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  • 24 May 2017 12:47 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    By Guest Contributor Mary Jane Park

    St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District Association started with several leaps of faith. Artists who needed reasonably priced work space saw promise in abandoned warehouses and began to reclaim industrial buildings that once housed tomato and seafood packing plants, a large commercial laundry and a deserted railway station.

    In 2012, WADA organized as a nonprofit entity to attract artists, create jobs, interact with the community and offer educational programming. The district itself, which runs from First Avenue N to 10th Avenue S and from 16th Street to 31st Street, has become a creative corridor that includes roughly 200 artists who create paintings, sculpture, music and furniture. Still others shape works of glass, clay, wood, sand, paper and metal. The WADA calls the area “Where Art Is Made.” It encompasses part of the Deuces Live and Grand Central areas and is within an enterprise zone that the city has targeted for economic development.

    Public and private funds enabled WADA to purchase nearly 3 acres of land along 22nd Street S between Fifth and Sixth avenues and along the Pinellas Trail. The property, acquired in 2014, is now known as the ArtsXchange. It comprises six warehouse buildings that total more than 50,000 square feet of space.

    ArtsXchange Artist Rendering ArtsXchange Artist Rendering


    Current tenants include Dazzio Art, MGA Sculpture and Soft Water Studios. Construction is under way to convert about 11,000 square feet of additional space into nearly 30 studios that are being built on two levels inside the skin of one of the existing warehouses on the property. The studios will be self-supporting. Stabilized rents will pay for maintenance, operating and utility costs. Also included are an incubator area where artists can interact and teach each other and an event space that will offer gallery and gathering opportunities, plus a meeting area for community outreach, programming, children’s education and other events.

    The group of artists who have been chosen as the first tenants in the new studios should be able to move in sometime in July.

    WADA leaders also are working with the Deuces Live on an action plan that should bring better lighting and signage, safer walking and cycling areas and additional event and work space to the area. At the April 27 hard hat party held to show progress at the ArtsXchange, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced that city staff will begin to improve lighting along the Pinellas Trail.

    The Warehouse Arts District Association was created because of the increasing desirability of the area, which is home to the popular 3 Daughters Brewing, Brocante Market and many other commercial enterprises. As property values escalate, so do rental rates for studios and galleries, often pushing artists out of the very neighborhoods they have helped to improve.

    Future plans are to create larger spaces for metal workers, sculptors, other mixedmedia artists, classrooms, and additional gallery space. WADA leadership envisions even more possibilities: performance space, a foundry, a recording studio, rehearsal areas, perhaps even a restaurant and/or microbrewery.

    Ideas emerge daily. During a recent tour of scientists from the University of South Florida, one suggested that new plantings along the trail could develop as edible gardens that would produce food available to anyone. Also being discussed are an increasing number of educational efforts, community marketplaces and festivals in the area.

  • 23 May 2017 2:31 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Mary Jane Park - Guest Contributor on Alive Tampa Bay

    Art is good for the soul. It fuels the imagination. And increasingly throughout the Tampa Bay area, art is helping to generate tourism, economic development, and job creation.

    Cultural activities thrive here. In St. Petersburg, the Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Chihuly Collection bring thousands of visitors to the area each year. Those guests fill hotel rooms and restaurants, pay Florida sales taxes, and sometimes find our city so desirable that they choose to move here. Numerous galleries and studios are destinations for residents and tourists alike.

    A short distance west from St. Petersburg’s magnificent, bustling waterfront, the Warehouse Arts District is creating even more opportunity. We call our part of the Sunshine City the area “Where Art is Made.” Buildings that often were abandoned as nearby railway use declined are being transformed into working areas for artists of many disciplines. Businesses such as craft breweries and distilleries, architecture firms, and a monthly vintage market are thriving here. A once-underutilized commercial neighborhood is becoming a desirable destination for even more small-business development in the city’s core. Artists including glass maestro Duncan McClellan and master sculptor Mark Aeling employ other artists in their studios. The Morean Center for Clay in the Historic Train Station is one of the largest working ceramic entities in the Southeast.

