ST. PETERSBURG — An exhibition showcasing award-winning and emerging artists based at ArtLofts will run Jan. 7-18 at Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.
“The Artists of ArtLofts” will kick off with an opening reception Friday, Jan. 10, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Florida CraftArt. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the artists at the opening reception.
ArtLofts is on the second floor of Florida CraftArt and has working artists’ studios. The studios are usually open for the Saturday Art Walks or by appointment. The 19 artists participating in the exhibition will present recent artwork which includes drawings, encaustic, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography and sculpture.
Artists in the exhibition are Javier Dones, Julie Dye, Mavis Gibson, Susan Hess, Brian James, Gilbert Johnson, Beth Kauffman, Betsy Orbe Lester, Carol O’Bryon, Kirk Palmer, Karen Porter, Amanda Pratt, Rebecca Skelton, Brandy Stark, Kas Turner, Joe Walles, Lee West, Rick Whalen and Donna Winchester.
“We are excited to display the art of the talented artists of ArtLofts,” said Katie Deits, the executive director of Florida CraftArt. “They have such a profound level of experience and a diversity of styles. Several of the artists teach at colleges and universities and have undoubtedly influenced many artists in Florida. While Florida CraftArt is based on fine craft, we support fine art with these artists’ studios and exhibits. Of course, the line between fine art and fine craft is getting more and more blurred in the art world. This is an opportunity for people to explore a variety of mediums by top-quality artists.”
Javier T. Dones was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, in 1967. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1990 from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico.
Since 1992, he has lived in St. Petersburg and since 2005 has worked from his ArtLofts Studio 209.
“My native land is the tropical paradise of Puerto Rico,” he said in a press release. “The island is both exuberant in natural beauty and rich in culture. All elements feel intense, like loud voices. When it comes to the expression of the arts, I often execute my work with the same intensity and loudness.”
Dones mainly works in copper, but also uses other metals, natural pigments and enamels incorporated in the pieces. He uses a fumed copper technique, powdered metals and enamels. The coloration is the actual copper patina, elicited by his unique chemical process.
Julie Dye loves working with her hands. She received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts in photography from the Ringling College of Art in Design in 2004. During her time there she developed a deep interest in bookbinding and working with paper.
Dye launched her business Blossom and Shine in 2009 and began selling hand-bound journals, decorative home décor items and unique paper jewelry. She continued to innovate her passion for blended material jewelry by learning the art of metalsmithing and shifting her focus to combining metal, Japanese paper and resin to create a line of modern jewelry capable of making a statement and layering.
Mavis Gibson was born in Saskatchewan, Canada. She began painting in 2009 after spending time working with a gifted artist in the south of France.
In 2010, she studied at L’Ecole des Beaux-arts in Paris. The texture of Paris with its intrinsic romance with the arts, its history, sensuality, architecture and its light continues to exert its influence on her work.
Returning to Florida, she continued working in oils and acrylics and considers herself both an abstract and figurative painter.
The work of Susan Hess reveals immediately her passion for color. Her bold use of vibrant colors and fluid strokes creates energy in each painting.
Born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Hess became fascinated with colors at the age of 9 when she created her own colors by melting together crayons from “the big box” of Crayola. She attended Maywood College and graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts and interior design.
Working for 25 years as an interior designer, she continued her fascination with color through her use of paint and fabrics. She developed her artistic skills studying with national and international artists.
“My artistic journey is always full of surprising challenges and my goal is to convey that excitement through color, design and texture,” Hess said.
Brian James is an American fashion advertising photographer.
Born and raised in the Sunshine State, he takes pride in his community, and the people that make St. Petersburg a great place to live. In his work, James listens to his photography clients and recognizes the essence of their intended message.
Beth Kauffman is a stained-glass artist and painter located in St. Petersburg.
She has worked with stained glass and fused glass for nearly 30 years and has published four stained-glass pattern books. From brightly painted jellyfish and grouper, to free-form stained-glass mermaids, Kauffman’s pieces are often a reflection of her coastal and nautical surroundings.
An award-winning mixed media artist, Betsy Orbe Lester teaches where she learned, both at Eckerd College and University of South Florida.
Her artwork is in the permanent collections at Tampa Museum of Art, Gulf Coast Museum, Neiman Marcus and private collections. Recent exhibitions include Denis Bibro Fine Art, New York City; Brevard Art Museum; Boca Raton Museum; and Tampa Museum of Art. Solo shows include the Merrick Gallery and the Morean Arts Center.
Carol O’Bryon has transitioned from a career as an interior designer to become a working artist.
Her art reflects the same visual language as her designs — an interplay of space, color, texture and light. After moving to Florida in 1997, O’Bryon found the best of all possible worlds — water, light and abundant nature. These have marked her oil paints, as well as her glass art.
Fused glass is a recent passion for O’Bryon. She effectively uses the colors, textures and light reflections of glass to create unusual, three-dimensional, abstract pieces. While abstraction is often used in painting, it is seldom found in fused-glass work.
Descended from a line of vaudevillians, silent film actors, musicians, misfits and adventurers, Kirk Palmer is an artist who lives in St. Petersburg.
