Donovan Brockett hopes his monster drawing catches someone's eye at the Winthrop Arts Festival. • The 12-year-old took his time creating the piece, which features a single haunting eye, scrawny legs and a gaping mouth. • Donovan and some classmates at Winthrop Charter School will be in the Winthrop Arts Festival as artists. Their pieces will fill a tent at the event Saturday and Sunday, hoping to draw customers just like the professional artists there. • Donovan, thrilled to have his artwork in the festival, loves to draw and takes his sketchbook everywhere. The sixth-grader stuffs his book with pencil drawings, mainly monsters inspired by his love of animation. He'll have three pieces in the tent. He plans to share the proceeds with a charity that helps needy families. He'll be fine if they do not sell, saying he is just grateful for the opportunity. • "I'm happy that people will see my artwork," he said. "Not many people get to see my artwork."
Julianne Gonzalez, the art teacher at Winthrop Charter's middle school, said students have big roles in this year's festival.
Winthrop Charter's elementary and middle school will have about 60 pieces of art for sale in their tent. In addition, students are making creative plaques to label the professional artist tents.
Gonzalez said her goal is simple: to show students they do have the talent to make art.
"I'll be happy if one sells," she said. "The point to me is for the kids to believe in themselves."
Ellen Hoang, 13, didn't plan to submit a piece for the event. The seventh-grader doesn't even take an art class at the school. But just about everyone at the school knows about her artistic talents. Badgered by friends and Gonzalez, she finally agreed to produce a painting for the festival.
Gonzalez said she knew Ellen had talent when she saw the teen making origami cranes after school. Ellen's submission for the festival — a painting of an autumn scene — is a wonderful piece of art, Gonzalez said.
"She's totally raw," Gonzalez said. "She's amazing."
Each student piece is $30. The student will earn $25 if the artwork is sold. The other $5 will go to the charter school's art department. Whether they sell or not, Gonzalez said, the students are certain to be enriched by the festival's experience.
"A lot of these kids have never been to a museum or arts festival," she said.
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Professional artist Mishou Sanchez, who will attend the festival, can relate to the budding artists at Winthrop Charter. Her love of drawing also started during her childhood. She didn't want the Barbie dolls that seemed to be in every little girl's hand.
"I was totally obsessed with crayons," she said, laughing. "Nothing made me happier than a box of crayons."
But she couldn't dream too much about the arts. Her family expected more, maybe a career in law or medicine. So Sanchez headed reluctantly to USF to pursue an engineering degree.
"Unfulfilled," she left in her sophomore year for the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota. She graduated in 2001 and then attended the Southern California Institute of Architecture, graduating in 2008.
Her life and career are now fulfilled through architecture and art. Her abstract and portraiture artwork, which sell for $300 to $5,000, have finally earned something else — the praise of her mother, Enny Sanchez.
"Now she's proud of me," said Sanchez, 37, of Carrollwood. "Now she embraces it."
Sanchez is bringing a few pieces to the arts festival but is more excited about recycling shipping containers into art studios. Several shipping containers will house art pieces during the festival.
Sanchez said shipping containers are plentiful, stackable, watertight and easy to tow. They are the perfect artist tent at events like the Winthrop Arts Festival.
"It's a real, live gallery," she said.
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A small art gallery sits on the main floor of the Times building on the grounds of the Winthrop Town Centre near Bloomingdale Avenue and Providence Road. Inside, you'll find paintings, sculptures, eclectic pieces, photographs and the town artist: Bryant Martinez.
Martinez, a painter and sculptor, runs the Beaux Arts Gallery. He is also the founder and organizer of the Winthrop Arts Festival.
Martinez has watched the festival grow from a small event to one that nearly takes up all the open space at Winthrop. He has friendships or connections to many of the artists and groups that will attend the event.
So, Boy Scouts will hawk burgers, the Fishhawk Riverview Rotary Club will sell beer, and the Winthrop Charter School will peddle artwork and lemonade. In addition, the Hillsborough County Fire Department and Hillsborough Community College will run information booths. The Ringling College of Art and Design and Tampa's Blake High School will showcase students' artwork.
Martinez likes to promote and give back. So the festival's profits are channeled to the Winthrop Arts Endowment, which will provide book scholarships for students training to be firefighters at HCC.
Firefighters are special people to Martinez. He broke his back and both legs in a 2007 motorcycle accident. He'll never forget how the firefighters cared for him that day.
Martinez loves this festival because it focuses on the arts, of course, but he's also happy to use the event to support local schools and organizations and to work to bring the community closer.
"It's promoting the arts," he said. "It's promoting academics. It's promoting the community."
Monica Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.