Season for art lovers: 26th annual Bonita Springs National Art Festival

Bonita Springs National Art Festival Artist Jeannie Maddox's booth.

Bonita Springs National Art Festival Artist Jeannie Maddox's booth.

— The holidays are officially over, but there is still plenty to celebrate in southwest Florida because January brings with it the Bonita Springs National Art Festival at the Promenade at Bonita Bay.

From 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. on Saturday January 12 and Sunday, Jan. 13, the Center for the Arts Bonita Springs will host its national festival presenting 211 national and international artists who will showcase their quality original work for viewing or purchase.

January marks the Bonita Springs National Art Festival's 26th festival at the Promenade, rated one of the top Fine Art Festivals in America by The Harris List and ranked 11th nationally by Sunshine Artist Magazine. Artists are chosen by a highly selective jury to ensure the highest quality craftsmanship in paintings, glass, jewelry, clay works, photography, sculpture, wood and more. The January festival is bringing a number of fresh new artists to join returning award winners. Master of kiln formed glass, artist Scott Amrhein returns to the January festival where he won best in show in 2012. His glass sculptures show the hands-on care of an artist who has painstakingly created these timeless works of art. Scott fashions striking pedestals to complement his luminescent glass bowls. The result is Scott's fine reputation for unique and exceptional handcrafted artwork that is known throughout the United States.

"It has been said that 'man cannot duplicate nature but merely represent it.' I hope that every piece I create, combining natural and man-made materials, is a reflection of that statement," said Amrhein in speaking of the inspiration behind his work.

Kimberlin by Jeannie Maddox

Kimberlin by Jeannie Maddox

"Is it a painting or a photograph?" This is the most asked question about the larger than life oil paintings of Jeannie Maddox that have been capturing the attention of art festival crowds for over 33 years. Maddox work took Best in Show at the January 2011 Bonita Springs National Art Festival.

"To the viewer, my paintings appear to focus on photo realism. As an artist, my journey is through small abstract areas of shape, color and contrast, that, when completed and taken as a whole constantly surprise me by becoming hyper-real. I often say that I am a photo realistic painter who paints abstractly," said Maddox.

SOV166D by Scott Amrhein

SOV166D by Scott Amrhein

In 1976, Maddox took some photographs of one of her young art students in a pool. The painting sold immediately and soon art show patrons were signing up on a two-year waiting list for a commissioned painting by Maddox, which took an average of 425 hours to create. In 1977, at Burdines of Florida bought her complete display during a festival show and continued buying for several years reproducing Maddox's work to hang in the large atrium areas of the stores that were opening every six months across Florida. Maddox became one of the most recognized artists in South Florida.

"I believe there are many ways to express the art form known as jewelry," said Jewelry Artist Kim Koch, winner of Best of 3D at the January 2012 Bonita Springs National Art Festival. "I choose quiet refinement, in which splashes of color radiate from my design through precise goldsmithing. My craftsmanship is a process; over three decades of working metals to fulfill my artist mission, while keeping sight of the enjoyment jewelry brings us."

Pearls in Motion by Kim Koch

Pearls in Motion by Kim Koch

Koch is recognized nationally for innovative award winning design and craftsmanship, which he maintains by personally designing and creating each piece. His techniques include: casting, forging, fabrication, and multiple surface treatments, often all utilized in a single piece. Koch specializes in rare, color gemstones set in gold and platinum.

In addition to the Bonita Springs National Art Festival, Koch is three-time winner of Wisconsin Jewelers Association, AGTA Spectrum, Signity, and The Niche Award.

If Amrhein's glass, Maddox's photo realistic larger than life oil paintings, or Koch's finely crafted gold jewelry are not intriguing enough, the 208 additional artists who passed the discriminating jury process for January's festival will certainly offer fine art to make this a festival you will remember.

OV226E by Scott Amrhein

OV226E by Scott Amrhein

All proceeds from the festival support the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs programming and its mission to provide opportunities for education and artistic expression for everyone—regardless of economic ability.

"Hundreds of thousands of people have attended our 25 festivals at the Promenade. They come back each year because they know the art is great and there is something for everyone. It is like a walking tour of high quality art galleries, but this one is set up outside in sunny Florida," said Susan Bridges, President of Center for the Arts.

The Bonita Springs National Art Festivals offer ample free parking on site with food and beverages available for purchase. While there is no admission fee for this event, the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs volunteers will be asking for an optional $5 donation, directly supporting the Center for the Arts programming.

The 26th Bonita Springs National Art Festival will be held at The Promenade located at 26805 South Bay Drive in Bonita Springs.

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