As we prepare to open the Emerging Artists application period on November 6, GFA’s VP Clay Hollenkamp takes a deep dive into how three Emerging Artists’ careers have blossomed after their first appearance at the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.
Nurturing artistic talent and supporting emerging artists are an essential part of Gasparilla Festival of the Arts’ mission. This commitment isn’t just lip service; it’s the driving force behind a program that has become a true stepping stone for budding artists. Since 1995, GFA’s Emerging Artists Program has welcomed up-and-coming artists to present and sell their work to the 30,000+ people who attend the event each year and the mentoring opportunities that accompany acceptance to the program provide valuable information about the business of the arts that will benefit artists are their career grows.
But just what is an “emerging artist”?
In many ways, this question has to be answered by the artists themselves but for the purposes of GFA, an emerging artist is one who doesn’t have a record of participating in major shows, festivals or exhibitions, makes less than 25% of their income from the sale of their art and is not employed professionally as an artist working in the medium they would exhibit at the Festival.
In the almost 30 years since GFA’s Emerging Artists Program began, we have seen artists take many paths. Quite a few have gone on to become travelling festival artists who participate in festivals like GFA all over the country. Some are now represented by major galleries and others have opened their own galleries. There are as many different paths are there are artists.
Today, we would like to tell you about three of our past emerging artists in a sort of “where are they now” article.
While they have gone in different directions, GFA is proud to have played a role in each artist’s career.
Amy Ilic-Volpe was a member of the Emerging Artists Program, Class of 2022.
She was also selected as the Emerging Artist Prize winner that year. When Amy applied to the Program, her work was primarily mixed-media, abstract, sculptural wall-hangings full of vibrant colors and textures. Since she completed the Program and purchased an Ipad with her award winnings, she has begun experimenting with digital techniques and themes of her work have become more personal.
“Working in digital painting and illustration I have started producing slightly more representational work, but still with my trademark bright, bold, abstract aesthetic,” Amy said. “Through this, I have recently begun exploring mental health themes that are personal to me.”
About her experience with the Emerging Artist Program, Amy found that it helped her “make connections within the community and gave [her] an element of creditability and exposure.” Since 2022, she was invited to be a Shine Mural Festival: Bright Spot Artist and she is currently one of nine artists who were chosen to paint signal boxes all over Pinellas County as part of Creative Pinellas’ Artworks Signal Box Project. The box she’s designing will be on the Pinellas Trail.
You can also find Amy at the Morean Art Center where she has had a long tenure. She teaches youth classes and led a youth art camp this past summer. She is also excited to be renewing a partnership with ASTRA Aromatherapy as they open a brick and mortar location on Central Avenue in St. Pete. You’ll be able to find her work there along with that of other creatives. Visit Amy’s website for more information and to contact her: https://amyilicvolpe.com/ and find her on Instagram @Amy_Ilic_Volpe.
Emiliano Settecasi was a member of the GFA Emerging Artists Program, Class of 2018.
Emiliano remains a prolific artist whose work is shown in numerous galleries, but he’s also taken on the role of gallerist. Shortly after the 2018 Festival, Emiliano accepted a position with Gallery 221@HCC at the Dale Mabry Campus of Hillsborough Community College where he had the chance to work with other artists to mount their exhibitions and share work with the general public and the students who attend the college. After four years with HCC, Emiliano left to open his own gallery, The Department of Contemporary Art, Tampa, FL, in the Kress Building in Ybor City.
Emiliano’s art has always been influenced by contemporary design, branding and advertising and adopted a critical eye towards the concept of the “individual as a brand,” but since 2018, he has turned inward and allowed himself to become more vulnerable. His current work often includes references to his own identity and parts of himself with which he’s insecure, such as his affected left hand. Always including a bit of absurdity and irony into his work, Emiliano uses these themes to critique commercial culture and modern society with a specific concern for climate change.
You can find Emiliano at the Department of Contemporary Art, Tampa, FL on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. He doesn’t show his own work there but by selecting the artists he presents, he still brings a bit of his perspective to each exhibition. Some of Emiliano’s work will be on display at Gallery 221@HCC until October and Gallery 3@HCC until February. Contact Emiliano at his website, EmilianoSettecasi.com. You can find him on Instagram at @esettecasi and follow his gallery at @departmentofcontemporaryarttp.
Lissa Hatcher was a member of the Emerging Artists Program 2013.
Since that time, she has presented her work in GFA’s main festival eight more times, winning an Award of Merit in 2015. Since her time in GFA’s Emerging Artists Program, Lissa’s career has expanded dramatically. Her surrealist photography has been exhibited in multiple galleries and ad campaigns and has been featured in magazines, in the Tampa Bay Times and on ABC Action News in Tampa. Her work has even been shown on the marquee at the Tampa Theater and on jumbotron at Amalie Arena.
Over the past decade, Lissa has gained more confidence in her work and voice. This has allowed her to become a full-time artist and to broaden her practice to include literary arts. Many of her pieces now include her writing and she has several stand-alone books in process. The response to one of her installation pieces even led her to establish a tea company, Morbid Curiositea. She does all of the design work, package art, copy writing, and even blending the teas. In 2024, Lissa will be launching a whole new project called House of Curiositea that will showcase the entire whimsical world she has created with her art and writing.
She describes her current work as “hopeful with a dark twist” and “full of childlike wonder, surrealistic and narrative in nature.” Lissa is taking 2023 off from presenting her work and teaching to focus on her many projects. You can find more information about her art by visiting her website: www.lissahatcher.com or her Instagram @LIssaHatcher. You can try her teas by visiting her at a local farmers market and following @MorbidCuriositea on Instagram. Lissa’s art and teas are also featured at The Merchant general store in St. Petersburg.
GFA’s Emerging Artists Program has truly become a rite of passage for the more than 300 artists who have participated in the past 28 years.
As you can see above, the Program has been a first step for art careers that have taken a variety of paths. GFA is extremely proud of every artist who participates and are excited to meet the Class of 2024. If you are interested in applying to the Emerging Artists Program for the 54th Annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts on March 2nd and 3rd of 2024, the application window will be open from early October until November 26, 2023. Visit the Emerging Artists Program page on our website for details about eligibility and to find the application when it opens. You can also email EmergingArtists@gasparillaarts.com with specific questions.