A rusty red Ford coupe, a popular vehicle in 1946, sits parked in front of a weathered facade. Gulfport artist Cheryll Grogan, who painted “’46 Ford,” is featured at Harbor Art Festival Dec 7-8. She is one of many area and national artists who will have their work on display.
PALM HARBOR – Sometimes, dreams do come true. Just ask Cheryll Grogan of Gulfport, who is this year’s featured artist at the 39th annual Harbor Art Festival set for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7-8, in Historic Downtown Palm Harbor.
Last month, Grogan, 53, was chosen to be the featured artist for the Dunedin Art Harvest, which celebrated its 50th anniversary.
For a number of years, Grogan attended college while pursuing two careers. In 1988, she left the military and moved to Florida, where she finished a fine arts degree at the University of South Florida. After 17 years as a letter carrier, Grogan left the U.S. Postal Service in 2005 and plunged into self employment – at which point she had finally realized her dream of becoming a full time artist.
“It was all sort of part time because I was always working,” she said. “I took night classes in Europe when I was in the Army. It took me a while but I was persistent and got my degree.”
Using acrylics and oils, Grogan paints portraits of old cars, buildings and sea life. Her painting for the Harbor Art Festival titled “Waltz Fish Shak,” done in acrylics on a 30-inch by 40-inch canvas, was selected by the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce, organizers of the festival.
“This year is the first time this has happened,” said Grogan, about being selected as featured artist for both shows. “It’s kind of ironic because it has happened two months in a row in my home county, which is great,” she said.
The Harbor Art Festival was started by Bill and Louise Hoskins in the mid-1970s. It funds the Hoskins Visual Arts Scholarship, an annual award of between $500 and $1,000 given to a visual arts college student.
“We have juried in 107 artists and have a waiting list,” said Kelli Snow of the Chamber of Commerce, who is chairing this year’s event.
For the artists, prize money will be offered – cash awards totaling $6,250. The Best of Show is worth $2,000. Last year’s winner, John Mascoll, accepted top honors in wood. Other honors this year include five awards of distinction, one award of merit and one honorable mention.
In a special children’s area sponsored by Nationwide Title Clearing, students and volunteers from Bright Futures and YMCA will help kids of all ages create projects for display.
“We’re moving and expanding the children’s area this year,” Snow said.
The Fire Department will hand out children’s hats and fire and safety items. The Sheriff’s Office will administer free Ident-A-Kid fingerprints and identification cards.
For a small entry fee, the chamber is inviting area restaurants, who have wings as part of their menu, to join the chicken wing contest. Festival attendees can become a judge for $10. Last year’s winner, Jack Willie’s Tiki Bar and Grill in Oldsmar, took top honors in best wings.
“The wing contest was amazing last year,” said Connie Davis, the chamber’s chief executive officer. “About 15 restaurants participated and we had 20 judges.”
Patrons can buy ribbon gift certificates before the festival for $30 each and up to four ribbons can be purchased for $100. The ribbons are used to buy artwork. The artists are then paid by the chamber for the value of ribbons they have collected from sales.
“It’s nice that the community can show support and go shopping with the artists,” Davis said. “It gives support to the artists and they proudly display the ribbons. A business card can be attached, and we encourage businesses to buy the ribbons as holiday gifts for their employees.”
This year, the festival’s presenting sponsor is Bright House Networks, in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Times. Supporting sponsors also include Chick-fil-A Palm Harbor, Jolley Trolley, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, Lulu’s Beach House Café, P3 Agency, Sheila J. Priest Accounting & Tax Services, Tampa Bay Newspapers and others.
Different sponsor opportunities and benefits are available. They range from a diamond or platinum sponsorship for $10,000 to $5,000 or a gold or bronze sponsorship for $1,500 to $500. A $100 T-shirt sponsor is available. Sponsor perks include television spots by Bright House Networks, advertising opportunities, sponsor recognition, gifts bags and more. On the day of the event, patrons of the arts and committee sponsors are invited to a private party for the artists featuring a potato and hot dog bar.
To apply for the Hoskins Visual Arts Scholarship, buy sponsorships or for information, visit the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce at 1151 Nebraska Ave. or call 784-4287. For more on Cheryll Grogan’s art see gulfportartstudio.com.