    Organized in 2012, the Warehouse Arts District Association is constructing 28 new, affordable artist studios within the skin of an existing industrial building at the ArtsXchange, a nearly three-acre property the organization acquired in 2014. Through public and private contributions, and over several phases, the WADA’s goal is to create affordable space for a variety of artists who might otherwise be priced out of the rapidly developing creative corridor. Doing so ensures that artists can continue to work in the district and contribute to the city’s overall economy.

    As we interviewed the artists who will be the first tenants at the ArtsXchange, we repeatedly heard how hungry they are for community. Without exception, they told us that they are drawn to an environment that invites interaction. The rental fees are substantially below market value, and the space includes areas that are conducive to community activities, conversations, performances, exhibitions, classes, and other gathering opportunities. It also allows us to expand our educational offerings to students of all ages.

    Leaders in the Warehouse Arts District Association are working with our neighbors and public officials to establish landscaping, lighting, sidewalks, signage, and other improvements throughout the community. One of our short-term goals is to open portions of the Pinellas Trail to pedestrians and bicyclists during St. Petersburg’s monthly Second Saturday ArtWalk.

    The project is transformational, converting blighted property into an inspirational art center and the Warehouse Arts District into a thriving and diverse economic, artistic, and entrepreneurial community.

    True, art is good for the soul. And as creatives throughout Tampa Bay are rapidly demonstrating, it is good for business.

    Mary Jane Park is executive director of the Warehouse Arts District Association in St. Petersburg. Please contact her by email at maryjane@whereartismade.com

  • 04 May 2017 3:11 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    By S. Mathur at Florida State Homes

    You may have walked past their Ripples of Life installation at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa or marveled at the towering Vertical Hum abstract structure at Metro Development in Rocky River. MGA Sculpture Studio has been around for more than 20 years, with 12 of those years in St. Petersburg and contributed to its public art as well as interior architectural decorations, installations and displays. The studio works in various materials, including glass, metal, wood and fiberglass. Owner Mark Aeling's work is widely recognized nationally and internationally and was included in the Stone Sculpture Triennale 2012, which took place in Japan.

    "MGA is primarily a commission driven sculpture studio," Aeling said, "I have a showroom that displays past work and samples of materials. This is helpful when talking through the creative process."

    The sculpture can be designed for a space or an idea, and the studio will work with the client to produce the final piece. Aeling picks the material for a project based on the subject.

    "Generally I would say that I like to work with whatever material best solves the challenges of the project at hand," he said, "I make a lot of site specific work that is commissioned. Often times I'm working with Developers, Architects or on public art commissions."

    Over 20 years, as his career had evolved, he finds that the process of choosing a sculpture to suit the space has changed. Earlier, clients would tell him the idea they had in mind and they would work together to achieve that vision. Now Aeling finds that clients come to him with space and ask him what would be suitable. The final result is still the product of collaboration, which Aeling finds a very satisfying way to work.

    The studio's portfolio covers a wide range, from public art and monuments to small projects, reliefs and architectural ornaments. Clients have included a wide range of public buildings from schools, academies and hospitals to zoos and aquariums to corporate buildings. MGA sculptures can be seen at Discovery Park, the Colorado Symphony, Six Flags and other diverse locations.

    Aeling has been a pioneering force in the St. Petersburg art community. He also co-owns the Soft Water Studios, which has space for a gallery and special events.

    "This would allow us to show our work as well as the artists who rented the other portions of the space," Aeling said, "We also bring in artists from around the community and around the country. Soft Water became the 'model home' so to speak for the ArtsXchange project developed by the Warehouse Arts District Association of which I'm the Board President."

  • 26 Apr 2017 12:22 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)


    By Patrick Kelly writer and editor for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.

    New studio space is coming to St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District and the community is invited to come take a peek at the progress on Thursday, April 27th.

