Art Lovers at Festival Beth-El 

Nnamdi Okonkwo and his sculpture, titled “Celebration.”

Despite a rainy, cool weekend, art lovers flocked to the 44th Annual Art Festival Beth-El that ran from January 28 to 30 at Temple Beth-El in South Pasadena. Over 170 national and international artists were on hand to show and discuss their work at the popular show. In addition, the fine art exhibit featured an outdoor sculpture garden, a boutique gallery, gift shop and works by artists from 17 public and private Pinellas County schools. The art festival raises funds for student scholarships and other educational and outreach programs.

George and Kerstin Trowbridge enjoy the aluminum art of Clayton Swartz in the outdoor sculpture garden.

Nnamdi Okonkwo, a sculpture artist from Fayetteville, Georgia, said the big, rotund forms of his sculptures symbolize abundant life, an outward manifestation of a largeness of the soul.

“Also prevalent in my sculpture is the theme of womanhood,” said Okonkwo. “I am captivated by the noble characteristics which include empathy, love, resilience, strength, etc. that are embodied in womanhood. The women that are closest to me – my wife and my mother – have influenced me greatly and are exemplars of these noble attributes.”

“We are only here for the winter, then we will go back to the north,” said Mart Nurmet. As he admired the art of John Mascoll, he said, “I am also a refugee who came to this country from Estonia in 1950.”

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