What’s going on downtown, Q&A with Venice MainStreet

What’s going on downtown, Q&A with Venice MainStreet

There is a lot happening downtown! Each time you blink something has changed. Venice MainStreet is committed to the Historic Preservation and Economic Vitality of Venice’s heart; downtown. We work closely with a variety of community partners to achieve this goal. Because in this day and age it takes a community to support a historic downtown. We wanted to share with you what is happening downtown now and what you can expect in the future. The hopes are you will help us by doing your holiday shopping downtown and continue supporting our heart while we transition into the future.

The Downton Beautification is an 8.4-million-dollar project initiated by the voter referendum to improve our city’s infrastructure. In fact, the downtown infrastructure greatly needed improvement. Our drainage, pipes and roads were built decades ago to serve a different need and it was time for an upgrade before they failed. During this project sidewalks, benches, trash cans and much of our landscaping will be improved as well. A pedestrian fence, ADA curbing, in pavement lighted midblock crosswalk sign and six new stop signs will be added in an effort to make our downtown safer and more friendly to everyone.

Through all of this downtown is OPEN for business and we need you to continue supporting the shops and restaurants. They are small businesses run by our neighbors. These are people who belong to our community and employ our local families. Thank you to those who have made the commitment to support them through the beautification and we hope those who haven’t yet will consider doing so. When it comes to our historic downtown we are all in this together and we need your help to keep the magic alive. Here are some frequently asked questions about the project and their answers.

Q. Are the shops and restaurants OPEN during Beautification project?
A. The answer is YES! We are open for business and can’t wait to see you downtown.

Q. Where can I park?
A. All downtown parking lots are open and we have plenty of parking available. A helpful hint: Until Christmas just drive into downtown via Tampa Ave and enter Centennial Park from there. You will have no trouble. Find other parking options at www.visitvenicefl.org/island-parking

Q. Where can I find the most up-to-date information on the project:
A. The city’s website hosts this. Visit www.venicegov.com under “I Want to” and then “Find Out More About the Downtown Beautification Project”. Also, regular email updates are sent regarding project activities. You can request to be added to the project email distribution list by sending your email address to Jennifer Dorning, Project Public Information Officer at Jennifer.Dorning@atkinsglobal.com. You can also reach her by phone at 239-338-7723.

Q. What streets are being affected?
A. The three main Avenues of downtown; Venice, Miami and Tampa. As well as Nokomis Avenue and Nassau Street.

Q. What has been done so far?
A. All the underground infrastructure has been completed on W Venice Ave. This was some of the most time consuming work. As of the beginning of November the shade trees, the sidewalk on the south side and the eastbound of W Venice Ave are near completion. The sidewalks are under construction on the north side of W Venice Ave with a plan for completion before Thanksgiving. Paving is scheduled on eastbound W Venice Ave, Nokomis Ave and the 300 block of Miami Ave before Thanksgiving. Westbound W Venice Ave and the 100/200 block of Miami Ave will be nearing completion prior to Christmas. Pedestrian access for your holiday shopping is being maintained to reach shops and restaurants.

Q. Will traffic patterns and sidewalks widths be changed with this project?
A. No. All traffic patterns will remain the same with 4-way stop signs being added to Tampa/Nokomis, Nassau/Venice and Nokomis/Venice Avenues for added safety. The sidewalk widths remain the same with added decorative paver borders along the curb.

Q. When will the Beautification be completed?
A. Venice and Miami Avenues are scheduled to have the majority of the work completed by Christmas when the focus will turn to Tampa Avenue. Final completion of the project is currently scheduled for March 2019. Remember, this is an estimate and dependent on many factors including weather.

Q. Why was this project started?
A. Two years ago the residents of Venice voted to upgrade and repave 74 miles of roadway and rehabilitate the downtown infrastructure, which had cracking roads, sidewalks and failing drainage infrastructure. To supplement funding, $2 million in grants were obtained.

Q. Why did they remove many of the palm trees?
A. Seventy-four the palm trees were removed. Most were severely diseased or wind damaged. They were at risk of falling over and would need to be replaced soon regardless of the project.

Q. Will they replace the palm trees?
A. Yes, over 370 new trees will be planted along Venice, Miami and Tampa Avenues. The new plantings include palm trees and shade trees along the sidewalks, too.

Q. Why are the crosswalks changing recently?
A. New federal mandates require the city to maintain proper crosswalks. It’s called ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliance. Our new compliant crosswalks will be much safer for our community of all ages and activities. New pavers will also make them beautiful! The crosswalks will be completed as each avenue is completed.

