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Artists I Enjoyed at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival

Today, I attended the last day of the 48th Annual Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival–an amazing showcase of hundreds of talented artists representing the very best in their fields.

The festival winds through historic Winter Park, Florida, along the city’s main thoroughfare, Park Avenue. It’s a very high-energy display of some serious artists who create in a wide range of categories including: Clay, Digital Art, Drawing and Graphics, Fiber, Glass, Jewelry, Leather, Metal, Mixed Media, Paining, Photography, Sculpture, Watercolor and Wood. This year, artists competed for 62 awards, including one $10,000 prize for Best of Show, one Award for a Distinguished Work of Art, 10 Awards of Excellence, 20 Awards of Distinction and 30 Awards of Merit.

My friend and I are partial to painting, drawing, watercolor and photography. To save time, we agreed upfront to ignore the jewelry booths and most of the fiber art, glass and leather work, unless it really attracted our attention. We were after images. Still, it took nearly four hours for us to maneuver the crowds and visit each of the booths we selected for focus.

My personal favorite was an acrylic painter, Lynne Fischer-Roche, who painted very rich, succulent tropical plants in strong, vibrant colors. Wow. Maybe I’m biased toward acrylic painters because that’s my preferred medium, but I was very impressed by her ability to capture the feeling of the Florida landscape. Her compositions are simply sexy.

The winner of Best of Show, Randy Eckerd, a watercolorist was reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth. I enjoyed this painter’s incredible dry brush technique and exquisite eye for detail. In a way, his pictures are tributes to rural America and to those quiet, aesthetic moments enjoyed when sunlight or shadows play upon the objects of everyday life. If you have ever worked in watercolor, you know just how difficult and unforgiving a medium it can be. To accomplish the level of detail he does require countless hours of keen observation and a true affection for the scenes he creates. Eckerd is a hyperrealist, and his ability to evoke a feeling of relaxation and quiet joy through his images is highly impressive.

There were a number of notable watercolorists this year, including Yukimo Ichikawa, David G. Gill, Diana Hsu and Barbara Groenteman.

A pastel artist of note was Don Coons. His American landscapes are luscuious and inviting. His technique is flawless.

Another favorite was Michael Bryant, a digital artist. (Kudos to the festival organizers for including this category.) I don’t usually have a strong emotional reaction to photography or digital art, but this artist was different. He uses these media with such skill that you forget they are digital and simply enjoy the beauty of the images. My friend enjoyed this particular artist, too. She noted over dinner something the artist said in his statement–that when he stops breathless over his work he knows he’s reached the final stage. That’s how she felt when she saw the images. For me, the images were mysterious, almost surreal in their beauty.

This is just a small sampling of the artists I enjoyed. As with most art, seeing it on the web or in print does not do justice to the work. The lossy quality of the jpeg files are akin to the mp3s of the music industry.

Also, I was somewhat surprised and disappointed by the lack of sculpture in the show. I’m not sure of the reason for this fact. Perhaps this is not a show that sculptors find profitable to enter. There were only seven sculptors entered, and none of their works caught my attention. (Probably because with sculpture, I’m always looking for a David…) The stars of the day were definitely the watercolorists, acrylic and oil painters.

Overall, a very enjoyable day.

Below, Anne’s picture of her favorite flowers captured the spirit of the day…

Anne’s Flower

1 comment to Artists I Enjoyed at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival

  • Artfriend

    How cool! Thanks for posting my picture and discussing our discussion! It’s fun being included!

    Thanks for all the links to the artist’s websites.

    The best in show deserved it!