provided to Santiva Chronicle
Goz Gosselin, one of the area’s best-known shell artists, will return to the Sanibel Shell Festival after an 8-year hiatus with 16 shell floral arrangements and shadow boxes, exhibited non-competitively. Gosselin’s last exhibit was in 2012 on the occasion of the Shell Festival’s 75th anniversary.
Prior to arriving in Southwest Florida, Goz, his nickname which he likes to be called, was a florist known for exquisite floral arrangements in the Hartford, Connecticut area. When he and his wife, Terri, retired, they moved to Sanibel and built a home.
Terri was not used to being home with Goz all the time and when she saw the blurb in one of the Sanibel newspapers about the Shell Crafters, she kindly suggested that he might like to do this. The Shell Crafters is a group which meets weekly to learn, teach, and create shell art which is sold at the Shell Festival as a fundraiser for the Sanibel Community House.
Goz’ visit to the Shell Crafters was the beginning of a love affair with shell art (he prefers his term to crafting). He worked with and volunteered with the Shell Crafters for 26 years. He learned the basics of creating shell flowers from the Shell Crafters and soon developed his own style and techniques, using his floral arrangement experience.
Goz was awarded with many blue ribbons and top awards during the 20 plus years he exhibited at the Shell Festival. Early on, he and Terri started a shell art business – “Goz-Fine Shell Art” and produced over 800 pieces for sale, during the 8 years they ran the business.
In 2012, Goz created his largest free standing work entitled “Shellabration” which he and Terri subsequently donated to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. It is displayed at the museum with a brass plaque dedicating it to the memory of his beloved wife who passed away in 2013. Shellabration took 200 working hours to complete, 16 of which were arranging the flowers in the container. Goz joked that if they were fresh flowers it would have taken him only 20 minutes to arrange! Shell flowers being so fragile, arranging them is fraught with danger! Shelllabration received numerous awards at the 75th Shell Show including Best in Show, Special Judge’s Award, and the People’s Choice Award voted on by visitors to the show.
Another of Goz’ immense and magnificent floral arrangements is displayed at the Sanibel Library, titled “Millennium”. It is so life-like that initially you are sure these are real flowers.
Goz retired from shell art and donated all of his shells, supplies, and samples to the Shell Crafters. While he has some of his work in his small apartment at Shell Point, he made the startling declaration that he did not have a single loose shell. In fact, he recently had to get shells from a fellow artist to repair one of his pieces.
Come see Goz’ stunning creations at the Sanibel Shell Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 5-6 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 7 at the Sanibel Community House. Admission is free to enter the Festival grounds and a donation of $5 allows you admission to the indoor show where Goz’ art will be displayed, as well as a half-price admission to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum where Shellabration is displayed. There will be shells, shell art, books, festival t-shirts, and other shell items for sale and juried artistic and scientific exhibits. Free parking and food and drink will be available.