Q. What will happen to the Holiday Parade and other events?
A. Regardless of the beautification project we have had many successful and fun events downtown through the summer and we will continue to do so. The Free Friday Night Concerts begin again on November 23rd and the Holiday Parade will be November 24th on Tampa Avenue.

Q. What can I do to help?
A. Shop downtown, dine downtown and tell your friends to do the same. If you have any questions call Venice MainStreet and we would be happy to point you in the right direction 941-484-6722. Check www.visitvenicefl.org for a calendar of happenings downtown.

Eyes Skyward

Eyes Skyward

by Marty Damon

The beachgoer in “Venice Girl,” Karen Chandler’s winning poster entry for the 31st Annual Venice Art Festival, might just be telling us we’ll all need shades for Venice’s bright future after the Downtown Beautification Project. Each year artists submit entries to the blind judging, hoping for their work to be chosen as that year’s signature image.

This year’s winner, Karen Chandler, is a professional artist who lives on the island of Venice and whose work can be enjoyed and purchased locally. She has been painting in oils over twenty-five years, and studied at the Stevenson Academy of Traditional Painting in New York, but her field of study has been anything but traditional. She went on to study design at the New York School of Visual Arts, and photography at the New York Institute of Technology, and she later included in her work acrylics and computer art.

Karen’s affiliations are as eclectic as her range of study. She is a member of the Society of Illustrators, providing illustrations for major publishers such as Simon and Schuster and Random House. She’s been associated with the NASA Space Art Program and Air Force Art Program since 1990, and her works hang at the Kennedy Space Center and the Pentagon. Her art is also in public and private collections across the country. Given her aeronautical connections, it’s especially appropriate that the figure in her winning entry, “Venice Girl,” stands in front of the dramatic Venice Beach Pavilion, with the wings of its concrete roof soaring skyward.

Prints, T-shirts, and tank tops of “Venice Girl” are all $20 each and are available for purchase at the Venice MainStreet office, 101 West Venice Avenue, Suite 23, Monday through Friday from 9–5pm. They’ll also be available at the Venice MainStreet booth at the 2019 downtown art and craft festivals. For more information call 941-484-6722

We’re Hiring! Marketing/Administrative Assistant

We’re Hiring! Marketing/Administrative Assistant

30 hours a week, Monday – Friday 9-3 (schedule negotiable)
Reports to CEO

Work for a fun, dynamic and innovative nonprofit! Venice MainStreet Inc is a 31-year-old nonprofit dedicated to preserving and promoting Historic Downtown Venice. Our small but mighty staff and 100 volunteers work to market the district, produce great events, attract visitors and invest in infrastructure above and beyond what the city can do.

Our assistant will fill two roles:
1. Marketing duties include managing social media accounts, managing VisitVeniceFL.org, creating newsletters, writing newspaper articles and press releases, creating and distributing fliers.
2. Assist the CEO and Events Coordinator by undertaking daily administrative tasks to ensure the functionality and coordination of the office, including answering phones, accounts receivables, mailings.

Proven experience managing large social media accounts
Good understanding of office management and marketing principles
Demonstrable ability to multi-task and adhere to deadlines
Well-organized with a customer-oriented approach
Exquisite communication and people skills
Able to work with people from many backgrounds
Experienced with Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, Word Press, Quick Books, Microsoft Excel, Outlook

Pay: $12 – $14 /hour
With opportunity for commission

Email resume and cover letter to applications@venicemainstreet.com.

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

It’s hard enough deciding where to go on vacation, but once that decision is made, then you need to decide where to stay. For most people, Florida means the beach, and the closer you can get to it, the better.

Choose the Inn at the Beach, and the name alone shows you’ve reached your goal.  Venice beach is waiting, just steps from your hotel door, for a morning stroll, an afternoon of sunbathing, or a last look at the sunset.

Yet it’s not just all about location, location. Past guests have shared descriptions such as “impeccably maintained,” “manicured grounds,” and “extremely attentive staff.” Large enough to offer a variety of room styles and small enough to provide personalized attention, the Inn at the Beach can accommodate every kind of vacationer. You can begin with a complimentary continental breakfast, then later just lounge by the heated pool, or you can step out to West Venice Avenue and stroll to Venice’s many shops and restaurants. 

With the Inn at the Beach’s central location on Venice island, guests have easy access to golf courses, bike trails, tennis courts, and boating. In the evening there are other decisions to make, such as whether to choose a performance at Venice Theatre, one of the largest community theaters in the country, or perhaps an exhibit or jazz concert at Venice Art Center.

Whether it’s equipping you with something as simple as a beach chair, or providing accommodations for a 19 member reunion, the friendly staff of the Inn at the Beach has done it all. As Pat Peterson from Massachusetts says, “It’s like visiting family!”

