On April 7, Temple Beth David hosted its third annual Nature Coast Art Show. Twenty artists representing various media and styles exhibited and sold their art works. Some were professional artists with many years of experience. Others, like “emerging artists” Jessie Leasure and Jared Davis are just starting out in the field, while some exhibitors pursue art as a hobby.
Barb Blavatt, curator of the show and an artist, herself, stated, “For people like Jessie and Jared we give them an opportunity to network among artists who will share tips on marketing their art, how to display, where to find galleries, etc.”
Barb’s forte is printmaking and ceramic sculpture. Not only is she an accomplished artist, but she taught middle and high school art for forty years. The figures she displayed on Sunday all had similar and unusual features to them.
“My sculptures are based on what I call ‘subcultures’ and activities that are more on the unusual side – a skateboarder, break dancer, graffiti artist – some were inspired by my high school students,” Barb remarks.
“I find a subject who’s a real person, take a picture, make some sketches, then search the internet for similar people of that nature in different poses to expand on that idea. The figures’ faces and bodies are somewhat distorted. I’m not a realist and I never was,” Barb adds.
Anthony Rizzo is an example of someone whose art is not only a hobby but also a passion. He started painting four years ago while he was recuperating from a car accident. Rizzo’s art displays an interesting technique of using clear acrylic gel that he applies on the canvas with an applicator. Once it is dry he paints over the gel with acrylic paints. He even makes his own frames. His artwork ranges from whimsical to somewhat surrealistic. The time it takes him to complete a piece can vary from a few hours to over twenty-five hours.
“I get my ideas from just looking around at nature or from a photograph. I draw the design on the canvas first and then apply the gel,” Anthony comments.
Shirley Dillon has been an artist for eighteen years, but discovered her current style,
Zentangle, about five years ago. It is typified by groupings of lines, circles and patterns. Her media is pen and ink and some of her pictures are abstract while others are more realistic.
“I taught myself how to do Zentangle by reading up on it in a book. I don’t sketch or draw out the picture first. When I make the design I do it in the ink so it’s permanent. If you make a mistake you have to improvise,” states Shirley.
Not only does she create interesting canvases, but Shirley also draws her designs on fabric that she makes into pillows. She also creates note cards with her designs. Shirley often does work on commission such as doing a Zentangle of a Ford Mustang for its proud owner.
Arlene McGowan and Jane Brekka are co-owners of A & J Baskets and members of the Nature Coast Basket Weavers Guild. The pair also give lessons in basket weaving. They use various materials in their basket-making, including reed, cane, ash and other woods, as well as a variety of grasses. They sometimes dye the materials and decorate the baskets with feathers and other items. Arlene and Jane also make baskets from gourds.
“We buy gourds and add leather, cane, beads & other decorative items. The insides are cleaned and painted; the outside is also painted with alcohol inks and then covered with a clear finish. We can punch holes in the gourd to thread the leather strips through and sometimes we use a wood-burning tool to burn a design or picture into the gourd,” explains Arlene.
This year’s Nature Coast Art Show was made possible by a grant from the Hernando County Fine Arts Council and by a generous donation from Florida Tax Advisors. Other local businesses purchased ads in the printed program. These monies helped to pay for advertising the event and other expenses. Temple Beth David allowed the use of its facility at no charge. Everyone who works to put on the show are volunteers. Artists pay only $100 to exhibit their works.
Next year, the organizers hope to add another element to the art show. A week before the event they want to hold seminars and lectures for the public.
“It’s important that people who come to visit art understand what they’re looking at. You know what you like, but you might not understand the medium. You see techniques you don’t understand, etc.,” Barb explains.
Cultural events, such as the Nature Coast Art Show, enrich our community, aid artists in getting their works recognized and sold, and sometimes inspire people to become artists, themselves.