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Art ripe for picking at Dunedin festival

The 40th annual Art Harvest at Highlander Park has produced a bumper crop of artists and their wares this year.

This weekend, more than 200 artists have come from as far away as Minnesota, New York and Oklahoma to show and sell their paintings, sculptures, glasswork, ceramics, fiber art, jewelry, metal works and photography.

"Over 400 artists applied but we only had room for a little more than 200," said Gwin Londrigan, spokesperson for Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin. The organization, which raises funds for the FUN Bus Program, the Dunedin Fine Arts Center and Dunedin for Youth, is the event's major sponsor.

"This is a nationally sought out contest, competitive with some of the largest shows in the nation," she said.

Prize money totaling $21,700 will be awarded during the juried show. Art Harvest hopes to raise $25,000 from the event, which organizers say will attract more than 50,000 people this weekend.

On Saturday, the show didn't officially begin until 10 a.m., but Dolores Coller, a snowbird who resides in Dunedin during the winter, arrived an hour early.

"We come early so we can find a close place to park, and for the cool morning temperatures," Coller said.

Cyndi Heaton of Dunedin said she does a "tremendous amount of Christmas shopping" at the shows each year.

"It's one of the best shows around as far as quality of art goes," added John Lewis.

Artist Ronald Lemoine of Hernando Beach had an eye-catching display of hammered copper fish sculptures. One called Fish in Rod features a sea green fish sitting in a hot rod. Other verdigris fish play trumpets or saxophones while their eyes look suspiciously bloodshot.

"This is what happens when you are a lifetime sailor, diver and musician," he said.

Dr. Seuss fans might want to check out the abstract designs of artist Charles Nalle. He creates bright and playful teapots, platters, bowls and pitchers from clay melded with glass that are reminiscent of the collection of children's books.

Aurora Heuple, whose mother was Spanish and father is half American Indian, explores Aztec philosophy in her paintings. One of her works portrays a palm tree disintegrating "as everything in life does," she said.

"Their philosophy explores whether life is real or a dream," said Heuple, who said she has been to the Library of Congress six times to discuss her artwork and mythology.

Nancy Cervenka from Gulfport used to be a filmmaker. Now she turns her celluloid into snakelike sculptures.

"What is on the footage often has something to say about the sculpture," she said.

While adults peruse the artists' booths, children can stop by the Children's Tent and create a variety of free projects. They can decorate a "cake" from a block of wood or make party jewelry, animals or balloons.

Todd Ramquist fixes a price tag on a twisted wire sculpture at the Art Harvest at Highlander Park in Dunedin. He partners with Kiaralinda, who displays her work at the festival. They put an umbrella over their display to shield them from the sun.