Adults attending the eighth annual Suncoast Arts Fest can do more than just look at the art. They can help create it, too.
At the request of previous visitors, this year's festival will include a Create a Painting activity for grownups. Instructors will set up canvases for adults, ultimately creating collaborative art pieces. The attraction was inspired by the existing Children's Art Garden.
"We switch it up every year. Every year, we try to add a new dimension, but we bring back the favorite things," festival publicity chairman Laura Knox said. "We listen to our artists, we listen to our patrons and we try to deliver what they're looking for."
The Suncoast Arts Fest, which is expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors, will feature more than 120 fine artists exhibiting and selling their works in the mediums of oil, pastels, watercolor, photography, fiber, leather, jewelry, ceramics and more. Proceeds from the festival benefit Arts for Kids, which supplements visual and performing arts for students throughout Pasco County public, charter and private schools.
Gary Bernado, a retired art teacher whose Florida wildlife paintings will be exhibited for the first time at the festival, believes that the proceeds raised for Arts for Kids will not only help students grow artistically, but will help them academically.
"It's important for the students to have the arts," Bernardo said. "It adds a whole different flavor to the things they're learning."
The event that Knox is most excited about is presenting the grant money raised by last year's Suncoast Arts Fest at Saturday's 6:30 p.m. Celebration Concert, featuring 10-piece horn band Late Night Brass, which is making its third appearance at the festival.
"We're celebrating the artists making it possible for us to present these grants," Knox said. "We've never been able to present the grant money on the spot like that."
Presentations of last year's grants totaling $10,813.91 will be made to 25 schools, providing students with art supplies, iPads, music writing software, O'Keeffe pastels and more.
The festival will reprise the beloved chalk artists who transform the streets and sidewalks in the tradition of 16th century Italian artists. Other events will include Random Acts for the Arts, featuring Pasco school bands and ensembles and professional musical entertainment. Acts include Time Bandits performing '60s and '70s rock 'n' roll, Sarasota Slim's blues and jazz, saxophonist Alan Darcy, indie rock band Scilter and the Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble. There will also be an Emerging Artist Exhibit with juried work by high school students.
Samantha Fuchs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6235.