Sketching For The Future

Visual Arts


Gathering every Friday, usually somewhere in Downtown Sarasota, the members of the Sarasota Urban Sketchers set up their easels and their notepads, their pens, pencils and watercolors, and set to sketching. A loosely formed organization of largely amateurs, the group meets on a weekly basis for the simple enjoyment of the art and pleasure of each other’s company. But last month, the artists of Sarasota Urban Sketchers proved that once again a small group of determined people can make a difference, with a donation of near $3000 for two local schools from the collective’s first group show and fundraiser.

Founded almost two years ago by Faith Reynolds, art classes at Selby Gardens turned into something more as she took to sketching on her own about town on Fridays. First one friend tagged along and then two and then friends of friends and today Sarasota Urban Sketchers boasts around 30 members. Intentionally informal, Reynolds sends out an email each Wednesday notifying the group of the next location and those who can attend do. Typically nine to 13 sketchers come out every week.

But all of the members chipped in for Sarasota Urban Sketchers’ first group show, held this past March at Malbi Décor on Pineapple Avenue. Organizing with Malbi owner Maria Alberta Borri, Reynolds and the other members contributed original work for sale while Borri and other local merchants offered items for raffle—with 100% of the proceeds going to the art departments at Booker Middle School and Horizons Academy. “We knew the schools were underfunded in their arts,” says Reynolds, but they didn’t know how badly. Visiting the schools later, she remembers a young and talented art teacher showing her the cabinet where he kept his class’ art supplied. “We were appalled,” says Reynolds. “They were hardly there.” When students painted murals on the walls of the school building, they used leftover house paint donated by teachers.

As for the sketchers, many of them had never sold a painting, but that changed rather quickly. More than 100 people came out for the show at Malbi, estimates Reynolds, and the show generated $2,900 to be divided evenly and presented to Booker Middle and Horizon Academy. The artists were “thrilled,” says Reynolds, but unsurprised. “People in this area are pretty generous,” she says.

Looking to the future, Reynolds says that the group will return to both school to sketch with the students, but other than that aims to continue how it has—informal, fun and open to all. Always looking for new members, Reynolds says it’s never too late to join. “We have infinite places to sketch in Sarasota,” she says. From the Ringling Museum to Selby Gardens or just any of the many interesting perspectives and constructions that can be found in the city, there’s always something new to capture with a blank sheet of paper.

For those looking to join, the Sarasota Urban Sketchers can be found on Facebook and Reynolds can be reached at

Pictured: The Sarasota Urban Sketchers present funds raised to Horizon Academy�s art department. Left to right, Assistant Principal Ryan Clarke, artist Amy Harding, artist Brandy Braver, Malbi proprietor Maria Borri, artist Faith Reynolds, Horizon

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