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Karen Baker • Bill Castleman • Nathan BearD • Vivek Lakhotia
Bill Renc • Rasa Saldaitis • Joyce Ely Walker • Sandra Williams
The Bay Life art show will not occur in 2020 since our focus lies in the opening of the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center on the St. Pete Pier.
The 6th annual Bay Life art show was a great success!
We cannot thank our sponsors enough for making this year’s Bay Life art show one of the best to date! Thank you to our title sponsor, Sabal Trust, our Art Ambassador sponsors Larry Weiner & Yvonne Grimm, and Mary Ann & Gary Renfrow, as well as our in-kind sponsors. Our beverage sponsors, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, Great Bay Distributors, and Catering by Lundy’s ensured no one went thirsty with the help of uDream Events’ service staff. Island Flavors & Tings/The Caterer provided a great spread for our VIP evening on Thursday and Jack E. Davis delivered a thrilling presentation on Friday.
To see a recap of the beautiful event, check out the video produced by Celebrations of Tampa Bay by clicking here.
Thank you to all our sponsors that made this event possible!
Mary Ann & Gary Renfrow Island flavors and 'Tings/The Caterer Larry Weiner & Yvonne Grimm
event image gallery:
FEBRUARY 22 evening highlight:
meet jack davis @ 7 PM
About the Talk:
The U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico: History, Wisdom, and Hope
Join Jack E. Davis for his lively long historical view of the Gulf of Mexico, drawn from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea. Significant beyond tragic oil spills and hurricanes, the Gulf has historically been one of the world's most bounteous marine environments, supporting human life for millennia. Davis starts from the premise that nature lies at the center of human existence, and takes his audience on a compelling journey from the Florida Keys to the Texas Rio Grande, along marshy shorelines and majestic estuarine bays, profoundly beautiful and life-giving. At the center of his talk is the way people, from pre-Spanish natives to present-day coastal residents, have organized their societies and individual lives around nature, and how Gulf nature has been a positive force in human events.
About the Author, Jack Davis:
Jack E. Davis is a professor of history specializing in environmental history and sustainability studies and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea. Before joining the faculty at UF in 2003, he taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Eckerd College, and in 2002 was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Jordan in Amman. Upon joining the faculty at UF, he founded the department’s student journal, Alpata: A Journal of History. His Race Against Time: Culture and Separation in Natchez Since 1930 won the Charles S. Sydnor Prize for the best book in southern history published in 2001. His next book, An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century (2009), received a gold medal from the Florida Book Awards. In 2014, he was a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, where he worked on his latest book, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea. The New York Times Book Review called his book a “beautiful homage to a neglected sea.” The Gulf was a New York Times Notable Book for 2017 and made several other “best of” lists for the year, including those of the Washington Post, NPR, Forbes, and the Tampa Bay Times. The Gulf was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction and winner of the Kirkus Prize for nonfiction. With his former student Leslie Poole (UF PhD 2012), he is currently editing a new edition of Wild Heart of Florida, a collection of personal essays and poems about natural Florida. In January 2018, he signed a contract with the publisher of The Gulf, Liveright/W.W. Norton, to write a new book, employing the working title “Bird of Paradox: How the Bald Eagle Saved the Soul of America.”
Jack is now writing a book on the cultural and natural history of the bald eagle. He divides the seasons between two “villes”: Gainesville, Florida, and Harrisville, New Hampshire.
This year's baylife wildlife artists:
Karen Baker, CPS, PSA, PSTB
“The most exciting aspect of the painting experience is the creative process itself: that spontaneous flow of energy working through the artist, condensed into form. Each one of my paintings is a momentary pause in the ongoing expression of who I am…”
Artist-instructor Karen Baker paints what inspires her the most—the world of nature and its ever-changing landscape in all seasons. “As a child I was always playing outdoors. It’s no surprise to me that I’m still exploring nature and all its mysteries through my artwork.”
