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.

Our current curator is Mrs. Susan "Suze" Lavender. Suze 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. 

5th Anniversary Show - January through March, 2022

The Galleries at First Pres will offer an opening reception of the Fifth Anniversary Art Show on Sunday, January 23, 2022, from 2:00 to 4:00pm. The show will feature the works of local artists Cy Rochon, Pat Traver, and Anne Whitney. The galleries are located throughout the campus of First Presbyterian Church at 520 Royal Palm Boulevard in Vero Beach. Admission is free, light refreshments will be provided.

Cy Rochon was the sole fine arts educator in a small Massachusetts high school for nine years before leaving the profession to follow his dream of fixing up old houses and reselling them as a full-time career. This expanded into rentals and more. Being a “cold winter hater”, Cy promised himself to relocate in Florida when possible. Beginning in 1977, he and his wife spent many years as snowbirds between Massachusetts and Florida. While in Venice, FL, Cy became enthused about watercolor painting (which he had never done before) after attending a number of demonstrations by talented watercolor artists. That, plus a lot of practice, got him started. Since then, he easily switches back and forth between watercolor and oils as his whim or subject demands. Very recently, Cy has been experimenting with Mixed Media using acrylics, collage and other materials. He says this work has had a “freeing result” on his paintings, which he enjoys.

Patricia (Pat) Traver cultivated a creative vein in early youth. She attended several high schools, including Mount Saint Mary Academy in New York and Lake Worth High School in Florida. In addition to academic courses, she studied several facets of the arts including photography, drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture and art history. Encouraged to attend collage by her teachers, it was not to come to fruition. She decided to assist in the family business due to her father’s failing health. Soon married and raising a family, art was left behind and a career as an office manager/bookkeeper ensued for 40 years. Now in retirement, she has returned to her passion, experimenting in many mediums. Her current favorites are oils and colored pencils. After attending several painting workshops under the tutelage of Victor Liguori, she has reinvented herself as a successful artist. Her works are in private collections in New York, Vermont and Florida. She has exhibited at the Lock 5 Studio, Mimosa and Saunders Gallery of Fine Art in New York.

Faces have always held Anne Whitney’s interest. As a child, she found faces in everything from clouds to the grain of wood on a table. She enrolled in private art classes in the seventh grade and her love of art continued from there. She went on to become an art teacher, beginner her career in New Jersey. In 1982, she moved to Vero Beach where she became the art instructor at St. Edward’s School until her retirement in 2014. Now, a happily retired Anne enjoys the time and space to explore her talents. “Finding movement and energy in the model or composition is the most liberating, fun part of the process”, says Anne. She feels strongly that artists should be allowed to stray from the “hard and fast rules” and use their creativity to their advantage in the process toward a meaningful conclusion. This past year and a half, all the live models and art groups disbanded and so Anne entered her studio to paint dogs, cats, siblings, grandchildren, and flowers for free. Most have been from photos. Many have gone to their respective recipients except for a few that will be featured in the current show. Anne looks forward to getting back to larger, bolder, and more experimental paintings with more abstract characteristics.