- March 11, 2022
The Town Center Green transformed from a construction site to an art gallery over the weekend as the second annual Longboat Key Festival of the Arts took over the space Feb. 25 and 26.
Nearly 100 artists from near and far set up tents to display their work. The artists brought with them a variety of artwork, including paintings, sculptures and carvings.
Vince Pompei brought clocks.
“I used to collect clocks as a kid with my dad, and we’d go to flea markets. That’s where I get a lot of my design ideas. I pull from different styles of old clocks,” Pompei said. “I grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania when Bethlehem Steel closed and Mack Trucks left. Between that and going to the flea markets, I became really into the things we used to make, so I wanted to bring that into what I was doing.”
Pompei started making clocks about 15 years ago. He uses old silverware and plates to create each piece. The clocks may look old, but they run on batteries.
James and Shannon Rajner’s optical art illusion is to make old fiberglass surfboards look like wood carvings. The couple is bicoastal, spending three months of the year in Fort Myers and the rest of their time in Oceanside, California. James came up with the idea.
“Surfboards take a million years to decompose in landfills because they’re made out of styrofoam,” Shannon said. “Styrofoam is really bad for the environment, so we use old, thrashed, beat-up surfboards. James hand carves them, and we paint them to look like this, so we’re upcycling.”
Caleb Barnaby deconstructs, then upcycles. He likes taking things apart, like forgotten musical instruments, to give them new life. His jewelry was displayed on racks made of old copper pipes. Where the other artists’ hometowns were listed, Barnaby’s sign read, “Full Time Nomad.”
“I’m on the road full time. I have a travel trailer that I built my studio in,” he said.
The one-man traveling art show hasn’t had an official post office address in five years. This was Barnaby’s first time showing at the festival. Over half the nearly hundred artists participated in last year’s inaugural exhibition.
One of the repeat vendors was local Ronetta Krause, who has a studio in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts, where she handcrafts jewelry under the name Silver Moon.
Beyond art, there was also music and snacks. Vladimir Gorodkin was selling CDs and gave a live performance on the tsymbaly, a Ukrainian instrument similar to a hammer dulcimer. Even the popcorn was avant garde with flavors like amaretto, key lime and wild orange-lavender.
"We are excited to be continuing this annual event just for the amazing residents here on Longboat Key," show Director Elaine Laurent said. "Next year may bring a new layout with the completion of the Town Center Green."