Attend a Prestigious Fine Art Event In a Postcard Setting — Art Festival Beth-El.

Browse the distinctive Floridian scenes of Richard Auger Photography.

Art lovers accustomed to the stomping grounds of downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa are urged to head west for this year’s Art Festival Beth-El.

The contemporary Jewish temple at 400 S. Pasadena Ave., St. Petersburg, has hosted the prestigious, thoroughly secular festival annually since 1973. At this year’s event, nearly 200 local, national and international artists will be on display in six galleries.  Works in just about every media imaginable — original paintings, wood, sculpture, ceramics, glass, photography and jewelry, plus a large selection of signed, framed, limited edition prints from Syd Entel Galleries of Safety Harbor — can be seen in the invitational and juried indoor exhibition.

Nathan Beard with daughter Vera and new Pond’s Edge works to be displayed at Festival Beth-El.

Prominent St. Peterburg-based artists such as Margaret Juul Ammann, Nathan Beard, Spathose and Mark Mitchell will be included in this year’s fest. (For others, click here.) Says Beard: “I’m really honored to have been invited to this festival considering its reputation and importance to our area. I’m also very excited to be able to connect with a lot of new people, many of whom are passionate about art.”

Beard will be showing two Exit Music paintings; one work in the exhibit appeared in the Tampa Museum Skyway show last summer. Beth El also chose two older Pond’s Edge pieces as well as two brand new Pond’s Edge pieces.

Mark Mitchell’s Pelican Nation, 36″ X 36″ Acrylic on Canvas, 2010 Mark Mitchell Studio LLC, will be among the works on display at this year’s Art Festival Beth-El.

A counterpoint to Beard’s contemplative, placid Pond’s Edge series could be Mitchell’s bold societal statements and ingenious mix of imagery and media.

“Beth-El’s selections of my Conceptual Pop paintings cover a range from lighthearted and whimsical to some that deal with more complex social issues,” Mitchell says. “With all of my work, I strive for art that conveys an idea. My process begins with an observation and a reaction. I explore symbolic and metaphoric imagery and employ a collage approach with meaningful juxtaposition to create unique and powerful paintings in acrylic on canvas. Although colorful and appealing at first glance, my intent is to encourage viewers to look deeper. I see my work as a kind of wake-up call, by exposing things that may be hidden from view. Each piece is intended to catch the viewer off-guard, invite them in, and challenge them to make connections, find meaning, and ultimately see differently some aspect of the world in which we live.”

Spathose artist Scott Durfee and George Medeiros will be at the temple all weekend and say that they’ve created “some very special upcycled artwork” to display in the event’s air-conditioned boutique.

On Saturday, Jan. 27, from 1 to 4 p.m. you can get a head start at the Purchase Award Patrons’ Reception, an exclusive early preview. The Saturday afternoon event is for those who have pre-pledged a minimum of $500 to Art Festival Beth-El. Later, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Gala Reception and Art Preview are free to Purchase Award Patrons ($500 and above), Sponsors ($250), and Benefactors ($150). A gourmet cocktail reception provided by the Boyz in the Hood and Carrabba’s will be included. All others can attend as donors for $25 at 7 p.m.

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Metal sculpture by St. Petersburg artist Donald Gialanella.

The main event begins on Sunday, Jan. 28, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will continue, same hours, Monday, Jan. 29.  Light lunches and snacks will be available to purchase from the BEEFY (Temple Beth-El Youth Group) Cafe. Enjoy some outdoor fun browsing the Avenue of Shops, which will feature a sale of fun art, jewelry and crafts in the courtyard. At 11 a.m Monday, attendees can also enjoy “Entertainment in the Sanctuary,” and at 2 p.m., attend the free Docent Tour to gain insight into the artists and their work. Meet at the Main Entrance into the Rothman Family Social Hall.

Bring your beach gear — this event is so close to St. Pete Beach that you can feel the gulf breezes. British pub Horse & Jockey, dining institution Ted Peters Smoked Fish and the cute, vintage Ten-Pin Bowling Alley are also nearby, so you can make a day of it.