PALM COAST, Fla. – With the demise of the Flagler County Art League, another COVID casualty, many of the programs and monthly events patrons of the arts looked forward to, have gone by the wayside. No longer are there monthly themed receptions and the feel good coming together of those who love to talk art, catch up and gawk with appreciation at the talented submissions.

One program that is surviving was on full display Sunday afternoon, and proud parents of art students from both Matanzas High School and Flagler Palm Coast High School headed to the opening reception and judging of the student art show at the Expressions Art Gallery on Colbert Lane.

The gallery space is provided by Grand Realty, and has become one of the few locations where artists can show their work, curated by Jan Jackson, Judi Wormeck, Ron Lace, Maggie Corder and Mike Gleason. All active in the Flagler County Art League throughout the decades, keeping the student art show alive is important the FCAL alumni.

“It used to be that the art league showed their work and it is no longer, so there is no place to demonstrate how talented this group of teenagers is,” said Jackson, the Gargiulo Art Foundation 2019 Flagler County Artist of the Year. “We wanted to provide them a place to show their work.”

Submissions for the show included a mix of media – from photography and colored pencil to watercolor and ceramics. Judged by the keen eye of Flagler Palm Coast High School digital media, AP art instructor and 2010 Gargiulo Foundation Flagler County Artist of the Year Ed Beckett, who is in his final year of teaching before retirement at the end of the school year, he was impressed by the quality of the students’ work.

“There’s so much good artwork coming out of this county. As you can see there’s a little bit of everything and it’s very high quality,” said Beckett. “We just want to make the community gets to see what we’re doing in our classes and the talent the kids do have.”

Moving through the gallery, Mary Francis Blunk stopped to look at her own work selected for the show. An expression of her inner feelings, for the Matanzas High School freshman, art is more than therapeutic.

“I submitted a painting, it’s Northern Lights with snow on the mountain with tree,” she said softly.

“I was really happy to be selected because painting has helped me with my mental health and just in general. I think art inspires people, and just to have a mention about the mental health it inspires other people to help others.”

Touring the art on display with her family, Flagler Palm Coast High School junior Aby Blaine visited the Savannah School of Art Design recently and hopes to make the field her future as an animator or video game designer.

“I was super proud (she was selected). She’s been doing art for a long time and this just solidifies that step for her,” said father Chad Blaine.

Offering the students a venue to show their work is an important confidence builder for aspiring artists, and Matanzas High School advanced placement art teacher Amy Taylor was pleased to see the families investing their time to come and support the students.

“I really feel like it motivates students more and I feel like it’s great to celebrate their accomplishments,” said Taylor.

The show will be on display for the next month at Expressions Art Gallery, located at 2298 Colbert Lane, Palm Coast, Monday – Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. Entry is free.