Tammy Archer

Sebring, Florida

2021 Old Florida Design Contest Winner

About Tammy Archer

Tammy Archer was born and raised in a small country town in New York. Tammy has been developing her artistic skills and talents since early childhood. In 2003, her strong desire to create artwork and entrepreneurial spirit led Tammy to turn her art into a full-time passion and small business. She began selling her artworks at art festivals in New York and online. In just 5 years, Tammy sold over 1200 paintings on Ebay. After moving to Florida in 2008, Tammy opened her art studio and gallery in Sebring. Tammy loves fishing and being outdoors, taking in all of what Mother Nature has to offer. This is evidenced and reflected in her artwork’s signature style of bringing ideas to life with vibrant colors and bold lines. Being a self-taught and self-represented artist has given Tammy the freedom to experiment and express herself through several techniques and mediums, including oils, acrylics, gouaches, inks, fabric and paper, and her favorite – watercolors. Tammy is always thinking of her next original creation, daring to be different and taking her work to new levels. She has won several awards for her whimsical designs and her bright, vibrant colors. Tammy Archer’s work can be found in private and business collections throughout the USA and Worldwide. 


Facebook: Archer’s Art LLC/

Instagram: @archersartanddesigns


NEWS RELEASE:  Cedar Key, FL  3/13/2020, 2:30 pm

In accordance with the recent recommendations of Gov. Ron DeSantis that cities and counties in Florida  postpone or cancel any mass gatherings over the next 30 days in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus in Florida, the Cedar Key Arts Center, in consultation with the City of Cedar Key, has decided to cancel the 2020 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts April 4 & 5.  This decision was made after careful consideration of what is for the greater good and best for our community overall. Local restaurants, motels and shops are open for business and the Arts Center looks forward to hosting the festival next spring on the weekend of April 17 & 18, 2021.

2020 Invited Artists have to option of an automatic invitation to next years event, April 17 & 18, 2020 or may elect to receive a partial refund of their booth fee.  All artists should have received an email through Zapplications.org on Friday evening, April 13. Questions: please contact us by email at www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com.

Amber M Moran
Watercolor and Ink Artist

“Clam Shack”
Click HERE for News Release
Thanks to all the artists who entered this year’s Design Contest.  There were over 40 entries in response to the theme “In Love with Cedar Key.” And exhibit of the submitted artwork will be at the Cedar Key Arts Center in February.  Come see all the GREAT entries!


Out of the Way but Worth the Journey

Historic Cedar Key is a unique Florida community. Located, at the end of State Road 24 on the Gulf Coast of Florida, 60 miles SW of Gainesville visitors do not discover Cedar Key because they are passing through on their way to another destination. Instead, they usually have to plan to journey the extra twenty-four miles past the tiny town Otter Creek, down a road that looks like it is going to nowhere to discover this community’s beauty and charm.

The full-time population of Cedar Key has hovered around 750 for the past 100 years. Winter months bring a population boom that increases the population to a whopping 1000. It is a small town of smiles and waves as residents and visitors meet one another on the streets and sidewalks. Supported by a vibrant aquaculture industry producing delicious clams and oysters, as well as welcoming those who enjoy great sport fishing, birding, or the beauty of amazing sunsets, Cedar Key learned long ago the strength of this small town is in the sense of community.

Through the long history of Cedar Key this small town has endured devastating hurricanes, the challenges of the Civil War, and the radical changes in industries that brought on economic hardships. Through each challenge the sense of community has been proven as the single ingredient to keep the town life vibrant, warm and welcoming to all who cross the bridge entering Cedar Key.

In addition to bringing high quality, creative and unique art to this small island community, the Spring Arts Festival in Cedar Key, now in its 56th year, supports the community by allowing only local non-profit organizations to sell food and goodies at beachfront City Park during the event. This juried art festival, known as the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, is coordinated by the Cedar Key Arts Center and has been listed in ArtFairCalendar.com’s Top 10 Art Fairs in America the past three years. This festival attracts some of the best artists in the Southeast and beyond. Each artist, each visitor to Cedar Key, and each volunteer contribute to the strength of the community.

Your invitation to visit Cedar Key is always open, but there is no better time to come than during the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, planned for April 4 (10-5) & April 5 (10-4), 2020. Please plan to join us and enjoy what we know to be a unique experience that will have a lasting impact on you. You will not be sorry you traveled those extra miles to this special place on the Hidden Coast. More information at www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com or contact us at CedaKeyArtsFestival@gmail.com (352-543-5400).



As Reported in the Cedar Key Beacon April 4, 2019

Click Here to View Article

News Release – Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, Cedar Key, FL    3/18/19
“I Could Do That!”

                Have you ever been in an Art Shop or at an Art Festival and wondered or heard someone say “I could do that?”  As someone who works in an artist co-op, I can assure you, we hear it all the time, but most of the time to “do that” takes a lot more time, talent and trial & error than you think.  But, if you are curious, and want to see how high quality artists create, you should plan on attending the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key next Saturday and Sunday, March 30 (10-5) & 31 (10-4), as over 25 different artists in 8 different medium will be doing demonstrations between 1-4 pm both afternoons.

Fiber Artist

Shoshana Matthews

Mixed Media Artist

Nick Ringelstetter

Alcohol Ink Painter

Julie Tibus

                Watch as fiber artists Shoshana Matthews (weaver) and Mary Jefferson (basket maker) fashion intricately designed artwork from simple materials.  Or, look on as jewelers like Larry Drake and Debbie Stillman, carve delicate designs by hand into their pieces.  See 3D artwork being formed from metal, stone, and mixed materials by sculptors Isaac Brooks, John Grammer, and Justine Ferreri or appreciate the drawing ability of Nick Alexiades or Leland as they create amazing images right in front of your eyes

                All along the three block venue, mixed media artists like Nick Ringelstetter and painters like alcohol ink painter Julie Tibus will be working.  Take the time to ask questions, get to know the artists and their art, and while you are at it you just might decide you really can’t even begin “to do that” and instead, buy a piece of artwork.

                The Spring Arts Festival in Cedar Key is in its 55th year. The event has been named in the Top 10 Fine Art Fairs in America the past 3 years by ArtFairCalendar.com.  The festival is coordinated by the Cedar Key Arts Center and proceeds benefits the arts center. Great food is prepared and served by local non-profit organizations.  Enjoy the music, fun and Children’s Art Booth in beachfront City Park.  The event is free, family & pet-friendly, and allows smoking only in designated areas.  For more information go to www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com or call 352-543-5400.

News Release March 10, 2019: Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, Cedar Key, FL
Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

What Makes Cedar Key’s Spring Arts Festival Something Special?

The Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key, March 30 & 31, has been listed in the Top 10 Juried Fine Arts Fairs in America the past three years by ArtFairCalendar.com. What makes this festival, which is now in its 55th year, something special?

Perhaps it is because the event attracts both “old” and “new” artists. Last year’s winning artists Gabriel Isaac, Best of Show, and Susan Dauphinee, Best 2D, are good examples of this dichotomy.  Like about half of the artists each year, Isaac, a ceramic artist from Deland, FL was new to Cedar Key in 2018.  While, local favorite and long-time resident, Susan Dauphinee, now of Banford, FL, returned for another year.  In 2019 the festival received over 260 applications for its 120 booths, resulting in a high-quality mix of artists in multiple disciplines, both “old” and “new” with about1/3 being from outside of Florida.

Or maybe it is because of the uniqueness and creativity of the artwork found at the event. Discovering how art evolves over the years, seeing how techniques like photography and painting are “borrowing” from each other to create new artistic expressions or realizing how mixed media artists cross boundaries, borrowing from different traditional art forms. This year over 20 artists will be doing artwork demonstrations both afternoons between 1-4, including five mixed media artists.

And of course, in Florida, it’s also always something “blue.” Inspired by the water around us, much of the artwork found at the Cedar Key Spring Arts Festival features our beautiful natural environment and its inhabitants.  From paintings and photography to jewelry and sculpture, the art in nature is part of this event. There is no doubt you will find something for your home or something for yourself in Cedar Key.

So come join us for Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed & Something Blue.  Saturday, March 30, 10-5 and Sunday, March 31, 10-4.  Great food, music and kids art booth in beachfront City Park.  The festival is free, smoke-free and pet friendly. For more information got to www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com or call 352-543-5400.

Gabriel Isaac (2018 Best of Show)
Susan Dauphine (2018 Best 2D)

Striving for Art Fair Excellence – News Release December 2018
The Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key, March 30 & 31, 2019


art fair logo

2017 Top 10



Have you ever wondered what makes a great Arts Festival?  If so, just ask the folks in Cedar Key as their annual Spring Arts Festival was just ranked in the Top 10 Juried Art Fairs in America for the third year in a row in Art Fair Calendar’s annual Survey*. In addition, this art event was recognized as #2 on the list of Favorite Small Town Art Shows.

When you ask members of the festival committee at the Cedar Key Arts Center, coordinating sponsor for the event, you get a variety of tips that might just add up to why this festival has earned such a great reputation and is respected by artists and festival attendees alike.

#1. Work to attract high quality and creative fine artists and artisans.  Since the festival returned to a fine arts event in 2006 the goal has been to identify and attract top artists through a nation-wide application and jury process.  Through this process all entries are reviewed by artist peers, scored and only the most qualified artists are invited to this relatively small show that strives to have a balance of disciplines. 

#2. Create an inviting atmosphere that encourages engagement between artists and visitors.  One of the reasons the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts invites only 120 artists is so there is room for Artist Demonstrations and space between booths for artists and patrons to interact. The smaller venue results in a relaxed environment compared to larger Florida art shows.

#3. Be organized and have great volunteers.  In this small town of about 800 residents, it is simply amazing how many volunteers and businesses work to make the Spring Arts Festival one of the best.  With answers to the question “What can we do to improve the festival?” like the one below on the post-event survey, you can see that this “village” knows what is doing.

“I can't think of anything. The show was very well run. Everyone - staff, volunteers, even the motel staff, cared about the show. It's refreshing to see so many people who are interested in not just the show but the artists. I loved the show and the town. Thank you!”

