Festive, Funky, Feel-good

St. Augustine artist Wendy Tatter creates one-of-a-kind batik artwork by painting with wax (a mixture of beeswax and paraffin) and dyes on fabric. Archaeological discoveries show that this ancient art form existed in Egypt in 400 BCE, where its resultant fabrics were used to wrap mummies. Today, unique batik pieces like Tatter’s can be wall hangings, pillowcases, duvet covers, lampshades, scarves and more. Tatter offers them, along with paper giclées and other crafty gifts – from her shop, W.B. Tatter Gallery, on San Marco Avenue in the historic district. “My work often reflects the people and places I’ve encountered during my travels throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America,” the Baltimore native said. For her ornament, Tatter created a batik turtle wearing a red-and-white-striped Santa hat. She will be donating proceeds to Epic Community Services. Tatter explains, “I chose Epic for my donation because they are working so hard to help the young people who are at risk.” Tatter’s batik work will be featured Nov. 24 at W.B. Tatter Gallery, 76 San Marco Ave., St. Augustine, during the CD release party for local band Big Pineapple, which will feature holiday songs. — KP

Sharla Valeski works in a variety of media including acrylic, graphite, fabric and paper, and makes signature, funky and vibrantly colored creations in the form of drawings, paintings and even large-scale cloth sculpture. A graduate of Jacksonville University (where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art), Valeski has also been a key participant in the area’s artist-owned gallery scene, operating The Next Gallery from 2009-’11 at The Jacksonville Landing, as well as being an early participant at the CoRK Arts District where she currently has her Studio 5. Valeski has been featured in shows at JU’s Alexander Brest Museum & Gallery, Jane Gray Gallery and her recent “Femme Art Exhibit” with Caroline Daly at CoRK. Valeski’s ornament submission honors another local scene she loves. “I was inspired by my creative and flamboyant friends in the LGBT community,” explained Valeski, recalling a personal encounter that opened her mind and then her heart. “In 1994, I got to know an 8-year-old girl while conducting an art camp in my home,” she said. “Her sexual identity was male. Getting to know her helped me gain understanding about something I had only read about in psychology books.” Since its inception in 1994, JASMYN has helped an estimated 20,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth through peer support services, advocacy, educational programs and referrals. “I am so glad Jacksonville has a nationally recognized organization providing advocacy and support for young people.” — DB

As a ceramicist, Tiffany W. Leach is no stranger to getting her hands dirty in creating work that digs deep into her heritage. “My work is rooted in the Southern landscape and is inspired by the culture and resources around me.” Leach studied at Georgia State University and University of North Carolina, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and then earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia. She was heavily involved in all of those arts scenes and worked as far afield as Cortona, Italy, where she investigated the creation of majolica glazes. Leach currently teaches locally at Jacksonville University and University of North Florida, but she devotes most of her energies to her own work, much of which is centered on the ideal of a vessel as a “means of containment for a starting point.” “Through these forms I explore the vessel using figurative forms, animal traits and horizon lines reminiscent of a Southern landscape for expression,” Leach explained. “The vessels range in scale to offer a perspective of both intimacy and vastness.” Her ornament “Pouring Into Our Community” was inspired by the buildings and bridges of Jacksonville, the St. Johns River and the Second Harvest North Florida Empty Bowls Luncheon that provides food for the hungry. “I am acutely aware of the hunger in our community as many of us enjoy rich, decadent foods in this season, while so many go without.” The piece also uses the “sgraffito” technique on the back to inscribe the “faceless people” who, Leach hopes, are helped during the holiday season, and also remembered and helped year ’round. — DB