    At a “Hard Hat Celebration” and fundraiser, the St. Pete Warehouse Art District Association will showcase the ArtsxChange, a project that converts 50,000 square feet of space into affordable art studios as part of the association’s commitment to the local art community.

    “It’s a chance to get people up to date on the project, which has been in the works for several years, let our sponsors and donors see where their money has gone and to really invite artists into the area to bear witness to our commitment to provide affordable space for them to create,” WADA Executive Director Mary Jane Park says.

    The event begins at 4:30 p.m. and includes art by incoming ArtsXchange artists, live music, food and drinks, remarks from St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and more. The new studios, located at 515 22nd St. S, are currently under construction and attendees will have the opportunity to view progress. A $20 donation to WADA is suggested but the event is free to attend.

    WADA has branded the ArtsxChange as a resource for the city, local artists and the community by creating “sustainable and affordable art studios and educational space.” The first phase of development began in March and is expected to conclude in mid-summer. It includes a 1,500-square-foot community space for art exhibitions and educational programing as well as 28 studios.

    Smith and Associates CEO Bob Glaser says his business is sponsoring the ArtsxChange because it improves the community and adds opportunity for residents.

    “It’s going to bring a lot of positive change to the market place,” he says.

    For more information on the event, to register and to view a list of ArtsXchange sponsors visit WADA online.

  • 31 Jan 2017 12:31 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Norman Arts Council announces first piece in new public art program

    Written by Chandler Kidd, arts & entertainment reporter for OU Daily

    Mark Aeling, an award-winning artist from St. Petersburg, Florida, will create the first public art piece under the Norman Arts Council's "Norman Forward 1% for Art" program. 

    The Norman Arts Council paired with the city of Norman to create the Norman Forward program in fall of 2015 to help improve the public facilities like libraries and recreational facilities through public art. The "Norman Forward 1% for Art" program receives one percent from the Norman public arts board budget, according to the Norman Arts Council. 

    Aeling’s 20-foot sculpture titled "SPLASH" is the first public art piece as part of the program and will be installed at the renovated Westwood Recreational Complex and revealed this summer. "SPLASH" captures the interaction of the facility with its bold colors and design that match Norman’s vision of creating an exciting place for families to visit, according to the website.

    The project received a budget of $100,000 and sent out open call requests in the fall of 2016. The project received 155 applicants. The selection panel is composed of the City of Norman designee, a member of the Public Arts Board, Norman Arts Council board member, Ad HOC Committee member, the designer of the complex and local stakeholders. The board decided the three finalists, according to the Norman Arts Council. 

    Erinn Gavaghan, executive director of the Norman Arts Council said the arts council is excited to announce this program.

    “NAC has been deliberate in developing an intensive, balanced process to amass the highest quality works that we can, and at the conclusion of this slate of Norman Forward 1% for Art projects, our community will have a diverse, impressive selection of public artworks for visitors and citizens to enjoy for generations to come,” Gavaghan said in a release. 

    Aeling has "25 years of experience creating large scale, public art pieces. Past clients include the Florida Aquarium, Sea World, Six Flags, the St. Louis Zoo, Anheuser Busch and more," according to Norman Arts Council. 

    For more information about "SPLASH" or the program, visit the Norman Arts Council website.

  • 24 Jan 2017 12:15 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    By Janan Talafer, 83 Degrees Media

    Once the city’s designated manufacturing area known as the Dome Industrial District, the St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District is transforming itself as an emerging eclectic community of working artists and small industrial shops.   

    This is the place where “art is made.”  It’s a popular stop on the trolley tour during the city’s Second Saturday Art Walk. An ever-growing number of painters, sculptures, glass artists, woodworkers and metalsmiths work and sometimes live in the neighborhood, which runs from 1st Avenue South to 10th Avenue South and 16th Street South to 31st Street South.

    Deuces Live Main Street is an historic African American district centered on the 22nd Street South corridor that extends from 1st Avenue South to about 18th Avenue South. During the era of segregation, this was the African-American community’s “main street.”

