Original paintings by two of the founders of the Fort Myers Beach Art Association, Everett and Marion Waid, are on display at the Alliance for the Arts during the month of May. Exhibition Coordinator Krista Johnson describes their works as being “stylized in the manor of the 50s and 60s magazine illustrations yet are also surreal and timeless, containing treasures of surprise and shock, all rendered with professionalism and beauty.” Everett and Marion had long and fascinating careers in the art world, here in southwest Florida and New York City. There will be a special reception at the Alliance honoring their contributions to the Fort Myers Beach cultural community on Thursday, May 19 from 5-7PM, when their son Buzz Waid will tell stories of his parents’ lives and artistic adventures.
The Waids began spending their winters on Sanibel in 1946 and built their home on Fort Myers Beach in 1951. They gathered several artist friends to establish the Fort Myers Beach Art Association, which initially held meetings, art shows and fund raising events in a chickee hut built by the members.
Everett Leslie Waid, Sr. was born in 1900 in Denver, Colorado. He joined the Navy in 1916, lying about his age to get in. After the war he went to NYC to work for his Uncle’s Architectural Firm. In 1921 his Uncle sent him to Europe to study art and architecture, where he stayed until 1924. After returning to NYC he went back to work with his Uncle’s firm until 1939 when he became the Art Director for the publisher of The Saturday Evening Post, Curtis Publishing Company, where he worked for several years with renowned illustrator Norman Rockwell.
In 1942 he entered the Army and joined the “War Task Force” working out of the Time & Life Building in Manhattan due to his intimate knowledge of major German cities’ infrastructure. After his service in WWII he became President of the Art Students League, the oldest fine art school in America. Robert Rauschenberg attended ASL between 1949 and 1952.
In 1939 he met Marion Symons, a student at the ASL and they married in 1941. In 1946 the couple began spending their winters on Sanibel Island. In 1951 Everett and Marion had a son, Everett Leslie Waid, Jr. This same year they built their home on Ft. Myers Beach with Everett returning back and forth to NYC for work while Marion stayed in Florida with their young son.
In 1955 Everett retired from the ASL and moved to their home on Ft. Myers Beach permanently. They continued their love of the arts by participating in the fine arts world throughout Florida and helped to build and promote Fort Myers Beach Art Association. Everett was a large part of the art community until his death at the age of 77.
Marion Symons Waid was born in 1900 in Yacama, Washington. Her family moved to Ashwood, Oregon in 1913 but she left home at the age of 14 and traveled to Boise, Idaho to continue her education and begin her portrait painting career. She sold painted portraits of Blackfoot Indians for $.25 to $.50 to help pay for her room and board.
In 1933, at the age of 24, Marion received a scholarship to the Art Students League in NYC. She travelled alone by bus from Boise to New York City with a .32 revolver tucked in her boot. In 1939 she met then Board Member and future President of the ASL, Everett Waid, and they were married in 1941.
Marion continued her career in the Arts throughout WWII by painting portraits of returning servicemen. She worked at a VA Hospital entertaining troops with her uncanny knack for fortune telling, and after the war continued her portrait career throughout the NYC art world.
In 1955 Everett and Marion had separate studios built for each of them next to their main house, and also had a gallery space where they showed their work. She continued to paint and promote the arts until she passed in 1996 at the age of 87.
The special reception at the Alliance for the Arts on Thursday, May 19 from 5-7PM is open to the public. Refreshments will be provided by Buzz Waid and Vee Yerrid. Their artwork is for sale and proceeds benefit the Alliance and Heights Foundation. You can RSVP online at ArtInLee.org/rsvp or by calling 239-939-2787. The show “Distance” featuring collaborative works by four artists from across the U.S. is on display in the Alliance Main Gallery. Photographs by Steve Conley are on display in the Theatre Lobby.