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  1. Visual Arts

Art Festival Beth-El opens to public Sunday, Monday

Jay Nielsen, honeycomb bracelet in sterling silver.
Published Jan. 28, 2014

BY LENNIE BENNETT

Let's go shopping!

Not the big-box version. (The holidays are so over and I, for one, am still rattled by the Target hack.)

The shopping to which I refer is of the creative, original kind, an experience you will find only at a good arts festival.

The opportunity awaits at Art Festival Beth-El. It opens to the public at Temple Beth-El, 400 Pasadena Ave. S, St. Petersburg, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. This is its 41st year, which is a major indicator of its reputation with both collectors and artists. More than 160 of the latter will be represented by paintings, jewelry, wood, glass, metal, photography and ceramics.

The artists come from around the United States. Many have won lots of awards. If you're a regular, you'll see recurring favorites and have the pleasure of seeing new art, too. Docents can tell you about works that interest you both days. A tour is offered at 2 p.m. Monday.

There's lots more:

• A large selection of limited-edition prints from Syd Entel Galleries in Safety Harbor.

• An outdoor sculpture garden with unique pieces to populate either house or garden.

• The Boutique Gallery with moderately priced fine crafts.

• An exhibition of works by talented student artists from Pinellas County's public and private high schools.

• Avenue of the Shops, Monday only, with lots of boutique items.

If you want a first look, you may do so at a preview cocktail reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Tickets, $25, can be purchased at the door. You'll need to plan ahead if you want to attend the luncheon at 12:30 p.m. Monday. It always sells out, so reserve a seat with a $20 check. Call Temple Beth-El at (727) 347-6136.

An important distinction that Art Festival Beth-El shares with other top-notch art festivals is it's a juried show, meaning artists are chosen on artistic merit. A judge selects winning artists who share prize money. This year's judge is Robert Workman, director of the Ulrich Museum at Wichita State University. He has an impressive resume that includes directorial positions at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Shakespeare's King Lear said, "Reason not the need," which is how I feel about buying art. I don't need it; I want it. If you need a reason, Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away.

Go to artfestivalbethel.com for all the details.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at lbennett@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8293.

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