Seven Local Artists Decorate Geckos For Charity Auction


GULFPORT, FL: Seven large steel geckos will be the centerpiece of a live auction to benefit a planned public art installation in Gulfport’s Waterfront District. Each of the steel geckos will be hand-decorated by local artists and will be displayed in locations throughout the Gulfport Waterfront District from Monday, August 15th until Friday, August 26th. The geckos will be up for auction during this year’s Gecko Ball on Saturday, August 27th at the historic Peninsula Inn, 2937 Beach Blvd. South in Gulfport. Each gecko will be a prized collector’s art piece and will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist(s). Organizers initiated the Artists’ Gecko Auction last year with much success, and hope to continue it as an annual event at each Gecko Ball.

The seven finished geckos will be displayed at the following Gulfport locations in the 12 days leading up to the Gecko Ball: Backfin Blue Café (2913 Beach Blvd.), O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille (5405 Shore Blvd.), Peg’s Cantina & Brew Pub (3038 Beach Blvd.), Peninsula Inn & Spa (2937 Beach Blvd.), Pia’s Trattoria (3054 Beach Blvd.), Stella’s Deli (3119 Beach Blvd.), T & Me Tea Co. (2908 ½ Beach Blvd. in Art Village Courtyard.)

Artists either from Gulfport or with ties to Gulfport have volunteered their time and talent to decorate a gecko. Biographical information has been contributed by the participating artists. Owen Pach is an artist living and working in Gulfport. Although a glass blower for almost 30 years, his work also incorporates stone, forged steel and copper. Frank Strunk is an artist from the wrong side of the tracks. His art shows nationally and internationally. He makes things out of other things. The paintings and photographs of Gulfport artist Cheryll Grogan represent her care and concern for the environment. She paints realism and represents slices of life where nature and people collide. Gulfport artist Brian Ottoson uses the ocean and beauty of nature as inspiration for his intricate sculptures, hand-carved pendants and paintings. Using reclaimed, recycled, and locally harvested trees, his artwork can be found in private collections, city installations, and businesses throughout the United States. Victoria Anne Wenners is a talented mosaic artist who also works as a muralist and portraitist. She is also known as the “Empress of Henna” body decorations, setting up at outdoor festivals and markets to offer her personalized art work on flesh. Two of the geckos have been transformed by two-artist teams. Dominice Gilbert has worked extensively in large-scale metal sculpture. She also casts and fabricates in plastic, silicone, and plaster, creates wooden boxes and furniture, sews clothing and cloth forms, and repurposes and builds with found objects. She also has her own line of all natural soaps and lotions she makes under the name Hot Bath. For one of the geckos, Dominice has teamed with J.R. Lodico, an experienced blacksmith and welder, who teaches blacksmithing and metalworking, and has over seven years experience restoring complex structures, primarily historical monuments as well as custom design work across various industries. Artists Kimberly Dawn and Dan MacCosbe have also teamed together for one of the geckos to be auctioned. Kimberly has been a full-time folk artist for over 16 years, combining found objects and her unique painting style to create a visual celebration of life and love. Dan MacCosbe has been a full time artist for two years following a career as an architectural draftsman. Dan uses acrylic, ink, and collage to create paintings that juxtapose chaos and order, darkness and light with a touch of humor at the edges.

The theme of the 2011 Gecko Ball is THE LIZARD OF OZ. Oz-inspired décor will take over the entire Peninsula Inn. Admission includes an Oz-inspired dinner buffet, live music and dancing featuring Kevin Wilder and his Yellow Brick Roadies, a photo booth with Oz backdrops, cash bar and drink specials including Geckotinis and Ruby Slippers, silent auctions and other surprises. Costumes are encouraged, but are not mandatory. Sculptures by Owen Pach will be awarded to first, second and third-place costume contest winners. Tickets are $25 each and are available at The Outpost (3007 Beach Blvd.), Domain Home Accessories (3129 Beach Blvd.) and T & Me Tea Co. (2908 ½ Beach Blvd.) in Gulfport. Tickets may also be purchased online with a credit or debit card at For more information on the Gecko Ball or Artist’s Gecko Auction, contact Daniel Hodge at 727-366-4086 or email

The Gecko Ball takes place one week prior to GeckoFest, Gulfport’s largest street festival of the year, on September 3rd, noon – 10 p.m. Gecko Fest is free and open to all. A portion of proceeds from each event will benefit a planned public art installation in the Waterfront District of Gulfport.