PUBLISHED JULY 28, 2016
By ANDREA SHAY
Art Center Manatee is housed unassumingly in a building at the edge of 9th Street West, next to the bridge between Palmetto and Bradenton. On the outside it appears to be another artsy, well-landscaped business near Bradenton’s downtown. On the inside, however, it’s a delightful mix of upscale art gallery and cozy art studio with an open-concept gift shop and reception area near the front.
The art center offers classes for all ages, and they also hold art exhibitions featuring internationally recognized artists. During the summer, they hold several art classes specificially for young people, which are consistently popular. Summer enrollment for the center’s “KidsArt Camps” is in the hundreds, and work created by the students will be on display at the art center in August. The youth art show opens to the public on August 5 at 5 p.m. and will feature refreshments and family-friendly activities.
Executive Director Carla Nierman said that one of her favorite things about the summer art camps is watching the kids react with excitement to having their work hung in a real gallery. She also wants people to know that Art Center Manatee offers full scholarships for their summer “KidsArt Camps,” and they still have scholarship money available for the last camp of the summer, which runs from August 1 through August 5.
Nierman said the organization is able to give away over 50 scholarships for their summer camps. “It’s really exciting for us because there are so many kids who need an opportunity that they wouldn’t ordinarily get.” In addition to the summer gallery show, they also partner once a year with area schools to put on their “Manatee County Schools Exhibit.” They offer classes for adults and “Night Out” events with wine and snacks in which participants eat, drink and create a piece of art. The art center’s “Night Out” events have taught participants a wide variety of mediums including their most recent—jewelry making—as well as clay sculpture, Japanese raku, pottery, painting, mosaics and glass.
While Art Center Manatee’s classes cater to the local community, their gallery often showcases work by world-renowned artists as well. Each year they host a traveling show featuring one or more internationally recognized artists. The next exhibit of this kind will run during January and February of 2017, and the exhibit will be comprised of pieces by a variety of artists selected by the American Watercolor Society in New York.
This fall, they look forward to a lighthearted art show with carved whimsical characters by artist Candace Knapp. Nierman believes Knapp’s exhibit will be “fun for the whole community.” The center is also approaching its 80th birthday and plans to create a show using 80 years of photos to commemorate the occasion.
Once the summer’s student art show ends, the art center will close for the second half of August for routine maintenance and cleaning. They’ll be open through August 12 and plan to reopen during the first week of September with Knapp’s exhibit on display.