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The Lifeline

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"Art Should Be Available to Everybody"

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In Seminole County, several visual art groups bring color and creativity to the community on a regular basis. Here we showcase three of these groups – one a relative newcomer, while the other two have been around for decades. All three are brimming with talented artists who encourage and support each other as they help make our world a more beautiful place.


Shelley Jean, an encaustic artist and educator, spends a great deal of time explaining just exactly what that funny-sounding word means.

“People are very intrigued by it. They’re like, ‘en-what?’” laughs Shelley, president of Florida Wax, a chapter of International Encaustic Artists (IEA). “People are very interested in learning something new, something different.”

Encaustics is an ancient process that uses refined beeswax, damar resin, and organic pigments to create paintings. The three components are fused with a heat source, such as a blowtorch, so that everything melds and sticks to the painting surface.

The Egyptians and Greeks used the process to paint murals and funeral portraits. American artist Jasper Johns is credited with bringing encaustic painting back into the spotlight in the 1950s. Encaustic painting can be combined with other media, including photography and printmaking, for eye-catching results.

Shelley and one of her students, Anne-Marie Bercik, founded Florida Wax in the spring of 2017. The chapter now has about a dozen members, most of whom live in Seminole and Orange counties.

“As a group, we want to educate the community about what we do, what we’re about, and why we do it,” says Shelley, who teaches classes and workshops at the Maitland Art Center and other venues.

So far, the chapter has hosted exhibits of its work at the Maitland Public Library, the Historic Sanford Welcome Center, and the Casselberry Art House. The group will return to the Sanford Welcome Center this summer. That exhibit will open with a free reception from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 18. And this fall, Florida Wax will have a show at the University Club of Winter Park, with an opening reception on Sunday, October 7, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Anyone interested in joining the group must first become a member of International Encaustic Artists. The IEA’s annual dues are $75. There is no additional charge to join Florida Wax, which meets quarterly at the Altamonte Springs home of one of its members.

To learn more about Florida Wax or encaustic painting, go to or

“It’s a great learning experience”

Larry Davis thinks one of the strengths of the Sanford Seminole Art Association (SSAA)is the way the group welcomes and nurtures amateur artists.

“You don’t have to have a degree to be an artist,” says Larry, the SSAA’s newly-elected president and a Longwood resident. “Art should be available to everybody.”

Larry, a residential architect, succeeds Mike Bisceglia as president of the association for the 2018-19 season. Mike, a Winter Springs resident, is a retired high-school-football-coach-turned-watercolorist.

The SSAA gives its members opportunities every year to exhibit in gallery settings and offers educational art demonstrations at its monthly meetings.

“It’s a confidence booster and a great learning experience,” says Larry, a sculptor and painter.

Formed in 1959, the SSAA is one of the oldest cultural groups in Seminole County. The association’s membership has grown to more than 70 artists, most of whom live in Seminole, Orange, and Volusia counties. Some are beginners, while others are intermediate or professional artists.

The SSAA is a general interest art group, meaning its members are free to work in any medium they choose. Recent exhibits have included everything from paintings and drawings to photography and 3D work.

The association also champions art education for students. During the 2017-2018 season, the group awarded three college scholarships to art students from Seminole County high schools, donated art and craft supplies to local youth programs, and showcased the artwork of several Seminole County middle-school students.

Annual dues are $25. The group is on hiatus for the summer but will return with an exhibit of its members’ work in September. The show will be at the Casselberry Art House at Lake Concord Park, with a free opening reception from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, September 7.

The association’s next regular meeting and demo will be at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 22, at the Seminole County Library’s north branch in downtown Sanford. For details, visit

“Their stories still need to be told”

The Florida chapter of Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) was all set to fold this spring after a successful run of more than 20 years. However, what was supposed to have been the chapter’s farewell show instead turned into a reboot of the group itself. President emeritus Judith Segall, an Altamonte Springs artist, wryly notes that her plan to disband the Florida group “completely backfired on me.”

Friends and colleagues urged Judith to keep the chapter  going after seeing A Celebration of Women in the Arts: Legacies, which was on display earlier this year at Casselberry City Hall.

The show featured a wonderful collection of work by more than two dozen WCA artists, including several members who have passed away. The closing reception was held in March, which is quite fitting, because that is Women’s History Month.

Judith helped found the chapter in 1994 and served as its president for many years. The group, which was once a mover and shaker in the Central Florida art scene, had become inactive in recent years. Because of the renewed interest generated by the Legacies show, Judith has decided to help keep the group going.

“The WCA is really about equality in the arts, which is needed now more than ever,” says Judith, who is serving as the group’s interim treasurer.

The national Women’s Caucus for Art, founded in 1972, is comprised of artists, art historians, students, educators, and museum professionals. The organization’s mission is to create community through art, education, and social activism.

Linda Moore, recreation manager for the City of Casselberry, was among those who didn’t want to see the WCA Florida chapter fall by the wayside. Casselberry has showcased the group’s work several times at City Hall and the Art House.

“It is important that the next generation of Women’s Caucus for Art continues a strong effort to champion and celebrate women artists,” Linda says. “Their stories still need to be told. Even though the opportunities and possibilities to exhibit have been expanded, women are still not equally represented in the art world.”

To join the WCA Florida chapter, artists must first become a member of the national organization. WCA’s regular membership dues are $50, plus an extra $10 to join the Florida chapter. For details, visit

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