The Emerging Artists display their artwork near the boat docks on the Hillsborough River side of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.
The Gasparilla Festival of the Arts celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary just three short years ago. In the long history of our beloved festival, one program to note is the Emerging Artist Program. Started in 1994, 24 years after the inaugural festival, the Emerging Artists program was created as a way to spotlight up-and-coming artists. This year, applications for the program closed at the end of November.
The Emerging Artist program serves as a way for new artists to showcase their work for the first time in a professional setting. Applicants qualify if they do not have an established record as a professional artist; they have not presented their work in museums, art festivals, major galleries, or juried exhibitions prior to applying. Qualified artists also do not make more than 25 percent of their total annual income from selling their art.
Last year, we had a record-breaking number of applications for the Emerging Artist program, over 150 artists applied. This year, we are so pleased to report we broke records again, with over 200 applications sent to the juror! Artists that are selected this year are given their very own booth to display their work. They are given a $350 stipend to help with preparation and offered mentoring opportunities from established Tampa-based artists. Selected artists are also eligible to win the Emerging Artists Prize – a monetary value of $1,500.
This year, Emerging Artists will be Kyra Connolly, Madie, Gotshall, Gary Greer, William Keeling, Valerie Lamott, Damien LaRue, Natalie Pagan, Olivia Rogowska, Ashley Rivers, Christopher Roll, Sketzii, Dr. Michael Stevenson, Erin Titus, Nathalia Toledo, and YD.
“We couldn’t be happier with this year’s class of Emerging Artists,” says Clay Hollenkamp, Festival Co-Chair and Emerging Artists Committee member. “The record number of strong applications we received this year, the majority of which were from local artists, says a lot about the Tampa Bay art scene and the talent it has to offer. We encourage everyone who visits the festival to meet these artists and see their work because the next time they see it will be in a gallery.”
The Emerging Artists program has long since been a way for artists to gain their first real experience displaying their hard work in a showcase setting. The 15 artists selected this year will be given the exciting opportunity to present their work not only to a group of knowledgeable jurors, but also to a crowd of art-lovers and potential buyers. Last year’s Best of Show artist Nneka Jones got her start with the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts through the Emerging Artist Program in 2019. It was the first time she has ever shown her work in a public setting, and not only was she awarded the Emerging Artist prize, she also successfully sold pieces of art to buyers that became repeat clients of hers. She went on to participate in the next three festivals, before taking home Best of Show last year, 2022. Her success story was featured in a blog post late last year, you can read that here.
Amy Ilic-Volpe was the recipient of last year’s Emerging Artist award. Her expressive, colorful artwork captured the attention of our esteemed juror and earned her the coveted title and prize. Native to St. Petersburg, she is a bright, shining example of the incredible local talent found right here in the Tampa Bay area.
GFA would like to thank the Hillsborough Arts Council and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for their support of the Emerging Artists Program. We are still seeking 2023 Emerging Artist Presenting and Patron Sponsors and invite you to join us in bringing this career-building opportunity to our participating Emerging Artists. To learn more about this and other sponsorship opportunities and the visibility they give your company, click here.