The 2019 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key will be Saturday, March 30 (10-5) and Sunday, March 31 (10-4).  Demonstrations 1-4pm.  Prize winners are announced Saturday night at a special Artist Reception so consider coming on Sunday to see who won.  Enjoy Great Food, prepared by local non-profit groups, live music and the popular Cedar Key Arts Center’s Children’s Art Booth in Beachfront City Park. The event is free, family & pet friendly with smoking/vaping allowed only in designated areas.  For more information go to www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com.  Questions contact: 352-543-5400 or CedarKeyArtsFestival@gmail.com.

*The America's Best Art Fairs Awards are based on online voting by art fair patrons, collectors, organizers, and artists both regionally and nationally.  It is the only national survey of art fairs and festivals designed to recognize achievement in art fair event production and promote the cultural importance of fine art events across America.  Please visit http://www.artfaircalendar.com/art_fair/americas-best-art-fairs-the-top-50.html or http://www.BestArtFairs.com for the complete list of Best Art Fair Award winners for 2018.




Cedar Key, Florida
October 2019

With a Design Contest theme like “The Cedar Key Arts Center Celebrates 25 Year of Promoting the Arts in our Community” it just seems fitting that the honors go to a well-known Cedar Key Artist and Arts Center Member. Congratulations to Ann Kamzelski, 2019 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts Design Contest winner.

This year artists were asked to submit “concept” designs for a new Arts Center Logo based on the above Design Contest Theme.  Ann’s classic Cedar Key Sunset was chosen from artwork submitted by 12 different artists.  Variations of the logo will be used in 2019 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts promotions and will serve as an icon for the Cedar Key Arts Center in years to come. The design is reminiscent of Ann’s Artwork submitted in 2014 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Spring Arts Festival in Cedar Key.  The theme that year was “Homage to the Honeymoon Cottage” and Ann’s design was chosen for the mural that now faces the Arts Center Sculpture Garden.


Ann Kamzelski is self-taught photographer who has focused on nature and travel photography for over 25 years. She has traveled extensively around the US taking photos of scenic areas across the country. She also likes the creative side of photography and blends several different photos to create whimsical images that she sells in Island Arts, a local Cedar Key Artist Co-op.

In addition to being a featured artists in the Member Artist’s Gallery at the Arts Center, Ann has won several awards in the Arts Center’s Open Community Shows over the past 10 years since becoming a member.  She has also taught Art Center workshops, served on served Art Center Committees and been an important member of the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts team since it came under the direction of the Arts Center.

Ann has been published in Petersen’s Photographic, Travel and Nature Photographer, Birds and Blooms and on the Citizens and Northern Bank calendar several times, including the cover for 2011.  She has had a number of photo articles published in Mountain Home Magazine and has won several Keystone (Pennsylvania Journalist) awards for this work. She has been the winner of various photography contests in both Pennsylvania and Florida and has had one person gallery shows in both locations.  Ann writes a monthly article for the Grand Canyon Photography Club on photo techniques and creative processes.

For more information:            http://www.photoartbyann.com/         http://CedarKeyArtsCenter.org/






Top 10 Again
2018 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts

The Old Florida Celebration of the Arts (OFCA) was once again named one of the Top 10 Juried Art Fairs in America in the ArtFairCalendar.com annual survey. That’s top 102, a 100 more reasons to attend this year’s celebration March 24 & 25. The OFCA has also received, for the 3x in the last four years, national recognition as one of the Top 5 Small Town Art Shows. Sums up traveling to the tiny Gulf Coast town of Cedar Key for the 54th Annual Spring Arts Festival a trip worth a 1000 times over.



120 artists invited to the OFCA are selected by an experienced jury. Mass produced items or country crafts are not favored so that the artwork for sale — traditional 2D paintings, prints, and photography in addition to 3D ceramic, glass, wood, metal and mixed media sculpture — is finely and uniquely crafted with demonstrations scheduled for both days. Limiting the number of artists leaves room for a relaxed layout, notably more intimate from larger events that often host 250-300 artists and thousands more visitors.


When you cross the bridge onto the islands of Cedar Key, 60 miles SW of Gainesville at the end of State Road 24, you are transported to what is truly nature’s coast. In this working coastal town locally grown and harvested oysters and clams are the main fare in downtown restaurants.


On festival weekend, don’t pass up a tasty line up hosted by the Lions Club, who also arranges live music. Food sale proceeds in the park go to local, non-profit organizations.

Before hosting one of Florida’s first fine arts festivals in 1964, Cedar Key was already a haven for artists inspired by its quiet, natural beauty. That beauty remains to this day along with a thriving reputation as a destination for artists and art enthusiasts. Each year this event attracts award-winning, local, new and emerging artists. This year welcomes 2018 OFCA Design Contest winners Miriam Novak of Gainesville, Cedar Key Art Festival participant for over 15 years, and newcomer Clint Eagar of Rosa Beach FL. In addition, returning award winning artists include Michael Everett (2017 Best of Show), Jean Yao (2017 Best 3D & 2016 Creativity Award), and local favorite, Susan Dauphinee (Awards of Excellence 2014, 2016 & 2017).


Experience one of the best art festivals in America during the 2018 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts March 24 (10-5) and 25 (10-4) in one of “America’s Coolest Small Towns” (Budget Traveler). The friendliness and hospitality of cool Cedar Key squared with this top ten festival, makes it a trip worth a thousand times over!

March 24 (10-5) & March 25 (10-4), Historic 2nd Street
Contact: CedarKeyArtsFestival@gmail.com; 352-543-5400 www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com
Facebook: “Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key”

2018 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts
Design Contest Winners Selected

The Old Florida Celebration of the Arts (OFCA) is proud to announce the winners of the 2018 Festival Design Contest based on the theme “What Float’s Your Boat?” The Design Contest panel had over 40 pieces of artwork from 28 different artists to choose from and the selection of a winner was difficult.  In fact, after several rounds of voting, the competition ended in a tie. Congratulations to winners Clint Eagar for his entry “Floating” and Miriam Novack for her entry “Float My Boat.”

The Cedar Key Arts Center is honored to have these talented life-long artists representing the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts. While Gainesville resident, Miriam Novak, may be familiar to some since she has been participating in Cedar Key’s Spring Arts Festivals for over 15 years, Clint Eagar, a relative newcomer to Santa Rosa Beach, FL only discovered the OFCA last year when the fair was recognized as one of the Top 10 Art Fairs in America. 

Both Miriam and Clint were aware of their passion for art early, and, had the opportunity to begin their formal education in the arts at a younger age than most artists.  Both artists were inspired and encouraged by family members to pursue art. Clint applied and was accepted to the Johannesburg School of Art in 8th grade and Miriam attended Erasmus High School in New York which allowed her to graduate with a Major in Fine Arts beginning in middle school.  Clint completed his Fine Arts Education at the Fashion and Arts Institute in Dallas, Tx after immigrating to the States in 1981.  Miriam graduated with Honors in Art from Brooklyn College of the City of New York in the early 70’s.

After teaching art to middle schoolers out of college, Miriam moved with her husband to Florida in the 1974.  Her focus at that time was wood sculpture, but she also enjoyed and won awards for her photography, and fell in love with outdoor art festivals as a way to share her art and interact with and be inspired by visitors to her booth.  After having her home destroyed in Hurricane Andrew and there was nowhere to do her sculpture, she discovered a renewed love for painting returning to the circular themes that had enchanted her since childhood.  In 1992, she won Best of Show at the South Miami Art Festival, in 2007 she had a one-women show entitled “Evolution” at the Thomas Center Main Gallery and she has been the design contest winner for the Downtown Gainesville Art Show (2006) and Winter Fine Arts Festival in Tioga (2014). More of her work can be seen on her website at www.mnovack.com.

Clint’s career took off soon after graduation, when his talents were recognized by production art company based out of Miami with retail galleries in Florida and Texas and he was given the opportunity to open his own Design Studio in Dallas, which was followed by work with Frontline Graphics and Figi Graphics in California. As a graphic design artist his work became popular around the world and at the age of 23 he established his own Design Consulting Firm in Taiwan designing, manufacturing and distributing gifts. After returning to the US in the mid-90’s his work expanded to Industrial Design Products where he designed and distributed for familiar names such as Disney, Kirkland, JC Penny, and Pier I and most recently worked with Golf and Fitness designing training aids for large sporting retail stores like Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Several years ago, Clint decided it was time to step away from Production Art and “return to his roots.”  He has opened a studio in Santa Rosa Beach (www.ClintEagarDesign.com). His work has been recently featured in Home Accents Today (2017) and, if you are a NetFlix fan, you may have seen several of his pieces featured on Grace and Frankie, Season 4.

Both artists were inspired by the theme, “What Floats Your Boat?” Miriam’s love of Cedar Key had inspired a series of paintings a couple of years ago, but she said when she heard this year’s theme she knew it was right up her alley and created Floating My Boat especially for the competition.  Clint has fallen in love with his new coastal home and had been recently working on boats.  In his artwork entitled Floating he worked in layers to create the appearance of old wood, painted over and over, peacefully resting on calm waters.

Plan to see additional pieces of artwork from these and over 100 other invited artists at the 2018 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key, March 24 & 25. For more information check out our website at www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com or contact us at CedarKeyArtsFestival@gmail.com


Old Florida Celebration of the Arts Receives National Recognition Best Art Fair Award 2016

In Art Fair Calendar’s 4th Annual National Survey Cedar Key’s Spring Art Festival was voted one of the “Top Ten Best Art Fairs in America.” It was also listed as one of the top five “Favorite Small Town Art Fairs.” This is the second time that the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts has received national recognition in the past several years.  In 2014, the event was named one of the Top 50 Art Fairs in America and was also listed as one of the Top 5 Small Town Juried Art Shows.


Cedar Key’s Spring Arts Festival, which was started in 1964, is one of the oldest in the State of Florida. In the mid-1970’s it became so popular that a reported 35-50,000 visitors nearly ended the event because it was just too much for the small town of 850.  By the late 1990’s the festival had become more of a craft fair but in 2006, local artists and community leaders decided that the format should return to a juried event with the vision of hosting a top quality small fine art show and the festival was renamed the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts.


The 2017 event, coordinated by the Cedar Key Arts Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to nurture and promote the arts, is planned for April 8 & 9, 10am -5pm.  A record number of artists have applied, but only 120 fine artists and craftsmen will be invited.  Unlike larger shows, space is left between booths for art demonstrations with room for artists and patrons to interact.  On-line survey comments about the festival tell it all --- "Small town - great artists; beautiful location." "It is authentic old Florida, and has some of the best art I have seen." "The locals support this show."  "It is small and personal with juried fine arts. It's a lovely little community and the show is fun to do.”


