d-DUN-craftfestival122619-3-Dunedin Art Festival Patron

Artists from around the Tampa Bay area and all over the country bring their work to the 23rd annual Downtown Dunedin Art Festival, running Jan. 4-5.

DUNEDIN — If one of your New Year’s resolutions involves bringing more beauty into your life, the 23rd annual Downtown Dunedin Art Festival might provide you with an opportunity to do just that.

The event will showcase the work of fine artists from around the country Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 4-5, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Main Street in downtown Dunedin. Admission is free. For information, visit www.artfestival.com.

Presented by Howard Alan Events, producer of some of the nation’s finest juried art shows, the festival presents original artwork, handmade in America and selected by an independent panel of expert judges from hundreds of applicants. HAE’s careful vetting process also ensures a wide array of mediums and price ranges will be offered during the event. The festival has become a hugely anticipated event during the past two decades, with travel arrangements booked in advance for those looking to stroll amidst life-size sculptures, spectacular paintings, one-of-a-kind jewels, photography, ceramics and more from the more than 150 exhibitors.

Each year the Downtown Dunedin Art Festival has grown, with more artists and thousands of visitors attending the free event during its two-day run. Always pet-friendly, the event is the perfect opportunity to shop and stroll during Florida’s most beautiful weather and discover why the nation’s top artists have chosen Dunedin as their destination for more than 20 years.

Pinellas County’s own Heidi Stavinga is among this year’s long list of exhibitors at the festival. Owner of Stavinga Studio, she lives in Dunedin.

“I am so very blessed to be able to do what I love, which is paint,” Stavinga says on her website. “My passion for painting began as a teenager; however, my love of alcohol inks began over five years ago with a few colors and a couple pieces of yupo paper. After the first few pieces of paper were filled with vibrant colors, I was hooked.”

Stavinga draws much of her inspiration from the ocean.

“My absolute favorite subjects to paint are sea turtles, but pretty much any animal is fair play,” she admits. “Along with animals, you can find me teaching the ink techniques that I use, to paint almost anything, from portraits to landscapes.”

Sokratis Paskalidis of Clearwater also will be on hand at the festival.

Paskalidis has had his studio in Safety Harbor for 25 years. Originally from Greece, as a child he saw wood carvers at work in his community. When he was in sixth grade, he asked to be taught how to do it. Initially, he carved furniture and cabinets. About 30 years ago, he shifted his focus to art.

Paskalidis gets the wood for his art from multiple sources but most come from stump removals and old trees cut down where friends will give him the "slop" wood from the trees. He also uses driftwood he collects along Florida's beaches.

The artist has been touring with the art festival circuit for the past two years. He will custom-carve anything, and used to sell directly to major stores around the county.

Paul Laoria grew up in New York City, but relocated to the Tampa Bay area.

Laoria attended Julliard and the Eastman School of Music studying voice, piano, and composition. He has been painting since he was 3 years old.

According to his website, as soon as he was old enough to take the subway or ride a bus, Laoria made his way each week to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he spent many hours with his sketchbook trying to learn the secrets of the old masters. He is an abstract artist who also has the unique ability to paint and draw in the classical style. His paintings are in some of the most beautiful homes and private collections in the world.

"I dream in vivid color,” Laoria says on his website. “Sometimes the red is so bright that I can’t believe it exists inside my head. I paint in layers of color. Each layer that I paint exposes a new dimension. The shapes that are formed dictate my direction. I don’t know what the painting will mean until the final layer has been put down. All of my abstracts contain an element of surprise. Serendipity is part of the plan."

Don and Cristina Williams, raku artists from St. Petersburg, also will be taking part in the festival.

This couple collaborates on each piece, perfecting their skills in the ancient Japanese art of shino glaze, a process that has not changed in centuries yet yields a different effect with each finished piece. They welcome the opportunity to meet and speak with art enthusiasts and potential investors they meet at each festival.

“I was born to do art,” Don said in an email. “I love it, live it and love to share with others. I have been doing pottery almost 30 years now. My wife Cristina is very talented as well and we do a lot of collaborative pieces like our penguins and cats.”

The couple frequently participates in American Craft Endeavors craft shows throughout Florida, sharing their work and their love for raku pottery.

“Teaching pottery is also my passion,” Don said. “It gives me a great feeling to share skills with others and see them learn and smile with the joys of achievement. I teach at the Morean Art Center for clay on Wednesday evening and do demos as part of the Chihuly tour.”

The festival also attracts artists from around the country.

A member of the "family welded together by a love of metal sculpting," Chad Anderson continues his family tradition begun by his father in 1976. The Michigan master sculptor traveled the country on the art festival circuit as a child and began brazing and sculpting bronze and copper at the age of 15. Like his father Steve, Chad creates nature-inspired pieces on both large and small scales, with every sculpture lovingly crafted and customized for each patron.

About Howard Alan Events

Howard Alan Events 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, including the Siesta Key and Downtown Venice craft festivals. The group’s founders personally select unique, culturally rich cities and towns 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 on the Downtown Dunedin Art Festival and other Howard Alan Events craft shows, visit www.artfestival.com or call 561-746-6615.