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WADA Member Blog

Want to know what the Warehouse Arts District Association is up to?  Learn about the latest in this blog with features intended to keep members up to date. Also, members should join our closed Facebook group: the WADA Member Network

  • 06 Jan 2021 3:05 AM | Anonymous

    Dear Warehouse Arts District Association Members

    • For the last year, I volunteered as Membership Chair of the Warehouse Arts District Association (WADA) and I spent the last four years on the Board, serving in many different capacities during that time. I wanted to let you know that I am stepping down from both positions, but I leave truly excited about all the good things that are on the horizon for the district and the association.  

      Despite a difficult year that evidenced the necessity for flexibility and resilience, WADA had many accomplishments in 2020.  WADA was established in 2014 with a goal to advocate for artists and the arts community and provide affordable artist studios. We originally bought five old warehouses. Soft Water Studios was the original space that was operational, along with MGA Sculpture Studios next door.  After years of fundraising and hard work, WADA opened the ArtsXchange studios in September 2017. In 2019, WADA acquired an adjacent strip of commercial spaces we call The Shoppes and renovated several of them to rent as additional studio space. 

      We now have about 40 artists with studios on the ArtsXchange compound and another approximately 240 artists who are not on site. This year we installed pavers, added landscaping and streetlamp lighting, with electrical outlets and water spigots, which enabled us to begin holding an Outdoor Marketplace. In July, artist and WADA Board Member Ya La Ford collaborated with a group of students from Mt. Zion Christian Academy to create a mural “Community Woven Revealed” on the ArtsXchange campus. 

      Regarding membership, a year ago, founding Board Member extraordinaire Teresa Sullivan and I conducted focus groups to determine what our members valued and needed from us.  From what we heard, we developed these priorities:

    1. Strengthen community (among artists and to the broader community)
    2. Promote artist members (social media, website, regular member exhibits)
    3. Improve communication with members (membership meetings, newsletters, social media groups)
    4. Tighten administrative processes (updated benefits, updated website, def ined member levels, automated renewal processes)

    Here’s a recap of what we’ve done related these priorities:

    1. Strengthen Community

    • Frances McSwain Pruitt and J. Crayton Pruitt Arts Education Center. WADA raised $225,000 to build an Arts Education Center at the ArtsXchange Campus.  The groundbreaking is happening in early 2021. We are thrilled. The center will house a dance studio and three classrooms to serve local youth and adults from South St. Petersburg neighborhoods. We can't wait to have children and adults learning and growing through art classes. See our list of sponsors and consider a donation (Thank you!).
    • Artist Education. Despite limitations related to COVID and social distancing, WADA’s amazing education committee organized a free three-day painting workshop with professional artist, Robert Simone, available here, and an encaustic workshop with Shelly Jean. They additionally collaborated with local museums to bring private tours to WADA members, including the James Museum, the Tampa Art Museum and the Imagine Museum.
    • WADA Art Tubs for select Pinellas County Schools. WADA Art Tubs are a student directed, independent activity allowing students to explore architecture through a set of artisan-made building blocks where students have the opportunity to create their own buildings, inspired by art-focused buildings in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tubs are set up for elementary art classrooms for grades K-5. 
    • Artist Relief Fund. WADA was fortunate to have the generous support of donors; we were able to give 20 grants of $500 each earlier this summer. See more info here.
    • In April, WADA hosted a community Feeding Tampa Bay food bank. In June, we hosted a community “Meal and Heal” event that offered meals and free access to therapists.  
    2. Improved Communications 
    • We now have a weekly email newsletter, a WADA Facebook Member Network group (for members only), and a blog on our website
    • We hosted General Membership Meetings in February and September where organization leaders provided updates.
    • A Membership Committee of amazing volunteers met monthly to discuss membership and collaborate.