The America's Best Art Fairs Awards are based on online voting by art fair patrons, collectors, organizers, and artists both regionally and nationally. The survey, sponsored by ArtFairCalendar.com, is the only national survey of art fairs and festivals designed to recognize achievement in art fair event production and promote the cultural importance of fine art events across America.  For a complete list of winners or to find out more about the subscriber’s survey visit http://www.artfaircalendar.com/art_fair/americas-best-art-fairs-the-top-50.html.


For more information go to www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com or call 352-543-5400.

2017 Old Florida Design Contest Winner - Judi Cain

When you walk into the Gainesville Artisan’s Guild Gallery or the Keyhole Artist Co-op in Cedar Key and see the paintings of Judi Cain, the 2017 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts Design Contest winner, you can’t help but notice a boundless, perhaps even psychedelic, energy in her artwork depicting people, pets, wildlife and nature. And, if she happens to be working at the desk the day you are there you may be lucky enough to connect with this women who not only enjoys what she does but embodies the “joy of living.” But, it hasn’t always been that way….

Judi had no formal training in art until high school art classes but her ability to “copy just about anything,” including creating pencil portraits of her friends from their school pictures in grade school and drawing elegant clothing for paper dolls, led her to consider fashion design as a possible art career. However, coming from a small town in the Midwest, options for this sort of education were few, and she ended up finishing her undergraduate degree with a triple major in Art, Home Economics and Teaching from SE Missouri State College and began teaching art in the public school system.
But, this was the 70’s, and after meeting and later marrying a man who had no art education but “innate artistic ability and endless creativity,” she “ran away” with him in their VW van and became part of a group of traveling “mall artists.” The Mall Circuit took them all over the country and ultimately to Gainesville where they settled in 1980. As her husband’s art career took off and they started a family, Judi put her own art on the back burner. Together, they took their talent, love of Halloween, costume making and mall art experience and became the primary providers of hand-made and commercial costumes in North Florida, running the legendary Center Stage Costume and Magic Shop in Gainesville for three decades.

Throughout this time, although she continued to do mostly commissioned portrait work, Judi never considered herself a “real artist,” as she felt that she was still just copying what she saw, not creating something from somewhere deep within like she saw in her husband’s work. It was not until living through a life crisis that resulted in the loss of their business, his career, and their marriage that Judi, on her own for the first time in 35 years, decided “there were no more excuses” and she was not going to let what happen break her.

Determined to find her inner creative ability, Judi started by spending 15-30 minutes every morning with her colored pencils and “just drawing.” Eventually, at the encouragement of her daughter, she went outside her comfort zone and started to use acrylic paints. She still remembers the day when her “ego mind shut up and the energy began to flow.” She had decided to just squirt all her paints on a huge 30” x 40” canvas and then, using her lovingly cared for 30-year old brush, began to see something and do something she’d never done before. For the first time she was painting not just from knowledge and what she saw but from intuition and a boundless energy that now drives her work.

As soon as she read the theme for the 2017 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts Festival Design Contest, It’s All About the Water, Judi knew it was something special for her and what she had come to call her “Creative Energy Paintings.” Water, and everything about it became the focus of her artistic mediations. Once again going outside her box, she experimented with Golden Liquid Acryllics (recently received as a prize) and Aqua Board (believe it or not), and she “let the paint tell her what to do.”

Her painting entitled Water was chosen from 40 entries for the 2017 design contest. In it, you will see something different each time you look at it. If you look closely, you will also see that it doesn’t quite fit into the frame and you might think that was a mistake on our part. But, when you ask Judi about it she makes it clear that this was intentional. “I don’t like to confine my work to a set space. If I do, it means my ego-mind is in control. I want my art to be limitless, beyond boundaries, so that it embodies our connectedness to all that is and all the energy around us.”

The 2017 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts is planned for Saturday and Sunday, April 8 & 9 in Cedar Key, Florida. In its 53rd year, the annual spring arts festival in the small Gulf Coast Community has received national recognition as one of the top small juried arts shows in America. For more information go to www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com.

2016 Featured Artists

Featured Artist Diana Tonnesson

I am a Gainesville, Florida-based printmaker whose hand-carved, hand-pulled and handcolored linoleum block prints celebrate the sign artistry and architecture of the midcentury motel, an icon of American car culture of the 1930s-1960s. I recently added a line of mid-century era travel trailers and classic cars to my work, and when I considered how to approach the theme of this year's design competition, Vintage Cedar Key, I couldn't resist working up an image of The Sunset Isle Motel & RV Park. This place incorporated both of my themes into one unforgettable sign, and its location along State Road 24 in Low Key has established it as a cultural icon for the island. I stopped and took a picture of the sign as I was headed back to Gainesville after participating in last year's Old Cedar Key Festival of the Arts for the first time as an artist. At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with the photo of the sign. I just knew I had to have it.
Although I live and work in Gainesville, Cedar Key has been a favorite weekend getaway for me since I came to the University of Florida as an undergraduate in the mid-1970s. This island fishing village nestled on the Gulf of Mexico reminds me of the rural Old Florida towns I visited as a child and the quaint seaside resorts I've lived near for my entire my life.
The medium I use, block printing, is the oldest form of fine art printmaking. From carving the block to pulling a print through a hand-cranked press to applying color with a paintbrush, each of my linoleum block prints is made entirely by hand using archival-quality papers, inks and paints. Each signed and numbered print in an edition is considered an original work of art. Combining whimsical compositions with luminescent colors and the rustic texture of the linocut, my intention is to create a dreamlike quality to these prints, much like the dreams of the idyllic vacation we carry with us when we travel. Of course, those dreams soon are dissipated by some of the harsher realities of a stay at a roadside inn or in a tin can-sized trailer: Cramped quarters. Lumpy mattresses. Highway noise. 'No Vacancy' signs.
Are we there yet?
About the artist:
I am a print journalist-turned-fine-art-printmaker who learned the art of creating linoleum block prints in 2011, after I was assigned to write a magazine article about Gainesville, Florida-based artist and printmaker Leslie Peebles. Leslie's intricately detailed linocuts depicting Florida's natural beauty reminded me of the woodcuts and linocuts used to illustrate many of the books I read as a child. Leslie taught me how to carve and pull a print. My own linoleum block prints are inspired by the rich natural beauty and unique cultural heritage of Florida, preserved in it's flora and fauna, it's historic structures, and it's cultural memorabilia.
My work has been exhibited at the Melrose Bay Art Gallery, the Thornebrook Gallery in Gainesville, the Appleton Museum in Ocala, and at numerous juried festivals around the state. Recognitions and awards include a Purchase Award at the April 2015 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key, an Award of Recognition at the November 2014 DeLand Festival of the Arts, and a Best of Show at a judged exhibit sponsored by the Gainesville Fine Arts Association in 2013.
I am a member of the Melrose Bay Art Gallery, the Gainesville Fine Arts Association, and the Artisans', Guild Gallery in Gainesville. See samples of my work at www.FloridianaStudios.com or at Floridiana Studios on Facebook.
Contact Information for Diana Tonnessen
Floridiana Studios
Phone: 352-665-9331

Featured Artist David Mack

David F. Mack received a BS from Morgan State, MFA from the MD Institute College of Art, and an advance Diploma from US Army Command and General Staff College. Known as The ClayMacker, David is a member of the North Tampa Art League, Florida CraftArt, National Council on Education for The Ceramic Arts (NCECA), and The NFL Players Assoc. (free agent Washington Redskins-71). David is a retired art teacher from three major school districts (Baltimore City, Las Vegas, and Pasco County). A former college adjunct art professor, David taught ceramics at Essex Community College, MD, and St. Petersburg College, Clearwater, FL. He is also a military veteran, and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, USA.
For more than 50 years, David Mack has worked in clay, and made the wheel his tool of choice. Retiring from teaching in 2004 and relocating to Florida, David has been an active exhibition clay artist in FL, and has conduct ceramic workshops for Baltimore City and Pinellas County art teachers, Morgan State and Bethune Cookman Univ. David Mack received national recognition as a copresenter and contributor at two NCECA conferences in Tampa, FL-2010 ( Lecture: Ceramic Art as Able Art", International Collaboration with Art Center at Hana, Nara City, Japan): and Milwaukee, WI- 2014 Conference ("David Drake, Potter, Poet, Slave"), presented by author Leonard Todd.
David's recent clay creations represent wheel thrown hollow donut forms sculptured to create "Animal Teapots- Lions, Tigers, and Bears...Oh My"! These animals teapots is a testament to David's legacy to always keep evolving as a clay artist. However, David's signature trademark remains his Heritage Vessel Collection consisting of wheel thrown vessels transformed into distinguish "People of Color". Such as, Dr. Charles Drew, Bessie Coleman, Augusta Savage, Harriet Tubman, Elijah McCoy, and more than 35 others (see: www.fineartamerica.com). David Mack considers himself a folk artist with an academic background. He questions those academic critics who believes a "Folk Artist" can not be school trained. David believes that his diverse ethnic background, cultural experiences, and changing environment are factors to qualify a folk artist. According to David, "the people, animals, places, and things that I interact with all play a major role in the creation and production of my artworks".
In conclusion, David's success would not be possible without the support, guidance, and inspiration from his wife, partner, and inspirational collaborator, Linda Mack.

Featured Artist Ernest Lee

At a young age in Virginia, Ernest was hit by a car causing seizures. His mom, as a military wife, felt ill-equipped to care for him. His grandmother began raising him at her home in North Carolina. She encouraged him continuously in his artistic gift. He tried to get better every day until one evening he felt he had gotten a drawing right. His enjoyment of learning history in school led him to draw Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. as some of his very first pieces. After high school, Ernest wanted to join the military and see the world, but Grandma said art school was where he should focus his efforts, even though money struggles only allowed him enough to attend for 2 years.
Ernest has won several prestigious awards including twice the Best of Show, Gainesville 5th Avenue Festival, the Award of Excellence in Cedar Key, which is one of his favorite shows. Additionally, he has won awards in the Longwood Art Show, been the Featured Artist in Pine Castle (Orlando), won the Matheson Museum Art Contest, and the Stetson Kennedy Fellowman, Mother Earth Award.
Ernest is currently teaching art in a charter school in Gainesville, as he has done in Apalachicola and other schools in Florida. He teaches the children different techniques and helps them learn how to express themselves through their paintings. Some of their recent paintings were featured in a local paper in Gainesville.
Ernest feels honored when people share their family history with him and ask him to preserve their memories through his painting. He strives to include all the important details in the painting and capture everything in the painting that they have shared with him. Many of his paintings include old country homes and churches.
Ernest enjoys painting Florida's waterways which is represented in the painting "Grandpa and Me". His grandpa often gave Ernest history lessons and in this painting, you can almost hear his Grandpa saying to his grandson, "Tell me what you know about Cedar Key..." as together, they admire the beautiful golden sky, with warm orange waters.

