The sixth annual Boca Grande Art and Wine Festival returns this weekend with a new name and 50 top national artists.
Organizer Richard Sullivan of Boulderbrook Productions said the name of the event, formerly know as the Boca Grande Masters Art Festival, had to be broadened to let people know top wines were being served along with elite art in a variety of mediums, including oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, sculpture, ceramics, fine jewelry and blown glass.
The Boca Grande Resort will be filled with artwork and artists under white tents with live music, wine and food from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 23, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday March 24.
Lisa Spanninger of Massciarelli Wines handled the 2012 wine tastings.
"Most artists have never displayed in Boca Grande before," Sullivan said in a press release.
Artists include Nicholas Toth, who has been creating copper and brass diving helmets in Tarpon Springs for more than 30 years in continuing a 100-year family tradition begun by his grandfather: legendary craftsman and master helmet maker Anthony Lerios, who arrived in Tarpon Springs in 1913.
Nearly 200 boats used sponge diver helmets created by Toth and his grandfather. Changes in the sponge diving industry reduced the number of active boats.
Who: Featuring 50 select artists
What: Boca Grande Art and Wine Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 23 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 24
Where: North Village on Gasparilla Island at 5800 Gasparilla Road.
Contact: Call (239) 293-9448 or visit boulderbrook.net.
As commercial diving demand fell off, Toth evolved to create hand-hammered copper and brass art pieces. Each original work showcases his talent as a metal artist.
Toth is now the only artisan in the world who continues to make handcrafted diving helmets using the same techniques, tools, cast iron mandrels and lathes that his grandfather used. Each helmet typically takes more than 320 hours to complete
"I want the viewer to be curious as to who wore these helmets and why," Toth said. "To think about what story is being told through this piece of art."
After graduation from the University of Florida, Toht apprenticed with his grandfather learning Old World techniques of crafting copper and brass diving helmets.
Over the years, Toth awards include:
two-time Florida Individual Artist Fellowship recipient in 1998 and 2012;
In 2000 he represented Florida at the 200th anniversary of the Library of Congress;
awarded placement in the collection of the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress in 2000;
presented the E.R. Cross Award by the Historical Diving Society in 2006;
a Florida Folk Heritage Award recipient; and
National Heritage Fellowship recipient in 2003.
Admission is free. Proceeds benefit The Harry Chapin Food Bank.