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Downtown tradition
Palm Harbor's 38th annual Art Festival
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Photo courtesy of TONY KRYSINSKY
Texture and bright colors bring Tony Krysinsky’s work to life in “Bird Man Blues.” He is one of many area artists who will have their work on display at the Harbor Arts Festival Dec. 1-2.
PALM HARBOR – The Harbor Art Festival draws more than 1,000 visitors each year to the city of Palm Harbor’s historic downtown district. It attracts both local residents and out-of-town visitors from such places as Lake Wales and Punta Gorda.

Year after year, neighbors bump into each other at the show and catch up on old news. Others bring along their best friends – their dogs – for a stroll down Florida Avenue, where 100 local and national artists showcase their works. The show has become a well-established community tradition for those living in Palm Harbor and East Lake, as it celebrates its 38th year.

In the mid-1970s, Bill and Louise Hoskins founded and created the Harbor Art Festival. Bill, who was an art teacher at Oak Grove Middle School in Clearwater, meticulously organized and managed the show for many years. The Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce now oversees the event and portions of the proceeds raised will fund the Hoskins Visual Arts Scholarship, which will be awarded to a local student pursuing a career in the visual arts.

The show is set for Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It promises to deliver live music and food from local restaurants, street vendors and food trucks.

A new addition this year is the Harbor Art Children’s Area. It will feature hands-on art projects for kids to make and display during the two-day event. A story corner will be available and children’s choirs also will perform. The children’s area is sponsored by the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art on the Tarpon Springs Campus of St. Petersburg College, Nationwide Title Clearing Inc. and the YMCA.

“It’s a new aspect of bringing in kids to get involved in the actual art part of (the festival) too,” said Kelli Snow, co-chair of the event’s organizing committee.

Artists participating in this year’s event represent all major categories and are selected through ZAPP, a one-stop universal online application system. ZAPP allows artists to submit and manage applications for participating art shows, festivals and fairs. For artists interested in participating in ZAPP, visit www.z­appli­catio­n.org for more information.

Artists will share $6,250 in prize money, including the $2,000 Harbor Art Festival Best of Show. Winners will be announced at a private party held for the artists Saturday evening at Lu Lu’s Beach Café. A featured artist also will be selected to use his or her artwork on a sponsored T-shirt.

“They’re competing for sales but they’re all friends,” said Dick Martin, committee co-chair. “A lot of the artists go around the same show route, so they all know each other. We have the party for them as a noncompetitive type of thing.”

Layers of bright acrylic glaze create whimsy and movement in the paintings of Tony Krysinsky. Inspired by the natural beauty of coastal Florida, music and folk art, Krysinsky’s palette includes a mix of blues, reds and yellows. Many of his pieces feature birds, reptiles and mermaids as well as textile and quilt designs.

Krysinsky uses a router to engrave designs into primed, tempered hardboard, a building material used in the manufacturing of doors and cabinets. He then builds up color between the engraved lines using three or more layers of glaze. The finished pieces are framed and range in price from $85 for a 17-by-20 inch painting to $600 for a 4-by-4 foot painting.

“It was something I came up with experimenting around with different materials,” he said. “I was looking for something with texture. The first one I did was for my wife for a Christmas present. It started to snowball, and I started doing more.”

Krysinsky lives in Pensacola and has a master’s degree in fine arts from Tulane University. He sells his artwork in Florida and on the east coast of Virginia and North Carolina. In the 1980s and ’90s, he worked as a graphic designer in television lighting and set design.

“My real impetus for getting into the shows, at the time 15 years ago, was my son, who was diagnosed with autism,” he said. I was trying to find a way that my wife could stay at home and spend more time with him because we were both working full time.”

Today, Krysinsky’s 20-year-old son, Kyle, and his wife, Jean, spend a third of the year in hotel rooms traveling to shows, including Kyle’s service dog, Mira. Krysinsky has participated in the Harbor Art Festival for several years and won a merit award in last year’s show. You can see Krysinsky’s work at www.t­onykr­ysins­ky.ne­t.

“We’ve been very blessed and have been able to make a living at it,” he said. “It’s a fun adventure.”

Lori Rosenberger is a self-taught artist who lives in nearby Countryside. She won the 3D Award of Distinction in last year’s show. She makes jewelry from broken and cracked china including pop bottle jewelry. This will be her fifth year in the show.

“There’s a good selection of artists each year,” Rosenberger said. “I really enjoy it, and it’s close to me.”

Rosenberger started her business in 2006 and participates in 18 to 20 shows a year. She uses pieces of broken china, porcelain, glassware and silverware to make treasured heirloom and keepsake jewelry. “It’s really taken off and turned into a lot of custom work as well,” she said.

Rosenberger recycles pieces of china into charm bracelets, pendants and earrings. Her supplies – chipped, cracked and glued together dishware – come from antique stores. Customers also send broken pieces through the mail.

“If you have something that’s sentimental and meaningful to you, your mom’s or your grandmother’s china, it’s a nice way to recycle it into something you’ll wear,” she said. “Or, if you’ve broken it, you can have pieces made for family members.”

Rosenberger’s pieces range in price from $20 for a charm up to $250 for fine silver and one-of-a-kind pieces. To see more of her work, visit www.c­racke­dupje­welry­.com.

This year, the festival’s major sponsors are Bright House Networks and Tampa Bay Times. Other event sponsors include Walmart, Patriot Bank, Bringing Home Community News, State Farm Insurance, Ted Friedinger, C.P.A., Chick-fil-A, Hancock Bank and others.

Different sponsorship opportunities and benefits are available and range from a diamond or platinum sponsorship for $10,000 to $5,000 or a gold or bronze sponsorship for $1,500 to $500. Sponsor perks include television spots by Bright House Networks, advertising opportunities, sponsor recognition, gift bags and more.

A patron of the arts sponsor is available for $100. It includes a $25 gift certificate ribbon with business card. The ribbon voucher can be used to purchase any item in the show. The artist then redeems the voucher for cash.

Best wings contest

PALM HARBOR – Applications are now being accepted for the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce Battle of the Wings Contest Saturday, Dec. 1 during the 38th annual Harbor Art Festival in downtown Palm Harbor on Florida Avenue.

The event begins at 10 a.m. Judging is at 2 p.m. and the festival closes at 5 p.m. It opens again on Sunday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. and goes to 4 p.m.

Patrons can purchase a sampling of many varieties and flavors from favorite restaurants and vendors, while enjoying works by nearly 100 area artists.

Vendors can enter the contest by calling the Palm Harbor Chamber at 784-4287. The contest entry fee is $100. Vendors must carry insurance. The deadline for entry into the contest is Saturday, Nov. 24.
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