ST. PETERSBURG — Mainsail Arts Festival, as of Sunday morning, was going off without a hitch, according to Lisa Wells, a volunteer with the event for more than 30 years and its chair for many of those. The weather was fine, the crowds strong and sales were good, she said.
"We had a lot of new artists this year," she said, "and a lot of regulars commented on that. More just seemed to apply."
It's a big show with about 260 artists who set up tents in Vinoy Park and 49 of them split awards totaling $60,000. The big one, Best of Mainsail, went to Michel Delgado for the second year in a row. Judge Diane Lesko, retired director of the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah and curator and assistant director of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg before that, described his work as "remarkable, art that is tactile, intellectual and emotional."
Delgado grew up in Senegal, but emigrated to the United States as a young man. Today, he has studios in Philadelphia and Key West. His career got a big boost several years ago when designers for the hit TV series Empire used one of his works as a decorative element.
But he says Mainsail has been good for him, too.
"Two years ago, Evan Longoria bought three pieces," Delgado said. "I didn't know who he was. I delivered the paintings to his house and his wife answered the door. When I asked where he was, she pointed to the television set. He had a baseball game that night and was on TV."
He used his prize money in 2015 to pay off the loan on his van.
This year, Delgado says the $10,000 will enable him to rent a larger studio space in advance of his first one-person show at a gallery in Philadelphia in the fall.
Contact Lennie Bennett at (727) 893-8293 or [email protected]