Islamorada 32nd Annual Island Fest –
Saturday & Sunday, March 23 & 24, 2024
Founders Park, Islamorada
The Islamorada Chamber of Commerce
Announces Carmen Kelley as the
32nd Annual Island Fest Poster Artist
Presented by the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce, the two-day Island Fest will offer live music, gourmet cuisine, vintage cars, and plenty of fine art and crafts. The festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, March 23 & 24, at Founders Park.
Recognized as this year’s poster artist is painter Carmen Sotolongo Kelley whose work, “Flamboyant Royals“ captures the beauty of the beloved Royal Poinciana tree.
The Islamorada Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Carmen Sotolongo Kelley, a renowned local painter from Key Largo, Florida has been selected as the official poster artist for the 32nd Annual Island Fest in Islamorada. She owns and operates the Key Largo Art Gallery. “We are so excited to have her on board as the poster artist for this year’s Island Fest,” said Islamorada Chamber of Commerce Board President, Sara Stanczyk. “Her works are truly remarkable, and we look forward to showcasing her art.” For the past 31 years, Island Fest has been a beloved tradition in Islamorada, drawing in thousands of visitors and locals alike. This year’s festivities will include a variety of activities, from live music and art exhibits to a variety of food and beverage options. Carmen’s poster will be officially unveiled at Island Fest and she will be available to sign them at Booth 1. Her posters will also be for sale at the Chamber Booth, giving fans a chance to bring home a piece of the event.
Our second featured artist is Lara Wehrli, a lifelong resident of Lake City, Florida. “I inherited my passion for creating art from my mom,” Lara said. ” Mom dabbled in all kinds of art while I was growing up, and I dabbled right alongside her. Through the years, I have tried it all looking for my favorite medium.”
Lara’s search ended in March of 2020, after COVID shuttered her workplace. To fill her newfound free time, Lara ordered a stockpile of canvas blanks, and started painting in acrylics. Once she filled all the canvases, she looked around the house for anything she could paint on. “I found a rusted, metal roofing panel that I could repurpose,” Lara said. “My husband Mike asked me to paint him a redfish on it. I did, and Eureka! Painting on that metal delivered such a unique feel that it was absolutely exhilarating, just plain fun. I had finally discovered my niche: acrylic painting on repurposed materials, mostly aged metals and woods.”
Our third featured artist is Richard Auger. Richard Auger’s studio is currently based in the coastal town of Jupiter, Florida. Auger grew up scuba diving South Florida’s coral reefs and swimming in the springs of North Florida. His father was an adventurous outdoorsman, who loved to try almost every outdoor activity at least once while bringing his son along for the ride. During those years, Richard gained an appreciation for the great outdoors, especially Wild Florida, with its haunted, mystical swamps, as well as its peaceful, sunny coastlines. Auger hopes to capture what this state has meant to him during his life, as well as other Floridians that share a passion for our landscape.
Richard’s only formal photography education came from a high school darkroom class in 2002, when one of his silver prints of the Everglades won a Scholastic Gold Key Award. He considered a career in the arts, but ultimately chose a more practical career route and studied business. After only two years out of college, Richard quit his office job in 2010, destroyed his entire digital portfolio, and began an all new series shot entirely in black and white film. Titled ‘Florida Noir’, the series was a runaway success at art festivals across Florida and the USA, quickly winning over $60,000 in fine art juried awards.
In late 2014, Richard slowly began to re-embrace color and digital techniques. The knowledge he gained shooting black and white film carried over to his new color work, resulting in large prints with high resolution and captivating compositions. While the Florida Noir series was a four-year love letter to Florida, his new color series shows the more exciting, vibrant quality to our state that makes it such a unique place to call home. Richard Auger’s award-winning prints hang at government buildings, corporate collections, galleries, and private homes across the United States.