    In its heyday, the Deuces once housed more than 100 successful African-American-owned businesses, says Chuck Egerter, CEO of Eagle Datagistics and past President of the Deuces Live Main Street association.  

    Landmark venues such as the Manhattan Casino, Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum, the historic Mercy Hospital and the Royal Theater are also located here. Legendary African-American jazz and blues musicians like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ray Charles, among others, played at the Manhattan Casino during the 1940s and ‘50s.

    A joint community action plan

    Last fall, the two districts agreed to move forward on a joint action plan to address areas of mutual interest. The goal is to tackle issues such as safety, accessibility and connection, as well create greater visibility and branding for the area. Brian Casper, economic development project manager for the City of St. Petersburg calls the project an “urban framework plan.”   

    “This is not about changing the character and unique identity of either district,” says Casper. “We want to preserve the area’s history and culture. We also don’t want to affect affordability for residents and businesses. But we do hope to capitalize on each district’s assets and make strategic improvements.”

    A six-member committee with representatives from both districts has begun working with the city’s economic development team and two consulting firms -- Kisinger Camp & Associates, a Tampa engineering firm, and Community Solutions Group, a community planning consultant. 

    Important infrastructure elements on the table for discussion include lighting, streetscape character, signage and wayfinding, as well as safety concerns and the need for bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians. Additional issues range from zoning and use of public open spaces to better accessibility and connection with the rest of downtown, especially the Grand Central District.

    “Right now we are in listen mode and asking for input and feedback,” says Casper. “It’s about giving people in the community a voice.”

    A public kick-off for the project took place on November 30 followed by a trolley tour of the area the next day to give participants a close-up look at areas of concern or interest.  In addition, an interactive website, was developed to allow users to leave comments and suggestions. 

    At the end of January, the team will present their findings, initial design ideas and early implementation strategies during a series of community workshops held at the St. Petersburg College Midtown Campus.  

    By early March, Casper expects the plan to be sufficiently “tweaked” to be ready for final presentation to the community, and then to go to city council for final approval.  So far about $1 million has been set aside for the project, which Casper anticipates leveraging with grants and additional funding sources.

    Retaining authenticity

    “We aren’t talking about residential neighborhood improvements, but about uplifting and stabilizing the area and envisioning what it could become, especially with the confluence of economic, cultural and creative forces that are happening here,” says Pete Sechler, senior Director of Community Solutions Group.  

    “Our job is to figure out what immediate action we can take that is meaningful, as opposed to big dramatic steps that could change the neighborhood and raise everyone’s property values,” says Sechler. “That is not what we want. We are taking small steps and shining a light on it. The question is what can we do to improve the infrastructure deficiencies and connect everything under a bigger umbrella to create a regional brand.”

    A critical piece of the plan involves the intersection of 22nd Street South and 5th Avenue South -- a key intersection that both Deuces Live Main Street and the Warehouse Arts District claim as part of their respective districts.

    The Pinellas Trail, a 47-mile linear park and recreational trail, runs diagonally through the intersection. The historic Seaboard Train Station, now the Morean Center for Clay, borders the trail and is just east of 5th Avenue South.  

    Other nearby landmarks include Three Daughters Brewing, a popular hang out and local craft brewer, and the pop-up vintage Brocante Market.

    “5th Avenue South and 22nd Street South could be one of the coolest intersections in Florida,” says Sechler.  

    Sechler points to obvious challenges to overcome, including overgrown yards, empty lots, chain link fences and lack of sidewalks and lighting on the Pinellas Trail. 

    There are also breaks and disconnects between buildings and other structures that stop the flow of pedestrians and bicyclists, he says. 

    Wish List for the WAD

    Better signage, landscaping, sidewalks, lighting and wayfinding are definitely needed for the Warehouse Arts District, says Mary Jane Park, Executive Director of the Warehouse Arts District.

    “We want to make sure that we’re more accessible and friendly,” says Park. “This is an area that can be daunting right now. It’s not like International Plaza [in Tampa] where you can walk into a store and look at something. Our artists are in warehouses. Sometimes people aren’t sure whether it’s safe to go inside or whether the studio is open for visitors.”

    Egerter presents an exciting vision of a rehabbed and transformed area that encompasses both the Warehouse Arts District and Deuces Live Main Street.

    “I can see at some point in the future having someone walk down Central Avenue and turn south on 22nd Street,” he says. “From there they will find a line of shops, cafes and businesses that takes you all the way down to 15th Avenue South. It starts with a vision, one piece at a time. It’s like the Grand Central District revitalization -- 15 years ago everything was boarded up there and now look at it.”

    Economic development opportunities

    For Deuces Live Main Street, it’s not only about improving the streetscape. There’s also the need to bring more opportunity and jobs to the area.

    “We want economic revitalization, but we want to it to be through holding onto the area’s cultural heritage -- the community’s stories, music, food and history,” says Egerter. “This is not about recreating the Deuces as an entertainment district. We also want accountants, doctors, lawyers and small companies. Our goal is to create a diverse eco-system so the people who live in this neighborhood will have more opportunity.”

    The Warehouse Arts District is also looking at economic revitalization, but with a different focus -- making sure that improvements to the area don’t price artists out of the market, similar to what has taken place in areas like SoHo in New York and Wynwood in Miami, says Park.

    To make sure that doesn’t happen, in 2014, the Warehouse Arts District closed on 2.7 acres of land along 22nd Street South between 5th and 6th Avenue.  The property includes about 50,000-square feet of warehouse space in six buildings. The goal is to turn the development into a collection of affordable studios and artist galleries called the Arts Xchange.

    Artist Mark Aeiling’s Mga Sculpture Studio is already located there. So is Soft Water Studios, the site of the old Soft Water Laundry, a former large commercial laundry that is now home to five artists, including painter Carrie Jadus.

    Phase 1 of the Arts Xchange project is currently underway, says Park. Some 30 small studios are expected to be ready for occupancy in June. Artists in a variety of mediums, from painters and poets to 3D and virtual realty, have already been interviewed and selected for the space.

  • 23 Jan 2017 3:29 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)
    Duncan McClellan in the Warehouse Arts DistrictWritten by Marcy Sanford of Tampa Magazine


    When Duncan McClellan was five years old, his mother and father loaded him and his seven siblings into the car for a family vacation to visit the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City to see Michelangelo’s sculpture “Pietà.”

    One of the places they stopped during the 17-hour drive from Orlando to New York was the Blenko Glass Company in Milton, West Virginia. The visit immediately captivated the young McClellan and ignited his interest in glassblowing.

    - See more at: http://thetampamagazine.com/glass-master/#sthash.t8zSeRby.dpuf

    When Duncan McClellan was five years old, his mother and father loaded him and his seven siblings into the car for a family vacation to visit the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City to see Michelangelo’s sculpture “Pietà.”

    One of the places they stopped during the 17-hour drive from Orlando to New York was the Blenko Glass Company in Milton, West Virginia. The visit immediately captivated the young McClellan and ignited his interest in glassblowing.

    “I hid for three hours to watch them blowing glass,” he said.

    Upon his return to Florida, where opportunities to learn about the art were nonexistent at the time, he sought out other creative pursuits. In his teens and twenties, McClellan worked in pottery and leather arts. But in 1987, the glassblowing flame was rekindled when he had the chance to try glassblowing at a studio in Ybor City. He then continued his education at the New York Experimental Glass Workshop and was the second American to work and study at the Ars Murano Artistic Glass Factory in Murano, Italy.

    Inspired by the colors of the sunset, McClellan spins, twists and inflates molten blobs into beautiful forms and vessels, to which he then adds imagery. McClellan is inspired by everyday conversations, experiences and nature, but he wants his viewers to take away their own ideas and messages from his pieces. McClellan said he has about 20 different forms that he works with, but he is always considering how he will fit the imagery onto the vessel.