Kelly Crawford is a photography graduate from the University of Central Florida’s bachelors program in Daytona Beach. She has recently shown her work locally at various Anchor Boutique art walks and is a part of Folio Weekly’s current exhibition at the Cummer Museum. Crawford is presently working with old photographs, transferring their inks/emulsions onto different surfaces and materials. “I love hunting for things in flea markets and thrift shops, even if I have no idea what I’m looking for,” she said. “When I walked into Tom’s Seashells & Souvenirs shop on Anastasia Boulevard, I was immediately inspired.” Crawford has chosen St. Francis House to receive the proceeds from the auction of her ornament. It’s the only emergency shelter in St. Johns County for women, children and men, and after losing its state funding this year, donations are needed more than ever. — KP

Inventive, playful, meticulous and twisted are a few words that could be used to describe the artwork of Russell Maycumber. A Jacksonville native, Maycumber grew up in the Murray Hill neighborhood, a place he describes as “The Motherland.” “I found it to be very fertile ground as a kid growing up,” Maycumber said. “My sister took drama classes at the Murray Hill Art Center. I always thought it was a great thing that people got to go into this really big space and make stuff.” Maycumber pursued his own creative endeavors and eventually spent his twenties in Los Angeles, landing Hollywood-style gigs ranging from sculpting toys for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to being an extra in “Jurassic Park.” Maycumber eventually returned to this area to settle down with his family in Northeast Florida. The artist honors his roots in a piece also inspired by European grotesque traditions: “‘Cloven Hoven’ is a Sumi-e inked image on cut plywood using a scroll saw,” he explained. “It’s basically an attempt to pop a graphic high-contrast image three-dimensionally.” Maycumber has exhibited locally at Nullspace Gallery and most recently was featured at the Launch F18 group show in Manhattan and Dead in August, a multi-venue arts benefit held in Brooklyn. Maycumber is currently wood shop director for the sculpture department at Flagler College. — DB

Sara Pedigo, a painter and educator living and working in St. Augustine, spent her childhood in South Carolina and Florida. Pedigo’s figurative works use the language of realism as a format to explore extensions of moments lost to time. Static memories in the form of family snapshots are the basis for extending or creating new memories through paint. Her paintings reconcile past and present by creating hybrid spaces freed from the restrictions of chronology. Pedigo has exhibited throughout the United States, and in 2007, she was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA grant. She has been included in the 2006 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and in exhibitions at Cue Foundation and Naples Art Museum. Pedigo received her master of fine arts from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She’s an assistant professor at Flagler College, her undergraduate alma mater. “For this particular ornament, I chose to paint an image of my best friend’s daughter, from their recent Labor Day vacation to the First Coast,” Pedigo said. “Watching her play on the beach all day instilled a wonderment at the beauty of childhood. Having lost my own mother to cancer in 2006, I am deeply moved by the powerful bond between mothers and daughters.” Pedigo has chosen First Coast Cancer Foundation as her charity. Pedigo’s art is on display at Plum Art Gallery, 9 Aviles St., St. Augustine, through Dec. 29 and a two-person collaborative exhibit, “Transliteration,” featuring Pedigo and poet Liz Robbins, is on display through Nov. 21 at Flagler College’s Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, 48 Sevilla St.; an opening, featuring conversations with the artists, is held 4 p.m. Nov. 16. — KP

Steve “Uncle Stevo” Marrazzo is a colorful St. Augustine fixture and the owner of Simple Gestures. His work varies in medium, but it’s found and recycled objects that he enjoys working with most to create sculpture and jewelry. For his ornament, Marrazzo created “Sea Jewel,” which features a hammered copper top fashioned from an old copper storm gutter, originally fitted to a building in St. Augustine. The copper wire is from stripped, electrical wire scraps and the crystals are new. “The inspiration for ‘Sea Jewel’ came to me one day as I was walking along Crescent Beach,” he explained. “I was blinded by the sight of what seemed like luminescent, reflective jewels scattered on the sand. It ended up being a jellyfish invasion stranded on shore. This created a magical and wonderful vision and a fascination for the beauty of jellyfish.” As his charity, Marrazzo chose Pie in the Sky, a grassroots organization and food bank that focuses on the Hastings area and helps those who fall through the cracks. Marrazzo’s artwork is regularly featured at Simple Gestures Gallery & Gifts, 4 White St. E., St. Augustine. — KP

