Community Artists Converge In Osceola Park For 9th Annual Art In The Alley

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By: Jan Engoren Contributing Writer

Two young brothers, Marco, 6, and Vinny Boylan, 9, were among the 40 artists who turned out for the 9th Annual Art in the Alley in Osceola Park, off S.E. Fifth Ave., to paint murals to be installed on the west wall of the newly anticipated Aloft Delray Beach hotel.

The event was organized by Delray Beach mural artist Sharon Koskoff, who recently published her second book, “Murals of the Palm Beaches,” and James & Lisa Quillian, 18-year-residents of Delray Beach who live in the Osceola Park neighborhood.

The original impetus for creating the murals was a way to beautify their community.

This year, the event was sponsored by the Aloft Hotel, scheduled to open downtown this spring, with a theme of: “Merging Public Space with Brilliant Minds and Hard Work.”

Additional murals will be hung throughout the alleyways in Osceola Park.

“We wanted to take back our alleys,” said James Quillian, a former teacher. “We cleaned up six alleyways so people can walk their dog, ride a bike or just jog and see the original artwork on display. Passersby may not know why the art is there, but they know they like it when they see it.”

The Quillians donated two of their vacant properties to host the live painting event.

If you didn’t know what you wandered into, you might think you were at a 60s-style “art happening.” Music was pulsing, a BBQ smoker was fired up in the corner, a trailer dispensed food and artists were everywhere painting TropicAlley themes on 8-foot by 4-foot concrete boards.

“This is a true art happening,” said Koskoff, covered in paint and sporting a pair of kitten ears.  “We’ve brought together creativity and community and we’re thankful for the chance to give back to our city.”

She says everyone is welcome to participate and emphasizes the community nature and the accessibility of the project.  She donates all the paint, brushes and other materials and says, “Everything is taken care of.”

“There are no applications, no fees, no red tape, no rejections, no bureaucracy and no waiting,” she said. “Just willing artists who bring their creativity with them.”

One of those artists was Delray Beach painter and sculptor Patty Peters who created an abstract, acrylic drip mural with “the colors of Florida.”

Sky-blue, yellow and oranges flow into one another creating a dream-like quality.

Returning artist Steve Brouse, who teaches kids at the Center for Creative Education in West Palm Beach, and is known for his whimsical murals, was putting the finishing touches on his brightly colored “Tortoise Rising,” mural.

“It makes people feel good,” he said. “It’s a fun, family atmosphere and a great party every year.”

Likewise, Kate Austin, a Delray Beach resident and executive pastry chef, was taking a break from her painting, “Tropical Paradise,” showcasing the ocean, palm trees and clouds in bright tropical colors.

Boca Raton award-winning artist Agata Ren, who often features endangered and extinct species in her work, created a playful canvas with two pink flamingoes separated by a floating pink heart entitled, “Two Flamingos In Love with Tropical Flora and Caribbean Colors.”

It was a family affair for Haley Szekely, 23, her two sisters, Samantha, 21, Kate, 27 and their mom, Cheryl, a dietician and Delray Beach resident.

Haley drove down from Orlando where she’s living and oldest sibling Kate flew in from New York City, where she is a yoga teacher and theatre artist.  All three siblings had completed their tropical-themed triptych.

“This event is a part of why we love Delray,” said Cheryl Szekely.  “Sharon, James and Lisa really make it happen.”

There will be a block party on Sun., Mar. 24 where you can see the art and meet the artists.  Visit ArtintheAlley.org for more details.