ST. PETERSBURG — More than 50 artists exhibiting at the Mainsail Art Festival won prizes totaling $50,000 at the preshow breakfast Sunday, but the big one went to painter Richard Currier from Micco, near Vero Beach.
The 52-year-old artist was awarded Best of Show and $10,000 by the judge, Dean A. Porter, director emeritus of the University of Notre Dame Snite Museum of Art and himself a painter.
"This my third time jurying the show," Porter said. "I spent about five hours reviewing the artists on the Mainsail website before I came and started a quality rating from 1 to 10. Very few were below 7. I visited Richard's booth twice and there was such a high quality to every painting. But it's his paintings of mangos that I'll never forget. And I don't think I have ever eaten a mango."
Currier, who paints with luminous oils, works in many genres, he said, but he brought to Mainsail a collection of almost abstract seascapes and a group of large-sized still lifes of the tropical fruit.
"Mangos have such a luscious, full palette of colors," he said.
Over the 20 years he has been exhibiting at arts festivals, he has won many awards, including some at Mainsail, but this is his first Best of Show at the St. Petersburg event.
Now in its 38th year, the festival in Vinoy Park on the downtown waterfront has sometimes had to contend with stormy weather. Showers were predicted on Saturday but the park remained dry and Mainsail organizers, a volunteer committee, said crowds seemed better than usual, though attendance isn't recorded. By 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, the sun had emerged.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8293.