Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Artists Enjoy Spotlight at Clay Fair

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Artists Enjoy Spotlight at Clay Fair

Article excerpt

More than 2,000 photographs fill Gary Smith's Orange Park home.

Small slices of life, collected from across the country and

throughout the Carribean islands.

They're not simply memoirs of his travels. They're tiny bits of

inspiration.

One of those photographs inspired Smith to create the work of

art that earned him first place in the Amateur Painting Contest

at the Clay County Agricultural Fair. He earned a blue ribbon

for his watercolor rendition of a picture of a North Carolina

home, complete with "lots of flowers and an old-fashioned

Southern porch."

"I never knew winning could be so much fun," said Smith, who

traces his love of painting houses and landscapes back to a

carpenter apprenticeship program he completed as a youngster.

"I was just hoping for an honorable mention," he said. "This

has given me new inspiration. I feel renewed."

Success is nothing new to Smith. In 1983, he opened the first

Little Caesars Pizza in Orange Park. He soon opened 11 more in

Jacksonville, Starke, Lake City and California. He has since

sold 10 of those and now spends his time investing in stocks and

traveling.

Fellow artist Dee Roberts, also of Orange Park, was another

winner at the fair. Roberts won Best in Show in the Advanced

Painting division for her watercolor of a bird of paradise. The

painting is part of a series recently featured at the

Jacksonville Water Color Society's fall show.

"We've traveled to California and taken loads of pictures of

the birds," said Roberts. "They're colorful and dramatic and it's

exciting to try to put them into designs."

Roberts is studying to earn a degree in studio arts at the

University of North Florida. She credits much of her success to

UNF art professor Louise Freshman Brown, whose "Testimony"

series was last month's featured exhibit at the Jacksonville

Museum of Contemporary Arts. …

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