There's a lot of innate beauty in old car hoods, at least according to Kyle Pearce. He rescues the scrap metal from junk yards and gives it new life as a lizard, giraffe, dragon, flying tarpon, or — as in his latest sculpture — a 1950s-inspired rebel biker.
Welding is something he learned at age 12, and he's been doing it ever since. He often participates in art shows in high-end markets like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. He counts actors Mickey Rourke and John Stamos among his clients.
You can check out the Tarpon Springs sculptor's creative conversions at the 52nd annual Art Harvest held on Saturday and Sunday in Dunedin's Highlander Park. Just look for a 54-year-old with a shaved hair ponytail and ready smile surrounded by a metallic menagerie.
About 245 artists from around the country will converge at Art Harvest, one of the largest outdoor juried art shows in the Tampa Bay area. That includes featured artist James Carter of Southbury, Conn., an acrylic painter whose style combines trompe l'oeil and abstract surrealist influences.
More than $27,000 in prize money and awards is up for grabs. Categories include ceramics, digital, fiber, glass, graphics, jewelry, metal, mixed media, oil/acrylic, photography, sculpture, watercolor and wood.
This well-respected art show is the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin's signature fund-raiser, one that usually reaps between $50,000 and $60,000 from parking, food and beverage sales. The money helps help fund a diverse range of community programs and projects which, in the past, have included Heritage Village, Play Parc (the Arc Tampa Bay Foundation), Dunedin Fine Art Center, Clearwater Free Clinic, Rick Pitino High Point Success Center and RCS Emergency Housing Activities Support Center. Currently they are funding training and support opportunities for youths aging out of foster care in Pinellas and Pasco counties.
Art Harvest is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days.
Youngsters can express their creativity with art activities at the free children's craft pavilion, where they must be accompanied by an adult.
Food vendors will offer everything from fresh-squeezed lemonade to Greek salads to crab fries and fish tacos.
Help out the cause and have a chance to win cash, artwork, local hotel stays and theme park tickets by purchasing tickets at the Junior League booth.
The fall festival, which features a sea of white tents that weave around the scenic park, began in 1963.
"The first one was a tiny sidewalk art show near the Dunedin Marina," said co-chair Cristina Cruz LeFebvre. "The artwork was pinned to clotheslines."
Today's Art Harvest attracts more than 50,000 art lovers, holiday gift shoppers and gallery owners who come to replenish their supplies.
"We have a lot of established relationships between artists and their buyers," said LeFebvre. "There are a lot of major transactions going on at Art Harvest."
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