Karen’s portfolio covers a range of subjects from rural New England farm buildings, meadows, and mountain vistas to the lowland waterways and coastal shorelines of Florida. She is also known for her colorful floral paintings, particularly the prolific Poppy series featuring blooms in open fields, garden settings, and detailed close-up studies. “I often develop a theme into an extended series which enables me to go beyond the subject’s surface reality into the realm of imagination, where most of my images are conceived.” To date, the Poppy series alone has produced over 160 original paintings—becoming her signature image and symbolic self-portrait. Many of her original paintings are now available as quality fine art reproductions printed on canvas for both the home and business environments.
Click to read more about artist Karen Baker
St. Petersburg artist Nathan Beard employs a variety of processes to achieve complex, multi-layered paintings, drawings, and collages inspired by the human conception and experience of space-time. He draws influence from the density and variety of Floridian flora, as well as chaos theory and fractal geometry.
The Colorado State University graduate is represented locally by ARTicles Art Gallery (St. Petersburg) and Curated Interiors (Lakeland), and in Japan by agent Noriko Kuehn and 410Gallery. Nathan serves as Curatorial Assistant at Dunedin Fine Art Center, as Preparator for Scarfone/Hartley Gallery (University of Tampa), as Independent Art Installer for private businesses and residences throughout Tampa Bay, and as Independent Curator of CONSTRUCT, a traveling exhibition.
Pond’s Edge began on the shores of Crescent Lake when Beard was in transition to fatherhood. Formally focused upon the interaction of surface and depth, plant life and cast shadows, color and light, the paintings and drawings also help Beard in his search for a passive balance with natural forces.
Drawn to the visual, ecological and political labyrinth of the Floridian waterscape, Beard’s inspiration for these works comes not from unspoiled wilderness but from brief moments of beauty in urban retention ponds and modified natural spaces like Sawgrass Lake Park. He references photos taken on walks with his family and the series helps to hone the drawing and observational skills he needs for his entire body of work.
My painting theory is simple. try to capture the essence of a scene.
In doing so I hope to give the viewer enough visual information to stir their imagination. My challenge is creating work that raises the awareness of our disappearing wilderness. By painting in oils I create the wide variety of colors and textures that depict a sense of purity and timelessness. I find great delight in viewers sharing their ah-ha moment.
Bill Castleman’s plein-air paintings capture on canvas his love for his native Florida landscape. Born in Pensacola in 1940, Bill has been an artist most of his adult life. After serving as a technical illustrator for the U.S. Marine Corps, Bill went on to study art at The Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, graduating with a certificate in design and illustration.
He had careers in aerospace and advertising before beginning a teaching career that lasted 25 years.
Bill’s work marries his talent and energy with his enthusiasm for the outdoors. His characteristic deft touch with his paintings imbues each scene with a freshness and vitality that invites the viewer to visit time and time again.
Bill’s work can be found in the Art Expo in St. Pete Beach and at the annual February art show at Tampa Bay Watch on Tierra Verde.
Animals in their natural environment and wildly beautiful views deeply inspire nature artist Vivek Lakhotia. He feels challenged to recreate the moods, emotions, and drama found in nature through his artwork. Chasing those moments with paint has become his passion.
Vivek grew up in India and experimented with painting briefly as a young man. After graduating from a University in India, he came to the U.S. to pursue a Masters in Environmental Engineering at Vanderbilt University. Vivek traveled throughout the United States in his engineering career. After a career change to information technology, life slowed down and Vivek picked up the paintbrush once again.
Vivek says about his own art, “My recent paintings often include wildlife, the flora, and fauna of Florida, both above the ground and under the water. Some of these paintings are inspirations from my numerous visits to the Suncoast Bird Sanctuary and the many wildlife preserves in the area. Sea turtles under water have become a favorite subject as well. I enjoy diving and am drawn to the soft blue-green hues under water."
"Painting outside—'En Plein Air'—has become a favorite; a great learning process and enjoying the camaraderie of like-minded individuals. Family vacations have also become a great resource for reference material.”
