‘There’s so much art to love,’ says Lake Worth’s CANVAS founder

Dec 03, 2017
Nicole Henry, founder of CANVAS Outdoor Museum Show, posing in front of one of the murals painted in downtown Lake Worth this year. (Kevin D. Thompson/The Palm Beach Post)

Sitting in a sporty, blue BMW convertible, Nicole Henry is doing something she does often — smile.

The founder and curator of CANVAS Outdoor Museum Show, the nation’s largest outdoor show, is happy because she’s talking about art, a process she’s loved ever since she was a baby in a stroller staring at paintings.

Just ask her.

“What’s your favorite piece of art?” Henry’s asked.

She smiles. Again.

“I can’t answer that,” she says, laughing. “There’s just so many to love.”

Henry’s first piece of artwork was bought in 2001, a triptych of a supermarket by a young Cuban artist who had emigrated to Miami and been wowed by the food abundance in the United States.

Friends came by Henry’s house, saw the piece and began talking about it. That’s when she decided to enter the art-collecting business. In 2006, she launched Nicole Henry Fine Art, where she mixed work from Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol with young Cuban artists.

There’s something special about developing young artists and giving them the ability to flourish.

“I just love doing that,” she said.

In 2015, Henry started CANVAS in West Palm Beach, when 20 artists painted murals throughout downtown. City officials have called the event the third-largest in the city behind SunFest and the Palm Beach International Boat Show. They invested $334,000 in site improvements and art.

Now CANVAS is in Lake Worth for the first time; artists are turning old brick walls into colorful murals. Ten artists from Spain, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States made their way to the city for a week to paint the town red, blue, green, black and other colors.

This year’s theme: unity.

“I thought that was really important because of all the division that’s been going on in the world,” Henry said.

The sites are spread around downtown Lake and Lucerne Avenues, the Intracoastal bridge and Lake Worth Beach.

It hasn’t been easy. “It took us about three months to select the sites and we made some changes” right until the show’s start, Henry said.

CANVAS will be expanding to other cities in the near future. Henry said she’ll likely make an announcement in March or April. “It will be a surprise,” she said.

Clearly, Henry’s goal is to bring art to public places for everyone to see and enjoy.

And, yes, she’s still smiling.