Once you’ve lived in paradise, why would you consider living anywhere else? While I have traveled to awesome places in this world, I have only lived in Florida. I’ve considered a few places for the adventure and there are beautiful landscapes of all kinds, so it is still a possibility, but my heart is still in that sweet spot on the aqua waters where the dolphins play between mangrove tidal islands, where the white sands are between my toes and the pelicans look at me recognizing my soul as one of their own.
My Connection to Ft. Myers, Sanibel, and Captiva
Born in Jacksonville, it was all I knew until the day I learned we would be moving for a boat sales job for my stepfather. Moves are always scary for young kids but when we drove over the big bridge for the first time and saw the crystal blue waters, all my worries melted away. And when we went on our first boat ride to the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, I thought I might be in heaven. Despite the occasional turmoil at home, the place and people made for a great childhood.
But eventually we would move back to Jacksonville. While Jacksonville has many things going for it, it felt like a concrete jungle in comparison and the culture I was surrounded by was far from the Midwesterners of Ft. Myers that I shared values with. But my extended family is in Jacksonville, so that made up for it.
In 2011, a road trip back to Lee County reawakened my connection to its tropical flora. In previous trips to the tropical paradise my focus was on the aqua water, dolphins, pelicans, tidal islands, and landmarks from my youth. However, this time the seagrape leaves ignited and inspired a painting that turned into a green series full of big tropical leaves. Yes, it took about ten years to complete four paintings, that was because I was also working on my masterpiece…my son. He is now a Senior in High School and as a sweet friend once said, “I’m less of the CEO now and more of the advisory board.”
The paintings of lush tropical flora became a spiritual journey, teaching me and showing me the way to a higher connection preceding and preparing me for difficult loss of loved ones. My second painting in the series is called “Mickler’s Welcome” because the subject was located at the entrance to Mickler’s Landing (beach access). Now I wish I had called it ‘Receptivity’, because during the act of painting its victory stance of leaves reaching towards the sun, I made it my intention to also open to a higher source of learning and spiritual growth.
Pivoting Dreams: Hurricane Ian
I put my business sense hat on while I was wrapping-up the final painting in the series, and thought, “when I’m done, I’ll try to have a showing at my community culture center.” The pandemic would enter, shut down the center as if to say, “nope!”
I love where I live in Nocatee, with a vibrant town center and easy access to the beach. It’s close to Jacksonville. Still, I’ve also always wanted to spend my golden years in my childhood town. Just like the aging Midwesterners that made up most of the area’s population. I loved the idea of the thriving art community, beautiful views and laid-back lifestyle. I even told my husband a week before the hurricane that I wanted to move to Sanibel. But again, the Universe, had other plans. Enter, Hurricane Ian. Ian destroyed all the places I loved.
Do we look at these events as signs to change coarse or push through on the same path? Usually, I change course. I don’t see it fitting for me to force my way through things. I know I could do anything I set my mind to. In this instance I chose the third option, to turn it into a giving opportunity to help the environment that gave so much to me.
Art for a Cause
When there was an oil spill in The Gulf of Mexico a few years back, I could barely believe it. How could we be so careless? I was beyond consolable and so upset.
Today, seeing the increase in catastrophic events and hurricanes that are more powerful and doing more damage than ever before it is confirming global warming. Feel free to correct me with facts and evidence, I want to believe I have it wrong. I want to believe that noticing the change in wave strength in the Atlantic Ocean and The Gulf of Mexico is all in my head. Maybe I only want to remember the awesome calm days at the beach of my childhood. Maybe windy wavy days don’t make for good memories. Maybe the millions of dollars tax payers are paying on reconstructing and conserving the beaches along our coast are how it was always done. Maybe the houses falling into the ocean simply don’t have the same political/financial pull as the millionaires up near my beach that can afford the endless construction. But sadly, I think things are changing.
In times where I start to feel hopeless, I must remember I can do something even if it is small in comparison to the need. It only seems fitting that I can take the paintings that were inspired by the natural world and give back to the natural world. I don’t know if my tropical paradise of Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva will ever recover. Most of those homes were at the bottom of The Gulf for a while. That has never happened before when hurricanes passed through the area. But I will find a cause for the environment in that area and donate a portion of the proceeds of my painting sales to that cause. I’m considering these: https://www.givinggreen.earth/recommendations but looking for Hurricane Ian specific causes. If you have a recommendation, please reach out to me.
If you or an art collector you know is interested in learning more about my art,
- Learn more and view the art at: jlaceytaylor.com
- Email me if you are interested in an original painting at firstname.lastname@example.org, and
- see my latest work, behind the scenes by following me on Instagram @j.laceytaylor.art.