Thanks All Around

The Cedar Key Arts Center and Old Florida Celebration of the Arts Working Committee would like to thank everyone who made the 51st Annual Spring Arts Festival last weekend a success.

  • Thanks to the City of Cedar Key including the Police, Fire and Public Works Department - despite the big storm last week and chilly weather as the festival approached everything sparkled Saturday when the sun came out and visitors were clearly impressed by our beautiful town.

  • Thanks to the Lions Club, who coordinated all park activities and the non-profit organizations who provided a wide-variety of fabulous food options in City Park. We had numerous comments on how good the food was and how exceptional our recycling efforts were. The Sustainability Initiative, championed by the Lions Club and the OFCA committee, resulted in 72% of all waste collected during the festival being recycled or composted (in comparison, without a dedicated program like this about 75% of the waste would have gone to the landfill). BIG DIFFERENCE - GREAT JOB!

  • Thanks to the businesses who handled the extra visitors on top of an already record setting month for many establishments, especially those that partnered with Cedar Key School Groups to provide new food options (Ada Blue and The Island Room)

  • Thanks to all of our volunteers who helped set-up, take down, staff the information booth and serve as block captains as well as assisted with the artist breakfasts and the Saturday Night Awards Ceremony. The comments we received from the artists about the friendly volunteers and awesome hospitality of Cedar Key were sincere and heartwarming. A special thanks to Robert & Jamie Palmer for hosting our Volunteer thank-you Gathering.

  • Thanks to our Purchase Award Patrons who put over $11,000 of purchasing power on the street and Norm & Janice Fugate who sponsored the Patrons Lounge for the first time this year.

  • Thanks to our dedicated long-term sponsors: The Levy County Tourism Board; Palms Medical Group, Title Sponsor; Prize Award Sponsors - The Island Hotel, Old Fenimore Mill, Nature Coast Realty, & the Cedar Key Arts Center; Supporting Sponsors Capital City Bank, Drummond Bank, Cedar Keyhole Artist Coop & Island Arts; Matching and/or Gifts-In-Kind Partners - The Island Room, Cedar Key Canvas, The Cedar Key Beacon, Cedar Key Market, Bill Kilborn, TV 20 Gainesville and WEDU Tampa, and Music and Sustainability Sponsors, Romanza Festival of the Arts and Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County, respectively.

  • And of course, thanks to our invited artists who managed to get their tents set up Friday Night and/or Saturday morning despite high winds and unseasonably chilly weather. The artists are what make a juried fine arts festival work and without them we would not be able to put on an award-winning event. The judge, Kent Lydecker, Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, and many festival visitors commented on the high quality, variety, and creativity of the OFCA artists this year. And a special thanks goes out to the artists who provided demonstrations both afternoons.

  • Finally thanks to the dedicated Working Committee Members - Donna Bushnell, Amy Gernhardt, Gini Barss, Allison Nelson, Leslie Valen, Sue Wooley, Kathy Carver, Joan Selby, Lannie Cardonna, Eileen Bowers, and Tom Deverin. What a team… great job… thank you everyone.

    By Bev Ringenberg, Event Coordinator

Something for Everyone at the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key
Saturday & Sunday, March 28 & 29, 10 am-5 pm

Art, Nature, History - Food, Music, Family Fun - Cedar Key is the Place to Be!

Cedar Key will be hosting its 51st Annual Spring Arts Festival the last weekend in March this year. Recently named one of the top 50 juried fine arts festivals in America by ArtFairCalendar.com (including recognition as one of the top 5 juried arts festivals in the South), the small island community of Cedar Key, Fl clearly knows how to put on a great show!

The event, which is coordinator by the Cedar Key Arts Center, strives to create an experience that is unique for both the artists and the visitors. Booths are spaced generously to allow artists and art lovers to interact. Art demonstrations are scheduled for both afternoons from 1-4 pm so that art-enthusiasts can learn more about how original art is created. Visitors are also encouraged to enjoy local art shops, exhibits at the Cedar Key Arts Center, and take their time as they stroll Historic 2nd Street enjoying the art experience. The event is free and pet-friendly.

If you get a bit hungry while in Cedar Key then you will want to head down to City Park where local non-profit organizations prepare and serve everything from local seafood and homemade goodies to root beer floats and smoothies. Or, check out one of Cedar Key's restaurants all within walking distance of the festival. While you are in the park, enjoy live music in the Gazebo both days from 11 am - 3 pm.

Kid's activities in the park include the Cedar Key Arts Center's Children's Art booth, Face Painting, Crazy Hair and an opportunity to have your picture taken with a "REAL" Mermaid. As the park is located right next to the beach and adjacent to the play structures and basketball court, there is plenty to do for the whole family.

For those who enjoy history, Cedar Key's Historic Society is located right on 2nd Street adjacent to the artist venue, or plan a visit to the State Museum 1.5 miles from 'downtown.' For Nature Lovers there are trails both on and off the island to explore or you can experience the beauty of the islands by taking a tour boat ride from the Marina adjacent to City Park. You will certainly see why festival coordinators chose Seeing the Art in Nature as the theme for this year's event. Commemorative Posters and T-shirts will be on sale at the Information Booth.

Cedar Key is located SW of Gainesville at the end of State Road 24. Find out more about the event at www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com or call 352-543-5400 for more information.


It's the 50th Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, Cedar Key, FL -- weather is gorgeous; sunny with light winds. A delightful time to partake of numerous food offerings, eat in the park, with live music or simply dig my toes in the white sandy beach. A superb weekend to scour the 120 Artists booths for just the right object de art -- something in glass, oil, silver, ceramic, metal, wood, jewelry, prints, or perhaps a watercolor. I ask myself what will my find be this year? An outside item, an inside item or a gift?

Of course, the challenge is reviewing all of the artists and their wonderful creations. Just what will be perfect to pick up this year? There has to be something, there always is at the Old Florida Arts Festival.

Then, just before noon, and a lull in the traffic, I came upon Mike Segal's booth and looked around; lots of wonderful pieces of art. I chat with Mike, and just happened to mention that I'm looking for the right item to buy with my Purchase Award. And then I found what I didn't know I was looking for, there neatly arranged were smaller prints of his work! Gifts just right for
family and friends around the country! We made a deal - a really good deal.

That was my FIND! What will be your find be this year?

Meet Award Winning Festival Artist - Debra Mixon-Holliday - by Sue Wooley

Making her second appearance at the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts this year, award winning Debra Mixon-Holliday shared a little about her creative process. Debra, a native Floridian who now lives in Homassassa, is a creative and talented artist who won The Best 2D Award last year. Drawing her inspiration from the environment she has lived in her whole life, Debra recognizes the beauty all around her southern habitat from flowers and fallen trees to the grasses in the swamp. Translating her artistic vision into unique works of art, Debra utilizes a printmaking technique involving the etching of copper plates. The finished work is stunning to say the least and Florida's natural beauty and inherent wildness is clearly celebrated in her work.

Debra mentioned that she especially enjoyed the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key last year in part because she felt the artists' demonstrations were fantastic for both the artists and the audience, and feels more art shows should follow suit. Demonstrations will take place both Saturday and Sunday afternoons between 1-4 pm.

You can see more about Debra's work on her website: www.debramixonholliday.com, and don't miss her booth (101) at the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts March 28 & 29 this year. For more information about the festival go to www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com.

2015 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts
What it Means to Go Green!

Since 2010, when the Cedar Key Arts Center agreed to become the Coordinating Sponsor for the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, the idea of putting on an ever-greener event has been in place. Over the years numerous steps have been take, but this year the coordinators agreed it was time to commit to putting on a sustainable event.

As many of you may remember, in 2011 the first "central" waste station in the park was set up. Manned by members of the newly formed Energy Advisory Panel (EAP), festival goers were encouraged to help separate Recyclables from Landfill Waste as they learned more about the new Cedar Key Recycling program from volunteers. Over the next couple of years Cedar Key School Students, earning credits toward the Environmental Scholarship set up by the EAP, took over the Central Waste Station at both the Fall and Spring Festivals and added Compost Containers in addition to the recycling and trash containers.

Last Spring, when the OFCA Working Committee decided on the 2015 festival theme, Seeing the Art in Nature, the committee agreed that it was time to move to the next level and plan a Sustainable Event with the goal of minimizing all landfill waste. Together with the Cedar Key Lions Club, who is responsible for coordinating all non-profit food & informational vendors in the park for both festivals, the committee has worked step by step over the last year to pursue its goal of minimizing landfill waste, maximizing composting and recycling, and applying the principals of REDUCE, REUSE, RETHINK, & REPURPOSE to the numerous decisions that affect festival coordination. Here are some of the things we've done.
  • Signs made for the 50th Annual Spring Arts Festival were worded so they could be used for the Seafood Festival and other City Events as needed.
  • Name Badges were collected on Sunday afternoon from Volunteers and Artists so they could be used year after year.
  • Environmental Stewardship Awards were presented by the Lions Cub to Food Booths that made the transition to all recyclable or compostable products for the 2014 Fall Seafood Festival
  • Electronic communication was used whenever possible for all committee and artist communications. When paper copies were necessary front-back copying was preferred and paper products were chosen that were either from recycled paper or companies that take part in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
  • Bulk sources for recyclable/compostable items were identified and shared with the non-profit groups in addition to bulk purchasing of utensils (SPORKS) to minimize cost.
  • Festival T-shirts were purchased from Ecoconcious, a company that uses 100% organic cotton and makes a donation to Environmental non-profit organizations when Blended materials are used.
  • Additional containers to facilitate composting and recycling were purchased and new signage was added. In addition, efforts will be made to make sure containers are emptied regularly during the event.
    The GOAL, "no landfill waste", is lofty and the committee knows it will take more time and effort to apply the same principles to the entire venue and work toward similar cooperative efforts with local businesses and visiting artists, but as we all have heard - IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN!

