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Sarasota Masters Art Festival on Gulf Stream February 4 and 5, 2017

This is Sarasota's highest quality art festival.  The event is held on Gulf Stream Avenue, along the most posh intersection in Sarasota. The Sarasota Masters will be held along Gulfstream Avenue in Historic Downtown Sarasota. Through the years, the surrounding downtown area have become the hub of Sarasota. This area is a delightful blend of historic Sarasota, fabulous shopping and exciting cultural events. A truly great location, loads of convenient patron parking.  Each year Sarasota gets to see the finest artists in the nation. 

Information on featured artist Nicholas Toth CLICK HERE to see Nick's Website

The show will feature 70 of the nation’s finest artists presenting one-of-a-kind pieces in categories including oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, sculpture, ceramics, fine jewelry and blown glass. Food and music vendors will enhance the atmosphere. Admission is free.

Among the artists is Nicholas Toth of Tarpon Springs, who has been creating copper and brass diving helmets in Tarpon Springs for more than 30 years. He continues a 100-year family tradition begun by his grandfather, legendary craftsman and master helmet maker Anthony Lerios, who arrived in Tarpon Springs in 1913. While helmets created byToth and his grandfather were used by sponge divers in the area, Toth evolved and expanded his artistic focus, using the inspiration of his iconic diving helmets to create hand-hammered copper and brass art pieces. Each original work of art showcases his incredible talent as a metal artist. His copper and brass diving helmets are also available for purchase, making a distinctive conversation piece for art collectors.      

ABOUT NICHOLAS TOTH

Toth’s iconic diving helmets are made using traditional techniques employed by helmet makers for 150 years, with roots traced back to the Dodecanese Islands of Greece. Currently, Toth is the only artisan in the world who continues to make handcrafted diving helmets using the same techniques, tools, cast iron mandrels and lathes that his grandfather used. Each helmet typically takes well over 320 hours to complete.

In the past, his family’s helmets were crafted to supply the nearly 200 boats in Tarpon Springs that were sponging in the Gulf of Mexico. However, due to changes in the sponge diving industry and the reduction in the number of active boats, very few of his helmets are used in the diving industry today.

Although each helmet he creates continues to be precisely crafted, fully functioning pieces of diving equipment, Toth has refined and elevated the aesthetic elements of his work to the level of fine art. The incredible beauty and level of detail is mesmerizing.

“I want to do more than present an assemblage of functioning parts,” Toth says. “I want to draw in the viewer and elicit an emotion. I want the viewer to be curious as to who wore these helmets and why. To think about what story is being told through this piece of art.”

It is from this background that Toth learned his craft. After his graduation from the University of Florida, he began working full time with his grandfather as an apprentice, learning the old-world techniques of crafting copper and brass diving helmets.

Within a very short time, Toth and his grandfather were garnering much attention from the State of Florida, due to the historical significance of their work. They were also gaining a great deal of attention from the media, with exposure from newspapers, magazines and television, including being prominently featured on National Geographic’s Explorer Series.

Over the years, Toth has garnered many awards. He is a two-time Florida Individual Artist Fellowship recipient, first in 1998 and then again in 2012. In 2000 he represented the State of Florida in the 200th anniversary of the Library of Congress and that same year was awarded placement in the collection of the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress. In 2006 he was presented the E.R. Cross Award by the Historical Diving Society. Toth is also a Florida Folk Heritage Award recipient presented by Gov. Charlie Crist and is a National Heritage Fellowship recipient presented by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003. Proceeds from this wonderful community event benefit  The Sarasota Rotary Club Foundation