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Two islanders to participate in Cape Coral Festival of the Arts

January 9, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

Two island residents are participating in the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts this weekend to showcase their fine crafts.

Mara Balodis of Bokeelia has been a part of the annual festival for the past six or seven years.

"It's a good show, a big show, usually if the weather is good we can count on making pretty good money there," she said. "I am happy to get in."

This year the festival, which began in January 1985, will be held Jan. 12 and 13, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., in downtown Cape Coral between Vincennes Boulevard and Del Prado Boulevard on Cape Coral Parkway. More than 300 artists will showcase crafts, jewelry, mixed media, paintings, photography and sculptures.

Balodis started selling hand-painted items about 30 years ago.

"We make our own products," she said, adding that they have been making their own things from scratch for about 20 years now.

Those items include canvas hand bags, totes, fanny packs, as well as accessories, which are all hand painted with original designs.

Balodis said she enjoys the creative part about her fine art, as well as continuously coming up with different things to sell.

"I enjoy having an original product that no one else has," she said. "I love to paint."

Although she does shows almost every weekend, she hopes to have one on the island this year, so she can do something more local.

Christopher Palermo, originally from Boston, moved to Matlacha in 2000. He said he has participated in the festival for the last three or four years.

"One of the only good shows around," he said. "It has always been a good success. It is very well run and organized."

Palermo said he invented his craft 30 years ago. He creates plant rooters out of cooper and stained glass in his garage, which can be seen at Island Vision and Earth & Spirit Garden Gallery on the island.

Palermo said you can put your house plants in the plant rooter and fill it with water and hang it on the wall.

He said he takes huge pride in creating his fine art with everything made from this country. The glass he uses is recycled glass from Indiana, the medal he still finds in this country and the wood he uses comes from Maine.

"I take huge pride in being an American craftsman," Palermo said.



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