Raymond James Gasparilla Art Festival Recap


Daniel Beccue

This is the painting Sunny, by Michelle Mardis, it was found at: https://gasparillaarts.com/painting-2023/michelle-mardis?itemId=ex1u61abb2n2yg4kjwlpjgvqy77rav

Daniel Beccue, Staffer

This past weekend was the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. For over a decade, the festival has showcased big and small artists from every part of the world, including ceramic, digital, drawing fiber, glass and almost any medium you could imagine. This year, participating artists competed for the $15,00 Raymond James Best of Show Award on top of an additional $77,000 in prize money for numerous other awards. On average, the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts gets 300,000+ attendees, making it an excellent tool for local artists to start their careers. Additionally, the yearly festival offers unique experiences for attendees and upcoming artists, providing numerous naming, sponsorship and promotional opportunities.

After winning the 53rd Annual Festival Image Selection, you may have seen Sunny, by Michelle Mardis, appearing around the downtown area during the festival. Michelle Mardis is a contemporary artist, born in Fort Worth, Texas, and raised in Tampa Bay; she’s a self-taught artist known for her iconic original dog paintings. Another notable figure is Scott Coulter, a contemporary artist who mainly paints landscapes. Born in Canada, Scott lived near the Rockies of Alberta for six years, spending his early years painting landscapes in the finger lake region of upstate New York for 22 years. Renowned for his unique 3-dimensional style of painting, at first glance, his art could pass for a photo due to its hyper-realism. At this year’s Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Art, he took home the award for Best of Show for his painting Composed out of Stone and Wishful Thinking. Despite this, what’s most impressive is that he prides himself on only using brush strokes, no airbrushes, digital, or photographic assistance involved.

Awards aside, what separates this festival from your average gallery show is the free interactive experiences. Returning for 2023 is CARMADA, a live painting experience run by local artists; this year, they transformed cars, painting colorful patterns and pop art on vehicles live. Viewers could go inside the cars, join the experience by painting their designs on a public bus, or doodle on their pocket-sized car canvas. Despite it being expensive, thanks to Morgan Auto Group and Tampa Hybrids for sponsoring the event, anyone could participate. Another fan favorite was the DMG Mobile Glass Blowing Unit, where Duncan McClellan brought his “glass art” experience to life, demonstrating the process for an audience.

These were just a few of the events at the 2-day festival; between art displays, entertainment, and interactive experiences, the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is one of Tampa’s treasures and a can’t-miss experience for anyone interested in the world of art.