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Self-Taught Art Fall Masterpiece Auction November 8, 2008 Slotin, Buford GA

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October 18, 19, 2008
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Museum of American Folk Art
Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists by Chuck and Jan Rosenak


Raw Vision
Folk Art
Folk Art Messenger
The Outsider



Folkfest St. Petersburg Florida, 2008

by Linda Knopf - Southern Folk Art Magazine

Sun, St. Petersburg, Florida, and September combined for a lively outdoor arts festival.  Held in downtown St. Pete, the second annual folkfest was well advertised with calls to artists in journals like Raw Vision and Home Companion.  Presented by Creative Clay and sponsored by area governmental bodies and businesses, the message was all about outsider-produced, accessible art.  Over 10,000 visitors attended the two-day event which was designed to benefit Creative Clay Cultural Arts Center, a professional arts training program for adults with developmental disabilities.  Thirty-five artists displayed their work under tents set up along the pedestrian-only street.

In the forefront was artist Mary Proctor who has added paintings on canvas to her repertoire.  These works included small bits of paper, sometimes from sheet music, well glued to her freely painted pictures.  Exuberant, the new pieces continue to convey Proctor’s messages of spirituality and words-to-the-wise.  Her better known large works were also displayed.

Mary Proctor

Locally recognized and recently honored artist Katherine Michael showed paintings ranging from bright, intensely colored landscapes to a series honoring legendary folk artists including Annie and Mose Tolliver and Bernice Sims.  Michael’s work has the feel of “island art” that mixes well with the St. Petersburg/Tampa environment.  

Katherine Michael

Jack Beverland, known as “Mr. B”, is somewhat of a local institution; he even has paintings for sale in area antique stores.  Beverland uses fabric paint to produce seemingly impermeable pieces that show a whimsical and imaginative view of nature and culture.  Neon greens and oranges sparkle in his landscapes.  As a sort of missionary of outsider art, Mr. B teaches art to children with physical or mental challenges.   

Jack Beverland (Mr. B)

With the presidential election just around the corner, political art also made a showing at the fest.  Chris Coyle produced a collage combining the folkfest st. pete “a smile is sho nuff contagious” guitar with Barack and Michelle Obama as cowboys.   Coyle has been painting for more than a decade and entertained the crowd with his sketches and portraits. 

 Chris Coyle

Another local artist, Kerry Topjun assembles mixed media pieces with messages that range from political to sentimental.  Topjun incorporates her own photos along with found objects to illustrate life’s lessons learned.

Kerry Topjun

Harry E. Strider, “Hes”, produces not quite pop art.  Strider paints abstract as well as representational pieces.  He is new to the festival circuit, but displayed a significant body of work.  St. Augustine is his home town, but Hes also attends shows in North Carolina.

Harry E. Strider (Hes)

One to the most engaging artists, Donald Stone, shared his wealth of insights about folk art in Florida and the significance of symbols in his own pieces.  Stone, along with Proctor, has been written about in Gary Monroe’s book Extra-ordinary Interpretations: Florida’s Self-Taught Artists.  Stone’s pieces include orange groves in bright lines and sea worthy ships with historically relevant details “sprinkled” throughout the pictures. 

Donald Stone

Less mainstream than some other artists at the fest, K. C. Bennett is known as “Crossgirl.”  Her constructions aren’t especially religious, not even the stylized, very red devils hanging around her display, but the description of her motivation to “produce” art is humorous, to say the least.  Crossgirl makes crosses or includes them in the found-object boxes she constructs.

K. C. Bennett (Crossgirl)

Blake White is mad about mosaics, mad in a big way.  He enthusiastically covers large pieces of furniture and other structures with tile, found objects, and bright paint.  White even creates mosaic jewelry, but it’s his massive stuff that catches the eye.

Blake White

A connection to water is apparent when you look at the work of Morris Johnson (who signs his art as “MOJO”.)  And Johnson clearly loves to make art.  His pieces are loaded with joie de vive.  They are sunny, bright, and humorous, whether cut-out wood figures or collaged paintings with found objects.  Johnson makes good mojo and well represents the atmosphere of this small festival near the beach.  After all, he is a local.

Morris Johnson (Mojo)

Festival Director Jenny Baxley Lee deemed the folkfest a success, but is looking for  participation by additional artists whose work is considered collectible.  You may see her or other staff from Creative Clay at future folk festivals, recruiting artists to come enjoy the fun and sun in St. Pete next year.

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