In the month of March, DAAS Co-Op Art Gallery & Gifts is showcasing two guest exhibitions simultaneously.
Arnold Plasencia is a visually impaired artist, suffering from a rare disease called Stargardts. Pushing through the limitations, he is a dedicated painter bringing awareness to this degenerative condition.
The Lee Art Education Association (LAEA) is composed of art teachers from private and public institutions in Lee County. The group will be displaying recent works in a variety of mediums. The dual opening reception is scheduled for Friday, March 4 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. in conjunction with the monthly Fort Myers Art Walk. The exhibition will be on display through March 27.
Arnold Plasencia’s condition began in his childhood, and it went misdiagnosed for several years. “The [Stargardts] disease is a form of macular degeneration which causes cells in the macula to die off causing loss of central vision and in some cases, like in mine, color blindness,” explains the artist.
“Due to the lack of good medical insurance, I was never properly diagnosed until three years ago, at the age of 35. By that point my vision loss acuity was 20/500 and I had lost full central vision and most color,” adds Plasencia, who struggled with the diagnosis and was declared permanently disabled. With the help and support of loved ones, Plasencia started using art as away to cope with his depressive state of mind. The first piece painted after his diagnosis was a portrait of his recently passed grandmother. “A dear friend told me to not focus on what I could no longer do, but rather focus on what I could still do, and to simply change the way I did things. Those words resonated with me,” adds Plasencia.
For this exhibition, Plasencia is focused on his life while living with Stargardts disease. His intention is to portray an artistic view of how he sees the world. His hopes are to inspire everyone with this collection, especially those with any forms of disability. “I want [people]to realize that our disabilities are not death sentences. The human body is amazing and the way it adapts is nothing less than incredible. We can do amazing things despite our disabilities.” – concludes the artist.
The LAEA celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2021. These talented artists and educators are excited to share some of their personal and professional artworks with the community. A wide variety of mediums and subject matters will be represented in this show, but the common theme will be the love and passion of educating and inspiring our local youth to take pride in the arts.
Art teachers Scott Guelcher and Angel Elza are two of the participating members. Guelcher has been teacher for 15 years and spent his last 12 years as the 2D art teacher and Art Department Head at Island Coast High School. Elza has also been teaching elementary art at River Hall Elementary in Alva since 2019 and is very passionate about spreading her love of art to her over one thousand students there. Since moving to SW Florida in 2014, her artwork has been on display in several shows at HOWL Gallery and the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.
DAAS Co-Op Art Gallery & Gifts is located at 1815 Fowler St. in the Butterfly Estates complex in Fort Myers. The gallery’s business hours are Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information about the venue can be found at www.daascoop.com or by calling 239-590-8645.