Today’s Throw Back Thursday, and I’d like to reflect back on “Doors of Opportunity.”

One of my earliest Paint Out Loud performances took place in the Fall of 2010 at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in the downtown Fort Myers River District. Jim Griffith and the Art Center were hosting a show in which artists and school children had rendered paintings on doors they purchased from the Davis Art Center.

The doors, which no longer met Building Code requirements, had been donated to the Art Center and the exhibition was a fundraiser designed to help Jim Griffith and Florida Arts pay for the ongoing restoration of the building. [The building suffered a lot of water damage from leaks in the roof after the courthouse moved to its new location in 1998. Just look at what Jim Griffith found when he finally took over the building.]

Among those taking part in the exhibition were Cesar Aguilera (who won of Best of Show), Pamela Allen, Lia Galletti, Andrea Guerrero, Doug McGregor and Jim Crane, Mel Meo, Annette Nelson, Debby Rennirt, Kathy Robinson -Vicki Green and Bonnie Bohn, FGCU students, Fort Myers High School, Canterbury School and the YMCA Kids’ Camp.

The plan was for me to paint live during the show’s opening reception. As funds were tight, I purchased a hollow wood door at Home Depot, cut it in half and took the two pieces to the Davis Art Center where, during the reception, I painted The Doors on the doors to the sounds of Light My Fire, People Are Strange, Love Me Two Times and other songs made famous by The Doors while hundreds of people milled through the grand atrium watching me paint and taking in the exhibit. (I’m not really a Jim Morrison or a Doors’ fan but, hey, I am a good sport and that was, after all, the theme of the exhibition. I mean, who else could they pick for a Doors of Opportunity exhibition?)

Although he’d been working to restore the old federal courthouse/post office building for quite some time, I had never really crossed paths with Jim Griffith, and he probably thought I was something of a diva when I told him I’d do the event provided they gave me someone to load and unload all my art supplies and be with me during the performance in case I needed something on the spot. (Setting up for a performance and tearing down afterwards takes a huge amount of time and energy, which Jim didn’t realize at the time.) But then one of the two paintings I did that night sold for $3,000, with the proceeds going to the Art Center, and Jim would have happily provided me with an army of helpers had I asked for them. I didn’t, of course, and today Jim and I are really good friends.

The Doors of Opportunity exhibition closed on November 18, but the show wasn’t over. The exhibit traveled across town to the second floor Truck Center Gallery of Fort Myers Toyota (“The Family Store”) on Colonial Boulevard, where the paintings were open to the public starting with the dealership’s 12-Hour Days Sales Event that began on Black Friday (November 26).

A week later, on Sunday, December 5, I did another Paint Out Loud performance during a grand afternoon reception using a door from a Toyota Tacoma supplied by the Fort Myers Certified Collision Center. As I recall, Elijah Green provided the live entertainment.

The show remained up over the holidays, finally closing on January 9, 2011.

Overall, it was a great opportunity to acquaint the public with my performance art and benefit two worthy causes. Each of the artists who sold paintings during the show donated the proceeds of sale to the Homeless Coalition and to the Davis Art Center for restoration of one of Fort Myers most historic and beloved landmarks.