With Arts & Entertainment Editor Kathy L. Collins
Michael Parker of Ruskin was one of 14 local artists who were awarded grants totaling nearly $40,000 by the Arts Council of Hillsborough County as part of its 2017 individual Artist Grant program. The grant program is designed to provide support projects that help further the career of accomplished, local artists.
Parker received $3,000 for a new body of work, studio equipment, materials and supplies. In addition, Parker received the 2017 Carolyn Heller Visual Arts Award, providing him with an additional $1,000 unrestricted gift. Heller was a popular visual artist. Her family established a fund in her name with an annual award of $1,000 designated for the highest scoring visual artist from the Arts Council’s individual Artist Grant program.
Parker said, “For the past 12 years, I have dedicated my career to engaging members of the community in public and community driven projects.” Parker’s most recent project is a large sculptural installation in the new Perry Harvey, Sr. Park in downtown Tampa.
Parker explained, “Recently, I have come to a point in my own personal processes where I found that I need to refresh some of my basic thoughts and approaches to design and technique. My personal artwork and philosophy heavily informs how I approach a public work.”
With the grant, Parker will shift his personal body of work to using high quality and better materials which will lead to longevity and a higher standard of visual quality. Parker said, “After doing some research and experimentation, I found that there are very high quality materials such as pigments and binding vehicles available for industry coating applications.” Parker has started a new series of paintings which he will exhibit in a gallery setting.
“Community and public art are still a major part of my focus and goals as an artist. By being able to experiment and create a new series of paintings with quality materials, I can approach community based art with more knowledge of material and a broader range of visual aesthetic to offer when working with community groups,” added Parker.
Funding for the Individual Artist Grant program is made possible by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the Arts Council’s annual FIVE by FIVE event.
Parker said, “This program allows artists to supplement their research thereby making the cultural landscape in Hillsborough County a rich and inclusive community.” For information, visit parkerpublicart.wordpress.com or www.TampaArts.org.