Rain didn't stop the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts — a photo review

Things got a little muddy, but the festival, overall, was a visual banquet.

click to enlarge Carolina Cleere's "Honey Child" won the Raymond James Financial Best of Show Award - Gasparilla Festival of the Arts
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts
Carolina Cleere's "Honey Child" won the Raymond James Financial Best of Show Award
  • Gasparilla Festival of the Arts
  • Carolina Cleere's "Honey Child" won the Raymond James Financial Best of Show Award

The 45th Annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts awarded its top three prizes to women on Saturday.

Former award-winning photojournalist and Florida native Carolina Cleere received the Raymond James Financial Best of Show Award Saturday, marking the seventh time since the festival’s inception a woman has claimed top honors.

Mixed Media artist and 2005 Best of Show winner Suzy Scarborough received the Board of Directors’ Award and $7,500. Fiber-artist Leeann Kroetsch received the Roddy Brownlee Reed Award of Artistic Excellence and $4,000. Cleere’s Best of Show win awarded the Tampa-based artist $15,000.


Scarborough won Best of Show in 2006. In all, $75,000 was awarded in prize money.

click to enlarge Roddy Brownlee Reed Award of Artistic Excellence winner Leeann Kroetsch uses nuno felting technique, combining wool and silk and binding onto fabric. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Roddy Brownlee Reed Award of Artistic Excellence winner Leeann Kroetsch uses nuno felting technique, combining wool and silk and binding onto fabric.
  • Kimberly DeFalco
  • Roddy Brownlee Reed Award of Artistic Excellence winner Leeann Kroetsch uses nuno felting technique, combining wool and silk and binding onto fabric.

“Honey Child,” a mixed-media installation in Cleere’s Icon of Innocence series moved juror Elaine Gustafason by its thought-provoking emotion.

“Caroline’s work is powerful in a way that is not confrontational,” Gustafason saidl “Hers is in a very quiet way as it kind of makes me queasy and uncomfortable. There is something mature and other-worldly conveyed than what should be with a child that makes you want to figure it out.”

Gustafson said a successful piece of art should leave the observer with something to process. Overall, Gustafson cited Cleere’s complexity, psychological depth, overall composition, color schemes, embellishments and framing as fundamental in choosing among the nearly 250 competing artists. Over 1,000 artists submitted for entry to the show.

Despite Saturday’s relentless rains, Gustafson spent nearly eight hours Saturday visiting 234 booths, spending 4-5 minutes with each artist following an initial overall run-through.

Perusing her selections in the juror room before awarding placements, Gustafson said she relied solely on the work itself as she was overwhelmed by the body of Festival work and talking to so many of the artists.

“Honestly, when I made my selections, I couldn’t recall whether the artists were male or female as I let the art speak for itself” Gustafason said.

Gustafson, Curator of collections at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, a nationally-recognized museum on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, was Director of Exhibitions & Collections and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Tampa Museum of Art for ten years through 2009.

Gustafson said that while female artists remain represented consistently world-wide, that “perhaps there is more acknowledgement from the establishment towards women - finally some recognition or inclusion that appears to be balancing out a bit more.”

As Gustafson navigated her way through muddy grounds, a strong showing of serious collectors braved the elements.

“We were thrilled as some die-hard collectors came out today,” GFA Board of Directors President James Vasiloff said of Saturday, “Many artists reported strong sales.”

click to enlarge Saturday's taunting rains kept many away from the two-day event. James Vasiloff, president of the festival's board of directors reported strong sales from die-hard collectors. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Saturday's taunting rains kept many away from the two-day event. James Vasiloff, president of the festival's board of directors reported strong sales from die-hard collectors.
  • Kimberly DeFalco
  • Saturday's taunting rains kept many away from the two-day event. James Vasiloff, president of the festival's board of directors reported strong sales from die-hard collectors.

GFA officials estimate that over 100,000 visitors attended Sunday, day two of the show at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Kiley Gardens. In the past, attendance figures held at around 200,000 —250,00 both days.

Despite Saturday’s intermittent rain, Board Member and marketing committee member Brenda Fazzini Wax said this year’s festival had a better layout for artists, food trucks and entertainment that overall, worked with the sometimes-muddy navigation in low-lying areas.


  • Sunny weather prevailed on Sunday, day two of Raymond James 45th Annual Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

“The beauty of having the festival in Curtis Hixon Park and Kiley Gardens is that it is so spread out,” Wax said. “We’ve really worked hard on providing great, diversified entertainment and accessibility to the many festival events."

The Tampa Museum of Art was free Saturday and Sunday and the Glazer’s Children’s Museum was half-price.

