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Local artist, Hunter Gilliam, wants to share his art of mask making with you in the Mateel Community Center’s Spring Arts Collective (SPARC).

"We start by sketching out our ideas on paper and then making patterns based on these sketches,” Gilliam said. "We will then transfer the paper patterns onto the leather, cutting it out and then shaping the leather over face forms, working it into the desired shape. After the masks are shaped we will paint them with non-toxic acrylic paints."

The finished masks from wild and whimsical to animalistic and elegant will be among the many works of artists exhibiting at the Mateel’s Artists of the Emerald Coast art and wine tasting event in April.

Gilliam has worked as a leather craftsman for close to 40 years, experimenting with a variety of expressions in leather from leather bags, garments, moccasins, ceremonial drums, rattles, and most recently leather masks.

The Mateel is thrilled to have Gilliam join the roster of talented local artists including dye-on-silk painter Margriet Seinen who has been with SPARC since the beginning and will be back this year. Established painters, Stu Moskowitz and Marc Arceneaux, have also conducted workshops for the Spring Arts Collective.

Seinen’s beautiful dye-on-silk paintings have been widely exhibited here and abroad and have been featured in books on the genre.


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She guides the young artists through the finer points of her technique, which opens up a whole dreamy world of translucent color and design possibilities and produces a beautiful result that the students are proud to display.

Mateel board member, SPARC founder and musician, Cathryn Guillette, will be teaching beginning rhythm and melody using recorders and marimbas. The class will include basic music reading, mallet techniques, bass guitar, and recorder playing, set in a loose jazz improvisation format.

Many thanks to Whale Gulch woodworker Bryce Grey for building a new bass marimba that the Mateel has purchased to add to the marimba Grey made for SPARC at its start, three years ago. "It is going to be so much fun to double up on the bass this year," Guillette said.

There are three teen volunteer positions open to participants of the classes who will be given free admissions to the Summer Arts and Music Festival and participate in the classes free of charge. The volunteers will help the teachers set up and clean up the project areas as well as help with the final shows at the Artists of the Emerald Coast Art and wine tasting event, and the Summer Arts and Music Festival, where their art and music will also be shown.

To register for the class, students may sign up at the Mateel office with Charity. The fee is a $60 ($5 per class) with no one being turned away for lack of funds. Parents are asked to pay in advance and be willing to provide one snack for the group on the class day of their choice. The first class session will be on Feb. 27. Please come join SPARC for a busy and rewarding spring.

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Margriet Seinen, shown here with students from last year, will once again be on hand to help.