Venice MainStreet Inc. Establishes Endowment Fund

Venice MainStreet Inc. Establishes Endowment Fund

Venice MainStreet, Inc. Board of Directors, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is pleased to announce, it has established an endowment fund through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The purpose of this fund is to support future community projects that enhance the Venice Community and ensure Venice MainStreet thrives for decades to come.

Those contributing to Venice MainStreet Endowment Fund are not only enhancing the experience of the community today but also nurturing the hopes and ambitions of generations to come. Through activities such as public art projects, beautification, historic preservation and social experiences, Venice will remain a thriving place for business and have an even stronger sense of community. John and his daughter, Ali Hinshaw of H&H Signs made the first contribution to the fund, “to show our commitment to the beautification and community happiness of our special place on earth.”

“Gulf Coast Community Foundation is a strong believer in a vibrant Venice downtown,” said Dr. Mark S. Pritchett, President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “We applaud Venice MainStreet Inc. for starting this endowment and for donors like the Hinshaws for generously supporting it. Together, we will work to create a bright future for downtown Venice.”

The Venice MainStreet Board of Directors is committed to accountability and transparency for the protection of every community investment. Significant steps have been taken to ensure the safety of these investments and multiple board actions are required to withdraw any endowed funds.

A donation also enables this 31-year-old community organization to weather the inevitable ups and downs of the broader economy. For more information, contact Venice MainStreet CEO, Erin Silk at 941-484-6722 or Erin@venicemainstreet.com.

Octoberfest: Venice Style

Octoberfest: Venice Style

Venice MainStreet is asking the community to put on their clogs and get ready to sample and shop during the Octoberfest: Venice Style, October 4 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Those who purchase a ticket will be able to enjoy a fall-themed beer tasting at each of the participating locations. 

Attendees will have a variety of brews available as they shop from store to store. Participating Businesses will be pouring 3-ounce tastings into the small sampling steins on lanyards that each participant will receive with their map of participating locations.Beers include, Ace Pumpkin, Boid City 1901 Red, Blue Point Beach Plum, Boulevard Tropical, Elysian Nightowl, Funky Buddha Pineapple Beach, Founders Centennial, Goose Island Oktoberfest, Golden Road Melon Cart, Highland Daycation, Karbachtoberfest, Narragansett Fresh Catch, Proof Mango Wit, Swamp Head Wild Night, Shocktop, Sweetwater G13, Shipyard Pumpkinhead, Uinta Baba Black, Victory Festbier, Budweiser Copper Reserve, Shipyard Blood Orange, Bit Top Hawaiian Lion, Big Top Conch Republic, Kona Hanalei Island, Motorworks Pulp Friction, Motorworks V Twin and more!

“We’re expecting around 2,000 people for this event,” said Nick Sperry, Events and Partnership Coordinator for VMS. “This is a new event but it’s gaining so much traction in just the last couple days alone. We can’t wait to see the turn out.”

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online here. They can also be purchased on the day of at the Centennial Park Kiosk or Burgundy Square Breezeway. Guests can pick up their stein and lanyard, and list of beer-tasting locations at the kiosk or breezeway at 5:00 p.m. on the day of.

Venice MainStreet Inc. is working hard on future events as well, such as the Masquerade Ball and Downtown Trick or Treating. For more information on any of these events, contact the VMS office at (941) 484-6722.

Venice MainStreet’s Look Ahead for October

Venice MainStreet’s Look Ahead for October

Venice MainStreet has been creating events to help support local businesses over the summer and it isn’t slowing down in October. The spooky month kicks off with Octoberfest: Venice Style, October 4th 5-8pm.

“Residents and visitors love our Wine Walks and we knew we wanted to add another event to bring people downtown in October, so we developed Octoberfest: Venice Style,” Said Erin Silk, CEO of Venice MainStreet “Participating businesses will be serving 3 ounce samples of more than 20 varieties of brews and restaurants will be having specials and deals exclusive to the participants.”

The Octoberfest will run much like the very popular downtown wine walks. For $10, participants will receive a specialty sampling mug and a map that shows all of the participating businesses. They’ll be able to spend the evening sampling and shopping throughout downtown. The event will be limited to 2,000 participants said Silk. “You can purchase your tickets early at visitvenicefl.org/store or the day-of downtown. We’re asking our community to come out and support our local merchants by shopping and eating in some of the most wonderful stores and restaurants in Florida.”

