by SARAH NACHIN
On Sunday, March 1, Temple Beth David in Spring Hill hosted its fifth annual Nature Coast Art Show. The event featured twenty-one exhibitors and a wide variety of genres, including watercolors, ceramics, sculpture, fabric crafts, jewelry and illustration.
Barb Blavatt, Curator of the show and a sculptor, herself, stated, “The basic characteristics of this show is that it has to be either fine art or fine crafts and it has to be original.”
The cost to exhibit is $100 and, of course, the artists and craftsmen hope to sell their work. Most of the exhibitors were from the Tampa Bay area, but some came from as far away as Pennsylvania.
Deborah Mixon-Holliday, from St. Augustine, exhibited traditional etchings as well as collographs. This unusual genre uses a piece of matte board in place of the metal plates used in etchings. The artist uses an x-acto knife to cut into the matte board and then a needle to make the lines on the paper.
“You use various artist materials like molding paste to build up texture. I ink the plate, whether it’s an etching or a collograph, lay the paper under the plate and then use a press to apply pressure to transfer the drawing from the plate to the paper or other surface,” explained Ms. Mixon-Holliday.
For the collographs, the artist then adds watercolor to fill in between the lines. As in etchings, more than one print can be made from a single plate. Collographs are a very low-tech way to make original prints and do not require metal plates and chemicals. Each print is numbered, so it’s a limited series. Ms. Mixon-Holliday has been doing etchings on and off for almost ten years but has only been doing collographs for the past year.
Even more unusual is Gary Duquette’s artwork. The Brooksville resident does traditional water colors, but also paints with wine, coffee and beer. He has been using these media for about ten years. Duquette got the idea when he had a show for a local artist at the art gallery he used to own in Virginia. The artist was exhibiting watercolors of wine bottles, grapes, etc. One of his regular customers, who had drunk a couple of glasses of Sangria, came up to him and said, “Gary, why don’t you just paint with the d…n wine.”
“I experimented with it and found out it worked pretty much the same as watercolors, except that you can’t put anything on thick. It has to be layered – seven to nine layers. I paint with a twig from a grape vine just because I’m using wine as my medium. Razor blades are used for cutting into the paper and putting in the detail. When the wine seeps into the cut marks, it’s like an ink line. That’s how the details are put in. A cork is used as a brush to achieve different textures,” Duquette stated.
The type of wine, coffee and beer used are very important to his work.
“The beer has to be from one of these craft breweries around here and has to be either a stout or a porter because those are the ones that are dark enough.”
He uses espresso for the coffee and cabernet or merlot for the wine because these are the darkest. Duquette tries to use wines from local wineries.
Ana Varela, who is originally from Brazil, specializes in high-fired stoneware. Some are decorative and some are utilitarian. The utilitarian pieces are microwave and dishwasher-safe. The Micanopy resident attended the University of Florida, majoring in ceramics, and has been creating her art for forty years.
“I have a sketchbook filled with drawings. The ideas come from my daily life – my animals, my husband, etc. Some are based on mythology,” Ms. Varela remarked.
One piece called “Indestructible Woman” was inspired by a friend of hers who was a breast cancer survivor.
Roberto Quintero, a native of Panama, exhibited one-of-a-kind pieces made from leather accompanied by colorful hand-made textile sewn onto the item. Rodriguez and his brother, who live in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, make the items from leather and then hand-stitch the mola onto the pieces. Some of the items he displayed included shoes, purses and boots. Quintero and his brother have been doing this for eleven years. Creating these masterpieces takes many hours of their time.
“The least expensive are the flip flops. They cost $65. The boots take sixty hours and cost $300. The average price of the shoes is $100. We put memory foam inside of them and they are very comfortable,” Quintero explained.
Cookie Goodman, Publicity Chairwoman of the Temple Beth David Sisterhood and also the synagogue, commented, “We appreciate any help that the media gives us in getting the word out. It’s important for the community to get out and support these kinds of events.”