Meet Our Artists:
All of our artists are from the Tampa Bay area. Some of them are well established, some just coming onto the scene. But all of them are very talented individuals.
Larry Jaffe, Poet in Residence
Jaffe has been writing since he was eight years old when he first learned he had captured the beauty and impact of words writing “Uncle Larry’s Nature Column” for his camp newspaper. He has used a lot of ink since then.
Jaffe is an internationally known and an award winning writer, author and poet and founder of Poets Beyond Borders (a group dedicated to human rights and reform). He has been hosting and curating poetry readings for several years while also co-founding Poetix Poetry Magazine (a guide to Southern California Poetry). Additionally, he was a featured poet for Daimler/Chrysler’s Spirit in the Words poetry program. Jaffe impacts audiences and readers with a rich emotional range, masterfully crafted, written from the heart and soul with clarity and understanding. He has read his work in such distinguished locations as the Japanese American Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Tolerance, the Jewish Museum and the Museum of Literature in Prague and the Dylan Thomas Centre in Wales.
Jaffe uses the aesthetic power of poetry to bring understanding to the world. He was the 2007 recipient of the Saint Hill Art Festival’s Lifetime of Creativity Award, the first time given to a poet. He is the former poet in residence of the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. Jaffe spearheaded along with Rattapalax Publisher Ram Devineni the United Nations Dialogue among Civilizations through Poetry project which incorporated hundreds of readings in hundreds of cities globally using the aesthetic power of poetry to bring understanding to the world.
Writing is his life – he breathes in letters and breathes out words.
How can I create something that makes someone feel such joy? I admire the design and style of Chanel, love people and clothing and am mad for color and inventing new ways to express myself with paint and different media. A contemporary artist should be able to communicate in all sorts of ways and not be repetitive. Each piece is a new moment in time for me to capture the emotion. Why would I want to edit myself?
I am passionate about texture and one sided about color combinations. I am definite on what I love. I know about war, famine, poverty, suffering and failure in people’s lives. We see it all the time, so why put it in my art. Don’t we see it enough? I know that the lives of people are sometimes complex, yet I also know that life is in fact so simple! So why can’t I have different styles to show the feelings and emotions of the things around me and use my abilities to paint to express my thoughts? Isn’t a contemporary artist supposed to be able to create relevant work that reflects emotions?
Since there is so much in this world that is so different why can’t I just paint pieces that bring joy to people. I hope you enjoy what you see and that what I create speaks to you.
Junior was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Since the age 5, Polo has been following the best Haitian painters in their respective disciplines. He has since developed his love and passion for art through painting, pottery, and stage design.
Polo later found his inspiration for helping youth by working with disabled children at Saint Vincent Center in Haiti. This experience changed his life and he began to develop a plan to start a youth empowerment non-profit organization called GREDEVE (Network Empowerment for Child Development). Now, this 19-year-old organization teaches at-risk and underserved youth in the areas of leadership, art, literacy, and personal development. It serves over 200 youth and hosts many community building activities and performances each year. Junior currently serves on the Board of Directors and manages all staff members.
Junior now lives in the Tampa Florida area with his wife and daughters. He draws on his experiences in Haiti and the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti to create his art. He is featured in several art galleries in the Tampa Bay area and a portion of his commissions are sent back to help fund and support GREDEVE.
Cuban-born artist and a Tampa Bay resident for over 30 years, Lourdes Rosas-Rasdall has been creating art for most of her life, experimenting with many different art media and techniques over the years. Water media (watercolors, fluid acrylics, inks) was the predominant medium for the last 10 or so years, sometimes incorporating other elements such as collage or pastels …that is until she discovered glass fusion.
“A true artist is never done learning and is always looking to try something new. Glass has been my latest way of expression, and I have carried many of my prior interests and experiences to this new medium – the color combinations, the subjects, the style. I am attracted to glass for some of the same reasons I was attracted to watercolor: the transparency, the way the colors can “layer” on top of each other to create infinite combinations and effects, how you can play lights and darks (or transparent and opaques) against each other, and that element of surprise that you get from the final product. No matter how much you plan your creation, it is never exactly as you predicted. There is also the occasional “happy accident” that will turn your piece into something you never even imagined.
Light affects the way you see colors. Having lived in the tropics and coastal areas my entire live, my palette is bright and cheery. Nature, particularly wildlife, has been an ongoing interest. I am attracted to everything that moves and breathes, and by the local colors of new places explored. With my camera by my side, photographs and notes are taken on site for future studio work.
While I am compelled to share the beauty around us, my goal is not to replicate the subject exactly, but to render an interpretation that attempts to capture either the personality of the subject or the mood of the moment. Light and local colors are critical to capture both.”
