AMI Sun – Beach Paths

Vol. 10 No. 16 – January 13, 2010


Take a journey along ‘Beach Paths’ at The Studio

AMI Sun artwork Beach Paths III

This is number III in the “Beach Paths” series, which will
be on display at The Studio at Gulf and Pine in
Anna Maria through Jan. 30.

By PAT COPELAND | sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – The Studio at Gulf and Pine will host an opening reception for “Beach Paths,” a series of mixed media collages by Maro Lorimer on Sunday, Jan. 16, from 3 to 6 p.m. Suki Janish will provide music.

“It is the wildness of these paths that makes them so unusual,” Lorimer said, “especially in an area as developed as the Gulf Coast. The fact that residents and visitors approach the Island’s beach from countless access points via natural footpaths instead of pavement makes a big difference in the overall feeling of being here. It is rare – one of the most precious things about this Island – and I wanted to celebrate it in these pieces.”

Lorimer, who grew up on the water in the village of Bellport, N.Y., moved to Holmes Beach from Colorado in 1999 with her husband, Mike.

“We were really missing the water,” she recalled. “For a few years, we explored places we might want to live, driving up and down the coast.

‘We found this place without knowing anyone. We really appreciated that it wasn’t glitzy. It was simple, natural and authentic. That really appealed to us.”

Lorimer, a writer, editor and radio interviewer in Colorado, began writing a column for the Sun about all the new experiences and things to see on the Island. She said the beach paths were one of the first things that captivated her.

“The fact that they look as if they’ve been left alone to develop naturally gives them a sense of wildness and randomness that’s much more intriguing than landscape design,” she said.

“There is an element of surprise. Each one is different, and it’s the feeling I have when I’m walking down these paths that I try to express in my collages.”

Although she had studied watercolor and sold her art in Colorado, she said it took her awhile to start painting after moving to the Island because “there was so much to absorb and see, and that’s a very important part of painting – looking carefully and getting to know what it is you want to express about the place you are in.”

She attended a workshop in Sarasota to learn collage techniques and began her beach path series using those techniques.

“I approach the art-making process with a feeling of freedom,” she explained. “I let surprises happen because the element of surprise is a part of the experience of being on the path.”

In addition to the series, Lorimer will display her newer acrylic work at the show. These larger pieces are inspired by the feeling of emerging from the path onto the beach.

“ The experience on the path is intimate; the experience on the beach is infinite,” she said. “It’s that sense of endless open space that you see from the high beach that I portray.

“I’m not trying to paint representations of the Island’s beautiful scenes. I’m painting my reaction to the environment here. The only boundaries in these paintings are the horizon or the shoreline, both of which seem to go on forever.”

Lorimer paints in her Holmes Beach studio and in the Sarasota studio of Douglas H. Teller. Her pieces have won awards in Colorado, Sarasota and at the Anna Maria Island Art League, including a Best of Show in 2007. They are in collections in Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Florida.

The Studio at Gulf and Pine is located at 10101 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Signed limited-edition giclée prints of the beach paths will be available at the reception and for the duration of the exhibit, which runs through Jan. 30. Gallery hours are 10 to 2, Tuesday through Saturday.

Paths to the Gulf

Editor’s note: Almost 10 years ago, Maro Lorimer began writing a column for The Sun about being a newcomer to the Island. She called it First Impressions and in it she chronicled what it was like for her as she “discovered” all of the wonder and beauty of this little slice of sand. One of the things that captivated her were the paths that lead to the Island’s beaches. All these years later, she again is capturing her impressions of those paths, this time with collages and paintings. Those efforts will be on display at Maro’s exhibit at The Studio at Gulf and Pine in Anna Maria. We at The Sun are happy to reprint her Beach Paths column from October 2000.

By Maro Lorimer | Sun Correspondent

One good thing about not being able to afford Gulffront property on north Anna Maria Island is that it forces you to walk some of the most beautiful paths in the country to access the beach from your more modest home a few blocks away.

Sure, it would be wonderful to just throw open the French doors and watch the sun set on the water, margarita in hand. But such instant gratification would be less intense than the sensations of walking with running lizards on a leaf-strewn beach-access path; of glimpsing an electric orange sunset sky through dense dark sea grape leaves; of emerging onto the white sand beach bathed in soft, radiant rose.

At other times of day, the paths through the vegetation create equally appealing approaches to the Gulf. A sea grape tunnel or the arch of sea oats on either side of the path may frame some classic beach scene beyond: a chair under a red beach umbrella, children floating on a raft, a solitary bird or just sand, water and sky.

There is a lot of variation in how beach communities deal with public access. At one extreme there is almost no beach access. Dense beachfront development extends for miles and only super-wealthy homeowners or hotel guests have views and access to the beach. The rest of us either drive to public beach parks or sneak through the hotel lobbies, pretending we are guests on the way to the beach.

At the other end of the spectrum, a road might actually run along the beach, or there might be numerous road dead ends at the beach. Such open designs afford frequent water views. If parking is allowed along the road or at the dead ends, then beach access is easy. The problem is that automobiles become a part of the picture, compromising the aesthetics of both approaching and being on the beach.

North Anna Maria Island offers a brilliant compromise between the two extremes of beautiful inaccessible beaches and ugly paved access. With its homes along the beach divided by unmanicured natural access alleys, the results seem satisfying for everyone involved.

A lot of waterfront land is enjoyed privately through this design. The natural rights-of-way create interesting buffers between neighboring houses, while adding wildness to the view from the beach. The fact that there are so many of these access paths reduces the chance that any particular one is used too heavily. Automobiles are not part of the picture. That is one big reason why this picture is beautiful.

This design does not accommodate huge numbers of tourists; yet it allows pedestrian access for anyone who appreciates the quiet naturalness of the place enough to choose to stay on the Island for a holiday, the season or for life. And there are beaches nearby that offer access for car-dependent beach goers.

There is something magical about arriving at a beach on foot. One never knows what one will find: breeze or stillness, waves or reflective flatness, gigantic piles of pastel clouds or clear skies. Are there more people than yesterday? What has washed ashore? When a natural path through vegetation or dunes hides the answers to these questions, the moment of arrival has all the more impact. Anticipation precedes heightened sensation.

Anna Maria Island’s ungroomed footpaths to the beach may total no more than a mile in length, but they take us a very long way. They direct us all the way back to the simple human act of following a trail through nature. They lead our hurried, scattered minds to a more relaxed place from which we can better see the timeless beauty of the beach. They create a sense that we have not entirely lost the wild from our daily existence.