tampabay.com

Art appreciation and more

By LOGAN NEILL
Published May 7, 2007


BROOKSVILLE - Although just 4 years old, Justin Pohl knew precisely what Susan Hanlon was painting when he happened upon the artist at her easel Sunday afternoon.

As he watched the Brooksville artist adding bright blue strokes to her canvas, the toddler tugged at his mother's hand.

"She's making a flower, " he told his mother, Karen Pohl. "I painted one at school."

Whether for longtime art fans or those just learning the ropes, the 23rd Hernando County Fine Arts Council's Art, Craft and Music Festival offered plenty to capture the imagination this weekend.

More than 100 artists set up shop Saturday and Sunday along the winding paths inside Tom Varn Park, hoping for strong sales and clear skies.

By most indications, things worked out well both ways.

Despite a brief late-afternoon shower Saturday, the weather was ideal, said Mary Jane Russel, the fine arts council's executive director.

"Fortunately, the rain came late in the day as things were winding down, " Russell said Sunday afternoon. "It helped cool things off for the rest of the weekend."

This year's festival was moved from its traditional Memorial Day weekend slot in the hope that cooler temperatures might lure bigger crowds and more artists.

Peter Gerbert, a wildlife artist from eastern Hernando County and former Best of Show winner, said that although there were fewer exhibitors than in past years, the earlier date appeared to draw more out-of-town visitors.

"There seemed to be more new faces this weekend, " said Gerbert. "It was much more comfortable, that's for certain."

Aside from art, there was plenty of entertainment, as well. After buying a lemonade, Don Steele found a delightful respite beneath a canopy of oaks. Tapping his foot while listening to the Hernando Hills Hi Lites sing a favorite Broadway show tune, he seemed like a contented man.

"It's a very nice way to spend an afternoon, " said Steele. "Sitting back and watching people having a good time, that's what life should be about."

The juried art show paid more than $6, 000 in prizes to winning artists. Roberta Thomas earned Best of Show honors. Other awards in the fine arts division included Wayne McCartney, Award of Excellence; Chuck Huddleston, Award of Distinction; Jinsheng Song and Diane Gugliotta, Award of Merit.

Logan Neill can be reached at 848-1435 or lneill@sptimes.com.