Lourdes holds a Bachelor of Arts from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Belinda is a native Floridian born in St Petersburg, Florida, and grew up nearby in Plant City.
She is a self taught artist working in acrylics, oils, clay, bronze and other mixed media creating 2D and 3D art. A common theme throughout her work is the use of vibrant color and painting the Florida landscape and lifestyle. Her love for our gulf beaches is a strong inspiration and she is an advocate of preserving our beaches and wildlife.
She has painted murals across the U.S.A. in private homes, physicians’ offices and schools, in addition to painting a large scale Community Mural for the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 11, in Madeira Beach, Florida to memorialize soldiers across all branches of the US Military. Working full time as an artist, she accepts commissions and also teaches painting in group and private class settings.
Ace Robst, Jr.
Ace has wanted to be an artist since he was 5 years old. As a child he always had either a crayon, pencil, or paintbrush in his hand. He majored in Art in high school and in Studio Art, and Art Education in college. He attended the State University of New Paltz, Hudson Valley Community College, and The College of Saint Rose, Albany, New York. Because of his natural gift for art, his parents, teachers, and professors, were of tremendous help in his growth as an artist, encouraging him, and working with him. While other boys looked up to sports heroes, Ace’s heroes were artists. Over the years the artists that influenced his work were: Michelangelo, Da Vinci, the artists of the Hudson River School of Art, Vermeer, Cezanne, O’Keeffe, and Rembrandt.
Ace loves color, and how colors work with each other in a painting. His goal in every painting is to help the viewer feel the emotion, or mood, that he is trying to portray, in hopes that the viewer will be able to take these feelings with them, and or remind them of a special time, subject, or place, in their life. His favorite subjects to paint are portraits, wildlife, seascapes, sunsets, moonlight, and nature. Living in Florida has given him the opportunity to paint these subjects that he loves so much, which he does often.
Ace has mastered many media but his favorite media are pastel and colored pencil. Pastel, a wonderful medium for many reasons, is a very high grade of chalk which is almost pure pigment. Because of this, their colors are brighter and more pure than most media.
Ace resides with his wife Julie in Clearwater, Florida.
Ashley is a self-taught artist from North Central California. She is known mainly for stylized portrait work in a variety of media including oil, watercolor, pastel, and graphite.
Ashley was adopted by her loving parents before she was born and lead a very adventurous life traveling around the world with her family. At the age of 16 her mother, who was in good health, suffered a fatal heart attack at home while her father was serving time in a Federal honor camp. Ashley supported herself the next two years and graduated high school. Rather than utilize the college scholarships she had won, Ashley chose to work full-time as an automobile tire and lubrication specialist while also managing a 25-acre commercially viable walnut farm.
Two years later, she was recruited to become general manager of a successful auto body shop in Chico, CA, about 40 miles south of her home.
Following her passions for business, cars, and helping people. Ashley dedicated her life to helping individuals to achieve their potential for a fuller and happier life. In August, 2013, she made Clearwater her new home. Her purpose as an artist is to inspire creativity in others.
Cassy was born and raised in Ohio where her life mostly consisted of academics and lots of soccer. After graduating with a bachelors in History from Miami University of Ohio, she moved to San Diego where she would finally start painting at the age of 32. After living in San Diego for 13 years, she moved to the Tampa Bay area to be closer to her family. Cassy paints as much as she can when she is not working, volunteering at the animal shelter or spending time with friends and family. Combs is a self-taught artist who developed her creativity as a way to escape the “computer world”. As a professional web marketer and graphic artist, she often starts with her compositions on the computer. Cassy’s bold and graphic paintings of both homeless animals and beloved pets, especially dogs, expresses her dedication to animal welfare.
Kerry grew up in a small southern town that had only 1 stop sign. Despite not knowing anyone known as an “artist”, she knew that an artist was what she wanted to be from the earliest time she can remember – at about 4 years old. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting and later with a Master of Arts in Art Education. She is a painter and an art teacher whose primary subject matter is the land and people of the Southern United States. She is as comfortable with water-based media as she is with oils.
“Places inspire me. I particularly enjoy going for a run or a walk in new or in familiar places. The emotional impact that the place creates in me inspires me to express it in a painting or drawing. It may be the overwhelming color of the area that I elicits my response – like the greenest green haze that surrounds you in the foothills of South Carolina in the summer or the cool blue-greens and blues and browns that swirl around you when walking through the Florida marshes.
“I usually start an artwork with a purposeful visit to a place, a run or a walk through an area, emptying my thoughts and simply looking. A second visit finds me with camera in one hand and sketchbook or watercolors in the other, working to capture some of the sense of place that impressed itself upon me. A series is born as I take my color and value sketches and photographs back to my studio. “