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December 14, 2021

52nd Annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (GFA) Announces Festival Juror and Featured Artist

Tampa, Fla. (December 14, 2021) – The 52nd Annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts has announced its festival juror and featured image for the 2022 festival, which will be held at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park March 5-6, 2022.

“As we emerge from the Pandemic we must come together to celebrate all that unites us,” said Gasparilla Festival of the Arts President Jamie Jenkins. “It’s events like GFA that bring the community together to celebrate our common interests, passions, and purpose.”

Since holding the country’s only juried virtual art show virtually last year, which was the only one to award prize money, the all-volunteer led team at GFA has been working passionately toward making the 2022’s festival one for the record books.

GFA has announced that artist and Tampa Bay native Janet Echelman will jury the 2022 show. Echelman is a world renowned artist who is local to the Tampa Bay region and has a deeply personal connection to GFA.

“We are so excited to have Janet’s continued support of GFA and thank her for being a part of this year’s festival”, noted Jenkins. “Her inspiring creations can be seen around the globe. Most notably, ‘Bending Arc’ is one of her works which can be seen at the St. Pete Pier.”

According to art enthusiasts around the globe, Echelman defies categorization. She is well known for creating billowing sculpture engineered to the scale of buildings, choreographed by wind and light, that shifts from being an object you look at, to a living environment you can get lost in.

Echelman’s TED talk “Taking Imagination Seriously” has been translated into 35 languages and viewed nearly 2,500,000 times.. Recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award, Harvard Loeb Fellowship, and Fulbright Lectureship, Echelman was named an Architectural Digest Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces.” Oprah ranked Echelman’s work Number One on her “List of 50 Things That Make You Say Wow!”

“I grew up helping my mother, the late silversmith Anne Echelman Cantor, with her handcrafted jewelry so it’s always a special joy to return to my hometown to meet artists and share their work,” said Echleman.

GFA has also announced Betsy Best as its festival image artist. Twister II – Twist Again, uses Printmaking as the canvas for a playful and poignant representation of the intimate interactions we’ve all missed over the last year and a half.

“The pandemic curtailed some of our most intimate interactions…holding hands, hugging, dancing, playing. Twister Il – Twist Again is an homage to the physical contact and play that we’ve had to do without” said Best. “Here, the physical proximity of the traditional Twister game is extreme, resulting in a jumble of tangled and entwined bodies. Discerning one figure from another is formidable. The varied array of patterns adds to the commotion. Yet, there is no caution here, only levity and an acknowledgement of the human need for fellowship.”

“This is but one way to interpret this piece. I hope viewers will observe my work through the lens of their own experience and construct a story or a meaning of their own. Above all, I am most pleased when my work resonates with an individual and provokes a nod of recognition or a smile,” said Best.

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About Janet Echelman
Janet Echelman sculpts at the scale of buildings and city blocks. Echelman’s work defies categorization, as it intersects Sculpture, Architecture, Urban Design, Material Science, Structural & Aeronautical Engineering, and Computer Science. Echelman’s art transforms with wind and light, and shifts from being “an object you look at, into an experience you can get lost in.”

Using unlikely materials from atomized water particles to engineered fiber fifteen times stronger than steel, Echelman combines ancient craft with computational design software to create artworks that have become focal points for urban life on five continents, from Singapore, Sydney, Shanghai, and Santiago, to Beijing, Boston, New York and London. Permanent works in Porto (Portugal), Gwanggyo (South Korea), Vancouver, San Francisco, West Hollywood, Phoenix, Eugene, Greensboro, Philadelphia, Seattle, and St. Petersburg (FL) transform daily with colored light.

Curiosity defines Janet Echelman’s nonlinear educational path. After graduating from Harvard College, she lived in a Balinese village for 5 years, then completed separate graduate programs in Painting and in Psychology. A recipient of an honorary Doctorate from Tufts University, Echelman has taught at MIT, Harvard and Princeton Universities.

Her TED talk “Taking Imagination Seriously” has been translated into 35 languages with more than two million views. Recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Harvard Loeb Fellowship, Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship, and Fulbright Sr. Lectureship, Echelman received the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Visual Arts, honoring “the greatest innovators in America today.” In popular culture, Oprah ranked Echelman’s work #1 on her List of 50 Things That Make You Say Wow! , and Echelman was named an Architectural Digest Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces.”