Vivek and his family have lived in Largo, Florida since 1999. His studio resides in the family’s Florida room which has a wide western view.
Bill Renc graduated from Ringling School of Art in 1970 with a full scholarship from the state of Florida. Bill currently concentrates on painting in oils and watercolors. For many years he exhibited paintings, drawings, and intaglio prints, winning awards a major art festivals. Having worked in landscape, portraiture and figure studies, Bill’s subjects now focus mainly on the Florida environment, wetlands, shorelines, and saltwater marine life of all kinds.
Bill and his wife Linda have owned and operated The Painted Fish Gallery since 1995, located in the heart of downtown Dunedin. The gallery features their own original collection of fine art and prints, plus guest artists and craftspersons.
Bill has written and illustrated two coffee table art books. In 1991 he co-authored & co-illustrated At Water’s Edge: The Birds of Florida published by Taylor Publishing (TX) and subsequently by National Book Networks (NY). In 2012 he authored Painting the Town and the Beaches, depicting the town of Dunedin, FL and its coastal environment, published by Painted Fish Gallery. Original oils and watercolors from the book are displayed at the gallery.
Bill has created commissioned paintings for over seven years for Service Source Network’s Spring Wine Festival in Washington, DC, including special commemorative prints. Between 1994 and 2014, Bill created paintings for Abilities of Florida Annual Wine Tasting & Art Auction. Images were reproduced for invitations, print material, billboards, advertising, posters, and t-shirts.
Other commissioned series include paintings for City of Clearwater Folk Art Festival, 1999 City of Dunedin Centennial, Dunedin Art Harvest, Tarpon Springs Art Festival, Taste of Palm Harbor, City of Safety Harbor, City of St. Petersburg First Night, and 2016 "Martinis and Matisse" invitation for Clearwater Free Clinic's annual fundraiser.
Public art commissions include interior wall murals for WMNF 88.5 FM Community Radio in Tampa (2006). The five ceramic tile murals were designed and completed with Linda Renc. Bill's paintings are included in permanent collections of the Florida Gulf Coast Museum Collection at Leepa Rattner Museum (St. Petersburg College), Walt Disney World, Norton Gallery of Art, Polk Museum of Art, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, American Bar Association, Environmental Technologies, and Dr. Douglas Lewis, Curator at National Gallery of Art.
Bill's website is paintedfishgallery.com.
I was born in Vilnius, Lithuania. In the 7th grade I was exposed to and fell in love with art. By the 8th grade, I was attending art school and graduated at the top of my class. After high school, I attended the Vera Muchina Academy of Applied Arts University in St. Petersburg, Russia where I studied realistic drawing and painting.
While living in St. Petersburg, Russia I was able to visit many well-known museums such as Hermitage Museum of Art, where I admired the works of the masters and world famous artists. During this time in St. Petersburg, I committed my life to becoming an artist. My exposure to such wonderful art has helped make my paintings what they are today.
While studying, I also discovered the art of love with fellow art student Juozas Saldaitis. We were married in Lithuania In 1984 and continued our studies there.
From 1984-1989, I trained to become an art instructor at Siauliai Pedagogical University in Siauliai, Lithuania. I received my Masters in Fine Arts in 1989, and I was valedictorian of my graduating class. During that time, I exhibited in many art competitions and student art shows.
My husband and I began exhibiting and selling our work in Eastern and Western Europe. In 1991, we opened an art studio called “Ugne,” which translates to “Goddess of Fire.” "Ugne" specialized in decorative ceramics and paintings. We were one of the first to establish our own private business after the Soviet Union collapsed.
In 1994, we moved to the United States with our two children and settled in Chicago. We later moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.
Today I concentrate primarily on painting, and my work can be found in several galleries and art shows.
My European background and experiences in America heavily influence my oil and acrylic paintings. They reflect my love for color and the world around me. I feel that every artist dips his brush into his soul and paints his own nature into his paintings.
