Hooper: Art appreciation still stirs the soul

Princess Smith’s Served #2, oil on canvas. The artist is from Tampa. It is one of the most popular images from the Baked & Served collection by the artist. Smith is a Tampa native and Jefferson High graduate. She received her associate’s degree from Hillsborough Community College, her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa and is pursuing a master of fine arts degree at the University of South Florida.

Courtesy of Princess Smith

Princess Smith’s Served #2, oil on canvas. The artist is from Tampa. It is one of the most popular images from the Baked & Served collection by the artist. Smith is a Tampa native and Jefferson High graduate. She received her associate’s degree from Hillsborough Community College, her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa and is pursuing a master of fine arts degree at the University of South Florida.

Amid all the requests popping up on Facebook, a recent one did more than catch my attention. It stirred my soul.

That happens when a simple game reminds you of your late father's greatest passion.

In an effort to promote visual arts, my friend Leggie (yes, she is leggy) asked people to sign up so they could be assigned an artist whom they could then promote on their Facebook page.

I drew Marie Laurencin, a French painter who rose to prominence in Paris in the early 20th century.

I did a quick review and the eyes of the women in her portraits — hauntingly dark pools — stood out.

Perhaps someone looks and sees the influence of Pablo Picasso or Georges Braque, contemporaries of Laurencin.

But isn't that the subjective beauty of art? It strikes a different note with each person, and together, those notes often form a beautiful chord.

Or at least that's how my father explained it to me. As a man who taught art at Florida A&M University for nearly 30 years, he filled our homes with art books and artworks, many that he crafted. You learned to study them, to choose your favorite aspects, to lose yourself in the details.

When God painted a beautiful day last Sunday, I got off the couch and forced myself to get outside and appreciate his work.

I found myself drinking in the sunshine and the blue skies at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. I found not only great art, but great stories.

Stephen M. Curtis made his way to Tampa from Upton, Ind., after earning a spot in the "Emerging Artists" row. He's emerging after losing his job in April and turning to art.

I appreciated his painting of a boy, clad in only a T-shirt and jeans, riding a bicycle. With Curtis' Indiana roots, the painting sparked visions of a John Mellencamp song.

Micah Mullen of North Carolina captured my attention by contrasting colors and shapes in his work that conjured visions of a mosaic. I thought he might be returning for St. Petersburg's Mainsail Art Festival in April, but he didn't earn entry.

C'mon, Mainsail, give the man a break.

Princess Smith is a University of South Florida graduate student who found some love for her emotionally charged portraits. She first caught the bug drawing pictures of photos she spotted in her mother's old Jet magazines.

Now the career of the Jefferson High graduate is on the rise. She earned the 2013 Emerging Artist Award at the Gasparilla. More recently, a painting from her 2013 collection called "Fingerprints" was purchased by the Hillsborough County Commissioners' public art program and private donations and is now a permanent fixture at the Seminole Heights Library.

Jacksonville's Ted Head presented a variety of watercolor paintings. A graphic artist who called his artwork his "2 a.m. job," Head's collection included works inspired during a mission to the Dominican Republic.

Tanya Doskova of Phoenix, whose surreal fish earned the featured spot on the festival's T-shirts and posters, showcased a new piece in her booth that criticized the "stand your ground" law.

It made me do a double-take and then a triple-take and then I just stopped and stared. It's not a piece I would put in my living room, but to call it provocative would be an understatement.

The Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts takes place Saturday and Sunday, followed by the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts' sixth annual Chalk Walk art festival at Hyde Park Village March 14-16, and the Winthrop Arts Festival March 22 and 23.

The Chalk Walk will include live entertainment, food trucks, craft beer and wine, an open-air market, children's activities and a strolling artist gallery.

The Winthrop festival, at the Winthrop Town Centre, will showcase the work of 100 artists, in categories ranging from oil paintings to ceramics to jewelry, with musical entertainment provided by local musicians and schools.

More important, these will be opportunities to again immerse yourself in all that makes art great.

Share in their ambitions, compliment their efforts, ask about their inspirations, celebrate their genius.

Go one step further than I did: Buy something!

But most of all, appreciate. Because 13 years after his death, I'm sure my father appreciates that his son still appreciates art.

That's all I'm saying.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: A painting from Princess Smith's 2013 collection called "Fingerprints" was purchased by the Hillsborough County Commissioners' public art program and private donations and now hangs in the Seminole Heights Library. An incorrect buyers was previously listed.

.if you go

Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts

The 22nd annual Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Tampa Electric SouthShore Events Center, 302 Noonan Branch Road. It's approximately 3.5 miles west of Interstate 75 at Exit 246 (Big Bend Road). Activities include an arts and crafts show, live musical acts, food court, adult beverages, free children's creativity center and free shuttle to the Manatee Viewing Center. Admission is $5 for adults, children 12 and younger free. Parking also is free.

Hooper: Art appreciation still stirs the soul 03/05/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 7, 2014 12:08pm]

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