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Art festival showcases creativity

Students' music, artwork and dance were on display Friday at Land O'Lakes High School's Gator Fest.

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 30, 2003

World renowned sculptor Erik Pitsokos sat on a stool in Land O'Lakes High School's commons area Friday evening and demonstrated how to shape clay.

The 80-year-old retired engineer has art studios in Florida, Italy, Tokyo, New York, Canada and Mexico. He did not travel to Land O'Lakes to sell his artwork. He came to inspire young artists as the featured "artist-in-residence" at the school's Gator Fest.

"It's an honor for me to be here, because I love the youth," said Pitsokos, who spends half the year in Europe and the other half in Clearwater.

Formerly known as the Art Fest, the PTSA-sponsored event began six years ago to allow young artists to showcase their talents and skills.

Residents and students from four local schools participated in this year's fest by showcasing arts, crafts, fashion, dance, music and drama.

"It's very inclusive of the whole community. It's the largest non-sports event at the school," said Kris Keppel, media specialist and event organizer. "We want to introduce the community to what's going on with the fine arts program here at Land O'Lakes."

Richard Small said the event boosts kid's self-esteem.

"Any time we put a kid on a pedestal, it's good. We show them the right kind of way to get attention," Small said.

His daughter, Kelly, is a freshman at Land O'Lakes. Kelly, who aspires to work in animation, won an honorable mention for her drawing of a horse.

Flora Chan took out her case of pastel chalks and began to sketch a caricature of Brrandi Weems, 15. "Wait!" Brrandi said and took a hair brush from her purse. Flora, 18, waited for Brrandi to gather her hair into a neat ponytail, then proceeded.

"I really enjoy art," Flora said. "I do this as a hobby. I just do this for fun, it really relieves stress." Four students waited in line for their turn to have their faces sketched.

Many of the visitors enjoyed the dance performances where students showcased salsa, jazz, and tap dance techniques. Nearly 60 people gathered on the lawn in front of the school to hear the student bands. The O'Reilly Factor, a group of four Land O'Lakes students, covered a song called TNT by the group ACDC.

"It's a cross between '80s metal and '80s hard core punk," drummer Ryan Kroeger, 16, said. "Most of the crowd was really into it."

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