    In late 2010, McClellan opened the Duncan McClellan Gallery in St. Petersburg. The gallery features nationally and internationally recognized glass artists and has meeting, lecture and demonstration spaces. In 2013, McClellan started the DMG School Project, which has demonstrated glassblowing to more than 10,000 visitors, initiated classes for Eckerd College students, hosted school groups for tours, provided lesson plans and fostered a mobile glassblowing unit that visits inner city schools. Thanks to McClellan, no other child interested in the art of glassblowing will have to wait 20 years before pursuing his or her passion.

    Duncan McClellan Gallery
    2342 Emerson Ave. S.
    St. Petersburg, FL
    855.436.4527
    dmglass.com

    Written By Marcy Sanford 
    Written By Marcy Sanford 
  • 10 Jan 2017 2:32 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    By Julie Garisto, Creative Pinellas

    Painting by Jim Woodfield of Woodfield Fine Art Gallery.


    Local artists and a curator talk about the monthly event, how it’s evolved and what they’d like to see in the future.

    Once a month, thousands flock to St. Petersburg — and it’s not for a Rays game or a beer or concert festival.

    On the second Saturday of each month, the St. Petersburg Second Saturday ArtWalk draws young adults, families, seniors and everyone in between to around 50 galleries and art venues that remain open after hours.

    The city’s Second Saturday ArtWalk has become a tradition that attracts both locals and tourists to the city’s downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods.  

    The ritual started small sometime around the late 1980s, when it included the area’s museums and a handful of galleries along the Central Arts District, but it has since expanded to include the 600 Block, the neighboring Warehouse Arts District immediately south of downtown plus the Edge and Grand Central districts on the outskirts of downtown St. Petersburg.

    Each ArtWalk attracts a steady stream of tourists and locals to opening receptions, which feature ever-revolving exhibits of new works with complimentary wine and cheese.

    For those intimidated by the idea of walking into a gallery, the event breaks down those self-imposed barriers between non-artists and the art world. The public strolls in and out of art spaces where they may quietly ponder a watercolor of a pastoral scene or provocative sculpture or experience for the first time a glass-blowing demonstration at Duncan McClellan Glass, a venue that’s become an anchor in the ArtWalk experience. Other standbys include the Morean Arts Center for early evening member shows and the Bloom Art Center for late-night mural and studio work art parties.

    “ArtWalk galleries and studios record between 3,000 and 4,000 visits,” says John Collins, director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, the umbrella organization that coordinates the monthly event and provides maps and free trolleys.

    “Since most people go to two our three places in one night that means around 1,200 people, conservatively speaking, come out,” Collins adds. “If you multiply that number with what the average person spends on food, drink, parking, it amounts to nearly $350,000 a year in direct impact on surrounding businesses. And that figure doesn’t even include any art purchases, nor those who find wonderful things and then go back to purchase later. Also, studios report receiving follow-up commission work, too.”

    Artists participating in the event are usually happy to put in the time and put up with the lookie-loos to keep the ArtWalk going.

    “The ArtWalk is a way of helping the artists to be noticed and thus creating purchasing potential too, which creates a magnet for artists to come and work in the area, ” says artist Jenny Bleackley. Incidentally, six paintings of Bleackley’s will be shown at Graphi-Ko Gallery on Central Avenue at this Saturday’s ArtWalk from 4 to 9 p.m. and will be up for a month. The works are part of her water series, Cool, Calm and Collected.  

    The ArtWalk is not just a boon for artists and collectors but ingeniously serves as a jump-off point to nightlife outings. It’s a reason for many to dress up and feel like they’re experiencing a night on the town, even if their budget is tight and they can only afford a $25 photographic print to take home. With that, they’ve had a night out, most likely cavorted with friends or met some new people, learned about new artists and even purchased original art.

    Artist Nathan Beard has worked his share of shows during the ArtWalk and has noticed people even drive from outside the Tampa Bay area for the monthly event.

