WESLEY CHAPEL—From humble beginnings in the Long Leaf Community, the Suncoast Arts Fest has grown to become an event so big it is drawing artists from all over Florida.
This year’s event will have more than 100 fine artists displaying and selling their work. The fest will be at the Shops at Wiregrass Saturday and Sunday.
Pamela Marron, co-director of the event this year, is one of the original organizers. She said about 70,000 people attended last year. She is hoping for even more this year.
“The first time we had the art show it was named Fine Arts on the Village Green and it was inside the Long Leaf Development in New Port Richey,” Marron said. “We had 1,500 visitors, so we decided the development wasn’t big enough for the art fest. That is when we moved it to SR 54 and Starkey and renamed it. We had it there for a couple years and then when they opened the Shops at Wiregrass we decided to move it there.”
Marron said visitors can expect a great mix of mediums including ceramics, clay, drawings, graphics, fiber, leather, wood, photography, glass, jewelry, metal, sculpture and mixed media.
“All the artists are creating fine art,” Marron said. “Nobody is using kits, every artist either makes everything by hand or a good portion of it. The jewelers are making their beads or the pottery artists are throwing their own clay by hand. This will not be an arts and crafts fest, it is for fine artists only.”
Pauline Atkinson of Zephyrhills will be selling the jewelry she makes using her handmade glass beads.
“I make the glass beads and then I put together bracelets, necklaces and earrings,” Atkinson said. “I like to work with a lot of color, which is why I use 150 different colors. Then after I make the glass beads, I like to add swarovski crystal and sterling silver.”
The event will benefit Art for Kids in Pasco County. Marron said money raised will be used to create a Web site that will help students in the 10th through 12th grade who are interested an art-based career.
“We want to help students and parents find the careers and colleges out there that are available,” Marron said. “We have been working with colleges like the Ringling College of Art and Design. We are trying to let people see that art is not just something you do in school or not just for an art show. Art can be used in a job too like architects and web designers. We want to be able to help kids who are passionate about art.”
In addition to building a Web site, the non-profit organization will also have an Emerging Artist show for sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school in Pasco.
“The show will be a juried art show just like a professional show,” Marron said. “The students artwork will have to be accepted and in the end prizes will be awarded.”
Nanette McLain, of Land O’ Lakes, will be displaying her stained glass artwork at the Fest. She said when she creates pieces; she is inspired by nature’s wonders, things like butterflies, birds and dragonflies.
“I make small sun catchers all the way up to large panels,” McLain said. “I also like to do custom projects. I like to use a lot of different colors and textures. Everything I do is handmade and done in kind of the old-fashioned way where I hand-cut each piece and put them together. It does take longer, but I think it is worth it because it is so pretty.”
In addition to the art show, the fest will also have entertainment from local schools including The Contempo Dance Group and the Mitchell High School Jazz Band. WMNF 88.5 FM, a public radio station, will be broadcasting regional music.
IF YOU GO
- WHAT Suncoast Arts Fest 2010
- WHERE The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel
- WHEN Jan. 23 and 24 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday
- MORE INFORMATION visit www.suncoastartsfest.com