About Betsy Best
Before Besty’s printmaking studies at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, she earned a degree in Graphic Arts from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. In subsequent years she attended a printmaking residency in Japan, studying woodblock printmaking with master craftsmen, with further printmaking studies in Florence, Italy. These opportunities are significant to my art practice. While in Italy she studied under the American printmaker, Karen Kunc, learning an innovative reduction method using two woodblocks. In Japan, she attended the Nagasawa Art Park Japanese Woodblock Printmaking Program. During this two month residency she learned the Japanese water based printmaking technique called moku hanga; best known as the technique used in the ukiyo-e genre of Japanese prints. This approach employs precise carving and registration techniques, and the use of water-based pigments.

She’s enchanted by the printmaking process, and respects its historic capability to make both information, and original works of art, available to everyone. Relief printmaking has been my primary medium for the past two decades, and my work as a graphic artist in my early career has influenced my aesthetic. Using a preponderance of pattern, color and line, stylized figures, and a personal visual vocabulary, she examines the familial constructs, and the meaning of home. Some of her inspirations include athletics, fashion, textiles, ceramics, and architecture.

About GFA: The Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is one of the top outdoor juried fine arts shows in the United States, showcasing a wide variety of art mediums and price points. Beyond the art, there’s something for everyone, including live music, culinary attractions and areas designed for children and families. Admission is free. Held each spring in early March, artists and art lovers from all parts of the country migrate annually to the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, where the country’s most accomplished artists and rising stars vie for the $15,000 Raymond James Best of Show Award and an additional $77,000 in prize money. The Festival draws tens of thousands of people to the 25-acre Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in downtown Tampa. GFA has been a must-see event for art lovers for more than 50 years. 

Ajeva

Ajeva is a funk/rock band from St. Petersburg, FL. The band started in 2013 and features Reed Skahill (vocals), Taylor Gilchrist (bass), Mike Nivens (guitar), and Lyndon Thacker (keys). They’ve carved out a sound of their own with epic melodies and distinctive vocals that pair perfectly with their deep grooves. Each Ajeva show is a one of a kind experience with the band taking their songs to different places and new heights every night.

Light the Wire

Light the Wire makes heartfelt, indie-folk rock that with powerful vocal harmonies, thoughtful lyrics, and powered by driving bass and drums.  The quintet is based out of Tampa, FL, and released its self-produced, debut EP – “Someday Is Coming” on all streaming platforms on November 1, 2023.

Giorgi

Rock musician that refuses to find a niche

GA & FL

FFO: Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World

Mwiza

Biggest influences are church, his mother, Coheed & Cambria, Acceptance, James Morrison, Bombay Bicycle Club, Disturbed, Arctic Monkeys, Young The Giant, Chevelle, Rusko, Chief and Matt Corby. Most of the music he listens to has a darker sound to it so he in turn makes darker, melodic music.

Datagram

Datagram has been the moniker of shapeshifting Tampa musician Scott Olson for the better part of the last decade.

In that time, the sound and styles of this project have shifted and morphed, painting with shades of glitch, downtempo, techno, and all that lurks in between.

Shevonne and the Force

A multi-hyphenate, genre-bending artist, Shevonne Philidor is a singer-songwriter, producer, and actress who epitomizes her dynamic background in music and performing arts. A military brat born in Philadelphia, PA, she experienced living in multiple cities – including a stint in Italy – before landing in Tampa, Fl, where she nurtured her musical ability throughout her childhood. She’s a scion of a musical family stemming from her half-Haitian descent and taught herself to play the guitar at an early age, inspired by the likes of Prince, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley, and M83. In 2003, she made her first TV debut on America’s Most Talented Kids, and in 2010, she made an appearance on America’s Got Talent Wild Card. A recipient of the prestigious NFAA scholarship, she also made American Idol’s top 40 twice in 2016 and 2019, the same year she performed at Austin City Limits with five-time Grammy award-winning artist Gary Clark jr. In 2021, she performed alongside CeeLo Green at a Superbowl party for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was tapped to sing for ABC’s Juneteenth celebration with T.I. and Domani. Working with Grand Hustle Records, she’s a Luna Guitar-endorsed artist who was also selected to perform in Just Blaze’s SXSW showcase in 2022. A theatre kid at heart, she’s flexed her acting skills on a national tour for Todrick Hall’s musical, Oz The Musical, and she was also recently casted in Life’s Rewards, an upcoming Amazon Prime TV show.

