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St. Pete’s rising star fine artist J.D. River, making a name for himself with abstract impressionistic portraiture, brings his 3D creations to the Palm Harbor Craft Festival with mixtures of resin, ink, pastel and metals. 

PALM HARBOR — Historic Palm Harbor will once again serve as the setting for the Palm Harbor Craft Festival, happening Saturday and Sunday, March 6-7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Florida Avenue in Palm Harbor.

The annual event will feature dozens of craft artisans displaying their creative wares. According to American Craft Endeavors, approximately 70 of the nation’s most talented craft artisans will bring handmade, affordable and creative creations to this year’s festival. Due to limited events throughout Florida, this year’s event also will include a number of the nation’s top fine artists.

The craft festival is held in March and September each year, but this year’s free event has a number of new safety protocols. Safety measures in place during the art festival include the following:

• All attendees are required to wear a mask while attending the festival, with the exception of children aged 2 and under

• Entrances and exits will be monitored for one-way traffic

• Visitors should reserve a free time slot at artfestival.com — recommended, but not required

• Social distancing is required between artists and patrons, and patron groups

• Patrons are asked to stay home if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, awaiting test results for COVID-19, or show any symptoms of the virus

• Guests are also asked to utilize hand-washing and sanitizing stations on a regular basis and avoid casual touching

Presented by American Craft Endeavors, unique and affordable arts and crafts will be showcased from the Florida-based and national craft artists during the free event. The outdoor craft festival offers a chance for residents and visitors to peruse and shop from thousands of quality, handmade art while enjoying the beautiful Florida weather. The craft festival is pet-friendly for leashed animals, and includes a full greenmarket of live plants, handmade soaps, delicious edibles and more. Each artisan is on-site during the entire festival, allowing patrons to meet and to discover the techniques and inspirations behind each piece.

Among this year’s festival participants is Clearwater’s Veena Cahlander.

Cahlander’s artistic career began with music. She had a dream as a teenager that she was playing guitar and singing. Soon after that dream she bought a $34 guitar and taught herself to play. At 15 she had to drop out of high school and work in a factory, but music called her on to school and she put herself through college and graduated with a degree in music education. She then played her brand of intricate contemporary folk/rock in venues from Iowa to Ireland.

Cahlander’s art glass career began with her move to Maui and is an embrace of the island's feeling of Aloha. Inspired by the color and beauty of her tropical home, she is, along with her musical endeavors, creating fused dichroic glass jewelry and intricate, hand woven crystal. Cahlander cuts tiny pieces of dichroic glass and fuses them in a larger piece; she then cuts and bevels each piece by hand and then fires them a second time.

Cahlander is a member of the Lahaina Arts Society and can be found under the Banyan Tree on select weekends throughout the year. She is also a member of the Maui Crafts Guild in Paia.

Based in St. Petersburg, J.D. River has created an artistic style all his own. Using bold colors and loose brush strokes, J.D. River’s paintings encompass the energy of his subject matter.

“My paintings are a celebration of life and all of the beauty and pain that comes with it,” River said in an artist statement provided by event organizers.

Blending the styles of abstract expressionism with impressionism and pop art, River creates art that commands attention and will bring energetic life to any environment. Working in acrylics, his paintings utilize layers of colors on top of each other that give his work extra depth and interest. His art comes together with a certain amount of spontaneity. He doesn’t plan every color or brush stroke but rather lets the color and composition evolve organically. “I like to let the paint tell me what it wants to do,” River said. “I don’t try to force anything. My paintings never start with a particular color pallet or even subject matter in mind. It all just happens, and that’s what I love about it.”

Maykel Medina is a Florida resident artist. With almost two decades of experience, his versatile portfolio shows a variety of unique, handcrafted artwork inspired by human relations with marine life.

The story behind Medina’s art began in Cuba, his home country, at kindergarten age when he became amazed with the idea of "shaping" his father's rocking chair. Using a kitchen knife, he chopped the chair arm, without realizing it was getting ruined. Fortunately, his father was understanding but practical. While Medina dreamed of being a real carver to fix the mess he made, the cutting tools remained out of his reach for years to come.

Medina’s professional growth was limited until he emigrated to Miami in 2009 with his family. For over 10 years he has created life-size wooden sculptures, acrylic paintings, fine furniture, and other commissions.

St. Petersburg artist Mike Williams is nationally recognized for his vintage-style illustrations of times past.

Williams spends countless hours, building up layers of fine lines with a pen, on each of his original drawings. Once the drawing is completed, he then applies washes of color using pastels. From the original drawing, limited edition giclee canvases are made as well as signed lithographs. His work can be found in private and public collections around the world.

“I would have to say I am more of a professional daydreamer than an artist,” Williams said on his website. “Instead of paying attention in class, I would doze off thinking of far-off places, which were more interesting and exciting than a classroom.”

Williams opened a gallery and exhibited his work at shows along Lake Michigan and Lake Erie throughout the summers as well.

“I had heard of the great number of shows held in Florida throughout the winter months and decided to give it a try,” he said. “There was endless inspiration to be found in Florida, and after two years of driving up and down I-75, I decided to make it my new home. It has afforded me to enjoy the most important part of what I do for a living: freedom.”

About American Craft Endeavors

American Craft Endeavors produces some of the nation’s most exciting high-end juried craft shows in many of Florida’s vibrant downtown areas and popular tourist destinations such as the Downtown Dunedin Art and Craft Festival, the St. Pete Beach Corey Area Craft Festival and the Downtown Sarasota Art and Craft Festival, among others. The group’s founders personally select unique, culture-rich cities for their show locations, providing a complete outdoor experience unmatched by other festivals. All crafters are hand-selected from hundreds of applicants in order to ensure a superior event featuring diverse art media and the highest quality of original handmade crafts.

For information, visit www.artfestival.com.