By Bev Ringenberg, OFCA Event Coordinator

Experience, Explore and Enjoy
Seeing the Art in Nature at the
Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key
March 28 & 29, 2015

For decades, artists have been inspired by the natural beauty of Cedar Key, a small island community located in the center of Florida’s Nature coast. Each spring, the town welcomes art enthusiasts to join them at the annual Spring Arts Festival, which was recently named as one of America’s top 50 fine arts festivals in a nationwide survey ad-ministered by ArtFairCalendar.com. This year’s festival design contest theme, Seeing the Art in Nature, captures the essence of Cedar Key and all there is to Experience, Explore and Enjoy, if you choose to get off the beaten path and follow SR24 to its western end, for the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, March 28 & 29, 2015. Read the full press release...


Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key, Florida.

On March 28 & 29, 2015 Cedar Key will be hosting its Annual Spring Arts Festival. What started as the Sidewalk Art Show in 1964 is now one of the most exceptional juried arts festivals in Florida. The picturesque natural setting of Cedar Key, along with the intimate location and unmatchable hos-pitality, makes the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts a favorite for 120 top artists and craftsmen and over 20,000 visitors each year. This free, pet-friendly event is open from 10 am-5pm and artists will be doing demonstra-tions both afternoons. Visitors can enjoy local seafood and homemade good-ies along with children’s art activities in beachfront City Park. The event benefits local non-profit groups including the Cedar Key Arts Center, the coordinating sponsor. Cedar Key is located 60 SW of Gainesville at the end of SR 24 in the Center of Florida's Nature Coast.

If you would like more information or are interested in featuring our event in you publication, please contact the coordinator atCedarKeyArtsFestival@gmail.com or call 352-543-5400. Website: www. CedarKeyArtsFestival.com.

Please help us promote the event by including us on your Event Calendar. Thank you.

Perfect Weather for the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key

Artists, visitors and volunteers could not have asked for a more perfect weekend to celebrate the 50th Annual Spring Arts Festival. A nearly full moon and clear skies on Friday night, along with starting set-up at 7pm on all of 2nd Street, made it much easier for artists to get their booths up and have a reasonable night's sleep before the big weekend. Sunny skies and light winds with temperatures reaching into the 80's greeted festival visitors both days.
Although the crowd was not as large as the annual Seafood Festival in October, artists said that festival goers were not only interested in looking at their work but most artists reported good sales for the size of the audience. Bev Ringenberg, Festival Coordinator, commented that "artist after artist expressed their appreciation for the hospitality and kindness of everyone they met." The Cedar Key Arts Center's Fish Rubbing and Stamp Making Booth, along with Face Painting and Crazy Hair booths entertained children both days.

Festival Judge, Alex Nyerges from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, was impressed with the quality of work that he saw at the show and everyone was delighted when winners were announced as unbeknownst to him, they included four artists who sell their work in Cedar Key Art Coops. Best of Show this year went to Bob Goodlett (Cedar Keyhole Artist Coop), Best 2 D to Debra Mixon-Holiday of Homosassa, and Best 3D to Jean Yao of Ft. Lauderdale. Susan Dauphinee, a well know Cedar Key Artist who has her work at Island Arts received an Award of Excellence along with Douglas Alexander, Anastasia Alexander and Susan Livingston. Two of the 12 Awards of Distinction went to local artists, Cynthia Pagel (Cedar Keyhole) and Barry Harding (Island Arts).

The Cedar Key Arts Center and Old Florida Celebration of the Arts Working Committee want to sincerely thank everyone who volunteered and worked this past weekend to make both the artists and visiting art enthusiasts feel welcome and appreciated in Cedar Key. In addition, thanks to Title Sponsor, Palms Medical Group, local Prize Award Sponsors (Island Hotel, Old Fenimore Mill, Nature Coast Realty and Cedar Key Arts Center) and Tony's Seafood who served a hot breakfast for the Artists on Saturday morning and the Cedar Key Market and Drummond Bank who helped host Sunday Brunch and the Artist's Reception.

Cedar Key Commemorating Fifty Years of Art Festivals

As preparations are finalized for the 50th Annual Spring Arts Festival in Cedar Key on April 12 & 13 a new mural to commemorate the event is taking shape in downtown Cedar Key. Plans for the mural have been in the works for over a year according to festival coordinator, Bev Ringenberg, but the first "real paint" went up on the wall last Friday morning.


Mural Artist, Travis Parks, returned to Cedar Key to do the mural. Travis has been painting murals for over 10 years and his artwork can be seen in a variety of places in the town as well as Tarpon Springs, Jacksonville, New Port Ritchey and Maui. For this project, the Cedar Key Arts Center and festival coordinators asked Travis to recreate Ann Kamzelski's photograph of the Honeymoon Cottage on the east wall of the Historic Lutterloh Building which is adjacent to the Arts Center's Sculpture Garden at 457 2nd Street. Jeff Anderson, who has worked with Travis on other projects, is assisting Travis in creating this 16 x 16 foot piece of art.
The mural will be dedicated, Saturday evening, April 5, 5:00 pm at the opening of the Cedar Key Arts Centers April Exhibit entitled 50 Years of Arts Festivals in Cedar Key. The exhibit invites you to "Step Back in Time" as you read and see a bit about the "art history" of Cedar Key. In addition, there will be an exhibit of the artwork of the Cathy Christie, founder of the Cedar Key Arts Center, in the Member's Gallery throughout the month of April.
The mural is co-sponsored by Norm D. Fugate, PA, Taylor Construction and Development, the Cedar Key Arts Center and the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts. For more information about the festival go to www.cedarkeyartsfestival.com. If you would like to volunteer or become a Purchase Award Patron contract the coordinator at 352-543-5400.

Something for Everyone at the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts
in Cedar Key, April 12th & 13th

  • 120 fine artists and craftsman will share their creations on historic 2nd Street, 10 am-5 pm.
  • Art demonstrations will take place Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1-4 pm - watch as 14 talented artists from a variety of disciplines share their techniques.
  • Kids can do Fish Rubbings in at the Cedar Key Arts Center's Children's Activities Booth.
  • A new mural, commemorating the 50th Annual Spring Arts Festival, will be ready for viewing.
  • An exhibit at the Cedar Key Arts Center will highlight the colorful history and art from "Fifty Years of Art Festivals in Cedar Key."
  • And, of course there will be seafood, homemade goodies, hand-squeezed lemonade, music and lots of family fun both days in Beachfront City Park.

Founding a Festival…..

By Bev Ringenberg

Newcomers to Cedar Key generally aren't here very long before they hear the name Bessie Gibbs. Longtime residents remember well the woman for New York who arrived here in 1946 and along with her husband, Loyal (AKA "Gibby") bought and restored the Historic Hotel. According to a newspaper article entitled Where Bessie Lives written by Jack McClintock around 1967 the hotel was actually a bordello at the time they bought it, but it wasn't long before she had turned it in to a nationally famous seafood restaurant approved by Gourmet Magazine and written up in National Geographic.

If you visit the Cedar Key Cemetery, and look at the first Headstone on the left past the entrance gates you will see a memorial to Bessie Gibbs (pictured above). On the headstone, listed with a few other 'hats' she wore in her 29 years in Cedar Key (like Mayor, Fire Chief, and Judge) you will see that she is first remembered as 'Founder (of the) Arts Festival.'

Pictures at the Historical Society certainly document that there were events where art was displayed in Cedar Key before the inaugural Spring Arts Festival on June 6 & 7, 1964, but multiple news pieces confirm that it was in 1964 that Mrs. Gibbs and her committee including Bob Brannon and Sally Tileston started what was referred to in its early years as the Sidewalks Arts Festival.

There were 40 artists and "over 400 paintings" at the first festival, no entry fee, and $160 in awards (3rd place, $25, went to Carmen Day of Cedar Key). The event grew almost exponentially with 114 artists, $500 in prize money and an estimated 5,000 visitors in 1969, to 400 artists, $500 to Best of Show alone and crowds estimated to be as high as 45,000 in 1974, the year before the festival totally overwhelmed the town (see upcoming article "The Year the Festival got too Big."

By the time of Miss Bessie's untimely death in 1975 at the age of 64, she had stepped back from being Chairman of the event because of failing health, but in an article from the Gainesville Sun, dated March 26, 1972 it was written that "the festival has emerged from the ranks of the unknown into one of the most promising arts competitions and displays in the state." Clearly Miss Bessie's vision had been realized.

Miss Bessie must have been a pretty amazing person to know… I suspect some people didn't like the big city ideas that she brought to Cedar Key at the time, but I think most of us who appreciate Cedar Key as it is today can respect her remarkable leadership. And by the way, if you do go out to see the gravestone, you'll see that Miss Bessie was also memorialized as "Friend."

This year's Spring Arts Festival, which is now known as the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, will be the 50th. Join in the celebration of the event planned for April 12 and 13, 10am-5pm. The Cedar Key Arts Center's April Show, which opens April 5, 5-7pm, is entitled "50 Years of Art Festivals in Cedar Key." The exhibit will be open daily through the month of April, 10 am-5pm.

For more information about the event go to www.cedarkeyartsfestival.com. If you would like to volunteer to help at the festival or support the festival by becoming a Purchase Award Patron contact the Event Coordinator at 352-543-5400 or cedarkeyartsfestival@gmail.com.

References: April 23, 1976, 'Miss Bessie,' Was the Founding Spirit of the Arts Festival; Newspaper Article by Jack McClintock (~1967) found at the CK Historical Society; Articles in 1964 Art Festival is Founded in Cedar Key (no source); June 9, 1964, St. Petersburg Times; June 11, 1964 Suwannee Valley News; Articles in 1969, April 21, 1969, Gainesville Sun, April 21, 1969, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville; Articles in 1972, March 26, 1972, Gainesville Sun; Articles 1975, Gainesville Sun, Crowd Swarms Cedar Key Sidewalk Arts Festival (no date),

The Year the Festival Got Too Big

by Mary Stone and Bev Ringenberg

Many present Cedar Keyans prefer to stay away from Gainesville on football weekends when the population nearly doubles and traffic is at a standstill. But, only long time locals remember when Cedar Key's population expanded to a reported 50,000 in 1975 for the Sidewalk Art Festival1 - the year the Festival Got Too Big!

