The sounds and sights of the sea are returning to the Cape Coral Arts Studio next week as the "Aquarium" themed exhibit sets up shop for its 17th year.
Opening today, the exhibit will depict life beneath the waves, whether real or imaginary, realistic or abstract, over a variety of mediums.
Studio supervisor Cher Bell created the event nearly two decades ago. The Aquarium's genesis took place at the Cultural Park Theater.
Mike Garlach, of the Cape Coral Arts Studio, works on the special effects for the studio’s Aquarium Show which opens Friday.
Bell said the inspiration for the show came from a combination of theatrical and visual arts.
"Working at the theater I saw the opportunity to combine the gallery space (at the theater) and theatrics," she said. "I thought it would be beautiful."
With no constraints except for the exhibition's theme, artists are challenged to construct their personal visions using any number of methods.
17th Annual "Aquarium" exhibit
Various artists in variety of mediums
Cape Coral Arts Studio, 4533 Coronado Parkway
The artists often return year after year because of the challenge, attempting to reshape their ideas year after year.
"They love being involved in it," Bell said. "It's the theatrics of it ... it really is something different, and people come back year after year to see it, too."
Studio volunteers were hard at work Wednesday putting up the finishing touches on the sound and lighting effects. The show utilizes elements, including blue tinted lights and ocean sounds, to create the overall mood of the aquarium.
Bell thinks the effects are what have helped the exhibit endure over the years, creating a total experience. During the summer, especially, the exhibit acts like haven from the hot, humid days.
"You literally walk in there and it's like walking into different world. You feel like you're under water," she said. "It really takes you somewhere else in a short time. It's so tranquil."
An artists' reception will be held and awards presented from 5-7 p.m. Sept. 11. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact the Cape Coral Arts Studio at 574-0802.