The nine-day cultural event brought 20 of the best Plein Air artist from across the country and the pond to raise awareness and much needed fund for Monroe County’s at-risk children and families.

The Florida Keys Children’s Shelter (Children’s Shelter) hosted the Paradise Paint Out 2017 (PPO) on January 11-19, 2017. This first time event for the Children’s Shelter raised $71,000 which directly benefits their five programs serving the at-risk children and families of Monroe County, Florida. Bill Mann, Co-CEO, Children’s Shelter states “We are grateful for the community support as the monies raised helps to provide the much needed free programming we make available to all residents”. The nine-day paint out featured three cross-county wet room galleries drawing more than 600 visitors and 20 of the top Plein Air national and international artists. The one-of-a kind event, sponsored by Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty, was the perfect backdrop for the artist to paint “En plein air” or in open air of some of the iconic sceneries of the Florida Keys.

“Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty is proud to support the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter through our sponsorship of the Paradise Paint Out,” said Russell Post, Broker of Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty. This event provides an incredible opportunity for art lovers to watch and meet some of the finest Plein Air painters from around the country while also supporting some incredible causes within our community.”

Some highlights included a Full Moon Nocturnal Paining at the Florida Keys County Club in Marathon, Artist demonstrations at Grimal Grove in Big Pine Key and Little Basin Villas in Islamorada, the Mid-Way Finale at the 15th annual Mayors Ball in Key West, Florida Bay Preservation Day from the land and water, and the Finale & Preservation Night reception, a partnership with Florida Bay Forever.

The Finale & Preservation Night reception drew upwards of 160 attendees at the stunning new gallery, Our Place in Paradise in Islamorada. Guests viewed 250 pieces of art using mediums ranging from water color, pastel, oil and acrylic, enjoyed entertainment by Dave Feder and catering by A Little Taste of Paradise. The evening also featured a $500 cash prize People’s Choice Award that went to Jason Sacran from Fort Smith, AK and a $1,000 cash prize Artist’s Choice Award that was a tie between Haidee-Jo Summers of Lincolnshire, England and Jason Sacran. The proceeds for the evening benefited both the Children’s Shelter and Florida Bay Forever.


“Florida Bay Forever was thrilled to partner with the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter to create the Paradise Paint Out. Our mission includes bringing awareness to the Florida Bay as it supports a vibrant Florida Keys,” said Elizabeth Jolin. “The Florida Keys is enhanced by a healthy resource and healthy kids. We were honored to be a part of bolstering support for the undeniably critical role the Children’s Shelter provides to our community.”


Children’s Shelter Executive Council Member, Betsy Keteltas and Children’s Shelter Volunteer, Paula Friedman, co-chaired the philanthropic event.

“It was an honor to work on the 2017 Paradise Paint Out with such an extraordinary team. The artists embraced the Keys through their paintings as well as their full immersion in our wonderful communities. The hospitality and generosity of the locals barred none. It will be a tough act to follow in 2018, but we accept the challenge,” says Keteltas.

“I am proud to have been a part of the 2017 PPO success. Making the Paint Out a Keys wide event and including the Florida Bay Preservation Day inspired the artists to new heights. I have heard from several of the hosts who housed our artists what a satisfying experience they had. The artists could not have been more appreciative of our efforts on their behalf and of our extraordinary little piece of Paradise,” says Friedman.

“For being a first time event for the Children’s Shelter, we are so pleased with the awareness it raised for the organization in the community,” says Ben Kemmer, Co-CEO at the Children Shelter.

The event was made possible by a Monroe County Tourist Development Council grant and sponsors Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty, Florida Bay Forever, Little Basin Villas Islamorada, Islamorada Beer Company, Plein Air Magazine, Our Place in Paradise, Dave Feder and a Little Taste of Paradise, Shell World and 25 hosts that housed the artists.

About the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter

The mission of the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter (Children’s Shelter) “Safe Kids, Strong Families, and a Healthy Community” drives every facet of its programming. Serving Monroe County for almost 30 years, the private not-for-profit Children’s Shelter touched more than 500 lives last year through its no-cost programs; emergency shelter, group homes, community-based counseling, respite services and drop-in center for homeless and run-away youth. For more information on services or learn how to get involved, please go to or call (305) 852-4246 ext. 222.