Around the globe, individuals, families and communities were being faced with similar experiences of "confinement" due to COVID-19. We were finding ways to work, stay entertained and stay inspired inside our homes, which in turn was allowing Mother Nature a much-needed break. This world crisis caused many to begin to see what effects our actions have on our planet and made it clear we are all deeply interrelated. The problem our planet faces today is so much bigger than most realize. Change has to come fast and that change has to happen on a very large scale.

About 12 years ago, the Weinaug family purchased an old marina in Central Florida to make a statement. They wanted to build a carbon neutral sustainable business that the community, state and country could be proud of. Over the years, they have transformed this natural wonder into a place where the community and visitors alike can learn about sustainability in a hands-on, exciting and fun way. Today it is called Wekiva Island. Wekiva Island's mission is built around sustainability, art and learning. With these pillars as a backdrop, the Island has taken on many initiatives to better the property, the surrounding community, the state’s natural resources, and ultimately, the planet as a whole. One of those initiatives is the Wekiva Paint Out, which they have hosted for the past ten years. This is an event where artists from across the country come to set up their easels along the Wekiva River and find inspiration en plein air to support efforts to save this incredible wild and scenic river. 

The Great American Paint In™ was created to bring the idea of the “Wekiva Paint In” online, from anywhere. We wanted to give artists a unifying Paint In™ with the chance to paint their emotions from their personal boundaries. 

Gallery CERO’s name comes from Wekiva Island’s mission of sustainability. Wekiva Island took on the 2030 challenge, vowing to go carbon neutral before any other business in Central Florida. To do so, the Weinaug’s utilized their trademarked toolbox C.E.R.O.® which stands for Conservation, Efficiency, Renewables, and Offset. Gallery CERO aims not just to exclusively represent artists, but to serve as a space to showcase beautiful natural works from artists around the world for the community to enjoy, just as the Wekiva River showcases the natural beauty of our special Florida hydrology.