     3.     Promoting Members

    • Profiles and Promos. We began profiling a member every week in our blog, digest, and on social media. We list your events on our website calendar if you provide them. (Fill out this form to have your events listed or email us).  We have also now a social media coordinator assisting us in promoting members! 
    • Second Saturday Art Walk. Though the city canceled Art Walk from March through July, WADA and select others have been hosting Art Walk in a limited capacity since August. The ArtsXchange Outdoor Marketplacebegan in November during Second Saturday Art Walk and will be held each month with Art Walk, giving a vehicle for more artists and artisans to exhibit and sell work. 
    • Calls to Artists
      • Despite a crazy year, we had five artist calls this year for members. See here. We had two member shows – with the themes “Cocktail Hour” and “Imagine” in the Burka Member Lounge.  Additionally, ArtsXchange artists presented a gorgeous display of their collective works in the Tully-Levine Gallery. 
      • Call to Artists for the WADA Art Tubs sought artistically detailed color renderings of these six local buildings: Dali Museum, Museum of Fine Art, Carter G. Woodson Museum, Royal Theater, Palladium, and the Museum of American Arts and Crafts Movement. 
      •  In partnership with the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, we just wrapped up a Call to Artists related to the mental health community campaign called “You Good?,” which is an initiative of the Pinellas Wellness Connection.  See more at www.yougoodpinellas.org. We will be awarding $20,000 in artist commissions. See the You Good Call to Artists here
      • Modern Tampa Bay Homes Artists Call. In April, MTBH selected eight contemporary artists to showcase and ultimately commission works for buyers of a new seven-unit development in the Grand Central District, called AD Lofts. These eclectic residences will celebrate local artists in the area, with close proximity to all the Warehouse Arts District has to offer. The artists selected include: Carrie Kilgore, Dana Killion, Geoffrey Baris, Lesley Jeffery, Mark Mitchell, Nathan Beard, Pamela Van Sant, and Tom Amidon-Rivero. Check out this MBTH catalogue featuring these member artists.

    Given all this growth, thank goodness we were able to hire new staff: Audrie Cuddy-Ranon is the new WADA Director of Operations and is holding regular office hours from 10 – 5pm, Monday – Friday in the Burka Lounge at the ArtsXchange. 

    I am thrilled to have been a part of WADA for so long and intend to stay part of the community and volunteer.  A new membership chair should be forthcoming in the near future, but for now, should you have questions or concerns, you can continue to reach out to me at joinwada@gmail.com or to Audrie at audrie@whereartismade.com.

    Let’s hope for an amazing 2021. 


    Caryn Nesmith

  • 14 Dec 2020 2:35 PM | Anonymous

    Sally Dee is the proud owner of a successful public relations and marketing firm known as Playbook Public Relations. Sally had an unconventional 8 year route to achieving her success. Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, she excelled in golf and basketball in high school. She left Syracuse for Tampa to attend the University of South Florida where she was an Academic All-American and graduated Cum Laude in 1994. Sally then proceeded to enjoy a successful career on the LPGA tour. After golf, she worked at various companies until going back to USF to pursue an MBA and graduated in 2011. In 2012, she founded Playbook Public Relations, LLC. 

    Sally became involved with the Warehouse Arts District Association (WADA) through friends at Smith and Associates. She has been an active member of WADA since its inception. Supporting WADA, Sally not only attended but provided the PR for the groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremony, as well the grand opening of the Studios at the ArtsXchange in 2017. 

    Living and working in Tampa, Sally supports the Warehouse Arts District Association from across the Bay. “I urge businesses to support the arts,” Sally says. “Art is what makes a region great!”  When she isn’t attending a Warehouse Arts District function, you can find Sally at work at Playbook Public Relations, 3105 W Granada St., Tampa, Florida, 33629.  In the market for public relations or marketing needs? Check out Sally Dee at www.playbookpublicrelations.com.


      Playbook Public Relations
  • 11 Dec 2020 10:36 AM | Anonymous

    See the works selected for the WADA Winter 2020 Member Show "Imagine" and view the exibit in the Burka Lounge at the ArtsXchange on view from Dec 12, 2020 - Feb 1, 2021.

    Jewelry by Paola Nesmith, Memories

    Mirella Cimato, All That Jazz

    Amy Howell, Justice

    Joan Tripp, Orion

    Richard Randall, Happy

    Shelly Augsbury, Dinner Plans

    Barbara Bachner, Standout Out

    Barbara Bachner, Standing Alone

    Pamela Joy Trow, Lost and Found

    Teresa Sullivan, Spinning Ideas

    Teresa Sullivan, The Moon and the Sea

    Dakota Maphis, Kabloom

    Darlene Meisenholder, Deja Vu

    Francine E. Michel, Ph.D., Autumn Coconuts

    Francine E. Michel, Ph.D., Cedar Tree

    Mark Mitchell, Christmas Wish

    Mark Mitchell, Child's Play

    Laura Haura, Imagine

    Cheryl Mansfield, Loves Me Not

    Mj Dicus, I'll Meet You There

    Monrico, Fantasia Ascending

    Gabriela Valencia, Metamorphosis

    Gabriela Valencia, 100 Years of Revolution

    Sue Johnson, The Conversation

    Jim Gigurtsis, Significance

    Steve Pennisi, Out to Sea

    Don Silvestri, Grandpa's Workshop

  • 07 Dec 2020 1:06 PM | Anonymous

    Lesley Tinnaro creates unique and beautiful hand-forged sterling silver jewelry with precious and semi-precious stones. She has been a full time artist since 1994 with a few breaks between 2002 and 2007 to raise her children. 

