Marie Selby

C Fi 9819

Marie Selby’s love of nature began at an early age. As a child, her family would go on camping and hiking trips, exploring the area near their home on the Ohio/West Virginia border. Perhaps it was these trips that sparked her sense of adventure.

In 1908 Marie married Bill Selby. The next year the couple took off in a touring car outfitted with spare parts and camping equipment. They drove 3,000 miles across the entire country, following the route taken by the first cross-country automobile race. Talk about a honeymoon!

The following year Bill introduced Marie to Sarasota. He thought she’d enjoy the natural beauty of the small fishing village. He was right. In 1921, the couple purchased five acres of land on Sarasota Bay and built their home. Marie oversaw the landscaping of the property, ensuring the flower gardens complemented the banyan trees and bamboo native to the area. It’s no surprise that Marie was one of the founding members of the Sarasota Garden Club.

The Selbys also purchased a 3,000 acre ranch near Myakka City where Marie, an accomplished equestrienne, could explore the area by horseback. They were boaters as well and joined the Sarasota Yacht Club. Their boats were always named “Bilma” for Bill and Marie.

In 1955, the Selbys created the William B. Selby and Marie Selby Foundation. The original mission of the Foundation was to provide educational opportunities for local students. Marie continued to fund the Foundation from her personal fortune after Bill’s death. Upon Marie’s direction, significant contributions were made to the New College Fund Drive and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center. Since its formation, more than $83 million in grants and 3500 scholarships have been provided by the Foundation.

When Marie died in 1971, she bequeathed her home and property on Sarasota Bay to a trust to be operated as a public botanical garden (along with a $2 million endowment). Today, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens extends across 15 acres on the bayfront and is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. In 2002 the Gardens “adopted” Historic Spanish Point. Marie would be proud to see how her gardens have bloomed.

Notes from the Artist:

Lori Escalera comments "This is Marie Selby and her little French Bulldog Terrier (named Wiggles! we found out at Spanish Point yesterday!). I couldn’t resist the dog. Marie was a socialite/aristocrat who is famous for her Sarasota horticulture work. She has a famous garden and estate here in Sarasota."


Lori full head

Lori Escalera

Lori Anne Escalera A native Los Angelino, Lori centered her artistic life Southern California. She has had a full career as a corporate advertising graphic designer working with aerospace, advertising, institutional and manufacturing firms. In 1981, at the age of 23, she started her own business. In 1994, Lori organized "The Culver City A.R.T. Group,” serving as its President, as well as “BCR” (environment, community, arts Nonprofit). Lori’s interests shifted away from commercial interests towards fine Art. focus revolved around the figure. Lori questions the artist's place in the continuum of art history, as well as contemporary cultural beliefs in a relationship to history and myth. Lori is a cross medium artist and exhibits her art on paper, canvas, ceramic or in the street. Her work takes on an energy and vibrancy that refreshes the spirit and enlivens the imagination.

Since 1994, Lori has enjoyed participating in many Street Painting festivals in the USA, Canada, China and Mexico, helping raise money and awareness for many causes. She is a professional and award winning Madonnari Street Painter. Lori was an inaugural “Featured Artist” at the 2007 International Sarasota Chalk Festival, and featured pavement artist in 2008 Xian China pre-Olympic festivities. In 2012, 2014 and 2015 she participated as part of an international team of artists on three projects for The Chalk Festival, designed by Kurt Wenner (two of which entered Guinness World Record Projects for the Largest Anamorphic Street Painting).

Over the years, Lori has instructed hundreds of children and adults her ideas about art history, drawing and painting, through cultural arts programming, museum classes, art camps, and private lessons. She has led the creation of several community murals in Southern California, working with community groups and the underserved. Many of these murals provide vocational training for youth allowing local residents to combat community deterioration.

Lori writes and speaks on Art. Her paper on Gender, Art Ideology and Neuro-aesthetics (TRAC 2015 Proceedings – published in “As It Is”); Pavement Art as Fine Art Canon (TRAC 2018 proceedings); The Occident, The Orient and The Odalisque – Reimagined (TRAC 2019 proceedings).

Education: B.A. Design Communication Cum Laude SDSU; A.A.: WLAC, Commercial Art Certification/A.A.: LATTC; Humanities Minor: DHSU


Video documentary about Lori:

"I am eager to return to Florida every year! Traveling for artmaking is integral to my work as an artist. Engaging with new communities is a pleasure. No matter where in the world I travel, learning about other communities enriches me. The research and preparation for the artwork excite me. My mind runs wild as I take in fascinating information about historic people and places. It makes the fabric of my own existence more textured in the process adding to the vocabulary in my visual artmaking. When I was asked to participate, after a year of COVID isolation, I was nervous. Could I do it at age 64? Could I get back in the street, muster the elements (it was over 90˚!), and do a good job? I’ve had multiple joint replacements in the past decade and I was afraid. I am grateful that the “Avenue of Art” staff helped me make extra preparations to succeed. One striking thing is of the many people who stop by to appreciate the art and share their fears about their own artmaking. There is fear of sharing our inner identity thinking that who we are is not “good” enough to find acceptance."

Written By

Nanette Crist

Nanette Crist is a retired lawyer who began blogging when she moved to Florida. It was an online diary of sorts, a way to keep track of her new life. It was also a good way to share her discoveries with friends and family outside the area. Over time, Nanette realized her writing makes her experience the world differently. She keeps an eye out for interesting things to write about and then delves more deeply into them as she crafts her words. It's all about telling the story. Nanette's blog can be found at