    He shared: “I spoke with one young woman who had driven from Lakeland for the evening because she loved art, and St. Petersburg was the place to see it, adding that the drive there and back was worth every penny.”

    According to Beard, the event has become an institution and, surprisingly, is still unknown to many.

    “I normally get two responses when I ask visitors about ArtWalk,” says the consultant and client art installer for ARTicles and Leslie Curran Gallery. “The first is that they love planning an evening around visiting their favorite arts destinations — usually includes dinner and drinks, meeting up with friends, or showing family around. The second response I get, from visitors and most surprisingly from residents, is that they haven’t heard of ArtWalk, indicating work still to be done.”

    A stroll along St. Pete’s Central Avenue on the second Saturday of the month belies any notion that there are Tampa Bay citizens out there who still haven’t heard of the ArtWalk.

    “My last ArtWalk experience was last month, and included live painting and a pop-up art show/sales event,” says artist Jennifer Kosharek, who cheerfully adds that she met a lot of people that night and did well with her art sales.

    “I feel like artwalk is the one crazy night a month where you can go to 10 art shows, see a lot of artists and those that support the art scene, and have  a great dinner or enjoy a drink,” adds the former owner of eve-N-odd Gallery. “The ArtWalk introduces a lot of people to the arts scene-specific artists, shows, and is one of the founding city events that St. Petersburg has built its arts reputation on. Without ArtWalk, people wouldn’t be so apt to come to show openings.”

    Michele Tuegel, the executive director of Florida Craftsmen from 1986 to 2004, curated works during the early years of the event in the late 1980s, when only four or five galleries participated a month. Tuegel, who ran a gallery at 320 Central Avenue up until last year has seen the entire trajectory from then to now.

    Her thoughts: The public and tourists love it. They want a unique, new experience, like the paper maps and “free” is important, but, for the most part, many still don’t understand how the free trolley service works.

    “Overall, one of the biggest benefits was engaging the non-arts public because the open house atmosphere made walking into art spaces much less intimidating,” Tuegel adds. “I tell visitors to tackle one neighborhood each month to have time to stop and actually enjoy the artwork — don’t try to breeze through expecting to conquer the entire event in one evening.”

    St. Petersburg artist Laura Spencer, a uniquely compelling illustrator and game-changer among the city’s under-35 art demographic, offers some of her thoughts and suggestions on what she’d like to see at the ArtWalk going forward:

    “I always look forward to Second Saturdays, because there is endless inspiration and potential, spanning from the downtown waterfront all the way to the Warehouse Arts District and beyond — so much to see and experience! The only caveat — it ends way too early! I think it’s a struggle for a lot of artists and patrons to get downtown early enough to experience Art Walk in it’s entirety. It’s a little disheartening to see galleries closing at 8:30, just when the downtown nightlife is beginning to start up — that’s missed opportunities. If you go to any major city, or even the annual Art Basel [fairs] in Miami, galleries keep their doors open much later, maybe even 11 or midnight, which allows for youthful, edgy, emerging art collectors the chance to mingle and potentially purchase.”

    Besides staying open later and attracting younger participants, Spencer says there are other ways to bring more prominence to the event, to elevate it from a breezy central Florida pastime to an event that carries with it an imprimatur in the national and international art world.

    “I’ve always felt that St. Pete would benefit greatly from more visiting national/international artists,” Spencer adds. “St. Pete, while we are a budding art community, feels a bit insular, we’ve got to burst our cultural bubble and start integrating artists from much further than just the Tampa Bay area.”

  • 20 Dec 2016 11:18 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)


    Tampa Bay Area: Most anticipated development projects in 2017

    From 83 degrees

    "Development is flourishing all over the Tampa Bay area.
     
    Shopping centers, high rises, apartments, renovations and re-builds, and more are popping up from Pasco all the way down to Sarasota.
     
    Development-wise, 2017 holds great promise for local residents as well as for investors considering new projects going forward.
     
