A chilly day, unique art blend well for festival

Art enthusiasts leave happy, and a bit damp, from the Gasparilla festival.

Published March 3, 2007

TAMPA - The rains came and the winds blew, and Tampa felt like New York as people in ponchos shopped in spurts at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.

They bumped umbrellas and bundled their babies and sipped coffee.

One woman wore a blanket around her shoulders.

Another paused in front of Little Jimmy's Italian Ices, then thought better of it.

Vicki Gray, 60, sat in shivering in shorts on a bench while her husband, Bob, finished shopping.

What's in the bag?

"It's Fish Tank," she said, and then Bob showed up and unwrapped a Victoria Sexton sculpture of a fish that had tank treads and, on top, two smaller fish manning a cannon.

Fish Tank.

"We like bizarre things," Vicki explained. "When people come into my house, they've got to come back 10 times to comprehend all the stuff."

Emmett Walsh, 48, came from Gulfport and left with the perfect piece for his dining room table - a fused glass bowl by Xochitl Ross.

"I look for whatever strikes me," he said. "It's basically the impact."

Keith Shamblin, 35, an outside sales rep, bought two Richard Loudermilk prints he and his wife saw while roaming. They share tastes and agreed the pieces would fit in their South Tampa home, even though their son thinks one looks like "scribble scrabble."

The top five festival prize winners were:

- Best of Show, $15,000, to Guillermo Portieles of Tampa, for Good by Granma, a mixed media piece.

- The Board of Directors Award, $7,500, to Richard Currier of Micco, for Shades of Gray, a painting.

- The Mayor's Award, $3,500, to Richard Pociask of Chicago, for The Beach, a drawing.

- The Anniversary Award, $2,500, to Ummarid Eitharong of Orlando, for The Big Picture, a mixed media piece.

- The Tampa Museum of Art award, from Friends of the Arts, to Marc Sijan of Milwaukee for Standing Girl, a mixed media piece.

For a complete list of awards, see links.tampabay.com.


. if you go

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

The festival continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. along Ashley Drive and in Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa.