A Selection of Featured Artists & Friends

Meet an Artopian: Michael Kennedy

Michael KennedyWhen did you realize your love for creating art?
In my early 60’s.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration as an artist?

What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?
Tough question – unable to answer – it would be like picking your favorite child.

What is your current favorite musical artist?
Van Morrison

Why did you donate to Artopia?
Great Cause!

Contact Michael at

Meet an Artopian: Charlotte Cantrell

Charlotte CantrellWhat is the best advice you have been given about Art?
When I was 7 years old my grandmother handed me a canvas, oil paints, and paint brushes, and she told me these magic words. It’s your world paint it how YOU see it in your minds eye.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
God, He gave me this gift, and I have always tried to use it the way he would want me to.

What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?
Cantrellimage-paintingI have a painting that I did for my mother about two years before she passed away. It still hangs on my living room wall. I named it HOPE. It is of a Snowy Egret looking towards the sky at the sun. Here is a picture of it….It wasn’t meant to be anything but a reminder to always look up to Heaven for life.

What is your current favorite musical artist?
Josh Turner.

Why did you donate to Artopia?
I have a friend that is HIV/Aids positive. He was the first person that I had heard about Artopia from about 5 years ago.

Contact Charlotte at

Meet an Artopian: Ron Sutterer

artopia2016-bio-SuttererRobHow has your artistic style changed over time?
Because I started ceramics at a later time in life, I have experimented with various forms and firing types. Over time I have been able to narrow the focus to some extent, but I still enjoy exploring. I have been naturally drawn to the beauty of ash glazes and have tried to develop forms that are compatible with that type of glazing. In addition, I have discovered that you have to pick your battles and therefore have eliminated some aspects that did not maintain my interest.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
That is a difficult question because there have been many influences on my development as a potter. Richard Aerni, a studio potter in Rochester, New York has always been an inspiration for me, his forms are refined and his glazing sets a standard for my interest. In addition, I’m very fortunate to live in an artistic rich environment of Floyd, Virginia. I have received so much encouragement and technical support from local potters and Richard Hensley been been a mentor. I often refer to myself as his “elderprentice”.

What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?
I make platters meant for hanging or serving as a center piece for the table. These are typically glazed with multiple glazes including an ash glaze to create a flow pattern across the surface. I think of these as a canvas with the glazes as a color palette. The degree of success varies but every so often a real winner emerges from the kiln….that’s what we live for.

If you had one superpower, what would it be, and why?
I have no clue!

If you could meet one famous artist (alive or deceased), who would it be?
Probably Vincent van Gogh.

Contact Rob at

Meet an Artopian: Bob O’Lary

artopia2016-bio-OLaryBob.jpgWhen did you start making art?
I didn’t consider my photography was actually “making art” until I noticed that others considered it so. It was 1976, and the newspaper I worked for started getting a lot of nice comments about my work as being “Artistic”. That got me thinking in that direction.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
Robert Maplethorpe and Helmut Newton were my early inspirations for photographic art. They transcended the mechanics of photography, and created, visceral, mind-expanding images that caused me to grow in directions I had never considered before. Before them, I was just a documentarian.

If you could meet one famous artist (alive or dead), who would it be?
Salvador Dali, no question! He lived his art in every way, and I’d LOVE to experience his creativity in person.

If you had one superpower, what would it be, and why?
The ability to fly. As a photographer, simply being “present” in person is imperative for my line of work. If I could fly, I could always be where I needed to be, on time, and ready to record important images.

Why did you donate to Artopia?
Artist Ron Yrabedra’s continued contributions inspired me, as Ron has done for my artistic career time and time again. I am more than happy to contribute.

To learn more about Bob’s work, visit his website at

Meet an Artopian: Denise Boineau

artopia2015-bio-BoineauDenise.jpgWho has been your biggest, artistic influence?
So many artistic influences! In fashion – Calvin Klein and Anna Wintour. I love clean, stripped-down images. As for painters – Alice Neel and Luc Tuymans – their expressionistic nature with the human form.

