Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Extravaganza of Florida artists

In addition to great antiques and collectibles, the Renninger's Extravaganza is chock full of great art. The extravaganza portion of the show consists of hundreds of outdoor booths. There is, however, a portion of the market that enclosed and is there year-round. That is where you will find the booth of Martin Cushman.

I have blogged about Martin before, as he is passionate about preserving in clay the aspects of old Florida that I love so much. His subject matter includes the native inhabitants of the sunshine state including its birds, animals and Seminole Indians. His pottery is beautiful and whimsical and it seems to me his work has grown since I last saw it, becoming more detailed and confident. And it is very cool that he even found away to vent his anger over the Gulf oil spill in his work. Martin has a unique voice and I am constantly inspired by the candor of his blog.

Directly across from Martin's booth, I was excited to see a large piece by Florida artist Joy Postle. One of her larger works, this incredibly detailed painting was priced pretty high, showing me that awareness of her work must be on the rise. I expect you'll be hearing more about this wildlife painter, performer and poet in the future.

Outside I found a piece of sculpture for sale by folk artist Jesse Aaron (1887-1979). I'm very familiar with Aaron's work as my best childhood friend's parents were early patrons of the Gainesville artist. Their house was full of his work, I thought it bizarre as a kid, but today I wish I owned some of his work. Coveted by collectors, it's pretty rare to good examples his work on the market. This piece was here last year, and it appears to be in rough shape.

According to Just Above the Water: Florida Folk Art by Kristin G. Congdon and Tina Bucuvalas, Aaron was of mixed African and Seminole Indian descent and he was born in poverty in Lake City, Florida. A manual laborer most of his life, he heard a calling to "carve wood" in 1968 and was prolific the rest of his life, starting his carving at 3 a.m. every day.

Florida State Archives

Drawings of Aaron and his work by Stuart Purser from his book Jesse J. Aaron Sculptor

The common thread among these three artists, is they saw something in their enviornment that we often take for granted. Martin Cushman sees beauty in the native critters and people of Florida (although the Seminoles weren't really indiginous to Florida, but that is a whole story unto itself.) Joy Postle, like Cushman was inspired by our state's natural wonders, especially its birds. And Jesse Aaron saw animals and faces in pieces of wood and created amazing pieces of sculpture out of them. Those of us who live in this state are surrounded by the inspiration for their art on a daily basis. Artists like these three, make us see our world differently and hopefully appreciate it more. They continue to inspire me.

P.S. Special thanks to Martin for the coveted excellence in blogging award!


  1. thanks for exposing me to some florida artists and their work!

  2. I am loving this blog - thank you so much for all the fantastic images and stories -