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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


January 12, 2018  RSS feed

Text: T T T

The new, familiar faces of Art Festival Beth-El


3 round dotted bowls from Kliss Glass (Bob and Laurie Kliss) 3 round dotted bowls from Kliss Glass (Bob and Laurie Kliss) Art Festival Beth-El enters its 45th year of showcasing more than 170 artists from around the world and bringing their work to a local stage.

The event, Jan. 27- 29, is expected to draw upwards of 8,000 art lovers to the grounds of the St. Petersburg Reform congregation.

This year, six chairpersons are joined by four associate-chairs, who are learning the ropes of coordinating what has been called one of the “premier shows in the Southeast.”

“I don’t think any of us are going anywhere anytime soon,” said one of the longtime co-chairpersons, Ann Soble, “but it’s great because it gives us a succession for the future.”

Soble is joined by other longtime co-chairs Jan Sher, Nan Bugatch, Donna Berman, Barbara Sterensis and Pam Sekeres.

Becky Weiss, an associate chair whose main duties include the packing and unpacking of artwork sent in by artists, has been working with the festival since 2009 and became an associate chair last year. Though she said packing and unpacking the artists’ work is something she “kind of fell into,” she loves it.

Mixed media -ceramic and felt, by Ellen Silberlicht Mixed media -ceramic and felt, by Ellen Silberlicht “It’s a lot of fun because you get to see what’s coming in, from returning and new artists,” said Weiss. “Every time you get a box you never know what they are going to send. You’re excited to see what’s in the next one.”

All things digital, print and marketing fall into the hands of associate chair Abby Sterensis.

Because her mother, Barbara, has been part of the festival for “longer than she can remember,” Abby Sterensis has been a frequent observer of the art show over the years. She has volunteered for the past four years and is debuting as an associate chair for the 2018 festival. She is most excited to see all of the artwork in person.

Sculpture by Linda Lewis Sculpture by Linda Lewis “I get to see [the artwork] from a different perspective,” said Sterensis. “I interact with the artists digitally for months and only see their work online. In person, it’s completely different and after so many months of speaking to the artists, it’s exciting.”

Michele Greene coordinates the boutique gallery, fine art listed at moderate pricing. Having been an associate chair for the past three years and a volunteer for the past 14, Greene has learned a lot about the festival. Her strength as one of the youngest associate chairs is curating local talent, she says.

“I focus on meeting new people and adding new artists,” said Greene. “I network and make contacts in St. Pete to find new and local artists.”

Nine of the 49 boutique artists (43 mixed media and 6 jewelry) are from St. Petersburg. Greene is excited about all of the artists, both new and returning, but is especially excited to show the mixed media wall hangings of local artist, Adria Bernstein.

Associate co-chair Laura Horwitz has worked as the Art Festival Beth-El’s volunteer coordinator for many years. With over 200 volunteers involved in the planning and production of the festival, Horwitz has her hands full. She recruits and trains the volunteers, who are almost exclusively responsible for the day-to-day running of the festival.

“Volunteers bring enthusiasm, their enjoyment of the event and their love of art. They also bring a sense of community; that’s important,” said Horwitz in an interview with Jewish Press last year. “We have people whose parents fly in specifically to volunteer for the event. It is a lot of fun.”

One of the differences from years past is the temple social hall, where the main gallery is housed, is currently being renovated. The “big unveiling” of the updated hall will be the art show, said Soble.

A yearly tradition will continue as students from local public and private high schools are featured at the show with the festival awarding six $200 scholarships to the schools of the winning emerging young artists.

In all, this year’s judge, Director of the Orlando Museum of Art Glen Gentele will award more than $8,000 in prize money, endowed by the Sonya and Irwin Miller Art Fund.

Along with the main gallery, boutique, emerging artist high school student gallery, the festival features an outdoor sculpture garden of unusual pieces for gardens, offices and large buildings and the Syd Entel gallery of signed, framed prints. Works include paintings, wood, sculpture, ceramics, glass, photography and jewelry.

A preview cocktail reception will be held on Saturday, Jan. 27, from 7-10 p.m. with a $25 admission that can be purchased at the door.

Art Festival Beth-El is free and open to the public on Sunday, Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with light lunches and snacks available for purchase.

The Avenue of the Shops, a two-day sale of art, jewelry and crafts is on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also on Monday, there will be free entertainment provided by Alison Burns singing Broadway hits at 11 a.m., a gourmet luncheon for $20 with reservation at 12:30 p.m. and a docent tour at 2 p.m.

Temple Beth-El is located at 400 S. Pasadena Ave., St. Petersburg. For more information, call (727) 347-6136.

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