What is you favorite album?
Favorite Album – Chicago – Greatest Hits. I’m a classic rocker.

Why give to Big Bend Cares?
I’m looking to share my work and it’s a great way to do that while giving back. I’ve lost a few friends in NYC to the disease and it’s an important cause.

Can you really have too much of a good thing?
Can you ever have too much of a good thing? I can’t imagine?! It’s never happened! Maybe too much ice cream in one sitting but other than that I say the more the merrier!

Tell us about what is happening in the arts community in Thomasville…
Thomasville Center for the Arts is really growing. They are so important to the community and looking for ways to connect the artists to the town in order to shape strengthen and revitalize the community. And it’s working! Everyone is excited by the energy a creative life provides.

To learn more about Denise and her work, visit her website at

Meet an Artopian: Chiara Saldivar

artopia2015-bio-SaldivarChiara.jpgWhat is the best part about creating art?
We all have a bit of an artistic mind in some level. Whether it is cooking, carpentry, business, painting. The best part about creating to me, is to be in your own zone, connected to another world, with what is inside of you pouring it out. Since an early age I have been a crafter. I enjoy experimenting with my ideas, visions & thoughts through mediums, surfaces, shapes, colors. It is so fulfilling, it is infinite what you can do. Discovering each reaction, mixing the elements and creating from nothing to something powerful. I call it magic.

Tell us about growing up in Venezuela?
I was born and raised in Caracas, the capital. Caracas is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. The whole city is in a massive valley called “El Avila” also known as “the lung” of Caracas. The vegetation makes it misty in the morning and you can witness the most beautiful views from wherever you are standing. The contrast of the colonial and modern architecture are amusing, deep green plants everywhere. Busy. A very busy place, with so many typical things, foods, music, moments… even to ride the bus is a wild experience… so packed that sometimes you hang by the door holding from a pole to the outside of the bus while is riding, the drivers usually are blasting salsa music, you can see different saint images on the inside of the windshield and something really noticeable: even the sketchiest looking character will always stand up to give an older person their seat. That is awesome! Every time I go there I see it.

Venezuela is so rich in natural resources. It has all the different landscapes in a relatively small country, its people have funny sense of humor and they are great. Too bad I can’t say the same about the people who run it and ruined it. You would have to be there when I lived there to have the full experience. It doesn’t make justice to put it in words. To describe it in two words… beautifully contrasting. Growing up there was very fun and unique.

Who has been your biggest inspiration as an artist?
I very much admire Escher and Dali. In my family, my cousin Damian. When I was young, he studied graphic design and I will stare at his drawings and the different typography of his homework. Nowadays, the muralists I have met from all over the world have dramatically inspired me. I got to meet in person and work with over 50 of them. It was unique.

In each field, someone different inspire me really. I even have favorite tattoo artists: my friends in Ireland Lou and Ian Flynn. Pretty much the people around me who are so passionate about what they do and they just keep going, it just gets better and better. It’s contagious.

Whats your favorite color?
mmmmm… you mean today? … Are you really asking that to a Gemini, girl, artist?

What can art teach about love?
Everything. Art is one of the most amazing gifts to humanity. It is precious and infinite, interactive. It does something to you. It can be gentle, or not. It is a message itself, of its own language that passes on and travels on thought times. The endless fire that bring to some of us, can be life changing.

Art is creation. To be able to create, is majestic. Nature is art, the way we write and speak is art. In my eyes, everywhere I look there it is. Art is a circle, it is inevitable not to receive it and we must give that inspiration back ten fold. Whatever you create, it has your soul behind it. The positive and the negative, your time, your expression, done with your unique energy, it’s a gift to your own self and to the world once is manifested. Art is there to inspire, and that, to me is love.

Big Bend Cares

2201 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301

850.656.2437 tel       850.942.6402 fax