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Painted poles project is back thanks to Chamber, Trout

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Jan 13, 2021

Trout paints bats on the power pole at Bat Park in Matlacha. Trout and the chamber are hoping to revive the pole painting project on the islands. PHOTO PROVIDED BY BONNIE TROUT

pleblanc@breezenewspapers.com

If you take a drive around the island, you may notice various hand-painted poles. Once upon a time, the Greater Pine Island Chamber made it its mission to round up contributing artists for the island beautification project.

Although some time has gone by, according to Chamber board member Cynthia Welch, Bonnie Trout is very interested in continuing the project.

“We hooked up with LCEC,” said Welch, “and we now have permission to paint poles again.”

Trout has tackled Bathouse Park in Matlacha, where her painting theme, of course, is bats.

Although, Welch said, it might be tempting for an artist to think they can simply head out to paint any pole, that is not the case. The poles, she explained, are owned by LCEC and they must grant permission for any of their poles to be painted.

“The idea is to resurrect the project,” said Welch. “Maybe we can get the original artists to come out and refresh the poles that have faded over time.”

Trout, who painted a pole last year just outside Galt Preserve, said she has been visiting a friend who is an island resident for around a decade.

“When I first got here I drove around and saw that there were a lot of poles painted with different themes,” said Trout. “I thought, how fun. I’d like to paint a pole.”

After asking around, Trout was able to connect with the chamber and secure a spot to pitch paint themes. Now, Trout said she would be more than happy to be a liaison between LCEC and artists who’d like to join in the project.

She said bats are good for the balance of nature and hopes new paintings of them will depict them in this light, rather than framing any negative aspect of them.

“This is just a real community building activity,” said Trout, adding that it’s been an enriching experience getting to know locals who come along her path as she’s painting.

Galt Preserve is located at 3661 Stringfellow Road, St James City.

Bat House Park is at 4445 Pine Island Road, Matlacha

For additional information about the pole painting project, call the Greater Pine Island Chamber if Commerce at 239-283-0888.