Beth Davis, 5th generation resident and owner of the Salty Needle Quilt Shop in Cedar Key, vividly remembers that year. Beth's mom, Marie Yearty Johnson, was the chairman of the festival in 1975 and their house was 'festival central.' Artists made reservations by calling and with Marie often away from the house working on festival "stuff," Beth's dad, Webster Johnson, got mighty tired of answering the phone and ultimately just told artists who were calling "Sure, come on down to Cedar Key, that will be fine." Needless to say, careful records were not kept but the Gainesville Sun reported 400 artists in town that weekend and there was no doubt that the tiny town of 600, with one road in and out, was overwhelmed.

Locals recall running out of food at the park on the first day. Shelves in the Market were empty. Luz Kraujalis, daughter of Walter and Shirley Beckham, remembers overflowing hotels, visitors sleeping in cars, on boats and tents scattered all around town, backed up plumbing and running out of everything from bread to toilet paper. Many people reportedly just left because there was no place to park and "massive traffic jams."2 All of this was probably not much fun for Cedar Key's single police officer, George Daniel, either.

So, it's really no surprise that the Town Council was considering cancelling the festival entirely because of numerous complaints from local citizens. In an article in the Tampa Tribune entitled "Cedar Key Arts Festival Doomed?" by Rick Ballard2, Festival Committee Secretary, Harriet Thompson reported going to the council "almost on our knees" and apparently convinced the town to "give us another chance." Changes were made, the number of artists was limited to 200-250 and limited to "fine arts and sculpture eliminating all craft and photography," advertising was restricted, rules were made about camping and increased law enforcement assistance was brought in from the Sheriff's Department and Gainesville.3

The 1976 show, which was dedicated to founder Bessie Gibbs, was considered a success and as reported in the Tampa Tribune, "Over the past few years the festival had emerged from the ranks of the unknown to one of the finest and most highly respected art shows in the Southeast United States." Historical Society Articles from 1977 and 1978 report crowds of approximately 35,000 and balance seems to have returned. There are no articles after 1978 at the Historical Society about the Spring Arts Festival, but locals report that the quality of the festival gradually declined and the event no longer was a venue for fine artists and craftsmen in the middle years between 1980-2005. It was not until 2006, that efforts were made to bring back a juried Fine Arts event, now known as the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts. And, again, the festivals reputation is growing, but this time, organizers are working hard to keep the venue "just right" with 120 fine arts booths with representative work from all medium including ceramics, drawing, glass, mosaics, painting, mixed media, photography, metal, sculpture, jewelry, fiber/leather, and wood while attracting a crowd that makes everyone happy - artists, locals and visitors alike!

So, please plan to join us April 12 and 13th for the 50th Annual Fine Arts Festival in Cedar Key. For more information go to www.cedarkeyartsfestival.com or call 352-543-5400.

Thanks to the Cedar Key Historical Society for their assistance.
1 "Crowd Swarms Cedar Key Sidewalk Arts Festival" by Bill Griffin, Gainesville Sun, 1975 (an article in the Tampa Tribune in April 1976 expanded this number to 70,000 and one in 1997 (Tampa Tribune) said 100,000.
2 "Cedar Key Festival Doomed?" by Rick Ballard, Tampa Tribune, April 21, 1976.
3 "Annual Rites of Spring in Cedar Key" by Edward Hamilton (UF Student Journalist), no date.

Remembering Festival - A Child's Eye View

Children have been part of Cedar Key's Spring Arts Festivals from the very beginning. They have been artists participating in the main event or in art competitions organized through the Cedar Key School and have helped out with food booths or in restaurants around town on busy festival weekends. Here are a few special stories.


June 6 & 7, 1964: Carmen Day

Hardly a child, but still a teen, Carmen Williams, remembers the first Spring Arts Festival in June of 1964 very well. She was in her first year of college and was headed home for the summer when her father, P.D. Day, called and told her that he'd made some picture frames for her paintings out of cabbage fan stalks and he wanted her to enter them in the upcoming Art Show. Little did she know, that at 17 she would be awarded 3rd Place by popular vote for her oil painting of "Second Street" in the inaugural event.

Carmen became interested in painting in her early teens, and recalls taking a class from Mr. Rigly, who was a part-time visitor to Cedar Key and "must have been a Brit based on the way he talked." She says she used to follow some of these visiting artists around when they were painting and remembers a Mr. Greenwood who took interest in her work and taught her a lot. This led to her enrolling in Commercial Art Classes at the Tomlinson Education Center in St. Petersburg after high school.

However, after getting married in 1965, Carmen did not have much time for her own art although she did teach art to Cedar Key Elementary School students in the 80's. It was not until the mid-90s when she took a class from Cathy Christie, a Canadian Art Teacher who had retired to Cedar Key and later founded the Cedar Key Arts Center, that her painting took off again. Carmen remembers a portrait she did of Earl Brown that Cathy Christie particularly liked and that "she (Christie) stayed on her butt to paint" after that.

Carmen opened the Barefoot Gallery in Cedar Key in 2000 and what started off as simply her studio, became a dynamic addition to Cedar Key's Art Community until she closed it several years ago. Whether she knows it or not, Carmen inspired some other young artists at the first festival, including….

March 27 & 28, 1965: Beth Johnson

Eight year old Beth Johnson had a best friend, Nina Day, and she remembers how cool it was when Nina's big sister Carmen won 3rd prize in 1964. Although prizes at the first festival were award by popular vote, the following year there were actually judges, so you can imagine how proud Beth was when she was chosen winner in her age group for her watercolor "Sunset."

Since that time Beth (Johnson Davis), has "done just about everything except work at a car wash and tend bar." She became an elementary teacher and taught in Chiefland, Bronson and Cedar Key and later served on the Levy County School Board for 12 years. Today she owns and operates "The Salty Needle Quilt Shop" in Cedar Key and expresses her artistic side through large and small quilted creations that require tight attention to detail to construct but allow her to truly express her wilder side when she does "free-motion" quilting.

April 22, 1973, Growing Up with the Arts Festival -A Local Festival Gift, By Luz Beckham Kraujalis

There is not an April in my memory that does not include Festival lore. At 16-years old it meant working days in preparation and for two days at the park for your school club food booth or your restaurant job. For me that usually meant many long hours of both. For three years my birthday was wrapped around the Festival and the only celebration was the extra money I was able to bring home from a long, hard weekend.

My little brother, Mel, was hired along with other local young boys by the City to clean the streets behind the artists. During this job on Sunday, he found my birthday present located in a trash pile on the street - a beautiful hand-thrown piece of pottery, broken cleanly in half.

Mel presented this gift to me still in two pieces, one in each hand, with a rather large proud smile. Today it is glued together, prominently on display in my kitchen and is one of my fondest memories.

You can see Luz's Birthday Gift along with Carman Day's "Second Street" and Beth Davis' "Sunset" at the Cedar Key Art Center's April Exhibit entitled 50 Years of Art Festivals in Cedar Key. Opening: Saturday, April 5, 5-7 pm

A Festival Tradition Continues….

By Bev Ringenberg

Although Jim Carrick, singer/guitarist from St. Augustine, FL, played music in Cedar Key in the 80's "down on the waterfront" it was not until 1990, when the new owners of the Island Hotel, Tom and Allison Sanders invited him to play in the hotel's courtyard, that his festival tradition began. Since 1990, Jim has played at both the Seafood Festival and Arts Festival every year. Along with some of his own "followers "(aka groupies) he draws an enthusiastic crowd both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Jim says he has always been treated well at the hotel, especially by present owners Stanley and Andy Bair who have even dedicated a room with his name on it (and a golden star, no less). He hasn't been visited by any ghosts, but he reports hearing footsteps about 3:30 am in the hallway on many occasions and has been told "that's just Mrs. Bessie getting up to make biscuits." He has many fond memories of playing music on the balcony, Andy's delicious breakfasts, and spending time with Cedar Key residents who have become life-long friends.

When asked about his music Jim describes it as "traditional Americana." "You're not supposed to call it Folk Music anymore, but to me it is storytelling in song." He likes to take "old songs and bring them into the now." He calls it old song interpretation. His companion on this visit, Marianne Lerbs, an artist and musician herself, says his songs are so descriptive that they remind you of a painting, "You can just see it." Some of his favorites are old railroad songs with the guitar played in a way that you can hear the train in the background as the story is told.

Jim has played all around the country with many well-known musicians, including most recently Willie Nelson at the Amphitheater in St. Augustine in 2009. But, when asked where his favorite place to play is, he answers without hesitation "right here, this is home." He met Tommy Jones, "one of the greatest guitar players he's ever played with," here in Cedar Key. And enjoyed playing in the courtyard with Spanky and Our Gang about 5 years ago.

Reminiscing about his years in Cedar Key, Jim says, "In many ways it is still the same, friendly people, it takes a special person to want to live here, it still has the feel of Old Florida." Some things have changed though, "it was wilder back then," he says but the "cops were friendlier, they've gotten meaner since 2007 when property values went up." As far as the Arts Festival goes, he feels there's been a noticeable improvement in the quality of Art since the event returned to a fine arts show in 2006 but likes the fact that the Seafood Festival is different with arts and crafts.

So, as you are planning your time for the 50th Annual Spring Arts Festival in Cedar Key, April 12 & 13, take some time to stop by the Island Hotel Courtyard and enjoy some of Jim's musical storytelling. And remember, Jim likes to catch up with the locals late Sunday afternoon or early evening at what he sometimes calls the "Thank God they are gone party."

Cedar Key Arts Center and Lions Club Join Forces

By Bev Ringenberg

With the 50th Annual Spring Arts Festival just two months away, coordinators are excited to announce a broadened cooperative arrangement between the Cedar Key Lions Club and the Cedar Key Arts Center (CKAC). The CKAC, through its Old Florida Celebration of the Arts (OFCA) Working Committee, will continue to be the Coordinating Sponsor for the event, but now the Lions Club will be responsible for all Park activities including, non-profit food & information vendors, music, tent, and waste station, functioning as a subcommittee of the working committee.

