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Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Amateur artwork on display at funky cottage on Bay to Bay

You likely have driven past the fuchsia, blue and green cottage with a sapphire blue chimney on Bay to Bay Boulevard. Today is the perfect time to see what’s inside. The funky-colored building is an art studio and gallery, and today the easels will be put away and two galleries will be filled with art created by more than 20 adults who take classes there. Owner and teacher Beth Kokol says there is no theme to the 80-plus works on the walls. “They can do what they want in the classes,” she said. “The theme is fun, fun, fun.” I had a chance to observe the fun and speak with some of the regulars at the Thursday night adult painting class. About 10 men and women were sitting or standing at their easels, sipping wine and chatting with each other, as Kokol made her way around the room making comments and offering suggestions.
Husband and wife team Pete and Rhonda Nelson, from Ballast Point, began painting together in 2009, initially taking private lessons from Kokol. “After we got more confident, we decided we could join the Thursday night class,” Rhonda Nelson said. “It was a hard decision. We were nervous that we weren’t competent enough.” The Nelsons, like many of the students, work from photographs. Sometimes the photos are cross-hatched with penciled-in grids that correspond to grids on the canvas. “The grid is really helpful so you can get a good perspective,” said Jackie Haggar who is painting from a photo of her grandson on a bicycle. Frances Fuller also was working from a photo. “I drive by these three homeless guys every morning, and one morning I took their picture,” she said. “It’s like somebody you see every day but don’t really know.” Experience is not needed, said Orie Byars, who is almost finished with an acrylic painting of her husband fishing. She never painted “a single line,” she says, before taking lessons with Kokol six years ago. Now her strokes are sure and bold. A couple of the Thursday night students were not using photos. Beth Garcia was working from memory, recreating on canvas a favorite landscape she often has seen driving north on 275. “I usually have a picture, but I’ve always wanted to paint this scene, so I’m winging it,” she said. Newton Linebaugh also was painting without a picture, creating imaginative underwater landscapes in acrylic on canvas. Two of them will be in the show. Meet the artists and see their work at a free reception from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Kokol Art Studio & Gallery, 3318 Bay to Bay Blvd. in South Tampa.  Call (813) 334-5100 for information or go to www.bethkokolarts.com. Jewelry and Bible story paintings Baisden Gallery will host two special one-night exhibits in the coming week. From noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Meredith Haws showcases a selection of her handcrafted sterling silver and gold jewelry pieces. Her necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings are designed using semi-precious gems and often include objects and ideas Haws has picked up on her travels. This year her inspiration comes from France. Meet Haws and hear her talk about her adventures and travels. The gallery moves from baubles to the Bible in the next exhibit. From 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, it showcases the icon paintings of Romanian Orthodox nun Sister Eliseea Papacioc. The noted iconographer will attend the exhibition. She has been to Tampa annually for the past few years and always draws a crowd to see her highly detailed and colorful paintings of familiar and not-so-familiar Bible stories. Her style is rooted in the ancient icon painting tradition, but she manages to bring modern techniques into her paintings as well. Both exhibits are free and open to the public. Baisden Gallery is at 442 Grand Central Avenue, next to Mise en Place Restaurant. Call (813) 250-1511 for information.

Correspondent Esther Hammer can be reached at [email protected]

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