As a child, he followed his restless family from California to South America and then took a circuitous route to the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. Palmer later served more than 20 years in the Marines, including a tour as a Middle East Foreign Area Officer and Arabic linguist at the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, before deciding to pursue the creative life more fully. He studied visual arts at Eckerd College and received his master’s degree of fine arts in studio art at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.
A native Floridian and lifelong resident of St. Petersburg, Karen Porter takes her artistic cues from the vibe of the community art culture and the art lovers she encounters daily. She is right at home in her downtown art studio above Florida CraftArt, where she receives a constant flow of inspiration from her surroundings.
Her large wall art canvases reflect the mural-driven art that thrives in the city art scene. She has been teaching art for more than 15 years, in between raising two boys. Porter has also combined her passion for teaching art with her skills and talents in painting to become a working artist in her downtown studio.
Amanda Pratt is best known for her Florida-themed mixed media fluid art highlighting the vibrant colors known to the state’s beach communities. Her work utilizes resin, inks, pigments and found objects. Interactive elements allow her viewers to become a part of many of her creations.
Rebecca Skelton has exhibited her work since 1974 in juried shows.
She is represented internationally in private collections and the permanent collection of University of Tampa, Auburn University, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, the collection of the State of Florida in Tallahassee and the Chelsea Hotel. Her education includes a bachelor’s degree of fine arts and master’s degree of fine arts from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, where she pursued the study of painting, drawing and printmaking. She has continued her studies in various areas of art, including jewelry classes to refine her sculpture techniques.
As an adjunct professor of art, Skelton has taught for University of Tampa, St. Petersburg College, USF St. Petersburg, HCC Ybor and Eckerd College.
Brandy Stark moved to St. Petersburg in 1992.
As an undergraduate, she took a course in sculpture at the University of Tampa where she discovered her wire wrapping abilities. Utilizing welding rods, she made three wrapped wire figures: a triton, a dragon, and a centaur. These constituted the first generation of her “Metal Myths” series, established in 1995.
A lifelong lover of world mythology, her works often manifest as ancient characters, legends, and deities. Tying past to present, Stark sees herself as a neo-expressionist with the weaving and wrapping process she uses transferring her own energy into the piece.
Kas Turner is a long-time professional artist who lives in St. Pete Beach.
Her work has been included in numerous regional, national and international juried shows and exhibitions. Turner paints colorful contemporary interpretations of Florida coastal life with acrylics and exhibits her work in her ArtLoft.
Joseph N. Walles studied business administration, education, liberal arts and sociology at the University of Toledo from 1966 to 1971.
He began shooting for Toledo area newspapers while still in high school. In Florida, he was a photographer for the Clearwater Sun from 1972 until 1980, when he began as a photographer for the St. Petersburg Times. He was a picture editor there from 1995 until 2011.
He continues to be a photographer for his own creative satisfaction. Walles has exhibited his award-winning work since 1979. His work is in numerous private collections and the American Securities Insurance Corporate Collection of American Photographers.
Lee West was attracted to the arts as a small child.
She nurtured those interests at the University of Colorado and the Art Students League in New York City. In New York, she studied under Dagmar, then lead illustrator for “Vogue” magazine.
West moved to Florida in 1971, after her stint as a fashion illustrator, and was immediately inspired by the flora and fauna of the South. Paintings of flowers and landscapes are painted in her studio from onsite sketches and photos.
Rick Whalen was young when he began his art studies with his mother, Mary Stanley Whalen, a well-known Niagara Falls painter who attended the University of Buffalo, graduated with a degree in Fine Arts, and continued studies at Albright Knox. The family lived in Montreal, Buenos Aires, Rouen and Baghdad before settling in St. Petersburg in 1956.
After years of working in oil with RR Robinson in his beach studio, Whalen began to experiment with watercolors and fell in love with the transparency of the medium. He began plein air painting with Jan MacFarlane in 1990 and continued studying with Bryan Ateyo, Tom Lynch, Tom Jones, Frank Webb, Don Getz, and continues with Taylor Ikin on Yupo paper, acrylic painting using palette knife and bright colors.
“I am fascinated with the colors of Key West’s pastels, and the cheerful Caribbean palette of bright and vibrant colors,” Whalen said.
The thread that connects Donna Winchester’s career evolution over four decades from graphic designer to newspaper reporter to communications strategist has been the desire to gather and share information using images, words and mediums.
“A similar desire has informed my creative exploration as I’ve experimented with watercolor, photography and printmaking,” Winchester said. “My current fascination is fiber art and the ability of textiles to serve as a source of narrative. I’m inspired by the feel, smell and aura of fibers — sumptuous velvets, decadent brocades, shimmering organdies — and their ability to communicate emotion and meaning.”
Florida CraftArt is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 and headquartered in St. Petersburg. Its mission is to grow the statewide creative economy by engaging the community and advancing Florida’s fine craft artists and their work. Fine craft art is presented in its 2,000-square-foot retail gallery and a large gallery features curated exhibitions. Florida CraftArt is the only statewide organization offering artists a platform to show and sell their work.
For information, visit www.FloridaCraftArt.org or call 727-821-7391. Admission is free. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.