5 minute read

Building a Sense of Community

"Daughter of the Sun", by Anne-Marie Bercik. Encaustic photography 18 x 12 in

Building a Sense of Community The Florida Wax Journey

Shelley Jean

When the editors at Wax Fusion decided to feature a piece on the advantages of forming a local IEA chapter, Florida Wax was the first name that came up. The chapter was founded in 2017 and has been extremely successful. How did that first step happen? Was it inspired by a conference? A conversation with another encaustic artist?

I appreciate IEA reaching out to me; I thoroughly enjoy sharing about this amazing group of artists. We were born out of necessity in a sense. I was teaching encaustic workshops at Maitland Art and History Museum, and I kept having the same artists taking the courses over and over. They were addicted as much as I was and wanted to keep growing in their knowledge of encaustic. I had the thought one day, “What if we had a group that we could do all these things with? We could exhibit, share ideas, and help educate the community because SO many people still do not know what encaustic is.” I reached out to Janet Hickok, who was the Chapter coordinator for IEA at the time, and she sent me the information on what was needed to start a chapter. We needed a Vice President, so I asked AnneMarie Bercik, and together we figured out our mission statement. The rest is history.

Florida Wax Members:  Judy Pickett, Shelley Jean, Linda Lopez, Deni Karpowich, Alan Lindenmuth, Anne-Marie Bercik, Thomas Carmon, and Susan Hess. Not pictured, Esther Phelps and Francine Michel.

Florida Wax Members: Judy Pickett, Shelley Jean, Linda Lopez, Deni Karpowich, Alan Lindenmuth, Anne-Marie Bercik, Thomas Carmon, and Susan Hess. Not pictured, Esther Phelps and Francine Michel.

What are the requirements for becoming a member of Florida Wax? And how many members are in the group?

Our requirements for new members are that the artists are interested in exhibiting, contributing to charity events, and volunteering. Everyone works together to help in some capacity to set up, take down, making labels/promo cards, demonstrate, rideshare, or do drop of or delivery of work. We have people spread across the state from Fernandina Beach to St. Petersburg Beach with the majority of us located in the greater Orlando area, so it is important to have the willingness to be a team player. We also ask that everyone has at least taken an encaustic workshop and exhibited before. They also need to have a working knowledge and understanding of the integrity and ethics that professional artists need to adhere to. We currently have 10 active members.

"The Three Shepherds," by Thomas Carmon.  Encaustic mixed media 24 x 31 in

"The Three Shepherds," by Thomas Carmon. Encaustic mixed media 24 x 31 in

"The Wild Ones", by Linda Lopez. Encaustic photo 10 x 24 in

"The Wild Ones", by Linda Lopez. Encaustic photo 10 x 24 in

Leading a group like Florida Wax takes commitment to the encaustic community and a passion for your creative practice. Are chapter activities integrated into the studio work of the members? Is there a mutual sharing of demonstrations and critiques?

It definitely takes passion and commitment. I always say that I couldn’t do what I do without everyone else helping out so graciously. When we started the group, our goal was to try to have a chapter meeting once a quarter and have a group exhibit once or twice a year. At our meetings, we bring our current paintings to work on and critique, plan our events, and have great food and wine! Learning and sharing techniques with artists of all levels of expertise in their artistic journey is invaluable.

"In the Spiral", by Alan Lindenmuth.  Encaustic monotype 12 x 12 in

"In the Spiral", by Alan Lindenmuth. Encaustic monotype 12 x 12 in

What are the top three advantages of forming a local/regional chapter of IEA?

• Having the opportunity to collaborate, support, and encourage one another as individual artists working with this incredible medium.

• Being able to exhibit in so many amazing venues, especially those that we may not otherwise have a solo show at.

• Contributing to charitable organizations together and helping to educate the community about what encaustic is and what it isn’t.

"Aging Banyan", by Francine Michel. Encaustic mixed media 15 x 30 in

"Aging Banyan", by Francine Michel. Encaustic mixed media 15 x 30 in

"Glorious Day", by Shelley Jean. Encaustic mixed media 18 x 24 in

"Glorious Day", by Shelley Jean. Encaustic mixed media 18 x 24 in

"Urban Nest", by Susan Hess. Wax, watercolor crayons, rusted washers, paper 24 x 18 in

"Urban Nest", by Susan Hess. Wax, watercolor crayons, rusted washers, paper 24 x 18 in

What holds the group together and keeps it thriving and energetic? Group exhibition? Chapter meetings? A social media group? An affiliation with a gallery or school?

I think the sense of community that we have established within this group is a truly incredible gift. We come from all walks of life, all diferent ages and stages. Each person brings something unique and diferent to the table that helps elevate us as humans and artists. But the common threads of the love of encaustic and our comradery are what have banned us together. It is an honor to foster that atmosphere of friendship and family within our group.

Our group exhibits have gained momentum and support from local galleries here in Orlando and throughout the state. Ironically, during the shutdown, we had more opportunities arise than we ever imagined! We currently have a show at the historic Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, as well as a show at the University Club in Winter Park. We will be doing a “pop up” show in conjunction with the Sarasota Art Walk at The Bonvoy Marriott Hotel for Labor Day weekend. We do have a Florida Wax private Facebook group and a public Instagram page which can be found at www.instagram.com/florida_wax.

We do not have an “official” brick and mortar gallery or school, but as I previously mentioned, my teaching at Maitland Art and History Museum was integral in the birthing of Florida Wax.

The Florida Wax website, which you maintain, is quite wonderful. Could you share that link, as well as some photos of your own work and that of your members?

Information on upcoming show and opportunities can be found here at www.shelleyjean.com/florida-wax

"Palm Grove", by Judy Pickett.  Encaustic cyanotype 24 x 36 in

"Palm Grove", by Judy Pickett. Encaustic cyanotype 24 x 36 in

"Cayman Beauty", by Deni Karpowich.  Encaustic 12 x 36 in

"Cayman Beauty", by Deni Karpowich. Encaustic 12 x 36 in

"Tempest I", by Esther Phelps.  Encaustic 30 x 30 in

"Tempest I", by Esther Phelps. Encaustic 30 x 30 in

Shelley Jean Bio

Shelley Jean is an artist/educator who studied at the Florida School of the Arts. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.S. in Art Education and has taught in the public and private sector for over 30 years. She currently teaches at the Maitland Art Museum, Art Studios of Cocoa Beach, as well as her own Secret Place Studio in Orlando, FL. She ofers inperson workshops, private mentoring, and online workshops. She hosts Encaustic Art for the Soul Retreats nationally and internationally in Asheville, NC, New Mexico's Ghost Ranch, Hawthorne, FL, and Tuscany, Italy. She is the founder and President of Florida Wax, a Chapter of International Encaustic Artists and a Tier Artist for R&F Paints.

To learn more educational opportunities go to www.shelleyjean.com/education-1

Shelley Jean

Shelley Jean

All rights reserved by the artists for their art work used in this article.