedicated to elevating women artists' visual voices. The impact we have had in our community and our society has been profound. We believe that it is the people who share our values of the importance of women's art stories and voices. I have written a thank you to all of those who have contributed to FemArt's positive impact through art exhibits, educational programs and community outreach. Please read my letter of gratitude below and if you recognize the names or businesses please extend the appreciation and let them know that you are grateful for their contribuions.
Letter of Appreciation
On March 17, 2017, FemArt Gallery, Inc. began the mission to elevate women artists' visual voices as a nonprofit. The actual beginning of such a fete had already begun many years ago when it had become obvious to many who recognized that the history of mankind had leaned significantly in the paternalistic viewpoint. As the founder of FemArt Gallery I became acutely aware of the statistics and pay inequity after graduating from UNF with my BFA in the Spring of 2017 at the ripe age of 56 years old. This journey of changing the storytelling to a more fair and true reflection of our society has been daunting at times and more glorious than I could have ever imagined. The challenges were overwhelming at times and through it all...I was refueled over and over again by amazing and supportive people. I would like to recognize the people who built FemArt Gallery, Inc. and those who continue on our journey to tell her story alongside his story and their story.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS WITH BOLD SUPPORT
It all began with three UNF students after I returned from the Washington D.C. Women's March in 2017. I asked over 15 people to join me in a new venture. Two women answered the call, Karen Alber and Stephanie Andrews. Although both had life events that drew them elsewhere shortly after our organization began...we would not be here today without them. Thank you both for beginning the adventure!
We would never have known what a nonprofit was or even how to begin without the wonderful guidance and support of Kevin Monahan of the Small Business Development Center located at UNF. The SBDC has been by our side from the beginning, getting us our licenses and building our small nonprofit to understand regulations and how to run a Board of Directors. We were able to celebrate our first brick and mortar gallery location this past month with a ribbon cutting ceremony provided by the SBDC. Thank you, Melinda Powers, for being there with the large scissors and ribbon!
The cornerstone of our organization. Our membership began with 17 bold women who joined our organization to be in our first exhibition in June 2017. We now have over 120 members and continuing to grow leaps and bounds. Our members are unique individuals who not only want to be in exhibitions or attend classes about art but who also believe in our mission and want to lift other voices who have been in the shadows or marginalized. They join our organization and many volunteer their services such as Leigh Slayden who rejuvenated and reorganized our membership database to help remind members when their annual dues were coming up. We have Sandra Harrington who has donated over and over again with Facebook Fundraising. We have these incredible members who donated the highest amount of funds over the registration costs for our Members Only Show:
Midge Scelzo, Ct Cummins, Dawn Inglis Montgomery, Rebecca Campbell, Deborah Lightfield, Wendy Sullivan, Michele D. Lee, Paula Hutsell, Penny Edwards, and Leslie Kruzicki
...and many thanks to all of the member volunteers who showed up and helped us paint the building interior walls: Danisha Edwards, Leigh Slayden and husband, Mary Joan Hinson, Dima Kroma and her daughters, Deborah Lightfield and husband, Kim Hurt and her three children, Yalonda Nakia and her daughter, Sandra Archer, and those who helped with installation: Mary Joan Hinson and student, Norelle Walker, and Laura Dill.
GIVERS...DONORS....SPONSORS and VOLUNTEERS - OH MY!!!
Our backbone to success. The group of people listed below are what keeps us standing.
We thank the small donations at art receptions in our donation box...the donors who give $5 to our fundraisers on Facebook or through our website...and to those who donate anonymously and we are unable to thank by name...we see you and your funding has made a huge impact on our effectiveness. Because there are a lot of smaller donations they grow and tell us that you believe in what we are doing and we are so very grateful.
Donations have come in at astounding amounts and have impact our organization in so many ways. We want to thank Alet Weisman (Roberts), The Bruce G. and Mary A. Robert Family Foundation, Michele D. Lee, Mr. Bruce Meiselman, Daniele Elaine Cleary, Stephanie and Alan Campbell, Nofa Dixon, Jeff and Penny Marks, Karen and Brian Alber, Brenda Bartlett, Steven Schwarts, Michael and Judi Goldberg, the Cali Girls and the many donors who contributed to GoFundMe who raised $1,446. in the first two years of our organization.
