A farewell letter to Gainesville: PONZ’s art yard sale, including live painting, music, food truck

When: Tuesday, April 16, 11am-5pm
Where: 435 S Main St, Gainesville

Dear Gainesville, 

Thank you for helping me become an artist. Since welcoming me here in 1989, you immediately made me feel at home. 

Thank you for your unique open-minded spirit, your free-thinking individuality, and your willingness to take chances (on me)! Thanks for nurturing me and inspiring my art for so many years. 

Thank you for your university, which allowed me to teach and celebrate painting. Thank you for the inspiring late nights and the high energy of your music community that I found at the Hardback Café, Florida Theater, (and my home-away-from-home) the Covered Dish. 

Thanks for allowing me the chance to paint live at your shows and for making me feel like I was helping to contribute to your scene in some small way. Thanks to the many artists, musicians, poets and others who I have since been honored to call my longtime friends. 

Thank you, Gainesville, for understanding my distractions while attempting glory in the NYC art world, and thanks for helping me realize there are other ways to make a life in art. 

Thanks for the honor and opportunity to brighten your community with numerous works of public art. Thank you for allowing me a long and meaningful career as an educator, and for the chance to build a quality HS fine arts program. 

And thanks for your patience and faith in me as I tried innovative ways to encourage your teens to be their best, to live life well, and to recognize the true meaning, power, and value of creativity. Thanks for the opportunity to organize over 100 exhibitions at the Cofrin Gallery and special thanks to my colleagues and all the visual artists who helped make it such a creative rallying point for the community. 

Thank you, Gainesville for helping me raise and nurture my two sons, and for enriching them with your unique nature and culture. Thanks for your kind support when my first marriage equitably ran its course, and thanks so much for understanding. 

Gainesville, thank you for leading the way in Citizen Diplomacy and for encouraging me to go out into the world, and to use my art and creativity to form relationships with people around the globe. You truly turned me into a global citizen. 

I also can’t thank you enough for being so welcoming and supportive to our visiting friends from Israel, Palestine, China, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Russia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, etc. And thanks for modeling the best qualities in what it means to be American (you make me proud). 

When my global interests led me to Amsterdam, I met Maureen, a lovely, creative, and talented Canadian artist/educator who ultimately gave up her career to come to Gainesville to be my wife. I truly want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for making her feel right at home here these last five years. 

Gainesville, it is bittersweet for me to announce we have decided to leave your fair city and start a new chapter of our lives as artists and educators in Canada. While we will miss our family, friends, home and community here in Gainesville, we look forward to the experiences and opportunities this exciting new endeavor will bring. 

Gainesville, before I go, I wanted to hold one last public art gathering to thank you all in person. One of my true, longtime Gainesville friends, Celino Dimitroff, has generously offered to let me use the courtyard of his store SOMA Art Media Hub to throw an event called “PONZ’s Art Yard Sale” on Saturday, April 16, from 11am to 5pm. 

You are all invited to this free event with live painting by Blake Harrison, art making stations, and great music by some other Gainesville friends, the funked-up Table 11, the genius stylings of Chuck Martin, the rockin’ good vibes of Jason Hedges, and audio selections planifested by Clif and Julia Whitwam! 

As the event title indicates, this is also a chance for you to pick up some of my work as well… at discounted prices! (Because I can’t take it with me!) Frenchmen Street Food Truck will also be on hand serving their vegan goodness! 

Thanks again, Gainesville. The lessons I learned here have given me the confidence to start this next adventure. While I look forward to creating a new and productive future in Canada, Gainesville will forever be one of the warmest parts of my heart. 

Sincerely, PONZ (Robert Ponzio) 


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