BY LENNIE BENNETT
Times Art Critic
Come the weekend, it seems as if there is always something fun to do in the parks lining St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront.
If you're a long-timer here, you know that wasn't true for decades. The Mainsail Arts Festival, held in April, was one of only a handful of events that could bring thousands of people into the area.
And 37 years along, it still does. This enduringly popular arts festival in Vinoy Park seems immune to changing demographics and economic shifts though it has grown and evolved over the years. Sunshine Artist, an industry magazine for arts festivals, ranks it among the top 100 in the U.S.
Mainsail opens Saturday and continues through Sunday, showcasing works by more than 250 artists in all the major categories: painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, glass, wood, graphics and fiber.
Over several years, I have noticed a new playfulness in a lot of the art. Renee Dinauer's wall sculptures made of thin strips of colored wood that resemble ribbon candy are examples. As are the colorful abstract prints of Atsuko Okamoto.
Some works, such as Steven Exley's photographs, can take you far from home. Others, such as Charles Hazelaar's ceramic houses, question the concept of home itself.
You'll find much to see and enjoy at Mainsail including live music and strolling entertainers on both days, a food court, a free children's art tent and a juried exhibition of art by Pinellas County students in grades K through 12. And there is, of course, the gorgeous view of Tampa Bay.
Winners sharing $50,000 in prize money, including the $10,000 Best of Mainsail, will be announced Sunday morning. I'll post the results online Sunday at tampabay.com before the festival opens at 10 a.m., or you can pick up a list at Mainsail.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8293.