Murmurs of contentment and whispered expressions of awe rustled inside the Brick City Center for the Arts as the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) hosted members of the Culture Vultures of Stone Creek for an elegant tea party and viewing of the Pleasures exhibit.
On Wednesday, September 18th, attendees were seated at tables draped in white linen, with settings of fine china. Beautiful ceramic serving dishes held tasty tidbits—cucumber sandwich rounds, pimento cheese triangles, delicately glazed petit fours and jewel-like fruit tarts—that rivaled the artworks in terms of beauty.
“The Culture Vultures are very supportive of the arts,” says Joy David, an MCA board member. “They are a wonderful group and we wanted to have them at MCA for a special occasion and to see what we have in our gallery and we also have this wonderful exhibit now. Pleasures is our very first juried art exhibit.”
As the guests relished their repast, with the faint tinkle of china teacups meeting saucers rippling around the room, MCA board member and internationally known artist David D’Alessandris spoke about art and the exhibit.
Pleasures received more than 174 entries; 72 were in the exhibit. Artists’ ages ranged from 15 to “pushing 90,” D’Alessandris says.
Paul Benoit, president of the Culture Vultures, says the tea was “a very, very nice event…It was a select group as they only had so much space.” He says the purpose of the Culture Vultures is, “Our job is to raise money and give it away.”
The group, formed by residents of the Del Webb Stone Creek active retirement community in southwest Ocala, hosts fundraisers each year, with proceeds going to local arts groups. They actively patronize local arts venues.
“We don’t keep any money. By the end of the year, we’re down to zero,” says Vice President Bev Wiggins.
The group’s unusual name came from Events Planning Chair Rita Singer, from when she was in a club in South Florida.
“There was talk this year that oh, ‘vultures’, that turns us off and we should change it, but we’re known out there now as Culture Vultures,” Wiggins says. “This is our 10-year anniversary.”
“It’s our brand,” Benoit adds. “People know our name.”
As an added bonus during the tea, D’Alessandris awarded one of his paintings to Tom Enrico, whose birthday was closest—on the exact day in fact—to his own.
“It has cool colors, and a nice theme,” Enrico says of the artwork. “We have lots of art in the rest of the house so we’ll probably hang it in the bedroom.”
D’Alessandris, who is involved with numerous art groups locally and nationally, says of the work being done by the MCA, “I gotta tell you, we are being recognized as the smallest ‘biggest’ city for the arts in not just Florida, but in the southern United States.”
Joy David encourages people to visit the Brick City Center for the Arts, at 23 S. Broadway St., and learn more “because MCA is a cultural hub for all Ocala.”