The Abstract Destiny of Mixed Media Artist Barbara Brenton


Artist Barbara Brenton had it all planned out, business curriculum in high school, followed by college and a successful career in securities and real estate.  A well strategized career would take some abstract turns for Brenton.  From a small town inIndiana, Barbara moved ten times for her career, living inIndianapolis,New York,Philadelphia,Stamford,CT, andSouthern California. But, a successful career could not quiet the artistic voice inside Brenton that began rumbling in high school.  “When I was a senior in high school I had two study halls periods and wanted to take art lessons in place of one of the study halls,” explains Barbara. “Because I was taking a business curriculum my guidance counselor wouldn’t permit me to take art lessons because ‘it didn’t fit my program’. Probably much to her disgust, I sat in study hall drawing and doodling and told myself some day I’ll take art lessons in spite of her.”

Ten career moves offered Brenton the artistic opportunity missed in high school. In New York Brenton studied at The New School and inLaguna Beach,CaliforniaBarbara attended classes at the Laguna School of Arts. InConnecticut, Brenton took a 12-week drawing course that met two times a week at theSilverMineArtSchoolinNew Canaan.  In 1998, Brenton relocated toNew York Citywhere she decided she had enough of the fast paced world of finance and decided to move permanently to theNaplesandBonitaSpringsarea to focus on her artistic voice.Image

Brenton took full advantage of the artistic opportunities inSouthwest Florida, including joining the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs and taking classes and workshops offered there regularly.  Brenton took a number of workshops with artist, Robert Burridge who teaches annual workshops at the Center for the Arts.  Brenton’s abstract work, which she describes as “eclectic, contemporary, abstract, mixed media, take your pick,” met with immediate approval.  Barbara’s work won her first place in the Center for the Arts “Annual Members Show,” and “Abstract Exhibition” in 2009 followed by another first place award at the “Hot, Hot, Hot” Exhibition in July of 2011.

“Her work is powerful, colorful and often contains an amazing sense of depth,” offers Susan Bridges, President of the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs on Barbara Brenton’s mixed media art.  Brenton’s involvement with the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs includes sharing a studio space with fellow students and abstract artists, Eileen Walden Johnson and Ursula Cappelletti. Brenton’s current work is among her favorite, created from a process she has developed over the past two years.

“A couple of years ago I took a two-day image transfer workshop that taught us how an image that had been photocopied or scanned into and printed from an inkjet printer could be transferred onto canvas, wood, or an artist panel,” explains Barbara. “In that class we experimented with transferring copies of gift wrap, pictures from newspapers and magazines, and photographs onto small wood panels. The light bulb went off in my mind and thought this would be a great thing to do with photographs of my own artwork. However, since my nature is to add my own twist to the process I had to come up with something a little different. What I discovered is that through the use of Adobe Photoshop Elements I could crop a section from a picture of an original painting and then use special affects in the computer program to transform the cropped section. The results are bolts of color and indescribable shapes. Not stopping there I then create what I call a 2nd generation painting of the special effects. In other words, it’s a painting of my painting”.

Current examples of this process “Tutti Frutti” and “Follow the Leader,” are on exhibit at the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs “Member Show,” on display through February 22, 2012.  Brenton’s work can be seen Monday through Saturday, 10:00am -3:00pm in Studio 156 at the Artist Studio’s at the Promenade inBonitaBay.  Brenton’s artistic voice remains as simple as it was in high school.

“I don’t have any grandiose purpose for creating art other than it keeps me entertained and it’s something I like to do,” explains Barbara. “If someone else likes it, too, then that’s a compliment and inspires me to keep painting. I paint for myself.”

To learn more about Barbara Brenton and the Artist Studio’s at the Promenade, contact the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs at 239-495-8989.

Those who join the Center for the Arts for the first time receive 2 tickets to one of this season’s Live at the Promenade Performances.  The Center for the Arts offers this promotion for first time members.


