Awash in art

Love beautiful and interesting things? Join the crowd, and a crowd it will be, this weekend at pretty Craig Park in Tarpon Springs.

Published March 30, 2007

TARPON SPRINGS - Art will be in full bloom this weekend during the 33rd annual Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival, sponsored by the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce.

About 250 artists will transform picturesque Craig Park on Spring Bayou into a colorful garden of creativity.

One of those artists is Judith "J.M." Rogers, 64, who winters in Tarpon Springs and summers in Lincolnville Beach, Maine. As the featured artist, her watercolor Along Dodecanese will be replicated on commemorative posters and T-shirts. Looking at it, one can almost smell the saltwater and hear the gulls cry along Tarpon Springs' signature road and Sponge Docks.

"It's a beautiful piece that captures the movement of the water, the floating of the boats, the colors of the Sponge Docks," said Nancy Gorby, co-chairwoman of the festival. "We always try to find an artist that captures the feel of Tarpon Springs."

The artists come from all over the country to compete for $16,800 in cash prizes as well as to enjoy the waterfront venue, the site of the city's annual Epiphany cross dive ritual. Their works include oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, sculpture, fiber art, wood, leather, metal, glass, jewelry, ceramics and mixed media.

About 20,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event, which features live entertainment and Greek food.

Rogers will sign posters and sell her work, ranging from $70 for a reproduction to $600 for an original, half-sheet watercolor.

"I like to make things affordable," she said.

She has painted all over the world. Four years ago, she was the featured artist at a heritage event at India's Taj Mahal.

She prefers to paint outdoors, standing up and with great speed.

"I can do a watercolor in a morning," she said, "but it took 50 years to develop the technique and talent."

In the 1960s, Rogers studied at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston, Mass., and the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.

She remembers the Mexican town as extremely rustic. "There was only one telephone in town," she said.

Most of her work contains some shade of aquamarine blue. She favors landscapes, seascapes, pasture animals and boats.

"I try to capture the movement or rhythm of what I'm looking at, whether it's boats in water, the wind moving the clouds or the sun moving across the sky," she said.

"I love to show the joy of being outside in nature."

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

If you go

Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Craig Park on Spring Bayou.

Other than art: Live entertainment, food, commemorative posters and T-shirts will be available. Pets are not allowed in the park.

Admission: $2; free for those under 16.

Getting there: Shuttles to and from the festival leave from Florida Capital and SunTrust banks on Tarpon Avenue, and from the Tarpon Springs Yacht Club, 350 N Spring Blvd.

Information: Contact the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce at 727 937-6109.