    While she was lucky to go to a high school that had a very strong art program, when she went to college her father advised her that art was not a good major, so she chose history.  She continued to take art classes including ceramics, gesture drawing, theater makeup, pretty much anything that she could fit into her schedule around her major. After college "history jobs" were hard to find and she found herself in restaurant management where she was miserable! With her sister-in-law she started messing around with jewelry components  and she really enjoyed it. It wasn't long before they discovered a local jewelry supplier that carried sterling silver and they would buy 1 oz at a time and experiment. They learned in a very hands-on fashion, while making lots of mistakes along the way (there was ONE book at the library and no youtube to learn from). That first year Lesley destroyed about 2 lbs of silver! Her silversmithing education was furthered when she met Eve White who had a graduate degree in Fine Art jewelry from New York. Eve White  took Lesley under her wing and taught her more techniques as well as introducing her to art shows and small markets.

    Lesley  finds inspiration from a number of different places. She really enjoys looking at ancient jewelry and metalwork. East Asian metal work has some beautifully clean lines that she admires.

    Lesley grew up in South Florida and moved to the St Petersburg area in 1994 to be with her now-husband. 

    This area has been wonderful for her as an artist.  Because of the various outlets for arts from small markets to large shows, she was able to learn the business side almost at the same time she was learning her craft.

    She joined the Warehouse Arts District Association because it fosters multiple levels of art creation.  She believes it is extremely important to have that community to inspire and guide the next generation creators. She hopes to meet other folks that enjoy metalworking as much as she does. Belonging to a group of artists can create an atmosphere where you inspire and push each other to the next level. 

    Visit Lesley's website: http://lesleytinnaro.com


    Written by Mirella Cimato

  • 02 Dec 2020 2:29 PM | Anonymous

    Michael Mincberg is originally from Washington, DC.  He came to Tampa in 2002 to attend the University of South Florida.  As a student at USF, he obtained his real estate sales license and he just started holding open houses.  He then became interested in development.  He was 19 years old when he started in sales and marketing for residential new construction and quickly moved on to bigger projects.  In 2012, he founded Sight Real Estate and Development.  

    “Real estate development is half art and half science,” Mincberg says.  “People want to live and work in an area that has culture and a good vibe.”   “If you get the art part right then the math, or the science, adds up very quickly because you have created a unique product.”

    Michael looks for  a neighborhood that inspires himself and others.  An area of positive energy filled with art, businesses, theaters, cafes, and coffee shops.  A positive energy in the area is what brought him to the Warehouse Arts District.  Michael joined the Warehouse Arts District Association after purchasing the old Puckett Store Fixtures building at 2430 5th Ave. South, in the Warehouse Arts District, turning the four industrial buildings with 50,000 sq feet into Seaboard Crossing, a flexible use workspace.  Mincberg says that he is cognizant of the developers important role of preserving the character and vibe of an area such as the Warehouse Arts District and that is why he is taking his time on “getting it just right” for the aesthetic of the property.  “There’s a balance to be had in how to keep that neighborhood cool while also protecting it,” he says.  “There is still a lot of work to do, but I am proud to own and be a part of WADA.”

    Read more about Michael and his company Sight Real Estate: https://www.businessobserverfl.com/article/sight-real-estate-tampa-property-development-adaptive-reuse

  • 21 Nov 2020 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    Gabriela Valencia  was born to be an artist: She is a painter as well as a violin player. Born in Ecuador, she started her extensive artistic education in high school at the Colegio Municipal Bellas Artes Guayaquil and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising at the Universidad Laica Vicente Rocafuerte de Guayaquil. She obtained her Violin Teacher Certificate of Training at the Conservatory of Music, Antonio Neumanne, Guayaquil. Gabriela also studied semiotics in Havana, Cuba. She completed four semesters of Music Education at the Universidad de Manabi’ in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

    Since March 2020 she has been following the Master Studies in Cultural Management from the University Oberta de Catalunya.

    Gabriela is a full time artist. She paints on canvas, wood or other. She also enjoys painting furniture.

    How long have you been a full-time artist?

    I have been a full time artist since 2011. I also teach violin and art.

    What is your medium?

    I work with oils and acrylics. I do explore other mediums as well.

    How supportive do you feel St. Petersburg community is for the arts and artists?

