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 currently features the works of local artists Mimmo Amelio, Jean Archibald, and Judith Bairstow. The galleries are located throughout the campus of First Presbyterian Church at 520 Royal Palm Boulevard in Vero Beach. Admission is free. The church campus is open, and those who are fully vaccinated against COVID19 need not wear masks.


Domenico “Mimmo” Amelio was born in Naples, Italy in 1949, relocating to the United States in 1966.  Educated in culinary and visual arts, Mimmo has been involved in the hospitality industry for over 40 years while continually pursuing and exploring his passion of art. While he has vested interest/ownership of the popular Scampi Grill Restaurant and Bistro in Vero Beach, Florida, Mimmo has focused much of his energy towards various forms of painting (some of which are proudly and uniquely displayed in the restaurant).


I love life. I love human beings and their beauty. I disapprove of injustice and hate in any form of manifestation. My paintings vary from cubism, impressionism, expressionism, astroism, or abstract and are always optimistic with vibrant colors. – Domenico “Mimmo” Amelio


I believe that there is an artist in each of us and that without nurturing this part of ourselves, we do not grow or flourish. – Domenico “Mimmo” Amelio



Eleanor Alberts “Around the Corner Gallery” – Vero Beach, FL
“Main Street Gallery” – Cape May, NJ
“Artists Guild Gallery” – Vero Beach, FL
“RVS Gallery” – Vero Beach, FL
“Art by the Sea” Vero Beach Museum of Art – Vero Beach, FL

Member of the Vero Beach Art Club and the Vero Beach Museum of Art.


Mimmo’s work can be found in corporate collections throughout Florida, North & South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Kentucky and also by many private collectors throughout the United States and Europe.


As a child, I loved to draw and paint.  As an adult, I still love to draw and paint, but I also decided to develop what I love to do and began drawing people, boats, American Indian faces and more with detailed graphite pencil. These drawings were successful sellers at a gallery in Simsbury, Connecticut of which I was invited to be a member.  After creating many graphite pencil drawings, one day I seriously looked at my works and thought, “What would these drawings look like in color?” The beginning of being a watercolor artist was born.

When I grew up in New England loving all the beautiful scenes that surrounded me, I began photographing scenes in Maine and Connecticut and these scenes eventually became the focal point of my paintings.   My favorite subjects are old barns, lighthouses, old dilapidated house and boats.  As a realist, my work is structured and, understandably, my favorite artists are the Wyeths, Winslow Homer and other realist artists.

Being a self-taught artist and having had no formal instruction, my love of watercolor painting has brought me to a level that brings joy to my heart and happiness to the people who love the same and have acquired my works.  Having been asked to do commissioned paintings, I have done several for folks residing in Connecticut.

Teaching watercolor classes at the Sebastian River Art Club is my latest endeavor.  Anyone interested may contact me at keel84@aol.com or at (321)725-1537.  Classes are held from 9:00 to 12:00 the first and third Tuesday of each month.


Past member of Arts Exclusive, Simsbury, Connecticut
Past member, Rowayton  Art Association, Rowayton, Connecticut
Past member, Palm Beach Watercolor Society, Palm Beach, FL
Member, Kittery Art Association, Kittery Point, Maine
Member and Teacher, Sebastian River Art Club, Sebastian, FL
Member, Brevard Watercolor Society, Melbourne, FL


Judith was born in Baltimore, MD, grew up in Toronto, Ontario, and Derby Line, Vermont.  She attended Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass.  For most of her career, she worked in Boston, MA. She was married to Robert P. Clark for 29 years until his death at age 54. She married Jeffrey N. Bairstow, and they retired to Sebastian, Florida, in 2009. 

She inherited a love of photography from her grandfather and father.  That was her main creative outlet initially.  She started wanting to manipulate her photographs to satisfy her ideas about design and found painting allowed her to create the desired images. She has been a member of the Sebastian River Art Club for 10 years.


Artist’s statement:

I began painting when I found colors, images, or design in my photographs and wanted to remove undesirable elements from my pictures, before the advent of photoshopping.  Oil painting allowed me to edit the image to my liking. 

I love natural settings and have photographed many beautiful scenes during my travels.  I recently tried portraits and have found them challenging, but I’m learning a lot in the process.

Above is the technical reason I paint.  The real reason is that I hope to convey to others the beauty I see.