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Artists showcase varied media at St. Armands Fine Art Festival

From stainless steel to international jewelry, the fest hosted artisans from around the world to share their unique work and stories.

Art by John Grammer
Art by John Grammer
Photo by Petra Rivera
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The St. Armands Fine Art Festival hosted a creative break from the many barbecues and pool parties happening over Memorial Day weekend.

Visitors and locals perused the array of artists on May 25-26 on St. Armands Circle. 

Each one started with a childhood passion and worked to create diverse artwork such as stainless steel art, world-renowned sculptures and international jewelry. These artists enjoyed the hot summer's day of showcasing their art and picking the brains of Sarasota's top art fanatics.

Here are a couple of the standout artists from this year's St. Armands Fine Art Festival. 

John Grammer

John Grammer spent the past five years perfecting the delicate technique of stainless steel art.

Art by John Grammer
Photo by Petra Rivera

“It is all about the right temperature from the torch to shape it and give it the color you want,” said Grammer. “This was just years of hard work and practice, but now I’m addicted to making them.”

Since he was a child, Grammer always wanted to be an artist. He only pursued it as a side hobby for a time, but people could always find him making art such as the sculptures he crafted on-site at his construction job. At age 55, these sculptures inspired him to quit his job and make art full-time. 

Grammer said that stainless steel art is rare because of how expensive it is and how difficult it is to deal with. After five years of practicing the technique, Grammer knows just by touch how hot the torch needs to be to make a specific color on the material.

Grammer moved to Sarasota in 2019. He focuses on making art based on fish caught by local fishermen. He loves that his stainless steel pieces are unique and will last forever. 

Ruben Medina

Originally from Cuba, Ruben Medina is a world-renowned artist with sculptures in the United States, Cuba and Italy. 

Art by Ruben Medina
Photo by Petra Rivera

Medina said that he knew since he was 11 years old that he was destined to be a sculptor. In 2003, Medina opened his own studio in Milan, Italy, and lived there for 17 years. 

“In the land of Donatello, Cellini, and my inspiration, the great Gian Lorenzo Bernini, I had the opportunity to enrich and perfect my technique of processing these materials,” said Medina on his website. “There I learned to work with marble with a process based on an archaic 19th-century classical technique, which did not involve the use of industrial machinery. I created marble and bronze sculptures, and above all figurative subjects.”

His sculptures are displayed throughout Milan at churches, in plazas and other public places. Medina moved to Cape Coral, Florida, nine years ago to continue sculpting with the inspiration of a tropical atmosphere. 

Art by Ruben Medina
Photo by Petra Rivera

Medina’s latest collection is inspired by ancient sea myths such as Mother of Pearl and King Neptune. He also made sculptures based on horse races in Milan. He also included interactive aspects in his work such as lights and mirrors.

Drew Allan
Drew Allan
Photo by Petra Rivera

Artist Drew Allan was focused on another art form for most of his life: music. 

After chasing his rock star dreams for a few years in the 1990s, he eventually settled down to pursue a career in environmental science. Still practicing music on the side, Allan started painting as another creative outlet. 

Art by Drew Allan
Photo by Petra Rivera

Now Allan combines all three passions on the easel and is eager to share them with the community. He moved to Sarasota in 2010.

“My art is just another expression of me,” said Allan. “I mean my guitar pieces are all about my music and then you go into the sea life and the painted surfboards you feel my love for the water and the environment.”

Allan describes his art as a mix of abstract and impressionism. He adds texture to his art with items such as guitar strings. He also paints on unique objects relating to his life such as his surfboards. 

Allan said, “I think it's cool that I can just share my life with everything through these two amazing art forms.”

Tagua Art by Lulu

Each piece of jewelry from Tagua Art By Lulu is uniquely made with “love and hope.”

Lourdes Gloekler
Photo by Petra Rivera

Lourdes Gloekler’s colorful jewelry is crafted from the South American nut “Tagua,” which is collected by Ecuadorian families from Gloekler’s hometown.

Gloekler started making jewelry as a little girl. She said that her first pieces were made from watermelon. This pushed her to start experimenting with different items. Gloekler learned the “Tagua” technique from her grandmother as it was passed down through many generations. 

Tagua was originally crafted by the native Ecuadorians into vegetable ivory and worn as protection. They would leave the tagua nut in the sun every day for a couple of months so its interior texture of jelly would harden. Then, the piece could be crafted by hand into the desired shape and permanently infused with vibrant colors. 

Gloekler uses this technique today. The process takes a year overall. She designs pieces with various colors and styles in advance to take them to her brother on her annual Ecuador trip. The families will craft the tagua through the ancient process and send it to Gloekler to sell them. She donates a portion of the proceeds back to the Ecuadorian families. 

Tagua Art By Lulu by Lourdes Gloekler
Photo by Petra Rivera

Gloekler now lives in Ormond Beach. She uses her business as a source of education for the families making the jewelry. She also loves to share her culture and traditions with everyone who buys the jewelry in Florida.

“These pieces are so special because they are made through hard work and love,” said Gloekler. “People will tell me every time they wear a piece they feel happy because they feel that positive energy. And I feel it too just touching them. The people who made it are so special and deserve opportunities for better education and this is just a small thing to help them get that.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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