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MartinArts Foundation Seeks Nominations Of Adult Artists And Graduating High School Seniors For MartinArts Awards. Deadline Is April 15, 2022. Meet Neil Capozzi, One Of 2021 Awardees

MartinArts Foundation invites you to nominate ADULT ARTISTS or STUDENT ARTISTS in the visual, performing, or literary arts for a MartinArts Award! Since 2003, the MartinArts Awards, have been the premier celebration of the arts on the Treasure Coast, recognizing performance, visual and literary artistic excellence and those who help the arts flourish in our community.  Each year artists, philanthropists, volunteers, and leaders in the arts are honored with a MartinArts Award.  Deadline for nominations is April 15, 2022. The Rickie Report shares the details, some sneak peeks from last year and an interview with Neil Capozzi, one of the MartinArts Award recipients of 2021.














It takes a mix of artists, philanthropists, volunteers, and leaders weaving together to give the community a more vibrant, rich, and colorful texture. Over 170 award recipients have been honored since 2003!



Nominating is easy and only requires contact information and a 150-word paragraph about your nominee!





“In 2021, the Arts Leadership Award was given to Neil Capozzi for demonstrating a consistent driving force in keeping the arts alive in Martin County, both as the owner of Stuart Art Supply (and formerly Jay-Mar) and as a volunteer for decades, with many arts sector nonprofits and initiatives. He’s supported artists and has given his time, talent, and treasure in advocacy of a vibrant arts community. We were pleased to recognize Neil at the MartinArts Awards in 2021 for his outstanding leadership and service to our community.” –  Nancy K. Turrell, CEO, MartinArts Foundation.















TRR:  What were your artistic influences growing up?


I grew up in Waterbury CT, in a family of 5 children. I am the only artistic child except for a younger brother who is an interior designer. I have an undergraduate degree in biology and plant science with a minor in economics. I completed a graduate degree in business in 1992.  I was introduced to arts and crafts by attending summer art programs at our local museum. My parents noticed how much I enjoyed these Saturday mornings. When the program ended my parents found a local artist, Mrs. Benson who offered private lessons in her home. This instructor introduced me to watercolor and gave me my first plein air experience. After my time with Mrs. Benson, I moved on to Mrs. Hurley who offered classes in her basement on Friday nights. The class included other young people who learned about painting and drawing and some art history. I loved working in oil paint and pastel painting. I also took art classes in high school. Unfortunately, I had an art instructor in high school that dampened my artistic side that lasted for 25 years. After I took a workshop with some local artists in Stuart that awakened my dormant passion for painting. While I was in high school and college I worked in a retail shop Jay-Mar that I joined as a manager and later a partner that eventually expanded in arts and crafts. My art background worked well in our business of Arts & Crafts. The rest as we say is history.




TRR:  Do you have any favorite artists outside of Martin County?

NC:  I prefer impressionist masterworks. I enjoy collecting and supporting local artists. As a retailer of art materials, artists are always interested in bartering art for supplies.



TRR: What brought you to Martin County?


In 1991 my business partner felt that we needed to expand our Connecticut chain of Arts & Crafts supply stores to Florida. Our 1st store opened in Stuart Centre in 1991 and Palm Beach Gardens in 1992. Over time as the economy changed so did Jay Mar. I closed Jay Mar in Stuart in 2012. There is one store remaining in Waterbury, CT. When I closed Jay Mar in 2012 the artist community of professionals, teachers and students asked me not to give-up. If I made it work, they would support me. I in turn I felt that I need to support them back. I found this current location at 43 SE Kindred Street and opened Stuart Art Supply and Studio in November 2012. Since there isn’t an art center or an art school in our market, I created one. I offer the studio with reasonable rates so the teachers can offer classes at reasonable cost to the students. As for an art supply shop I worked with my vendors to be able to offer prices to compete with the online businesses. I hope I can say that I give great customer service, offer competitive prices, and give back to the community in service and financially. (I met a former manager of Jerry’s Artarama in WPB and he told me that they gave up marketing in the Martin-St. Lucie market due to the customer loyalty I built.)


TRR:  Tell us more about your involvement in the cultural community.



In 2013, I was asked to fill a vacancy on the Arts Council Board and I enjoyed being part of the organization and help it move forward. I primarily focus on MartinArts because it offers the best opportunity to the community. In the early days of Jay Mar and Stuart Art Supply I supported the local art leagues in Martin/St. Lucie, as some of the needed guidance in financial and technical support. Eventually, the Martin Artisans Guild (MAG) formed under the leadership of Suzanne Connors. I jumped in with all the support I could offer. The MAG Open Studio Tour offers artists in our community to reach collectors and buyers. MAG experienced some rough times ( I was devastated when the organization almost collapsed), encouraging them to not give up.  My advocacy as a member of the board of MartinArts helped guide them to the needed support. In 2022 MAG became a financial and volunteer supporter of ArtsFest.  After several years of receiving support from Women Supporting the Arts, they and their membership are active members of MartinArts.  For a short period, I was on the Board of the Palm Beach Gay Men’s Chorus as treasurer.  I put their financial affairs in order. During my tenure I told them to give up, as they were in a hole financially. Wow, that kick-started their financial recovery, and they are still performing today, 12 years later!  I am the recent part-Chair of the MartinArts Foundation and past chair of the ArtsFest Committee. I’m a member of the committee that is advancing the efforts to refurbish the 1923 Stuart High School as an Arts Center in Stuart.  My husband, Ken Capozzi and I will continue to offer our home for our semiannual “Dining Under The Oaks” fundraiser.



TRR:  How has the cultural scene changed and how can businesses benefit from partnering with the arts?



Since my arrival in Martin County , this was a sleepy community, not even the bedroom community to Palm Beach County as it is today. Our season community was/is primarily snowbirds but has grown to a more non-seasonal community. I often speak with people who come to visit or live here because of the thriving arts community. I firmly believe in the adage “The arts are good for business” – there is broad reach in the arts. Patrons and creators of art don’t wear uniforms like sports, but people notice art on the walls and listen to great music. Clients attend concerts and performances. Having your business associated with the cultural pillar of the community boosts morale and offers a reach to a wider audience.


TRR: What does The MartinArts Award mean?



Being recognized for sharing a passion for the arts, having received this award helps me to encourage others to strive for an increased awareness of the arts.  Anyone can nominate someone for a MartinArts Award. Student artists need to attend one of the Martin County schools, public and private. Adult artists need to be a resident of or an active participant of their craft in Martin County. There are many categories. If you know of someone, I urge you to nominate them! The Arts Leadership is one of several awards selected by the MartinArts Board of Directors and not based on nominations from the community. Other awards include: Excellence in Arts Education, Philanthropy and Lifetime Achievement.






Interested in being a part of the celebration?

Help us celebrate the MartinArts Awards as a sponsor or volunteer.





Sponsorship opportunities, program ads, and steering committee positions are available–contact us at 772-287-6676 (x2) or today to get in on the fun and be recognized as a supporter of the arts!







For coverage of your events, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher   561-537-0291

17019 SW Sapri Way   Port St. Lucie, FL 34986



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