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IRC Artist Spotlight – Judy Burgarella

The Artist Spotlight showcases local artists and how they see Indian River County in their own eyes. Whether it is a recreation of a scene or an abstract piece that was inspired by a location or business we want to include them all.  This month’s artist is Judy Burgarella! To learn more about this amazing artist check out the following Q&A and some photos of her work!

Special thanks to the Cultural Council of Indian River County for helping us select these amazing artists!

1. How long have you lived or have been visiting Indian River County?
I have lived in Indian River County since moving here in 2005.  We visited the east and west coastline of Florida to find our retirement home, but fell in love with Indian River County and built a home in Sebastian.

2. What do you love the most about experiencing our county?
I can’t list just one thing, because there is so much to do and see and be a part of in IRC—the Lagoon, the beach, the parks, and all very nicely maintained.  Also, there are a lot of art opportunities for me as an artist, and fishing for my husband Bob, and so much more.  And people are so friendly here.

3. Which part of Indian River County inspires you to create your pieces?
All along the Indian River Lagoon, and wherever there is water, palm trees, and birds.

4. How long have you been working in this medium?
I work in most mediums and love it all. Each has its own advantages and challenges. (pencil, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, acrylic, oil, gouache)

5. Are you self-taught or did you go to school for art?
I am basically self-taught, however about 20 years ago in CT, I founded “The Shoreline Plein air Painters, as a way to learn from seasoned local artists.  I have also taken workshops and classes along the way, studying under local professionals in CT and FL.

6. What motivated you to dedicate your time to your art?
I had a natural talent for drawing since I was a child, and only decided to get serious in 1999, when I formed the Shoreline Plein Air Painters.  I had the passion for many years, but work and family took most of my time. My family now shares me with my rich art life.

7. What is your favorite area in Indian River County that is off the beaten path?
Rock City Gardens.  Although a commercial garden center, it is second only to McKee Gardens—which I love to paint in also, however, there aren’t too many opportunities to paint there.

8. Is this a hobby or your business?
Not a business, not a hobby; It is a drug—my drug of choice, my therapy.  But actually, businesswise, I do benefit from the income it provides from sales, teaching, demos, and lecturing.

9. What can our followers and readers expect from you in the future in terms of creative expression?
One of the shows I am gearing up for will have an interesting pair of art pieces from me: a death mask, and a portrait of that famous (deceased) person in life.  I also have another piece I will be working on involving a cow skull, and another which will involve a portrait and a human skull.  Temporarily veering away from portraits and landscapes and challenging myself to wander “Out of the Box!”

A brief bio…
Art has been an important part of my life ever since I can remember.  Drawing, coloring, doodling, mostly people.  I loved faces. Everyone in my family drew.  Art and college was not an option for me though in 1963 after graduating from high school.

While raising a family I kept doing artsy things as favors and sometimes got paid. Designed and wrote for a crafts magazine, taught, created, and sold crafts of all kinds, and rendered many pencils and watercolor portraits for friends and relatives.

In 1999, after several tragedies in my family, I decided to jump into the art world as a diversion and to feed my passion.  I discovered that I really didn’t know how to paint, so I formed the “Shoreline Plein Air Painters” as a way to learn how which worked just fine.  I developed a circle of art friends—many of whom still are–and in the process learned from them how to paint and become an artist.

Fast forward to 2021, my work has earned many awards and has been in hundreds of shows, dozens of galleries, and several museums.  My artwork resides in many institutions and graces the walls of hundreds of homes. I have had the privilege of imparting my passion and knowledge to hundreds of people in my classes and demonstrations, many of whom had never painted and whose artistic passion was launched by me. I freely volunteer my time and talents whenever asked, have served in art clubs as president, vice president, secretary, board member, judge, curator, show organizer, publicist, and more. Met fabulous and interesting people traveled for art, and continue to feed my habit by selling and teaching.  I have been on the faculty of the Vero Beach Museum of Art for six years, teaching portraiture, and will be returning there post-covid in the fall. Classes in my home will soon be forming also.

We hope you enjoyed learning about Judy Burgarella and how Indian River County has been her home and also her inspiration at times. If you’d like to see more click here, or you’re in Vero Beach you can head over to Gallery 14 and the Vero Beach Annex Gallery to see some work in person!