Local artist Keith Doles works in a variety of mediums including paint, graphic design and wood sculpture. A Jacksonville native who graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Doles has shown his work at The Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum and The Arts Center in St. Petersburg, as well as private collections and public institutions. Doles said he is highly influenced by both cubism and abstract expressionism and that his art reflects his everyday life — from childhood memories to travels. “My ongoing ‘Street Series’ paintings offer social and political commentary on modern themes through expressive and bold color,” he explained. “In recent years, I have participated in several group exhibitions and youth art outreach activities in Jacksonville and St. Augustine.” Doles’ ornament, “Bridge of Lights,” was inspired by memories of brightly lit Christmas decorations on downtown Jacksonville streetlights and in storefront windows. “I chose Second Harvest North Florida because it provides food and resources to senior citizens and children in 17 counties in North Florida and promotes hunger awareness,” Doles said of his charity. “According to the study Hunger in America 2010, one in six adults experience food insecurity daily, and one in four children experience food insecurity nationally. Second Harvest is expected to distribute about 24 million pounds of food into its service area this year.” Doles is the featured November artist for the Beaches Fine Arts Series concert, displaying his art in Stormes Parish Hall at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 1150 N. Fifth St., Jacksonville Beach. — KP

Originally from New Orleans, Yvonne Lozano has been living in Jacksonville for more than 25 years. Her work has been featured throughout the city in galleries and public murals, including the exterior mural at Reddi Arts. She has also worked on various public art projects such as OPERATION: Bring Art to the People, which connects and exposes the general public to the power and benefits of art and culture through spontaneous art drops. Known best for her paintings documenting memories of her childhood in New Orleans, Lozano recently started depicting her dog Gambit (better known as The Dingo) frolicking among beautiful landmarks throughout Jacksonville. The ornament reflects that body of work, highlighting the 5 Points traffic light in Riverside, the Main Street Bridge downtown and the biking culture throughout our city. Lozano named Teen Challenge as her charity of choice because she believes deeply in what they do. “Too many times people are easily dismissed because poor choices that were made in life resulted in jail time or drug addiction,” she explained. “While it’s easy to forget that there is a real person behind the individual with a history, sometimes all it takes is a little love and direction to help get people out of their life of darkness and back on the path they were initially intended to be on.” Lozanno’s artwork is on display every First Wednesday Art Walk (including 5-9 p.m. Dec. 5) in downtown Jacksonville at her studio at 229 N. Hogan St., inside The Art Center Studios. More handmade ornaments and 2013 Dingo Loves Jax calendars and 2013 Childhood Series calendars are available on her website, yclart.com. — KP

The paintings of Overstreet Ducasse feature imagery that seems to navigate a world driven by the furthest realms of imagination. Populated with archetypes and ambiguous signifiers, Ducasse’s works are of a style the artist calls “Deepressionist,” which intends to describe “both the frustrations experienced by the artist and the depth of thought and imagination an artist must exude.” The paintings are imbued with a surreal quality touching on the political and spiritual, but never so heavy-handed the viewer is awakened from the near-hypnotic state achieved on the canvas. Born in Haiti, Ducasse moved to the United States when he was 6 and began creating art at a young age. “My art goes beyond the visual; I use it as a means of expression and communication,” said Ducasse, explaining that his submission “Abomination” is a continuation of a larger series he began last year, inspired by “biblical text” and the “hypocrisy in our culture.” “I chose PFLAG because it is one of the charities that I have donated to over the years and the ornament best fits that charity.” Ducasse has been featured in several group shows as well as last year’s solo exhibit at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, which featured 27 of his ever-engaging pieces. Ducasse is participating in the upcoming 20th anniversary of the exhibit “Through Our Eyes” opening Dec. 13 at The Ritz Theater & Museum, 829 N. Davis St., Downtown. — DB

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