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'Gale Bennett 75' opens at Alliance for the Arts on February 7

Portraits of Gale Bennett rendered by his students will be on exhibit in the Alliance Member Gallery.
Courtesy of Christina Prendiville

From February 7 to March 1, 2014, the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers will present Gale Bennett 75, a retrospective covering the years 1969 to 2007 in honor of the 75th anniversary of Gale Bennett's birth (1939-2008). It will feature 39 works on canvas and paper from the collection of Bennett’s widow, Cello Bennett.

Gale Bennett can justifiably be called Southwest Florida's most renowned native artist and art teacher. From 1996 to 2007, he welcomed nearly 1,000 artists to his workshops in Monet's famous village of Giverny where they enjoyed the rare privilege of painting in Monet's Gardens seven days a week. Bennett also regularly exhibited his paintings at exhibitions in Giverny and Paris. It’s not surprising then that Bennett has been called “one who could justly lay claim to the title of successor to the great Monet” by French magazine, Plaisir de peindre (“Gale Bennett; the Heir from America,” 2002).

In addition to teaching his popular life drawing class at the Alliance, Gale also taught painting and drawing workshops at BIG ARTS on Sanibel, at the Cape Coral Art Studio and at the Art League of Bonita Springs. He was honored twice by the "Angels of the Arts" – in 2006 as "Artist of the Year" and posthumously in 2008 for "Lifetime Achievement."

A book on Bennett's art and method of teaching art will be released at the opening reception on Friday, February 7 as well. Begun by the artist more than 30 years ago, Eyes into Art was completed by Cello Bennett with the assistance of a committee of 15 artists, all former participants in Gale Bennett workshops both in Southwest Florida and at his famed ArtStudy Giverny in Giverny, France.

Committee members are Sanibel residents Marcy Calkins, Sheila Hoen, Jane Hudson, and Marilyn Miglio; Cape Coral residents Paula Eckerty, Barbara Mintz, and Joanna Olsen; Fort Myers resident Barbara Wilson and former resident Pat Dunn (now of Nashville, TN); Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte residents Liz Hutchinson-Sperry, Jane Geronime, and the late Muriel Van Patten; as well as Gayle Keith Ashley of Useppa and Caroline Homes Nuckolls of Marietta, GA. Most of them will be on hand at the opening reception to autograph copies.

The Member Gallery exhibition, The Many Faces of Gale Bennett, will feature a collection of portraits of Bennett by his workshop students. Most pieces in the exhibition will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Alliance for the Arts.

Other events connected with the Gale Bennett 75 exhibition include:

  • a Gallery Walk and Talk from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday, February 15 with artists Pat Dunn and Marcy Calkins, both former Gale Bennett students and members of Eyes Into Art Book Committee; and
  • "A Musical Evening with Cello and Friends" at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19 at the Foulds Theatre inside the Alliance for the Arts. Tickets are available through Theatre Conspiracy at

The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers, Florida. For more information about the exhibit, please call 239-939-2787. For other inquiries, contact Christina Prendiville at 239-470-4204.

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