An Orlando art tradition: Q&A with Wekiva Paint Out organizer Mary Weinaug

If you’re used to coming to Wekiva Island and seeing kids splashing in the river, people playing sand volleyball and adults lifting a glass while kicking back in an Adirondack chair, you might be surprised if you visit for one week in early spring and see the property taken over by easels, palettes and artists.

The Wekiva Paint Out has become an Orlando art tradition at Wekiva Island, and it’s one of our favorite events. The 17th annual Paint Out will take place from February 27 to March 4, 2023.

Mary Weinaug, the wife of Wekiva Island owner Bill Weinaug, serves as Executive Director of Keep Seminole Beautiful, and she has led the event for several years. Mary shared more below about what makes Paint Out so special and why it’s not so strange to see an art gallery pop up at Wekiva Island.

How did you get involved with the Wekiva Paint Out?

Bill and I have always been art lovers, and we live right down the street from the river. We had already gotten involved in what was then called Wekiva Riverfest, so when the opportunity came up to take over the paint out portion of the event, it felt like a no-brainer. We wanted to turn our love of art into a way to raise awareness for the river. Several of our friends have helped run the event over the years, but I love working with the artists.

How have you grown it since then?

It has been a learning curve! We used to have many more artists, but over the years, we’ve been able to build great connections with a core group while still bringing in new people who have exciting works. We’ve worked hard to learn what art lovers in our community connect with, and it’s been great to watch as our artists grow and more and more of the art finds its way to homes here. Last year was our best year ever, and we’re hoping to beat that this year.

What do the artists love about it? Who comes to the event?

It’s like camp for them! We put them up at Wekiwa Springs State Park in cabins, and there are fun events all week. They get to focus on their work and connect with each other and art lovers. There are some really special people who come to this event. From artists like Scott Hiestand and Michelle Held who have come year after year and made memories with us to Elisabeth Ferber, who runs our Wine & Paints all year, they make it a great event. Bill’s best friend, Mikel Wintermantel, is also an incredible artist and comes down from New York every year for the event. Everyone involved is hand-selected and qualified so you are surrounded by professional artists who are all incredibly talented.

What’s new for people to watch for this year?

We have several new artists we’re excited about. One of them is Maurizio Maso, who is actually an architect, but who also creates work in a variety of styles. George Van Hook is another new artist. He was recommended by Mikel Wintermantel. Last year’s Quick Draw winner will be joining us too, Paul Ladnier. And we will have a photographer exhibiting up in our Orlando art gallery, Gallery CERO, for the week. We’re excited to see what they bring to Paint Out.

How does it all fit with Wekiva Island?

Art and sustainability are part of our three pillars at Wekiva Island, so this is our core. We hope that people might come out and see these works, or watch the artists working, and see the river through a new lens. Then we hope they will be motivated to protect its natural beauty. After all, that’s what this event is all about! The proceeds go to the Wekiva Wilderness Trust and Keep Seminole Beautiful, plus to these talented artists. It’s a win-win.

Where do you want to see Paint Out in the future?

We just want to keep growing. We want to keep bringing in outstanding artists and new artists who are inspiring and continue to raise money for this cause. We want to be one of the best paint out events in the country.

Want to help with that goal? Stop by during the 2023 Wekiva Paint Out! You can meet these artists and watch them work, tour the gallery, and attend special events like the auction and gala. We know you’ll walk away with a sense of just how special this event is.

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