Frieda Van Pelt

FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 12, 2013) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation invited legally-blind artist Frieda Van Pelt to conduct a class at its art exhibit open house on Friday, March 1.

A volunteer instructor at the Lighthouse of SWFL, Van Pelt conducted a live demonstration of how she paints without being able to physically see her canvas. She also encouraged guests to create their own work of art while wearing special goggles that simulate different types of blindness, such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

“The Foundation was excited to host this fantastic collaboration between artists, nonprofits and the community,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the SWFLCF. “Frieda is an inspiration for what can be accomplished by not letting adversity gain control over our skills and personal passions.”

Two pieces of art also sold during the open house: “Oh!” a sculpture by John Merchant and “Street Musician Blues,” a painting by Ray Randlett.

The Community Foundation will hold its final art open house of the season on Friday, April 5, from 4 to 6 p.m., and will feature artists Chris Vernier-Pesce, Judy Usavage, John Merchant and Paula Eckerty.

Located in the Community Foundation’s public spaces at 8771 College Parkway, Building 2, Suite 201 in Fort Myers, the art exhibit includes pieces on loan and for sale from 32 local artists and one organization. These pieces range from photography and carved wood to textiles, fused glass and various sculptures, as well as traditional acrylic, watercolor and medium paintings.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation is celebrating its 36th year of supporting the communities of Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, and Hendry counties by connecting donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $64 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $54 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. During its 2012 fiscal year, the SWFLCF granted more than $3 million to more than 100 different organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts and human services.

For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit

Vicki Baker and Jan Faber

Tom Smoot, Dawn-Marie Driscoll, Doug MacGregor and Gay Thompson

Sue Wild and Caroline MacGregor

Scott White and Frieda Van Pelt

Sarah Owen, Frieda Van Pelt and Dawn-Marie Driscoll

Sarah Owen painting

Sarah Owen and Doug MacGregor

Dawn-Marie Driscoll painting

Dawn-Marie Driscoll’s artwork

KP Stanchi painting

Jane and Eugene Geronime

Jacqueline Ehlers in goggles

Jacqueline Ehlers and Alex Lago

Frieda Van Pelt

Dawn-Marie Driscoll Robert and Marilyn Hedlund

Archie Hayward, Doug MacGregor and Jay Brett