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East Orlando Sun, Feb. 2007

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East Orlando Sun, Section B-1, Feb. 7-13, 2007
Red Carpet Days, Avalon Park introduces fine arts, special sales
As a resident of Park Avenue, Casey Swann was drawn to Winter Park for its upscale commerce and community. A longtime supporter of the local arts scene, Swann also loved the area’s appreciation for fine art.
But, even in Winter Park, it is not a perfect world. “I noticed that the galleries can’t stay in business,” she said.
So Swann’s Cutting Edge Communications agency, which she started 16 years ago, found a new focus. Melding her marketing savvy with her interest in the arts, Swann formed chART, short for charity art collection. In seeking to help out local artisans and the business community, as well as making sure that charities receive their share, Swann hit upon a formula that is as unique as the works of art that are the center of attraction. chART host art-related events, generating traffic and sales for local businesses, and needed exposure and sales for local artist. In turn, 20 percent of the price of the art goes to the buyer’s preferred charity.
And, for the first time, chART will be bringing its mobile art gallery to East Orlando.
On Tues., Feb. 13, from 6-8 p.m., the Town Center in Avalon Park will welcome art lovers and those who love to shop to Red Carpet Days, ushering customers into its stores for special discounts and one-of-a-kind art.
“I’ve been promoting my whole adult life, and helping all my creative friends for a long time,” said Swann, a UCF graduate “With chART I am able to bring the two together, plus donate to charity.”
chART is now in its third year of hosting arts fundraisers, orchestrating a truly win-win-win situation. Artist benefit from the co-op marketing program. Hosts benefit by creating additional business from potential art buyers, along with generating goodwill for charities and the arts. Charities and nonprofits benefit through donations from the at sales.
All of the art is original, created by local artist specifically for chART events. chART currently represents about 20 artist who have produced about 500 pieces of contracted art. The art represents a full range of styles and price – from oils and acrylics to watercolors and pastels, with many pieces under $100, up to $5000.
“The art is priced very affordably to entice buyers,” Swann said.
Stephanie Hodson, marketing director for Avalon Park, said Red Carpet Days is intended to attract both art aficionados and bargain hunters.
“It will be a relaxed evening of fine art and shopping,” she said.
Red Carpet Days will be an ongoing event, held on the second Tuesday of each month. Participating stores, which will be rotated each month, will be identified by a red carpet out front, leading customers inside. Host businesses next week will include Wine Down Wine Bar & Café, Envy Boutique, Metabolic Balance and the Town Tavern at Avalon Park.
Mike Marini of Wine Down said he is looking forward to being a part of the inaugural Red Carpet Days to promote both local artist and downtown Avalon Park. In his view, fine art and fine wine are a natural pairing.
“People can come in and see the art and taste some wines,” said Marini, who will be holding wine tastings throughout the evening. “We’re happy to do anything we can to support Avalon Park.”
Wine Down produces 24 different wines under its own label, using grapes sent from vineyards all over the world – Italy, France, South America and California.
“Every wine we serve is a premiere wine, and we make it affordable, too,” Marini said.
On the following night, Wine Down is presenting a special Valentine’s event, featuring a prix fixe four-course meal, bottle of wine and roses for the ladies.