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Art and life lessons at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

Gasparilla Festival of arts
Posted at 2:47 PM, Mar 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-06 14:47:33-05

TAMPA, Fla — Among all of the beauty for the eye at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, ABC Action News also found some beautiful lessons for the soul.

Betsy Best was the festival's featured artist this year and she says her featured piece, "Twister II— Twist Again," was born during the heart of the pandemic.

"I started doing a lot of drawings of people hugging and dancing and just being close," she said.

Best's work was also recognized by her peers at an award ceremony Saturday night.

When asked about her journey she shared this piece of advice—"don't be afraid to change it up."

She switched to her current print art style, after trying her hand at painting while juggling three young kids.

"That meant nights in the garage after everyone went to bed, so I was always tired, even more tired, and I was looking for a different way to work," she said.

Across the park, we met Nneka Jones—an amazing local artist who moved to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago just six years ago. Since then, she's graduated from the University of Tampa, done a cover for Time magazine, and had a portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris commissioned by the Washington Post.

"So it's all been surreal, it's been a crazy ride but it's definitely worth it," she said, "And it's just proof that when you put in that work, when you put in those hours, once you just put yourself out there, there's a chance your work can be discovered and you can make something of yourself as an artist."

Jones mixes art with activism—using it to advocate for minorities and children. She tells us that one of her biggest pieces of advice, for shyer artists and really anyone in general, is to put yourself out there.

"Not many people know you exist, right? The only way that you can let them know that you exist is by putting yourself out there. Not everyone will love your artwork and that's okay, but the people that do will love it extremely deeply."