Joyce Ely Walker
As a plein air painter, I have always found the landscape to be a never-ending source of inspiration. When trying to solve color problems, I always look to nature for my solutions. I believe that it is important to actually work in the landscape to fully capture the sense of place. Sounds, scents, temperature, color and light, that are difficult to capture in the studio, influence the painting.
The “Nest” series began while doing a residency at the Jentel Foundation in Banner, Wyoming. November weather in Wyoming often prevented me from working out of doors. On a morning walk, I found a nest on the ground and decided to use it as a still life in the studio. I became fascinated with the structure of the nest, architecture, if you will, and began to research nests of birds in the area. I discovered that many birds reuse their nests and use a variety of different building materials. I never disturb a nest, only collect those that have fallen to the ground. My collection has grown and I continue to study nests in this area. Drawing them becomes a meditation and reveals much about their makers.
Sandra Williams paints nature with the passion and dedication of one whose life has always been focused on the incredible order and beauty of this planet and the creatures on it. Her primary goal in her art is to create an emotional relationship between her subject and the viewer. If she is painting a bird or animal, she makes sure that anatomy and details are correct, but more than that, she attempts to bring out the essence of the creature's personality.
Born in South Texas, Sandra grew up always near the water where her interest in the marine environment led to a B.A. at the University of Houston and an early career in marine biology. She moved to Florida in 1977, where she paints the birds, fish, animals, as well as the palms, plants and landscapes of the tropical environment.
Sandy's love for the west, where she spends time each year out in the field with the animals and hiking the trails, has led her to divide her time between subjects such as river banks with sunbathing alligators, fields, and prairies full of the elk and bison of Wyoming, and the beautiful landscapes of both areas.
With a keen eye for detail, Sandy's commitment to authenticity has led her to research and document her subjects. As an accomplished photographer, she has assembled a collection of over 80,000 photos.
Having traveled extensively, and being eager for personal contact with her subjects, Sandy has spent hours underwater with manatees, tracked water birds through thick mangroves, and explored coral reefs off the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. She has studied moose and herds of elk and bison out west, visited puffin and other seabird colonies by Zodiak off the coast of Alaska, and explored rain forests in the Northwest, Brazil, and Jamaica. Sandy has observed burrowing owl colonies and monitored nesting sites of skimmers, terns, and other threatened species. For many years she has also worked in bird and animal rescue and rehabilitation. Sandy worked closely with Save Our Seabirds, and she designed their logo.
While primarily self-taught, in recent years Sandy has taken part in workshops with such prominent artists as Robert Bateman, Rod Frederick, Terry Isaac, Kobus Moeller, Stephen Quiller, John Seerey-Lester, and Mort Solberg. She works in acrylics, oils, and mixed media.
As recipient of numerous awards, including environmental art and stamp competition, Sandra has consistently guided her art to aid conservation and environmental projects. She has taken many awards in juried shows (see below*).
Sandra created "Beach Babies" for the Tampa Bay Tour of Turtles, and it became part of a permanent display at The Pier Aquarium. Other projects for the Outdoor Arts Foundation include a chair for the Foundation's "Chairs for Charity," a 100-foot long beach banner for Clearwater Beach, and a 5' x 7' canvas painting for "The Big Art Show" in Airside A at the Tampa International Airport.
In October of 2002, Sandra organized the Pass-A-Grille Plein Air Painters. She and her group were featured on TV Fox 13's Good Day Tampa Bay Show and were the focal point of the Florida Wildlife Expo in 2003. She is a member of the Professional Association of Visual Artists (PAVA).
In 1999, Sandra and her artist daughter, Kathy Crotts, opened The Nature of Art Gallery in Historic Pass-a-Grille on St. Pete Beach and won the Beach Life "Best Art Gallery of the Beaches" award for 7 years. They then moved to 4th St., and for several years more years conducted many fundraisers for animal rescue groups.
Sandra's work is found in many private and corporate collections. She is offering limited art lessons in her art studio.
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