Over the past 5 years, since the CKAC accepted the City's request to take over coordination of the Spring Arts Festival, the OFCA Committee has been responsible for both the artist venue and the park venue. Although the Lions Club had continued to lend financial support to the festival through Grant each year, they were not responsible for all park activities, as has been their role at the Annual Seafood Festival.

Booth groups are dedicated to assuring that the non-profit school, church and service groups in Cedar Key benefit from the Park sales and it was agreed that having the Lions Club coordinate park activities at both festivals might reduce variation and confusion between the two events. City Officials agree, and are pleased that the Arts Center and Lions Club have identified a way to work together each year to coordinate the Spring Arts Festival.

Other 2014 OFCA Sponsors include: Title Sponsor - Palms Medical Group (for the 5th year); Prize Award Sponsors - Island Hotel, Old Fenimore Mill, Nature Coast Realty, and CKAC; Mural Co-sponsor - Norm D. Fugate, PA; Supporting Sponsors - Capital City Bank (Ribbons), Drummond Bank (Reception Beverages); Keyhole Artist Coop (Postcards); Island Arts (Posters) and generous Gifts-In-Kind: Tony's and The Market (Saturday and Sunday Artists Breakfasts), Cedar Key Canvas (Artist Bags), Bill Kilborn (Graphic Support), TV20 (Gainesville) and WEDU (Tampa).

News Release for Mid-Feb 2014

Picture: Bill Roberts in his booth talking to a customer, green purchase award ribbon in the background.

50th Annual Spring Arts Festival Just Around the Corner - Plan to celebrate the event by being a Purchase Award Patron this year.

WHO and WHAT IS A PURCHASE AWARD PATRON? A purchase award patron is anyone who wants to help the festival by committing ahead of time to "go shopping" at the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in April each year. Patrons can be business owners, individuals or even someone who decides to buy a Purchase Award as a gift for a friend or family member (essentially a "Gift Certificate" to buy art).

WHY DOES IT MAKE OUR FESTIVAL BETTER EACH YEAR? A well-funded purchase award program demonstrates community support for the festival. When artists are deciding which festivals to participate in each year they often look at the amount money committed to purchase awards in prior years. A strong Purchase Award Program attracts top artists and creates loyalty in our most popular artists. This in turn improves the quality of art displayed at the festival and consequently strengthens Cedar Key's reputation as a destination for art enthusiasts, thus bringing visitors and support to our island community throughout the year.

In addition, since 10% of your Purchase Award pledge becomes a tax-deductible contribution to the festival, Purchase Award Patrons help ensure the long term success and survival of the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts. All, while having fun shopping!

HOW DOES IT WORK? Purchase Awards are sold before the festival in denominations of $250 (each with a buying power of $225). The week prior to festival, Purchase Award Coupons are distributed and patrons have all weekend to choose a piece of artwork and make their purchases directly from the artist using the coupons. Coupons can be combined with other forms of payment or patrons can receive "change" from the artist. If a patron cannot find anything they like, the festival will refund the coupon price (minus the 10% donation).

OTHER PATRON PERKS: Patrons receive an invitation to the Artists' Reception and Awards Ceremony at the Cedar Key Arts Center Sculpture Garden Saturday evening, 5:00-6:30 pm and a big ribbon to give to the artist when a purchase is made. Artists are proud to display these ribbons in their tents.

In addition, Patrons are recognized in festival week publications.

2014 Design Contest Winner Tony Krysinsky

by Sandra Buckingham

There is one unique landmark that says “Cedar Key” like nothing else does. It’s the most sketched, painted and photographed structure in town, instantly recognizable to anyone who has visited this tiny island city on Florida’s Gulf Coast.... and it is slowly but inevitably, year by year, crumbling into the sea.

“It” is the Thomas Guest House, also known as the Honeymoon Cottage - a tiny wood-framed, stilt cottage built more than 60 years ago as a weekend getaway for the Thomas family of Gainesville. It perched like a miniature island 300 feet from shore, connected to land by a long narrow boardwalk, also elevated over the water on stilts.

The Thomas Guest House would have been in its prime and, one imagines, full of weekend seaside joie de vivre, at the time of the very first Cedar Key Arts Festival. However two decades later, in 1985, the cottage was mostly destroyed by Hurricane Elena. Every year since then, time and weather claim another piece of what’s left. Its remnants will likely not survive another bad storm, let alone a hurricane. This endearing structure was chosen, while it still stands, as the theme image for the 50th anniversary of the town’s annual fine arts festival, now called the “Old Florida Celebration of the Arts”.

Florida artist Tony Krysinsky winner of the 2014 Design Contest for the festival, rarely does contest art, but he says that when he learned what the theme was for 2014 he just had to submit an entry. He has been coming to the festival for the past five years, and like many visitors, fell in love with the time-warp feel of Cedar Key and its unspoiled natural surroundings.

“Oh, my gosh,” he said on first discovering Cedar Key, “don’t tell anyone about this place!” Too many people will come, and that will spoil it.” That’s high praise from an artist who, although born and raised in New York, has spent most of his adult life in Florida. Originally drawn to this state by the lure of its surfing beaches, he ended up staying for an undergraduate degree. After doing graduate studies in fine art in New Orleans, he returned to Florida and now lives with his wife and son on Perdido Key (“the beach boonies” he calls it) on the Panhandle near Pensacola.
Like many artists, Tony has painted and drawn throughout his life. For a time he also had a career as a computer graphics designer, but now he makes a living full time as an artist, selling pieces through his website and a selection of art festivals. He picks only places he likes (Cedar Key being one of his favorites), and usually makes the itinerary a family trip with his wife and son.

An interest in woodwork has always gone hand in hand with Tony’s love of painting. While looking for a way to incorporate a tactile texture into his art, he found a technique that involves engraving the outline of an image onto a tempered hardboard panel, then applying colors in layers of acrylic glaze. This has become his favorite medium. The works have a distinctly coastal vibe to them, with the imagery, color and quirkiness one associates with sea-side Florida.

For his winning entry, Tony decided to imagine the cottage as it once was, in its heyday, instead of rendering it as the relic it is now. He found a few archival photos that show its original structure, then looked at historical summaries of that period to get a feel for the times. The 1950s were a bit of respite between the horrors of World War II and the anxiety of the coming Cold War. It was a time for hula hoops, transistor radios, modern jazz, Elvis and rock ‘n’ roll. Half the homes in America had a black and white TV, capturing network signals from the air with rabbit ears or rooftop antennas. And the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik, began the space race.

Download the above story as a PDF file

Cedar Key Arts Center's February Exhibit Pays Homage to "Honey's Cottage"

Opening - Saturday, February 1, 5-7 pm

Photo by Ann Kamzelski

You've probably heard that Cedar Key's Honeymoon Cottage was originally built in the 1950's as a guest house by Philip and Peggy Thomas of Gainesville for weekend getaway. But did you know that it got its present day name, Honeymoon Cottage, not because of honeymooners but because it was Mr. Thomas' pet name for his wife's special place, Honey's Cottage. Somehow, sometime over the years it gradually became the "Honeymoon Cottage." No one seems to know exactly how or when this happened, and many locals resist this rather 'Disney' name, but nearly everyone agrees it is sad to see this picturesque part of Cedar Key fading away into the sunset, soon to be gone forever.
The Cedar Key Arts Center and the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts have dedicated February's Opening and this year's 50th Annual Spring Arts Festival to this icon of Cedar Key. Come see the Thomas Guest House as it was a half century ago and watch as its image gradually changed just like its name. See how artists from a wide variety of medium have paid homage to this inspirational site.

The Opening will be Saturday, February 1, 5-7pm and the exhibit will run throughout the month of February. And mark your calendars for the 50th Annual Spring Arts Festival in Cedar Key, planned for April 12 and 13th where a new mural commemorating the event and the Honeymoon Cottage will be dedicated.

Download the above story as a PDF file

Past Press Releases


On Sunday, January 15, 2012, the 2nd annual “Acoustical Afternoon for the Arts” benefit concert and silent auction will be held from 3pm-5pm at the Island Room Restaurant in Cedar Key, Florida. The silent auction will showcase pieces from a number of art festival artists including a live painting performance by well-known artist Susan Dauphinee of Cedar Key. There will be a variety of appetizers served, a no-host bar will be available, and doors will open early at 2:30pm. Tickets are $20 each and go on sale December 15th.

Proceeds will promote the 2012 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, a juried fine art festival that has been happening in Cedar Key every April for the past 48 years. Reduced funding has made it necessary to raise additional monies to insure the continuation of the fine arts festival. Last year’s first benefit concert with the silent auction was very successful and tickets sold out early. The Cedar Key Arts Center, a non-profit organization that promotes the arts in the small gulf coastal community, is the coordinating sponsor for the festival.

The musicians volunteering their time and talents for this benefit are Joe Peters and Linda Hicks (West Lafayette, IN) and Bishop Davidson (Nashville, TN).

Joe Peters has released five CDs of original music since 1998, and can often be found playing in the Hoosier state. Joe grew up in the Midwest during the late 60s and early 70s, and his songs hearken back to a time when young people sought the experience of peace, love and adventure and expressed this search in their music. Linda Hicks found her niche in the folk music scene, drawing from the influences of bluegrass, old-time, celtic, traditional, and contemporary folk music. Linda and Joe often perform together as a duo, and have just released a joint album, A Thousand Ways. In addition, Joe has also just released a new Joedai Warriors album, Over The Edge. Bishop Davidson is a newly-formed duo comprised of MJ Bishop and WT Davidson. MJ hails from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and, after spending 30 years in Seattle, moved to Nashville in the Spring of 2010 to further hone her songwriting skills and begin work on her fourth album. She continues to write in the Americana vein, her music being laced with the sweet, familiar melodies of folk. WT was born and raised in Iowa City, IA, where he cut his teeth playing at the Mill and the Sanctuary while still in high school. His influences include a great deal of traditional jazz artists like Jack Teagarden and Fats Waller, bluesmen like Bill Broonzy, the older and more soulful country of the Merles – Travis and Haggard, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and a raft of Motown and Stax records and of course a lasting Beatles problem. After moving to Nashville in 1974, WT has had cuts by Ray Charles, Crystal Gayle, Michael Johnson, Gary Stewart and Ray Stevens, to name a few.

