Local Artists Kick Off Gecko Season

Gecko art photos by Scott Linde, courtesy of the Gulfport Merchants Association.


Although he was only able to create art intermittently during his adult working years as a jeweler, John Ricci identified as an artist at an early age, painting as often as he could.

“When I retired three years ago, I was able to concentrate on my art full time,” Ricci said.

The Seminole resident incorporated mediums such as acrylic painting, jewelry design and sculpture. His work is currently displayed in Rhode Island and, locally, at the Indian Rocks Beach Art Center.

Ricci is one of nine local artists chosen this year to create geckos for an annual charity auction, now in its seventh year. Ricci’s sculpture was inspired by this year’s theme, Mardi Gras, and was his first venture using papier-maché.

“I was inspired by the images and colors of New Orleans while creating the sculpture,” Ricci said.

All nine artists’ larger-than-life geckos are on display from August 7 to August 31 at various locations throughout the Gulfport Waterfront District, kicking off Gecko Season. This is the seventh year in which artists have created geckos for auction at the Gecko Ball. Advance bids for the geckos will be accepted on a bid sheet at the location where they are displayed with a minimum opening bid. This year’s beneficiaries are CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse), the Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library, Daystar Life Center and the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund.

An opening reception for the artists will be held on Friday, August 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Catherine Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Ave. S. in Gulfport. The reception is free and open to the public. For the exhibit, the artists will offer selections from their primary bodies of work. The artists work in a variety of mediums including painting, mixed media, steel, glass, wood, fabric, stone and others, but were given the freedom to create their geckos from any materials they chose. Photographs of each of the geckos created by the artists will also be on display.

Get Your Gecko On

It’s that time of year again when Gulfport prepares to pay homage to the end of summer and its unofficial mascot, the gecko. Sponsored by the Gulfport Merchants Association, this year’s GeckoFest theme is Mardi Gras, and there are a multitude of upcoming events to enjoy. New this year is the Gecko Artists Reception. Other events include a pub crawl and poker run, a street festival and the 7th annual Gecko Ball, all honoring the city’s favorite reptile. Check out the list of events below so you don’t miss a thing!

August 7: Meet the Gecko Artists Reception, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Catherine Hickman Theater August 7: Gulfport Merchants Association Booth outside Domain Home Accessories & Gallery during First Friday Art Walk; purchase t-shirts, tanks and Gecko Crawl tickets August 8: 8th Annual Gecko Crawl and Poker Run August 29: Gecko Gras 7th Annual Gecko Ball September 5: 15th Annual GeckoFest Street Festival

The Gecko Crawl and the GeckoFest Ball are ticketed events for adults only. GeckoFest is a free, day-long event for all ages. For locations, tickets and more information, visit geckofest.com or find GeckoFest on Facebook at facebook.com/Geckofest.

Don't be shy. Tell us what you think.