Metal works of art a highlight of Tioga fair

The Gainesville Fine Arts Association presented the Winter Fine Arts Fair at Tioga Town Center on March 7 – 9, 2014. Attendees browsed the works of 125 artists and enjoyed fair food while children had fun with a moon bounce, face painting and train rides. Tioga Town Center offers retail space for lease and office space for lease.

From The Gainesville Sun

While a colorful, scaly dog/dragon sculpture is the focal point of the Town of Tioga Winter Fine Art Fair, it is not the only interesting metal piece at the show.

From butterflies and alligators crafted by a High Springs welder to a blacksmith who hammers steel into all kinds of shapes, the show, which continues today, has its fair share of heavy metal. “I've been welding 15 years. The art came with it. Not many people do it and it is something I enjoy,” said Michael Adams of Mystic Makings in High Springs. “With welding, you can make stuff and burn stuff at the same time.” Adams shapes individual pieces of metal and then welds them together to form various designs.

For Glen Purdy of Purdy Designs in Micanopy, the metal is the frame. Purdy shapes metal into Jules Verne-inspired open-sided submarines, sharks or whales that are several feet long. On the inside are mini tableaus with all sorts of objects -- people, more whales and sharks, snakes and surfboards.

On Saturday, browsers gazed at the pieces for minutes, finding small details that add up to a larger whole. “It's interesting. I've looked at it a lot -- over and over again -- and I find new things,” said John Bradley of Gainesville. “The details have all sorts of references to different things.”

Blacksmith Leslie Tharp -- one of the few women in the field -- has created sculptures that can be found from the University of Florida veterinary college to public places in several states. Tharp recently used a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a project that has large hoops forming hot-air balloons that hover over metal baskets. The piece fills a space 20 feet wide and high and it's on exhibit in Arizona. “I do blacksmithing workshops and I do get a lot of women showing up. A lot of them come from a jewelry background, but they're making the same thing in the workshop that a guy would,” Tharp said.

Local artist John Andrews created Monty, the Dog Gone Dragon. Monty is a 10½-foot-tall, 4,000-pound sculpture made from recycled metals that has the head of a dog and the body of a dragon. It is on display by itself at the center of the fair.

If the metal art at the show was big and bold, Mary Lee's paper art was delicate and intricate. Lee does origami -- but not just the cranes and other figures people often associate with paper folding. A Korea native who now lives in Tallahassee, Lee takes a colored, roughly inch-sized square of paper and folds it 40 times using tweezers and needles. Dozens of the tiny slivers are used to form jewelry in the shape of flowers, crosses and other designs. While it's not as physical as hammering steel on an anvil, it is taxing, Lee said. “My shoulders will hurt, but not my hands,” Lee said, gesturing to show how her shoulders tense up from the act of folding the paper.

The fair also features live music, food and children's activities. It continues today from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Tioga Town Center on Newberry Road in Jonesville. 

Click here to view Tioga Town Center Retail Space for Lease. Or, for Tioga Town Center Office Space for Lease, click here. For more Front Street news, click here...

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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