Nine Local Artists Create Geckos for Charity Auction

Nine Local Artists Create Geckos for Charity Auction

June 11, 2015: For Immediate Release
Contact:  Michael Gauthier; (207) 312-4317; mklgauthier@gmail.com

GULFPORT, FL: Nine larger-than-life geckos will be the centerpiece of a live auction to benefit local charities. 

Each of the large geckos, measuring approximately three feet long, will be created and decorated in a variety of media by local artists.  The geckos are now being constructed by the artists and all will be on display in locations throughout the Gulfport Waterfront District as of July 4th.  The art pieces will be auctioned during the seventh annual Gecko Ball on Saturday, August 29th.  Each gecko will be a prized collector’s art work and join the ranks of nearly 50 other geckos that have been created since the event’s inception.  Organizers initiated the Artists’ Gecko Auction six years ago with much success and the auction is now a popular part of the tradition of annual Gulfport Gecko-related activities in late summer.

Artists selected to create geckos for this year’s auction are Janet Folsom, Denise Keegan, Lenne’ Nicklaus-Ball, Owen Pach, Tom Pitzen, John Ricci, Jonathan Schork, Frank Strunk III, and Matt Worsham.

The nine finished geckos will be on display at these nine Gulfport locations in the weeks leading up to the Gecko Ball:  Domain Home Accessories & Gallery, Gulfport Beach Bazaar, Little Tommie’s Tiki, Mangia Gourmet, Philanthropee, Pia’s Trattoria, T and Me Tea Co., Tangelo’s Grille, and Yummy’s.  Advance bids will also be accepted for geckos at these preview locations.  An art show featuring a variety of work by the nine gecko artists will be on display at Gulfport’s Catherine Hickman Theater, with an opening reception scheduled for Friday, August 7th at 6 p.m.

The annual Gecko Ball has become known as Gulfport’s Party of the Year! 

This year’s theme is “Gecko Gras!” evoking the color and pageantry of Mardi Gras, its costumes, music, food and fun.  In addition to the live auction of the artist’s geckos, the event includes dozens of silent auction items, costumes and costume contests, tapas catered by Ricky P’s Orleans Bistro, cash bar, live music by the Jammin’ Jambalaya Band, dancing and more.  The Gecko Ball will be held at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom.  Tickets are $35 each and are available in advance beginning July 4th at Gulfport Beach Bazaar (3115 Beach Blvd.) or online with a credit or debit card at GulfportMA.com.  A portion of proceeds from Gecko Ball, as well as Gulfport’s Gecko Pub Crawl (August 8th) and GeckoFest (September 5th) will benefit CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse), the Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library, Daystar Life Center, and the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund.

Artists from Gulfport or with ties to Gulfport have volunteered their time and talent to create a gecko. 

Gulfport artist Janet Folsom is a passionate and experienced painter, feeling compelled to capture the spirit of her subjects.  She recently was awarded Best in Show at the AllFlorida Show at Morean Arts Center. 

Denise Keegan worked in painting before relocating to Gulfport a few years ago.  Inspired her new home town’s eccentricity, she has broadened her focus to include mixed media art that incorporates found and recycled objects.  Her art aptly named “Tossed and Found” pieces can be seen throughout Gulfport in private homes and businesses. 

Lenne’ Nicklaus-Ball has displayed her mixed media art work in public and private galleries throughout the Eastern U.S., as well as having been involved in over nine museum exhibits and several public art projects.  Her work has also been purchased by private collectors in the U.S., Europe and South America. 

Owen Pach was an established woodworking artist at the age of 30 in Ybor City when he discovered his passion for glass art.  His work is included in numerous private and public art collections, and he has inspired many of his students over the years to pursue their own glass passions.  He originated the gecko art auction event in 2010. 

Tom Pitzen was educated in art and design and went on to open a custom wood shop in Ohio, offering custom cabinetry, furniture and displays.  Many of his pieces for the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio travelled with exhibits throughout North America.  He and his family now live and work in Gulfport.  His first large-scale public art installation was created in 2009 and stands in front of the Gulfport Neighborhood Center.  His art studio is located in Gulfport’s Alley of the Arts. 

John Ricci identified as an artist at an early age while in grade school, though he was only able to create art work intermittently during his adult working years.  Retirement has allowed him to concentrate on his art, including jewelry design and sculpture.  He is also an actor and member of SAG/AFTRA. 

Jonathan Schork creates work within a wide range of creative processes including painting, photography, sculpture, couture, writing, literature, film and theatre.  He is an award-winning creator of public sculptures.  Light and sound are often incorporated into pieces that may otherwise have been “static.”  He calls himself an “alchemist” in his sculptural work, “turning something into something else.” 

Gulfport artist Frank Strunk III grew up around his father’s print shop, sparking his interest in machinery and its function.  The experiences proved to be a springboard into his art work which often incorporates machine parts or machine-themed concepts. 

GypsyCat Creations is the working name of the Gulfport art studio of Matt Worsham.  He creates textile-based mixed media folk-art inspired sculptures depicting whimsical animals, mythological or fantasy-based creatures and more.  His work is offered in local galleries and shops.  He also performs as a musician with his band D20 and as a solo artist.  He is a longstanding professional in his career of teaching art and music to adults with developmental disabilities.


All Gecko events are sponsored by the non-profit Gulfport Merchants Association.
  For more information go to www.visitgulfportflorida.com or www.facebook.com/geckoball, or contact Michael Gauthier: (207) 312-4317 or mklgauthier@gmail.com.