For a look and a listen: Joe Peters – www.reverbnation.com/joepeters ~ Linda Hicks – www.lindahicksmusic.com ~ MJ Bishop – www.sonicbids.com/mjbishop ~ WT Davidson –www.reverbnation.com/wtdavidson

Spring Arts Festival Celebrated under Clear Skies

Almost as magically as a scene from the Wizard of Oz, the stormy skies of the last week of March cleared last Friday morning to allow the transformation of Second Street for the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts.  As in the past, this 47th Annual Spring Arts Festival could not happen without the help of numerous organizations, tireless volunteers, and a dedicated group of individuals working behind the scenes over the past year to prepare for the event that attracts thousands to Cedar Key.

Thanks to the efforts of the City overseen by City Administrator, Greg Lang, the ruts and bumps of recent road work were smoothed away by the Ciraco crew early Friday morning. Before the day was done the artists and a team of volunteers coordinated by the OFCA Event Coordinator, Event Coordinator, filled the streets with art booths and City Park was made ready for hungry visitors.

The weather could not have been more perfect all weekend where visitors and purchase award patrons enjoyed browsing museum quality artwork within the 118 booths that lined Historic 2nd Street. Saturday evening artists and sponsors attended the 5th Annual Cedar Key Arts Center Reception and Award Ceremony where 16 different artists were awarded prizes and ribbons (*see list of winners below). 

Throughout the weekend beautiful flute and harp music was heard thanks to the Celtic Duo, Lisa Lynne and George Tortorelli, who played both Saturday and Sunday in front of the new Welcome Center.  Whitey Markle and the Swamprooters entertained the crowd at the park on Saturday while the Ernie Evans Trio played Sunday.  Eighteen non-profit food vendors sold everything from corn-on-the-cob to root beer floats in addition to traditional Cedar Key seafood dishes.  Chris Ford, Committee Park Chairman, said “Numerous vendors reported this to be a very successful weekend fundraiser for their organizations and many sold out of food”.  Tom Deverin, who coordinated the efforts of the first ‘Sustainable Festival’ in Cedar Key, said  over 25 Cedar Key students worked hard and really enjoyed instructing visitors how to properly recycle at the trash and recycling stations set up throughout the park.

Although the estimated number of visitors is not yet available from the Department of Transportation and visitor surveys have not yet been summarized, Event Coordinator, Event Coordinator, reports that numerous positive comments were received about the quality of the event and the hospitality of our community.  She and her committee (Cindy Leiner, Chris Ford, Janet Cook, and Bev Ringenberg) extend thanks to all the volunteers, community, businesses and sponsors that helped make this event possible.  A special thank you to Title Sponsors, Drummond Bank and Palms Medical Group, in addition to the Cedar Key Lion’s Club and the Cedar Key Arts Center who support the event in multiple ways.

By Monday afternoon, city workers and volunteers just as miraculously cleared the park and streets before the rain returned that evening.  Just another magical weekend in Cedar Key’s paradise. 

2011 Winners
Best of Show: Jean Yao, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Best 3-Dimensional: Terry & Vickie Hunt, Arcadia, FL
Best 2-Dimensional: Susan Daupinee, Cedar Key, FL

Awards of Excellence

Emily Cheek - Painting
Ted Elder - Sculpture
William Flood - Photography
Joseph Frye - Ceramics
Jinsong Kim - Ceramics
William Lindley - Wood
Richard Shamel - Jewelry 
Mike Segal - Painting
Susan Sorrento - Jewelry
John Townsend - Sculpture
Joe Wujcik - Wood
Tony Krysinsky - Mixed Media      

Judge - Roy Slade of Tampa, Florida

Artists, clammers mix at Cedar Key's art fest this weekend

By Alexandra Hamilton
Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 10:43 a.m.

Some people say the quiet island of Cedar Key is known for its clams. With its warm, shallow waters, the city boasts being one of the top producers of hard-shell clams in the United States. On the other hand, Event Coordinator, event coordinator of Cedar Key's Old Florida Celebration of the Arts festival, says Cedar Key, a small island town about an hour's drive from Gainesville, is known for two things — its clams and its art.

Facts:Old Florida Celebration of the Arts

What: Annual Cedar Key arts festival with than 120 artists, food, live music and more
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Historic Second Street, Cedar Key
Cost: Free

“We have the clammers and the artists, it seems,” Cassiano says. “It's a good mix.”

This weekend, Cedar Key's historic Second Street is all about the arts for the 47th annual Old Florida Celebration of the Arts festival, one of the oldest art festivals in the state of Florida. But the town's famous clams will also be sold alongside the artworks of 120 artists from throughout the U.S. and as far away as California, Texas and Ontario, Canada.

Artists specializing in fine art, jewelry, sculpture, painting, ceramics, glass and fiber will be attending the juried festival, including seven local artists from Gainesville — Miriam Novack, Virginia Chen, Hugo Cruz, Diana Christiansen, Jack Wicks, Greg Stephens and John Moran.

The top 15 artists chosen by Roy Slade, director emeritus of Cranbrook Art Museum and former director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, will receive prizes totaling $10,000. Purchase awards totaling $7,000 are also being given to artists.

Cassiano says she expects about 20,000 people will attend the two-day festival, which is free and open to the public. Different from previous years' festivals, this year's event will feature a new form of entertainment — art cars. Four cars decorated to a theme by artists from Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Florida, including a car from Alabama titled “Aliens on Board” by Jim Shores, will be on display for people to view.

Local bands also performing during the event including Whitey Markle & The Swamprooters, The Evans Acoustic Reunion, a band of family members that plays a wide range of music, and a Celtic duo that features Lisa Lynne, a harpist from California, and George Tortorelli, a bamboo flutist who has been living in Gainesville for the past 30 years.

Apart from the wide range of artworks people will be able to peruse and purchase throughout Saturday and Sunday, the most unique feature about the event is the food it sells, Cassiano says.

Local civic organizations, school groups and church groups are selling a wide variety of food items, including locally caught seafood, oysters, Cedar Key's famous steamed clams from the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association Inc., hamburgers and hotdogs, as well as a variety of desserts and beverages. No outside vendors are allowed to sell food at the festival.

“Everybody loves the food,” Cassiano says. “It's different from typical festivals.”

Moran, the Florida nature photographer from Gainesville who has appeared in art shows throughout Florida since 1998, is participating in the festival for the first time. He says he's looking forward to this weekend's event because of its location in Cedar Key; with the island's surrounding waters and lack of drive-thru traffic, he says it's his favorite coastal destination in the state.

“I just love Cedar Key,” Moran says. “It's a remarkable town with a distinct sense of place.”

Novack, an artist who has a unique style of painting that features fractured images and colorful, intricate patterns, has been participating in the festival for about five years.

She says when people look at her art, “it's like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope.” Many of her pieces exhibit themes of yoga, meditation, music, peace, Jerusalem, and some also exhibit beautiful nature scenes of Cedar Key, which are all being featured at the event.

“When the weather is great, there's just nothing more beautiful,” Novack says of Cedar Key.

Artist Spotlight on Robert Goodlett, Rainbow Springs and Cedar Key,
Poster winner for Cedar Key's 2012 Art Festival.

by Sandra Buckingham

Robert Goodlett is one driver you don’t want to tailgate on the county roads of rural Florida.

Sooner or later, he may slam on his brakes for no apparent reason and abruptly swerve his car into the weeds on the shoulder. Before you decide whether you’re watching a mad man or a heart attack in progress, he’ll jump out, clutching a camera and run off across a field. There’s a red sunset sky and golden light glancing through the branches of a live oak and burnishing the tips of tall grass. For a landscape artist, it’s that ephemeral combination of perfect light and perfect setting that begs to be captured, even if it means running through a cow pasture dressed in Sunday best.

Goodlett has been painting since his mother gave him a Grumbacher set of oils at age nine. He is a Floridian artist in every possible way. Born and raised in south Florida, and a longtime resident of north-central Florida, his artistic interest in the unspoiled landscapes of this state was kindled early when he saw a large Albert Backus painting on the wall of a Coral Gables bank. Backus, of course, was the artist credited with inspiring the Highwaymen, that now-famous group of black artists centered around Fort Pierce on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Although painting has always been a passion for Goodlett, for a long period it was no more than a sideline. He made his living as a builder and a professional musician. For years he played guitar with one or another of several different itinerant bands, but as life on the road made a normal family life increasingly difficult, he began to consider the market potential of his paintings as a source of income.

At first, finding gallery representation was discouraging. His traditional approach was so uniformly unsuccessful – “Hello, my name is Robert Goodlett, I’m a Florida landscape artist” – that he could see the rejection coming before words ever reached the lips of a gallery owner. So he stopped entering galleries with a handshake and started walking in the door with a painting held in front of his chest, making a first impression with the art, not the artist. Suddenly “Hello, my name is …“ became unnecessary background noise because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

From that point, Goodlett started painting more and more, eventually giving up the life of a traveling musician to support himself full time as a painter. He built a home, complete with studio, in Rainbow Springs, near Dunnellon. He paints every day, all day, and often again in the evening, but loves every moment at his easel.

Goodlett is entirely self-taught, having perfected his craft through observation, reading and trial-and-error. In the studio he experiments with color, composition and style, using different palettes or level of abstraction. Although he works extensively from his vast personal collection of photos, these images are only a point of departure for his quintessential renderings of Old Florida – the coastal marshes, rivers and hammocks unspoiled by civilization. He might have to remove a car wash sitting behind a cluster of palms or ignore telephone lines crisscrossing a sunset to get there, but he gives artistic license free reign to trump mundane reality.

Goodlett’s pragmatic side keeps an eye on his market. Most of his pieces are sized to fit in a suitcase, making them all the more sellable to the tourists and snowbirds who frequent Florida’s galleries. For art shows, he includes both smaller and larger pieces, so there is something for every budget. As a longtime member of the Cedar Keyhole Artist Co-op, he puts in his share of time behind the counter at the co-op’s gallery on 2nd Street in Cedar Key. He sets up a table easel next to the cash register and passes the time working on his next piece when he isn’t chatting with customers or ringing up a sale.

This year he was honored when his work was chosen as the poster art for Cedar Key’s 2012 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, an annual fine arts festival taking place this year April 28-29. He will also have a booth at the festival, with many new pieces on display. For more information on this event, go to cedarkeyartsfestival.com. To see Robert Goodlett’s online gallery go to http://robertgoodlett.com.

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