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Artist to exhibit flights of fancy

Lenny Cabanero-Harvey will be one of the featured artists at the Winthrop Arts Festival and Artisan Market.
Published Mar. 20, 2017

RIVERVIEW — "No mistakes, just happy accidents."

So reads a T-shirt worn by Blake High School arts teacher Lenny Cabanero-Harvey, with the smiling face of Bob Ross, the late host of the PBS show, Painting With Joy.

Cabanero-Harvey's happy accidents will be on full display at the Winthrop Arts Festival Saturday (March 25) and Sunday (March 26). Each piece will reflect how her art rose from a passion she discovered en route to a degree outside of nursing.

A dormant passion placed on the back burner for a more stable career, Cabanero-Harvey's art did not come to be until late in her college career.

"It wasn't until literally my junior year of college where I was a nursing major, and I hated every minute of it, that I switched over to integrated science and secondary education," Cabanero-Harvey said. "I took my required art class and the instructor asked me why I wasn't in art education. I had no idea there was a degree for that and it was perfect."

Now in her 16th year of teaching art, Cabanero-Harvey spends free time creating ceramics and sculpture that she says is whimsical.

"I found myself really drawn to artists that can make work look professional, but still have that raw, kind of childlike feeling," Cabanero-Harvey said. "That's so me."

Winthrop Arts' town artist, Bryant Martinez, who has known Cabanero-Harvey for nearly eight years, felt connected to Cabanero-Harvey when it came to community arts.

"I knew that she was the person that would talk that language of community arts with me," Martinez said. "Since that time she has been a part of the art festival or any art things out here, mostly through and with her students at Blake High School."

Through the arts festival, Cabanero-Harvey has been able to not only display her own work, but teach her students the logistics of being a working artist.

"I have them volunteer, I let them know that we have to set up our own tents, we have to talk to customers and make connections," Cabanero-Harvey said. "I want them to have that real-life knowledge that it isn't just making art."

Cabanero-Harvey will be showing two series at the upcoming festival— one of which is entitled "Things with Wings."

"A student in one of my classes said 'Mrs. Harvey, I feel like I can make anything in here,'" said Cabanero-Harvey. "She said 'You know, if flying pigs were real I feel like we could make them in here.' It was the best compliment I have ever gotten as a teacher, or just a human being in general."

The magic that she felt led to an entire series of flying animals that, in every literal sense, do not fly— llamas, giraffes, and of course pigs. But in Cabanero-Harvey's creations, they do.

"Her art is truly fabulous," Martinez said. "I respect her as an art teacher for what she does for her students but mostly I respect her as a community artist. She's someone that we're all very lucky to have in our community, sharing her gorgeous, top-notch art."

Cabanero-Harvey is just one of 30 local artists and artisans to be featured at the Winthrop Arts Festival.

"We have an application process now and I like that it's becoming a tradition," Martinez said. "These are artists that want to be in galleries and museums and have art dealers, so the fact that they're willing to do the arts festival with us helps us build this tradition."

Cabanero-Harvey's art will be displayed from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. on both days of the festival. Many flying pigs will be in attendance.

"When people pick up my work, I just want them to be happy," Cabanero-Harvey said. "There's so much crap in the world and I think everyone just deserves some happiness."

Contact Kelsey Sunderland at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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