Supporters of the Women’s Club of Vero Beach tapped into their inner artists at an inaugural Paint and Sip event taught by Mary Lou Mullan, well-known local artist and art teacher.
The Women’s Club was founded in 1915, predating both the incorporation of Vero Beach in June 1919 and the creation of Indian River County, which separated from St. Lucie County in May 1925. Irene Young, a founding member and the club’s first president, was the wife of Anthony W. Young, who became Vero’s first major.
The building, one of the oldest in Vero Beach and its first library, was completed in 1916 and was added to the US National Register of Historic Places in February 1995. It is currently available for event rentals.
Its current members, adhering to the club’s original motto of “In Unity There is Strength,” are hoping to expand the membership into the next generations of women, while also raising funds to renovate the landmark building through donations and fundraisers such as this one.
“For the building fund, I think we’re shooting for about $300,000. We have about $40,000 already raised,” said Charlotte Terry, club president, adding that the funds are being held by the Indian River Community Foundation. “So we need a new roof, we need new wiring, we need new plumbing. Pretty much everything.”
In some ways, current members are channeling those of the past. In “Women’s Suffrage,” a film by the Indian River County Historical Society, County Historian Ruth Stanbridge related that as women were not allowed to have their own bank accounts, those first members raised money for the building by selling cabbage.
There was no cabbage at this event, just wine and canvases and an invitation to paint one of Florida’s most famous scenes, the beach.
“We capped it at 20, because that’s what the artist wanted,” said Terry, crediting the idea for the event to Samantha McCracken, the club’s program committee chair. “We actually had to turn people away.”
Mullan had put a line of painters’ tape on each of the canvases to delineate the horizon line, with the sky the top, ocean at the bottom, and supplied everyone with the acrylic paints they would need.
“I was going to give them a pre-painted example, but what I find is if you show everybody what you want at the beginning, they just want to focus on that. I just want everybody to use their own creativity and to follow their own color scheme and use mine as an example of how you do it,” said Mullan.
In November, Mullan will be introducing Painting on the Farm, at Joy Farms (west of town on 69th street) Thursdays and Saturdays. Details at MaryLouMullan.com.
“We’re trying to start a real co-op farm community to bring people to the farm. We’re going to grow herbs and flowers, and there are chickens and cows and wild boars,” said Mullan. “We’re going to be putting in a farm store and we just want to have a community of people to help them.”
The Women’s Club has a few other upcoming events through the end of the year. The first is a double feature Halloween Movie Night starting at 6:30 pm Friday, Oct. 28, with “Hocus Pocus” for the youngsters followed by “The Shining” for braver souls.
Next is a Floral Artistry Seminar with a master artist from Always in Bloom, 6 pm Wednesday Nov. 16, where guests will create a Thanksgiving arrangement. And finally, from 8 am to 11 am Saturday Dec. 17, bring the little ones to Breakfast with Santa.
For more information, visit VeroBeachWomensClub.org.
Photos by Joshua Kodis