The business who offered gifts in kind through fundraising and generous donations of products and foods and beverages:
Kendra Scott at Town Center, Reddi Arts in Springfield, Lowe's in Mandarin and Lenox, Target in Mandarin and Southside, True Foods at Town Center, Carrabbas Restaurant, and Winn-Dixie in Mandarin
We are so grateful to Amy Crane, Senior Program Director, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, who orchestrated FemArt receiving a $2,000 grant provided by the Delores Weaver Foundation. This grant allowed us to launch our Women of Color in the Arts Speak that provided representation for the women of color who pursue art careers with a dual marginalization and bias of gender and skin color. This program was a successful reach to high school students and laid the foundation to further this program for impacting our youth and giving them tools to navigate a better art future.
We began with the concept that we would have a gallery out of the gates....after all....it is in our title! Although we searched high and low for a wonderful location for our gallery the funds were not developed enough to obtain a brick and mortar. We had to think like artists....and be creative. This creative thinking would rely greatly on community business support. The following businesses provided us with space for our art exhibitions that were essential to have women's visual voices seen throughout JACKSONVILLE. Many thanks to the following people for providing interim space for FemArt Gallery, Inc. artists -
Adam Shaeffer of 5iveCanons.com,
The Art Center,
Beaches Branch Library,
and The Wine Bar at Jax Beaches for solo shows
One night I received a text from our FemArt member and my good friend, Michele Katz. She asked if I would be interested in having a gallery down the street from the Cummer's Art Museum and a couple blocks from the Riverside Arts Market on Riverside Ave. I thought that sounded too good to be true. She suggested to Christie Radney who was business partners with Patricia Orange that their new space they just obtained for their business The Nest Coworking would be an ideal partnering with FemArt Gallery that is in need of a location for women artists to exhibit. After thinking about this offer that would allow us free wall space for two years I responded with an astounding YES! This was a dream come true for FemArt Gallery and all of her artists. Membership immediately doubles in the monthly growth from this announcement of our new gallery location. We are so very deeply grateful to Michele for referring us and to Christie and Patricia who bravely and boldly gave FemArt a space for women artists to exhibit regularly and have an education space to hold workshops, art business clsses and a future studio space for women to work on their work. This was the result of women who share the same value of the immense need in our society to lift women so that we may soar to new heights. Thank you!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS...
FemArt has had the pleasure of having a multitude of individuals join our Board of Directors team since March 17, 2017. We are thankful for all of our board members, whether they stayed for a short stint or stayed for years like Sandy Archer who has been with FemArt from the beginning but as a board member for the past four years.
I want to take this time to recognize the incredible leadership that we have in place with our current Board of Directors. At the helm is one of the finest leaders I have had the pleasure to work with. She shares my values and vision and I am confident that she will take FemArt Gallery to new heights beyond my dreams. Her name is Amy Seidle and she is a dream Chair for our board. The fearless other leaders of our board that direct and guide our future are Sandra Archer, Dima Kroma, Michele D. Lee, Robyn Andrews, Danisha Edwards, Kim Hurt and our newest addition, Demetrius Grigsby.
These are true leaders and visionaries and I am forever grateful for their hearts and souls that truly inspire and fuel me to take FemArt to the next level.
PERSONAL THANKS -
All of this would not have been possible without the loving support of my husband and best friend, Marc Miller. He has supported me in so many ways and is there at the end of the day when I am totally exhausted. I am so incredibly grateful to have such a wonderful partner. Many thanks to my lovely, bright and wonderful daughter, Nicole, who is married to her wonderful husband, Fred, who together gave me the most wonderful gift of becoming a grandmother. My granddaughter, Maya, is my guiding star for how I want her to be valued and appreciated for who she becomes and not what society expects of her. So many thanks go to my determined, bright and handsome son, Joshua. He pursues his dreams and aspires to making people's lives better every day. He inspires me to be a better person not because of what others think or expect but because it is the right thing to do.
I am forever grateful and appreciative of my wonderful family and friends.
I LOVE YOU ALL!!