Barbara Hesse: Beach Library Artist of The Month



“I think of Barbara whenever I see something spectacular!” – Carol Gwatkin.

Barbara Hesse, January’s “Artist for the Month” at the Fort Myers Beach Public Library, is one-half of Don & Barbara, husband and wife for 55 years! “Don is actually responsible for my career in art,” she explains. “He as a gift bought me the famous photographer John Shaw’s book on the basics in the early 1990s. My Dad was a photographer so it was always an interest.”

Sallie Seabury, a member of the Fort Myers Beach Library Board of Directors, set up the show. “Sallie is a good friend and neighbor,” explains Barbara, “and she made arrangements with Dr. Leroy Hommerding, the director, almost a year-and-a-half ago. As so much of my work involves birds that are so cheerful to experience during the winter, I was content to wait until January; now I can’t believe it’s already here.” Don was happy for the lead time: “It gave me the chance to convert our lanai into a carpentry shop,” he jokes. “It is her show but I made frames for almost 40 pictures!”

Barbara specializes in giclee prints that use fade-resistant archival inks and substrates to make reproductions of two-dimensional artwork for resale, while preserving the original. The term is from the French “le gicleur,” meaning to squirt, spurt or spray. “You can leave these out in the rain and the prints will still last for years,” she says.

Several in the display are from the Lower Antelope Canyon, on Navajo land in Arizona from roughly 7 years ago. “To capture these we had to climb not up but down 70 to 100 feet,” she relates. “Flash floods carve them from soft sandstone, and when the sun passes over, it changes their color and pattern. These canyons are so narrow you have to squeeze through, carrying your backpack off to the side, with your lunch and water and cameras dangling in the air.”

Her favorite work, entitled “Tom, Dick & Harry,” is in the show. “We drove through the Everglades and saw a tiny sign inviting people to take photos at a wildlife preserve. We met the elderly owner named Ellen, who had lions and tigers, jaguars and cougars, all with bright healthy alert eyes, including three adorable cubs named Tom, Dick & Harry. They were running and playing and having the time of their lives, as was I! They have the bluest eyes at birth that gradually change as they age, but were striking then. As I finished, one jumped on me and could not figure out how to get down, so I lay on the ground and Don captured the moment – the memory makes it my favorite piece!”

Barbara Hesse, fort myers Beach Library Artist of The Month
Detail from a photograph by Barbara of restaurant shutters — a personal favorite of Barbara.

Barbara’s photography exhibit will hang in the third floor gallery of the Beach Library throughout the month of January. A “Meet the Artist of the Month” reception will be held in the gallery on Tuesday, January 24, at 1:30 p.m. Stop by and meet this talented artist and hear more about the stories behind her photography.

To learn about the library’s hours, almost 50 free January programs or related information, see or call 239-765-8162. The Fort Myers Beach Public Library is at 2755 Estero Boulevard.


Gary Mooney