By Kathy L. Collins

The Annual Winthrop Arts Festival has become the greater Brandon area’s premiere fine arts festival. The 5th Annual Winthrop Arts Festival was held over the weekend of Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24. Despite the weather, over 5,000 people attended this year’s event.

The success of this event is evidenced by the number of people who attended and by the increased number of fine artists and vendors who were showcased. This year there were 70.

Festival organizer and Winthrop Town Artist, Bryant Martinez said, “It was wonderful. I am grateful that this has become such a success. I am also grateful to the community, the artists and the schools who participated.” Martinez added, “This has become a genuine fine arts show.”

The artwork was judged by two fine individuals, Beaux Arts Gallery Director, Debra Bryant and John Hardin, a Humanities professor at Hillsborough Community College, Brandon campus.

Hardin said, “It was an incredible show. There was a lot of great artwork. With so much great art, it is difficult to pick just a few winners.” Bryant said, “The artwork was really good this year. We had a lot more traditional art this year. We had a folk artist, graphite pencil artist, oil artist and even a silver smith.”

The Best in Show for the 5th Annual Winthrop Arts Festival was awarded to Tony Moore of Tampa. Moore is a pencil illustrator. Moore said, “This is my first time, and it was a great art festival. I will definitely be back next year.” Moore added, “It is always so nice to have people appreciate your work.”

Hardin explained that Moore was chosen as the Best in Show because, “We looked at his work as a whole, and it was really good.”

First place was awarded to Carol Kay, a photographer and digital artist. Second place went to Brandon resident, Don Robinson who creates art work with pen and ink. Robinson also constructs his own frames for his artwork. Robinson said, “The show was amazing.” Third place went to Matt Rentz of Sarasota, and Honorable Mention went to Beth Kaufman for her beautiful stained glass work. Bryant said that Kaufman won because “Her work is not average stained glass. She does historical pieces.”

Students from Blake High School in Tampa, under the direction of teacher, Lenny Cabanero-Harvey, participated in the festival by helping children with chalk art, helping artists set up and maintain their tents and networking with the artists. Cabanero-Harvey said, “The students (most of them from the greater Brandon area) did not know what they were getting into, but they did learn the importance of networking.” Cabanero-Harvey added, “It is important for students to have an outlet to show their work to the public.”

The 5th Annual Winthrop Arts Festival was not only a show of art that was brought to the festival, but an opportunity for the public to participate in creating beautiful public art. Local artist, Abby Markov led about 50 people in producing three unique pieces. Markov said, “You can look at art all day long, but until you participate in creating it, you don’t understand the process. It is the process that draws in most artists.”

The public art created will be preserved and used to help promote the 6th Annual Winthrop Arts Festival which is set to take place the weekend of March 21 through 23, 2014. For more information, please visit


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