Caloosa Belle

Carlos Gonzalez fell under the spell of LaBelle

Carlos Gonzalez working on a project at Gallery 101. (Submitted photo/Tara Hicks)

Carlos Inocente Gonzalez moved here last summer with his family from Miami. Originally from Venezuela, the artist fell in love with the quaint and quiet town of LaBelle.

I arrange to meet Carlos at Gallery 101 in Downtown LaBelle where he exhibits his work and has his studio. As I walk in I am greeted by the gallery co-owner and artist Marcos Ruiz, he tells me to go through the back. I open the back door and now I am outside again and a little bit confused. After first accidentally walking into the bathroom I find Carlos outback working on his painting while listening to music. Surrounded by big antlers, mannequins stuffed in the ceiling and a lot of metal objects Carlos tells me the story of how he ended up in LaBelle:

“Several years ago I visited my sister who lived in Lehigh Acres. I ended up driving through LaBelle and was amazed by all the beautiful old buildings and the Court House. I was in a hurry to get back to Miami so I couldn’t stop at the time.

But then last January I got a call from a good friend of mine Marcos Ruiz. He told me he wanted me to exhibit my work in the new gallery he was opening in LaBelle. We came for a weekend, and to me LaBelle was like a beautiful woman and I completely fell under her spell! It was like love at first sight again; the buildings, the community, the nature; everything was amazing,” Carlos tells me with a big smile on his face.

“At the time, me and my family, we were ready for a change, so we decided to move here and we love it. LaBelle has become like my muse. We love the community here, and that is really my thing,” He goes to show me his work and explains: “The circles represent how people come together, when a lot of different people come together it creates a beautiful image.”

He shows me various pictures of his work in Pompano Beach and of the Mural on the side of The Caloosa Belle building. All of his works of art have a sense of beautiful diversity. The bright colors and the connecting circles seem to represent the beautiful and diverse relationships that can exist between different people, it gives you a joyous feeling just looking at it.

As he shows me around his studio he tells me about the history: “This place is very inspiring, it used to be a welding shop, that’s why there are all of these strange metal objects, I love it! I even found an old typewriter that I am trying to restore, my kids think it looks like a dinosaur-computer!” He says jokingly.

“For my next project, “ Carlos explains, “I want to do a retrospective exhibition about the women that have been important to LaBelle from past to present. Because you always hear about the men, but what about the women in the community? To me, what makes a place special is the community, how people integrate and communicate, even if they are different, like the circles. No matter how different people are, if they come together they can work as one”

Come check out Carlos’ work at the gallery at 95 East Fort Thompson Avenue in LaBelle. It is open from Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Carlos can be reached by phone at 305-788-6188 or at carlosinocente33@hotmail.com.