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Friday, May 20, 2022

Santa Fe College holds 42nd annual Spring Arts Festival downtown

When he signed the back of one of his two-dollar nature photographs, Gabe Thompson had to pause for a second. His hand hovered over the green matting as he thought.

He was writing the date numerically, so he had to check with his stepfather that April is the fourth month.

Thompson, 10, was one of the artists who sold work at the 42nd annual Santa Fe College Spring Arts Festival, held downtown this past weekend.

The event offered an opportunity for residents to appreciate local art while interacting with friends and neighbors. With more than 120,000 visitors, the event drew more people than a UF football game.

UF music senior Christine Shen, who has been going to the festival off and on since childhood, continued her tradition of buying a piece of art from the festival.

This year, she found a copper stingray.

Shen said she especially enjoys how the festival brings the community together. She ran into friends, acquaintances and old classmates during the festival.

Photographer and Gainesville resident John Moran said he wants his work to remind people why they love Florida.

He has been participating in art shows since 1998 and is working on a book he described as a “400-page love letter to Florida.”

“My job is to be amazed,” he said.

The artists competed not only for sales but also for more than $20,000 in prize money and a spot for one piece to be displayed at Santa Fe College.

Two jurors, one for 2-D art and one for 3-D art, chose a “Best of Show” winner for each category.

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Painter Susan Dauphinee and ceramic artist Tim Ludwig won the top awards this year. They received $3,000 in cash, and each will have one of their works put on display.

Coordinator Kathryn Lehman said more than 700 artists applied for 200 spots to be in this year’s festival. The college is not planning to expand the show.

Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser said the quality of the art is more important than the size of the festival.

He also said he wants it to accommodate visitors from a wide range of financial backgrounds with a wide variety of tastes.

He said it’s uncommon for someone to be able to go to a football game and then walk to an arts festival where they run into friends doing the same thing. Sasser said this fact highlights the festival’s prominence in the community and the uniqueness of the community itself.

“That’s Gainesville,” he said.

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