Make way for the Gecko Art Show!
Ten artists will each create a work of art for this year’s Gecko Art Show, a mostly reptilian representation of Gulfport’s signature festival that culminates in a live charity auction during Gecko Ball.
The popup exhibit will take over the Catherine Hickman Theater lobby, 5501 27th Ave. S., from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, August 6.
After a gecko-free year during the pandemic, the art show is back but with fewer lizards, says Gecko Ball Chair Brittney Sherley.
“This year we are going to have a mix of some gecko pieces and some artist favorites,” Sherley said. “I hope people will be receptive and open because the reasoning all comes back to COVID.”
A late call to artists due to pandemic uncertainties led to less time for local creators to prepare. Regardless, attendees will get to pre-bid on the pieces on August 6, and the highest bid will double as the starting bid for the eventual live charity auction at the August 28 Gecko Ball.
For the three weeks that each creation awaits auction, the pieces will live at various Gulfport Merchants Chamber-affiliated businesses.
“We really don’t know what to expect this year, but usually the [ball] sells out,” Sherley said. “I’m optimistic.”
The list of selected artists is dotted with seasoned Gulfport artists like Jack Providenti and Ray Domingo as well as fresh faces such as woodworker Tim Stellar. Other artists who have donated pieces for the event include Eagle Finegan, Eric Folsom, Janet Folsom, Berkeley Grimball, Elizabeth Neily, Monika Watson and Anna Ayres.
Neily, one of the original creators of Gecko Fest and an official “Gecko Goddess,” is showing her work at the art show for the first time.
She coined the festival’s iconic name, but never got the chance to donate her work. Her first entry is a decorative fabric bowl with a hogfish theme.
“Hand-dyed silks shaped like a bowl with fabric beading at its base,” Neily said.
Stellar, a Sarasota-based wood artist, first submitted to the show in 2019; in 2021, he’s coming back with the same gecko base as his original work, a design of four geckos from four different parts of the world, which sold for $550.
“I want to make this thing really good, something cool that people want to look at,” Stellas said.
This year, Stellar has crafted two lizards in a yin and yang format that will light up with LED backing.
“It’s meant to be peaceful,” Stellar said. “The left gecko will be more detailed and intricate and the right is more of a clip art, bold gecko with mandatory straight lines.”