The 2nd Annual Masquerade Ball will be held on October 27th starting at 9 p.m. at Made in Italy. This is a fundraiser for Venice MainStreet. and, if it’s anything like last year, it should be a great time. There will be live music and raffles. Participants are encouraged to dress in their best Masquerade costume. Admission is free.

The month finishes out with the Downtown’s Halloween Trick or Treat event. Thousands of ghouls, goblins and monsters will descend upon Venice on the hunt for candy. The event will see some minor changes due to the downtown Beautification Project but children will still be able to go Trick or Treating throughout the Downtown businesses on October 31st. For more information on events, go to visitvenicefl.org or find Venice MainStreet on Facebook. See you on the Avenues.

30TH Anniversary for MainStreet Inc.

30TH Anniversary for MainStreet Inc.

Venice MainStreet Inc., a volunteer driven 501(c)3 non-profit organization, celebrated its 30th anniversary as an accredited Main Street Program during the Secretary of State Awards Banquet at the Florida Main Street Annual Conference, held at Vero Beach, Fla., July 31.

Venice MainStreet was founded in May of 1987 by the Downtown Venice Association and accredited by the Florida and National Main Street organizations in 1988. Out of the 50 Florida Main Street organizations, Venice is one of the oldest.

“This is only possible due to the efforts of thousands of volunteers of three decades,” said Erin Silk, CEO of VMS Inc. “We’re also grateful to our community and business partners for contributing. They allow us to continue to do what we love to do, and that’s support the amazing city of Venice.”

The organization works in historic preservation, beautification, promotion and economic revitalization of Historic Downtown Venice, Florida.

“We’re excited to see what the next 30 years holds for Venice and Venice MainStreet.,” Silk stated.

“Made up of small towns, mid-sized communities, and urban commercial districts, the thousands of organizations, individuals, volunteers, and local leaders that make up Main Street America™ represent the broad diversity that makes this country so unique. Working together, the Main Street America Network helps to breathe new life into the places people call home,” according to www.mainstreet.org.

Each Brushstroke is a Decision

Each Brushstroke is a Decision

By: Marty Damon

Acclaimed Venice painter Mary Erickson could likely still produce the wedding cake of your dreams, but having just completed her 5,004th painting, she’d have trouble finding the time. It’s been an eclectic journey for Mary, from business school student to pastry chef to learning the ropes behind an art gallery counter, but each step formed the foundation for her successful thirty-year career.

Mary made her first sale at the age of 13, but was unable to attend art school, a circumstance she says proved to be, “The best thing that never happened to me.” Instead, she took business courses and worked as a pastry chef through her twenties. During these years she learned how to manage a business effectively and to deal with the fiscal responsibilities it entails, skills that proved invaluable as her career took off.

Mary continued building her knowledge after moving to Venice in 1986, where she was employed in a local gallery, and learned framing, marketing, and built her contacts in the art world. For years she carried her easel to the beach to fit in a few hours of painting before and after work until one day she brought a watercolor she’d just finished into the gallery. It sold that day. She brought in another one the next day and it sold as well. Seven years after she’d arrived in Venice, she began painting full time and now her work is a fixture in galleries in Charlotte, NC; Charleston, SC; St. Simons Island, GA; Naples, FL; Sarasota, FL; and Newport, RI.

Mary’s Venice paintings usually get their start on Casperson beach, one of her favorite places to paint because of its unspoiled beauty. You’ll find her there at sunrise, catching the cast of the light and the mood of a scene. She may produce a finished plein air piece, or carry a study back to her studio for further work. Ultimately, her goal is to bring her viewer into the painting to imagine the wind, the sun, and the sounds of that moment for themselves.
Mary’s reverence for nature is evident in her work, but also the groups to which she belongs. She is a founding member of the Southern Plein Air Artists, a juried member of Artists for Conservation and the Society of Animal Artists, the American Society of Marine Artists, and artists’ organizations dedicated to recording the southern landscape. In fact, every Mary Erickson print edition includes a special edition of 100 prints used exclusively to raise funds for conservation, preservation, and educational organizations throughout the USA.

As a world traveler, mentor, and ardent conservationist, Mary carries her passion for art and nature with her from Maine to Florida. After enjoying the winter at her studio on Venice Island, she’s on the road.

This spring her first stop will be France, where she will follow in the tradition of earlier plein air painters by gathering field studies to use as the basis of larger works. In the summer she’ll return to Port Clyde, Maine where she rents a large house and opens it to other artists for days of painting and evenings of art discussions.

With fall she plans to return to Europe, this time for the scenery of Italy, and in November she’ll be back to settle into her studio in Marshville, NC, where her 39 acre home will be one day become an artist retreat and bird sanctuary.

Visit www.HighRidgeGardens.org for more information.

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