Kristopher James

Though he’s lived in the Sunshine State, for most of his life, Kristopher’s talent for melody and song (now) extend far past the state’s line. Like his influencers Otis Redding, Amos Lee, and Roberta Flack, Kristopher’s voice is clear, controlled, and full of all-the-feels.  As with all artists, Kristopher’s sound has ebbed and flowed, evolving yet remaining instantly recognizable. With the growth he’s experienced as an artist, Kristopher felt it was time to capture his songs, in their fully-imagined sound!

With his debut album “Kindness Never Quits”, featuring members of Scary Pockets, Kristopher caught the attention of Relix & Glide Magazine, Spotify Playlist curators and continued praise, such as “vocals are so powerful and as the song progresses, he showcases why he is one of the best singers out there. All that soul in one artist is just unbelievable” from Reignland Magazine.

Continuing through the COVID years, Kristopher partnered with musicians to keep the music and community alive. Along with composer and keys player Mike Hicks of Rascal Flatts, The War & Treaty’s Max Brown on guitar, as well as talented artists Kyshona Armstrong, Jonathan Huber, DeMarco Johnson, Kristopher released 3 acclaimed singles: “Never Had to Find Our Way”, “Feelings” and “I Can Only Love You in a Song”

Deaf Company

Three piece Rock n Roll band hailing from St. Petersburg, FL.

Skyler Golden

Musician from St. Pete Florida and Studio Producer for Zen Recording. Brings an eclectic sound of string instruments for the Yoga Classes at GFA 2024

SydLive

From Tampa Florida, SydLive was born to write and sing songs that touch the world. As her mother recalls, her climb to stardom began with getting on top of restaurant tables to sing at the age of two.

By the time she was eleven, she acquired her first guitar and began to teach herself to play by learning Beatles songs. Within four years she found her way to the stage singing in a Carpenters tribute band. Since this time, Syd has amassed over a decade of experience as a professional singer/songwriter and recording/performance artist. Within the industry, she names Aretha Franklin as her idol.

DURRY

The first sound you hear on Durry’s rambunctious and poignant debut album, Suburban Legend, is an old-school Internet dial-up tone. To songwriter Austin Durry, the sound is instantly familiar but his bandmate and sister, Taryn, hadn’t heard it before. The Burnsville, Minnesota-based duo might identify with different age groups — with seven years between them, Austin is a millennial and Taryn is Gen Z — but by joining forces in Durry, they show just how much the neighboring generations have in common.

Between their serendipitous origin story and a crop of dynamic, hook-heavy alt-pop tracks, Durry are doing something few bands can achieve — and they’re doing it entirely on their own terms. As a band, Taryn and Austin’s journey happened both unexpectedly and fortuitously. At the start of the COVID pandemic, Austin and his wife moved back into his parents’ house, where Taryn was also living at the time. In addition to moving back in with his family, COVID forced Austin to cancel an extensive tour with his previous band, Coyote Kid. Faced with nothing but time, he got back to songwriting, regularly asking Taryn for input — or as the two playfully put it, “Gen Z quality control.”

“I’d say, here’s an early concept, what do you think? Then she’ll steer the ship, and then I’ll evolve it from there,” Austin explains. “Taryn is the sounding board and Gen Z vision of the band, where I’m kinda cranking stuff out.”

As they got going, forming what would turn into Durry, the siblings also outlined DIY ideas for branding and promotion, creating all of their own content and imbuing their visuals with nostalgic golden yellow, large fonts, and tactile images that would later make their way into eye-catching merch.

The immediate result of their musical partnership was the pop-punk/alternative anthem “Who’s Laughing Now,” which leads with wry, tongue-in-cheek lyrics about the futility of young adulthood in 2023: “My mama always said I would regret it if I ever got a tattoo,” Austin chants, adding: “She said I’d never get a job like I ever wanted one with that attitude/ My dad said I had to learn to drive a stick shift, but every van I ever had was an automatic/ My friends said that someday I would make it big, but I’m still living in the basement.”

After posting an unfinished version of “Who’s Laughing Now” on TikTok, it swiftly took off, galvanizing thousands of viewers who shared their coming-of-age frustrations. Clearly, the song’s sentiments — which land somewhere between a shrug and a clenched fist — resonated with millions of listeners, and today the song has garnered more than four million Spotify streams. Meanwhile, Durry have recorded a fully fleshed-out version of “Who’s Laughing Now,” which is set to appear on their riveting, perfectly sardonic debut LP, Suburban Legend.