Bonita Springs’ Cultural Jewel Continues to Shine Brightly on February 11 & 12

IF YOU GO: TheBonitaSpringsNational Art Festival
WHEN: Saturday and Sunday from 10am -5pm.  February 11 & 12, 2012
NEXT FESTIVAL: March 10 & 11, 2012
Information: 495-8989 or
: Optional $5 Donation

 If a city is lucky, it finds its sweet spot with a cultural gem.  Bostonowns the 4th of July with the Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade and firework show rivaled only byHong Kong’s celebration on Chinese New Year.  Jazz lovers flock to Newport Rhode Island for the Jazz Festival that continues to draw music legends who play to growing crowds that arrive a week early to stake out their spot on the lawn. BonitaSprings found its Sweet Spot with the Bonita Springs National Art Festival.   The festival, which began 13 years ago, not only continues to draw record crowds and top national rankings, but also maintains its place as the key festival many of the nations best artists apply to each year.

 Southwest Florida’s cultural jewel shines again the weekend of February 11 and 12, when 211 national and international artists travel toBonita Springsto showcase their talent at the Promenade inBonita Springs. This acclaimed collection of fine arts and crafts draws thousands of local and out of state art collectors who visit the Festivals in search of the newest addition for their home, office or client’s collection.  It is this commitment to excellence that has earned the Bonita Springs National Art Festivals the distinction of #1 in the Southwest Floridaand #4 in the nation.

“It is one of my best shows where I meet some of my collectors and potential buyers, also I feel that my work is greatly appreciated here,” offers award winning textile artist Viviana Santamarina on the Bonita Springs National Art Festival. Originally fromBuenos Aires, Viviana lives inSan Franciscowhere she creates her crowd stopping tales told in curled paper and pencil. Santamarina’s unique art combines common elements and transforms them into elegant woven objects. 

 Wisconsin artist, Monika Fairchild’s individually hand-crafted sterling silver jewelry, embellished with natural stones and fossils turn heads at the festival. “The Bonita Springs National Festival is one of my favorite each year,” adds Monika.  “The setting of the show is beautiful and relaxing, patrons are educated and pleasant and the festival is very well organized. I always look forward to participating.” 

 Center for the Arts President, Susan Bridges explains the success of the festivals as a natural extension of the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs mission. “There’s a genuine buzz around our Festivals,” offers Bridges.   “It goes to the heart of things, a defining impact both on our community and the artists.  Every single year artists tell us our patrons don’t just stroll by their booth, they stop and talk with them.  They ask them about their work, they’re interested and appreciate the creative process.  And, of course, they often buy.  What a concept!   Yet, think about it, it makes sense. Our artists do well because our Festivals are strongly supported by our residents and visitors.  Our residents and visitors rely on our commitment to originality and excellence, and we deliver.  We pair our excellence in art with the focus on two areas of human activity, which in my view, are the most important expressions of our humanity – curiosity and imagination. The result is phenomenal.” said President Susan Bridges

While the festival continues to please crowds of attendees and bring collectors to talented artists, the true value of this cultural gem is measured by what it gives back to Bonita Springs 365 days a year. “We never thought of ourselves as creating a local legacy until our 50th Anniversary, when we celebrated our service to our community. At our celebration Mayor Ben Nelson spoke about all we’ve accomplished, including our Festivals. We realized just how remarkable our legacy is and what the Festivals and our organization has given to our community.” said President, Susan Bridges.

The Bonita Springs National Art Festival has directly funded visual and performing arts programs for local Elementary Schools, Community theater programs for youth and adults, national and local art exhibitions that are free to residents, and scholarships for local youth to participate in performing arts programming.

So if you find yourself inPark City,Utah next January, be sure to stop in to the Sundance Film Festival.  But if you are in Southwest Florida this weekend, the Bonita Springs National Art Festival at the Promenade is the place to be.  For more information call 495-8989 or visit on line at

Those who join the Center for the Arts for the first time receive 2 tickets to one of this season’s Live at the Promenade Performances.  The Center for the Arts offers this promotion for first time members.