Local artist Harriet Huss painted the image featured on the poster celebrating the 42nd annual SF Spring Arts Festival. (SF College is celebrating its 45th birthday this year, as well.) In keeping with tradition, the poster is a closely guarded secret until the moment it is unveiled.
Huss has always been strongly affected by Florida’s lush tropical foliage and natural environment. She lived in Miami through high school and was influenced by the area’s rich colors and play of light.
She settled in Gainesville after college and established a career as a potter. Later, after moving to Melrose, she took painting classes with Professor Norman Jensen at Santa Fe College. “He was the perfect teacher for me,” she said.
Huss began her painting career as a water colorist, but after a few years began experimenting with other mediums. “My colors became the main focus of my work,” she said. “Water colors dry slowly and can fade, while in other mediums I can work a lot quicker and spontaneously.”
She now works in acrylics, water colors, colored pencils, water color crayons, and oil pastels. She creates lots of layers of different mediums to which, she said, she adds “scribbling” – little marks which add depth or texture.
Huss did a lot of figure drawing in college but she prefers nature, having two big sources of inspiration. The first is the wooded property in Melrose where she has lived since 1980. Huss’ studio there is surrounded by lush Florida foliage just begging to be captured by her brush strokes.
She has also been inspired by many trips exploring the Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park between Cedar Key and Yankeetown. “There’s a river, a salt marsh, beautiful palms, islands and birds – it’s very wild,” she said.
Huss is a member of Gainesville’s Artisans’ Guild and helped found the Melrose Bay Art Gallery. She has participated in every major Florida art festival over the years, has been in many solo and group exhibitions, and has been collected internationally.
The poster will be unveiled 2:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24 in the President’s Lobby of the Robertson Administration Building, SF Northwest Campus, 3000 NW 83rd St., Gainesville. Huss will autograph posters, which will be available for $10 that day; thereafter they will cost $15. The public is invited, admission is free and refreshments will be served.
There is an accompanying show of Huss’ art until April 8 in the President’s Lobby, open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Admission is free. Her Web site is www.harriethuss.com.
SF Spring Arts is the longest running arts festival in North Central Florida. Hours are 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9 and noon-5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 10 rain or shine. Admission is free.
Spring Arts was voted Florida’s best arts and crafts festival by readers of Florida Monthly magazine in 2008 and has been recognized as one of the top 20 events by the Southeast Tourism Society.