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Hooper: Gasparilla artists beckon with intriguing works

Meandering through the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts never leaves me disappointed.

William Kwamena-Poh offered a peek into his native Ghana through his stylized gouache works. Katie Heffel boasted that she offered her captivating New York works at Tampa prices. Wanda J. Brown waved at folks.

MacDonald Training Center CEO Karenne Levy looked on as the work of the center's clients fetched buyers. And Jes Irie Wear came from Islip, N.Y., to showcase clothes that "fit and flatter." Fashion is art.

However, nothing proved more fascinating, to me, than the works of artist and angler Linda Heath of Bradenton. Heath, a lifelong fishing enthusiast, has developed a passion for gyotaku fish rubbing.

It involves using delicate Japanese tissue paper to produce duplicates of caught fish and it dates to the 19th century. It took her 28 tries to capture the colorful likeness of a real squid. It jumped through the frame.

As expected, I found some young University of South Florida students in the emerging artists section: Jayde Archbold brought her outdoors influence to life in vibrant colors, and Libbi Ponce sat nestled among a collection of pink and white balloons, showcasing her installation art.

I did not expect to find a youthful-looking grandmother among the emerging artists, but Susan Peloubet proudly stood in front of her first exhibit: mixed media featuring embroidery.

The accountant always activated the art side of her brain while juggling numbers, and now it has come to fruition with some provocative pieces.

Peloubet proves it's never too late. Maybe some day I'll have a collection to exhibit. Maybe.

That's all I'm saying.

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