Artist Powell Kay Kreis has attended LeMoyne’s Chain of Parks Art Festival for as long as she can remember. A Tallahassee native, Powell joined the LeMoyne team as Festival Manager this year where she was excited to dream up new experiences including a chalk art exhibition and festival “passport.”
This year will be the festival’s 20th anniversary, however, following the recommendations of local and state officials regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the LeMoyne Arts Gallery and Education Center is temporarily closed and the festival is on hold.
In spite of the celebration’s postponement, Kreis is looking forward. She says the festival committee will be using social media to stay connected with sponsors, artists and festival-goers in the coming months to keep the community engaged.
“People tend to take the arts for granted until you have a situation like this and suddenly, culturally, there is a big sense of loss,” says Kreis. “We love to gather, we love to share. Humans are very creative and I don’t think we always appreciate how much hard work it is and how much art is valued until we don’t have it.”
For Kreis, the arts are seamlessly woven into her everyday life. Her mother, who is also an artist, was her first role model. She fondly recalls a childhood decorated with tie-dye coffee filter projects, and encouragement to paint and make ceramics from teachers at LeMoyne’s summer art camps.
Kreis attended the School of Arts and Sciences and SAIL High School before earning her fine arts degree from the University of North Florida. It was there that her mentor, Louise Freshman Brown, brought the human figure to life and gave Kreis the freedom to explore different painting styles. Back home in the summertime, Kreis apprenticed for local artist Quincie Hamby and fell in love with jewelry.
“She is really focused on using authentic, genuine materials,” Kreis said. “Real stones and real shells because they have so much personality. She works with really special materials, and no piece is ever going to be the same.”
From that experience, Kreis knew she wanted to be a jewelry designer. She started small, selling earrings at a local hair salon to raise money for breast cancer awareness. After college, she landed a position with Chico’s FAS headquarters and designed jewelry for the company for six years.
Kreis created entire collections of earrings and necklaces, collaborating with vendors and choosing each detail from the size of the stone to the type of closure or bezel to use and mass produce. She always starts with a sketch, and her inspiration often comes from visits to the closest art museum — the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC being a favorite.
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