New to the 2015 festival was GFOA’s partnership with the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts (TBBCA) to present Chalk Walk with 10 acclaimed chalk artists creating plein air 8' X 8" art beneath the eaves of Tampa Museum of Art Saturday and Sunday.

  • Carrie Bennett, one of ten commissioned chalk artists at Tampa Museum of Art

Saturday evening, Tampa Museum of Art and the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts hosted the 4th Annual galaRE, an art and cultural event to showcase juror-selected artwork selected earlier in the day.

Participating for the second year was Carmada, a variety of colorful art cars on display. Festival goers watched cars being transformed into mobile art throughout the weekend as our artists painted live.

click to enlarge Derek Donnelley paints a Jeep for Carmada.  With Saturday's rains, Donnelley and partner Nate Baranowski had to make up for lost time, completing the art project on Sunday. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Derek Donnelley paints a Jeep for Carmada. With Saturday's rains, Donnelley and partner Nate Baranowski had to make up for lost time, completing the art project on Sunday.
  • Kimberly DeFalco
  • Daniel Barojas paints a Jeep for Carmada. With Saturday's rains, Barojas and painting partner Derek Donnelly had to make up for lost time, completing the art project on Sunday.


  • Daniel Barojas and Derek Donnelly paint a Jeep during Carmada.


Several blocks away, Café Hey hosted GASP!arilla art show at its Franklin Street location. Calling it an alternative to the well-established Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, GASP!arilla featured works by Jen Emm, Branden Hollywood, Kelli Tanner, Eric Goodnight and Jaylene Lecaro. Stephanie Sanders curated the show, which will remain installed for six weeks.


Wax said preparations are already underway for the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts 2016.


2015 45TH Annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts Winners:

Carolina Cleere: Raymond James Financial Best of Show Award ($15,000); Suzy Scarborough: Board of Directors' Award ($7,500); Leeann Kroetsch: Roddy Brownlee Reed Award of Artistic Excellence through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay ($4,000); David Nugent: Mayor's Award ($3,500) Ning Lee: President's Award ($2,500); Sandra Brewster: Friends of the Museum Award ($2,000); Adrian Jenkins: Yates Law Firm Emerging Artist Award ($1,500); Kate Harrold: Gensler Award of Merit ($1,500); Ummarid Eitharong: Hill Ward Henderson Award of Merit ($1,300); Antony Becker: Holmes Hepner & Associates Architects Award of Merit ($1,300); Steven Levine: Michael C. Gribbin D.M.D. General and Cosmetic Dentistry Award of Merit ($1,300); Daphne Covington: Ruth Ann Pollock Memorial Award of Merit ($1,300); Thomas Dumke: The Bank of Tampa Award of Merit ($1,300); Marina Terauds: Waller & Wax Advisors Award of Merit ($1,300); Rasa Saldaitis: Wells Fargo Award of Merit ($1,300).

  • Ning Lee received the President's Award and a $2,500 prize.
  • Four-year old "Emma" selects artwork as a participant in the Art Collectors in Training (ACT) program. Assisted by volunteers, children ages six through 14 select art donated by Festival participants. Art is priced at $5 or $10. Children can then have piece signed by artist. Proceeds benefit the Children's Cancer Center. Parents are prohibited so children can peruse independently. Volunteers said most children selected for their parents or siblings.
  • Artist Collectors in Training participant.


  • Shannon Browning, an artist at the MacDonald Training Center Fine Art Studios stands in front of her work. Browning, 31, often paints herself, reflecting on what is occurring in her life. Her painting on the left, holding Art Instructor Jan Radovan's cat, DaVinci, was the result of Browning having a really bad Monday. Radovan told her to think of something that makes her happy.
  • Chalk and Fine Arts artist Dorothy Sabean's commissioned work for Chalk Walk.


  • Artist Kumpa Tawornprom
click to enlarge Sculptor Jack HIll - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Sculptor Jack HIll
click to enlarge Bay area musicians/vocalists musicians Shane and Emily  joined Daniel B. Marshall, Patchouli/Terra Guitarra and The Applebutter Express in the  Sunday's entertainment lineup. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Bay area musicians/vocalists musicians Shane and Emily joined Daniel B. Marshall, Patchouli/Terra Guitarra and The Applebutter Express in the Sunday's entertainment lineup.
  • Kimberly DeFalco
  • Bay area musicians/vocalists Shane and Emily joined Daniel B. Marshall, Patchouli/Terra Guitarra and The Applebutter Express in Sunday's entertainment lineup.


  • Deseray Lyn's "MAN.JAR." at Cafe Hey


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