The Galleries at First Pres

The Galleries at First Pres began in January of 2017 and was founded by Dr. Jacob Craig, with Peter and Carole Coe as curators. Their mission is to feature a wide variety of works by local artists, on rotation quarterly throughout the year. The Galleries are located throughout the campus of First Presbyterian Church. They are open for viewing from 12pm to 3pm, Monday through Thursday. Guided tours are available Wednesdays between 3pm and 5pm. Admission is free and open to the community.

While the Coes have since retired from curator duties, we are happy to announce the appointment of our new curator, Susan "Suze" Lavender. Suze Lavender was born and raised on the south shore of Long Island, NY. Her two loves were always Art and the Sea. She loves to draw and paint moments to release emotions. Although she has never been formally trained in Art, except for the odd class in a variety of different mediums, her art shows a natural talent and beauty that exhibits a deep love and the heart and soul she puts into her work. Since meeting and studying under Frits Van Eeden in the last five years, she feels that he has opened up a window of what could be. Suze’s art now has the energy, emotion, color, and passion that she’s always strived to put on canvas. Suze says, “I have been an artist my entire life, but I have had no formal training until recently. I knew I had so much to say and had no idea how to transfer my thoughts onto canvas. There was a time when I viewed photographic and detailed production as the epitome of artistry. Gratefully, that is no longer the case. My New York upbringing is especially present in my cityscapes, and I've discovered how to communicate my ideas emotionally through textures, color choice, and subject. I've yet to travel the world however my paintings have created a world for me.”

Our Artist in Residence, Sheila Lougheed, has some of her artwork displayed throughout campus. Her most recent religious-inspired works can be found lining the stairwell of the Center for Christian Life- a 7-painting series that was created live during Sunday services in the Lenten Season of 2018. Each piece represents a different theme during the period of Lent. The final work of this series is a 12-foot tall painting of a dove to represent to resurrection and rebirth of Christ. 


 The Galleries at First Pres

The Galleries at First Pres will offer an opening reception of their newest art installment, entitled “Spring Back”, on Sunday, April 25, 2021, from 4:00 to 6:00pm. The show will feature the works of newly featured local artists Joyce Simonton-Clamp and Michele Loftus-Trzcinski, and also welcomes back more beautiful works by Donna Ware. The galleries are located throughout the campus of First Presbyterian Church at 520 Royal Palm Boulevard in Vero Beach. Admission is free. Masks and Social Distancing are required while on the church campus.


Joyce Simonton-Clamp was fascinated with art as a child and won her first award at the age of nine. Her desire for drawing and painting stood the test of time while raising five children and traveling as a military wife.  She worked for 21 years in Medical Business Administration while pursuing her interest in art.  Joyce is mainly a self-taught artist, and took workshops from pastel artist Phillip Lekka and studied with Bonnie Sears and Mary Jones through the Gwinnett Council for the Arts. She also participated in life drawing group classes in Atlanta.  Joyce has won several first place, second place, and merit awards when exhibiting in group shows.  She was accepted into two international juror shows with the Southeastern Pastel Society and her work has hung at the Justice Building in Lawrenceville, GA. Her art is enjoyed in private homes in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida. Joyce was absent from the art world for a number of years while taking care of a very sick family member and had to overcome her own major illness (brain aneurysm). Joyce has been a member of the Gwinnett Council for the Arts, Georgia Art Council, Gwinnett Visual Arts Alliance, A.R.T Station, Monroe Art Guild and Southeastern Pastel Society. She is a current member of the Sebastian River Art Club and Vero Beach Art Club.


In late 2018, Michele Loftus-Trzcinski and her husband, Ron, traded in the cold, snow and ice of Massachusetts for the sun, surf and warmth of the Treasure Coast in Florida. They never looked back. Settling in Sebastian, Michele was thrilled to find an active and talented Arts and Photographic community. Michele's professional career in Massachusetts spanned 25 plus years.  During this time, she taught Photoshop classes through various evening Adult Education Programs and worked for several Photo Studios doing photo retouching and restoration work, as well as "all things Photoshop."  She continues to work on occasional projects of her choosing, digitizing and restoring old negatives and prints. Michele holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from National University in San Diego, California and is a thirteen-year Navy Veteran. She currently serves as the Vice President for the Sebastian River Art Club and holds memberships with the Brevard Watercolor Society, Indian River Photo Club, and the Massasoit Art Guild in Brookfield, MA.

Donna Ware’s beautiful work was part of the Galleries at First Pres April show in 2020, and sadly went unseen for quite some time due to the church shutting down suddenly for the pandemic. Dr. Jacob Craig, Director of Music and Arts at the church, and newly appointed curator Susan Lavender are delighted to welcome back Ms. Ware and her works so they can get the attention they deserve!  She is a native Pennsylvanian. After completing her Associate’s Degree in Bucks County, she married her high school sweetheart in 1975. Full time employment, two sons, and five years later, she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry, followed by her MBA from Rider University. In 1985, she was introduced to ceramics, which led her to other art mediums and became fascinated with watercolor.  In 1990, she joined a co-op of other artists and hosted her first art show. Donna retired in 2004 and moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia where she became a member of their Art League. The art community embraced her and her work thrived through paint-outs, and Plein Airs. As a Master Naturalist, she spent seven years working in nature, providing endless subject matter for her painting compositions. Now living full-time in Florida, her two worlds have united. She participates in several environmental organizations, and her involvement with Brevard Watercolor Society and the Florida Watercolor Society conventions have supplied many opportunities to expand and enrich her work. She is also the current president of the Sebastian River Art Club.

The Galleries at First Pres feature a wide variety of works by local artists, on rotation throughout the year. The Galleries are located throughout the campus of First Presbyterian Church, 520 Royal Palm Boulevard, Vero Beach; they are open for viewing from 12pm to 3pm Monday through Thursday, and on Sunday mornings between church services. Admission is free and open to the community. The church requires all visitors to wear masks and practice social distancing while on campus.