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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2018
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Find treasure at the Gasparilla art fest

It’s that time of year, again!

Loaded with fun, food, entertainment, crowds of people and oodles of art, it’s the 44th Annual Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. And it takes place this weekend in downtown Tampa.

Touted as “one of America’s highest-rated outdoor fine art and fine craft shows,” the gala historically draws throngs of art-lovers who stroll among 250 white tents set up along the Hillsborough River.

Under those tents they find treasure. It’s not beads, this time; instead it’s a wonderland of hand-wrought works of art in the form of jewelry, woodwork, ceramics, metal, paintings, prints, photographs and more. And the artists inside those tents represent many of the states and usually several other countries as well.

Many return year after year.

One returning Tampa artist is Steven Gregory. Known for his photographs — he was Tampa’s 2006 Photographer Laureate — for the last couple of years he has delved into a new art form: mixed media sculpture.

“It’s just something different to keep the creative juices flowing,” he said in a telephone interview. “Working in three-dimension is working in a whole other axis. You have to make it look good from all viewing angles. That’s where the challenge comes in.”

His mixed media works are full of found objects such as small toys, wood, bottle caps, beads, and buttons. After he puts them together into a motif, he gives the whole thing a faux finish with gold paint that makes it look like metal in high relief.

His sculpture “Inception of Ganesha,” which earned him an individual award of merit in last year’s Gasparilla Art Festival, will be in this year’s show.

“I play with mythological themes a lot,” he explained, “and that sculpture came out of Eastern culture. I liked the idea of the god of knowledge. [Ganesha] He’s represented at the bottom, the figure with multiple arms.”

In contrast to Gregory, Holly Williams had never even heard of the art festival before being accepted into the “Emerging Artist” section of this year’s event.

“The only thing I knew about Gasparilla was the parade,” said the Lake Wales artist. This is not only her first Gasparilla show, it’s her first show.

“I realized that I’m going to be a painter for the rest of my life, and I need to show my work,” she said. “This show offered a way in.”

Williams works in acrylics and calls herself an “abstract-surrealist Dada-Movement kind of painter.” Look for her large canvases in the Emerging Artists section.

As in years past, there will be a section for “kids only” Called “Artist’s in Training,” the section is stocked with pieces donated by many of the artists in the show. Without their parents and under close supervision by staff, the children enter and select what could be the first piece in their collection of fine art.

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