    Here are some of the most-anticipated projects that are scheduled for major work and even completion in the Tampa Bay area in the coming year."

    The ArtsXchange is listed as number 10 - Click here to read about the other 11 who made the list!

    10. ArtsXchange

    St. Petersburg is cultivating its reputation as an arts destination and place where new artists can thrive. But increasing property values make finding studio space difficult.
     
    That's why in 2014, St. Petersburg's Warehouse Arts District Association began fundraising for the ArtsXchange, an air-conditioned and affordable studio space for artists of all disciplines.
     
    Soon after, the association bought a compound of six warehouse buildings comprising 50,000 square feet of space to be renovated. The plan is to first build out 11,000 square feet of space for studios and a gallery, but the goal is to use the whole space for studios, galleries, classrooms, a coffee shop and educational microbrewery and restaurant.
     
    "In 2016, we made great strides, raising additional money to build between 20 and 30 studios at the ArtsXchange," says Mary Jane Park, the association's Executive Director. "Through the generosity of private donors and public support from the Florida Legislature and the city of St. Petersburg, we will begin construction in December."
     
    Already, more than 300 artists -- 10 percent of whom live somewhere other than Florida -- have signed up for studio space at the ArtsXchange. The association is currently interviewing those who have applied.
     
    "By May or June, when the studios are complete, we also will have a community gathering space that will be suitable for classes, exhibitions, performances, meetings and other public events," Park says.
     
    The association is also working with Deuces Live on an action plan that will enhance the district and bring more visitors to the area.
     
    "We are in conversation with Pinellas County officials about improvements, such as lighting and landscaping along the Pinellas Trail" Park says. "Our goal is to make the area more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists, especially during St. Petersburg’s monthly Second Saturday ArtWalks."

  • 29 Sep 2016 7:54 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Michel MirabelArticle by Paul Guzzo, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer

    The work of Cuban artist Michel Mirabal emerged as a symbol of renewed relations between his nation and the United States when one of Mirabal's paintings served as backdrop for a historic news conference by President Barack Obama at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

    Now, St. Petersburg is sharing in the symbolism.

    Mirabal has contributed the latest in a growing tapestry of murals around the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District — a work featuring U.S. and Cuban flags adorned with flowers and barbed wire colliding in an explosion of colors.

    He painted the work last week on an exterior wall of Soft Water Studios.

    "The barbed wire is the thing we don't like, the things we need to change about both countries," Mirabal said. "The flowers are the things we love — the humanity, the coming together."

    The artist lives and works in Havana and felt right at home during his first trip to St. Petersburg. "We are both lively and love the arts," he said. "There are a lot of similarities."

    The same message has been preached by those who helped bring Mirabal here — officials with the city of St. Petersburg, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

    They want regular art exchanges between their city and the island nation.

    "Art is certainly something St. Petersburg and the culture of Cuba have in common," said Joni James, chief executive officer of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership. "Art is a universal language, particularly between two cultures that sit just across a small spit of water."

    In October 2015, a delegation of St. Petersburg arts leaders traveled to Havana. In December, the city welcomed a high-ranking official from Cuba's Ministry of Culture. The exchange led to an exhibit by Cuban artist Esteban Machado this year at the Morean Arts Center.

    Future collaborations also were discussed between Cuba and the Warehouse Arts District, which covers about 1.5 square miles and consists of more than 20 arts spaces — galleries, studios and warehouses.

    Mirabal's project is the first from the collaboration, and it follows the creation of 21 murals during St. Petersburg's SHINE Mural Festival.

    Mirabal's My New Friend, now hanging in the U.S. Embassy, is a joining of Cuban and American flags made of colored handprints. He is considered one of Cuba's most popular artists, James said.

    "By any standard, he is an incredible artist," she said.

    Now, Mirabal hopes St. Petersburg artists will display their works in his Havana gallery.

    "I want this to be a good relationship. This can be good for everyone."

    Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3394. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

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