If a number is needed to quantify the extent to which pieces are being picked up after Hurricane Michael, maybe The Joe Center for the Arts offered one last Friday.
The opening reception to The Joe’s latest exhibit commemorating Hurricane Michael and the distance traveled on the road to recovery attracted nearly 300 people to downtown Port St. Joe and the center at 201 Reid Ave.
Blue Tarps, under construction for months and aimed to telling the many individual stories of Michael, hung from walls and the “chandeliers” were created from water bottles.
Another aspect of the show is a video of hurricane stories.
That video, “From Tears to Triumph” will be shown twice again Friday, at 1:30 p.m. ET and 6:30 p.m. ET.
“We had a huge turnout so this show speaks to everyone in our community on one level or another,” said Marcy Trahan, the event coordinator. “I think it also helped visitors from out-of-town understand the impact Michael has had and is still having on our communities.”
That statement was simpatico with what husband Richard Trahan attempted to get across in his photograph, “Gone But Not Forgotten”, which earned second place in the People’s Choice Award.
His photograph is, “A product of my frustration over the lack of understanding and indifference I have discovered when talking with people, both out of state and in other areas of Florida, who lightly dismiss our Category 5 hurricane experience,” Trahan said.
“This collage of 24 different images illustrates some of those impacts and activities resulting from Hurricane Michael. Familiar landmarks are gone. The landscape has changed. As clean-up and rebuilding occurs these images are all that remind us of what we lost and what we experienced.”
The story of her work, “Michael’s Rainbow,” for which Gretchen Mayes won first place in the People’s Choice Award voting, diverged a bit more toward the survival aspect of Michael, Mayes said.
Michael destroyed the studio of her Beacon Hill home, turning to tiny pieces much of her work, some of which dated to her 2005 beginning with glass making.
All her equipment was gone; during recovery she found many pieces in shards.
And as she collected more and more of her shattered debris, Mayes decided to “make something out of nothing.”
“Michael’s Rainbow” became that something,
“It represents life after the storm and hope for the future,” Mayes said.
For Mayes, some of that life came courtesy of other artists who learned of her tale on social media and shared supplies and equipment.
“And tons of love and support from a group with nothing more in common than a love of glass.”
Her kitchen, with a new little kiln plugged into hall outlet has forced her to think “out of the studio” and challenged her skills.
Skills that turned out to be award-winning.