    I am from Ecuador. I have been living in the St. Petersburg area for 11 years and I enjoy it. The community in different ways is very supportive. Artists have a lot of opportunities to grow and consequently to make St. Petersburg a better place to live.

    Why did you join the Warehouse Arts District Association?

    I like their proposals to engage the community. I think they are doing a great job at that. The building and the studios are very well designed. I would love to be part of activities there but, being a full time artist requires having other activities in order to pay the bills.

    Is there anything else you would like to say?

    I think the Art Market that WADA is promoting is a wonderful idea. I was thinking about it long time ago since there is a lot of space for it. I also have some ideas for the Art Exchange to offer:

    • More Art Exhibits for members
    • An annual outdoor Art Festival
    • More Art Demos for members
    • More opportunities for members to do a solo show

    *Support more art proposals that include the community…An Annual Calling for  Artists, so we can apply with our cultural project for the community. 


    I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.  - Andrew Wye

    Profile written by Mirella Cimato.

  • 16 Nov 2020 10:10 AM | Anonymous

    Check out member artist Jabari Reed-Diop, known as iBOMS, painting a mural on the topic of algae blooms as part of the Shine Mural Festival. IBOMS uses original characters and thought-provoking symbols to bring viewers into his world. Through a variety of mediums, he challenges perceptions and creates a new narrative through the lens of his own life experience as a young African American male.  This mural is on the west side of the new Grand Central Brewhouse.

    24th and Central

  • 09 Nov 2020 3:37 PM | Anonymous

    If you are looking for great studio space at a reasonable price this might just be the place for you.  600 Sq. Feet of space for $650/month + tax.  Utilities not included. First month's rent + security deposit due at lease signing. Interested?  Email Audrie Cuddy-Ranon, WADA Director of Operations: audrie@whereartismade.com

  • 09 Nov 2020 1:21 PM | Anonymous

    Amy Howell has been in love with photography since childhood, snapping pictures with a variety of  cameras, inspired by Life Magazine and National Geographic. Though she has a bachelor's degree in graphic design, she was drawn more to oil painting and photography. Over the last several years she began experimenting with other types of materials in her work, utilizing different papers, pieces of plastic, organic matter such as seagrass, torn photographs, pastels and oil crayons. Amy works primarily with acrylic paint, using modeling paste and ceramic tile adhesive to build an underlayer on her canvas or board, giving texture to the paint as it is applied. She feels acrylic paint is most forgiving and versatile as it can be thinned down like watercolor, applied thickly for texture and dries quickly to paint over. She applies color with palette knives, smudging, scraping, rubbing, and then layering with more paint.

    As an emerging artist, Amy creates art in her spare time as often as time permits. She works full-time at the Community Health Center of Pinellas as part of a team to help children with trauma and behavioral health issues as well as providing families with needed resources.  Prior to working in healthcare, Amy was a career chef and baker. 

    She is inspired by abstract expressionists and thrives on their freedom of color, composition and pushing limits of possibility. She is pulled by the energy of current events which often influences the piece she is working on. Amy also wants to bring the feeling of energy going forward from self reflection and the beauty that is happening within. Improvising, she lets things happen intuitively, letting the piece transform, like putting together a puzzle. 

    Amy moved to Gulfport in January 2019 from Provincetown, Massachusetts, drawn to its diverse community and its abundance of culture. Her goal for the near future is to become a full time working artist. The St. Petersburg community offers artists many opportunities to promote their art in a variety of venues such as  art walks, art festivals, home studio tours, art alliances, galleries and online shows. 

    Amy was recently awarded honorable mention in the Come Out St. Pete show at the Woodfield Fine Arts Gallery and has been accepted to the juried Gulfport Art Walk. She would like to promote future Gulfport Art Walks where she will be a regular exhibitor. Please visit Amy’s website at www.howellmarks.art. She is currently exploring other websites to promote her art.

  • 05 Nov 2020 1:36 PM | Anonymous

    Since WADA purchased property in Midtown St. Petersburg, its plan has always been to create an Education Center. We are so excited to announce it’s coming to fruition! The Education Center will be available to visual and performing artists to practice and teach their skills.  The idea is also to provide a gathering place in the community for scout troops, exercise classes, where lectures can be heard and for adults and children to learn the magic of making art. The facility will be named after Frances and J. Crayton Pruitt, the parents of Helen Pruitt Wallace, Natalie Pruitt Judge and J. Crayton Pruitt Jr., the benefactors of the Pruitt Family Foundation. From the early stages of WADA, the Pruitt family has been very generous donors to the WADA ArtsXchange project. Read a Q&A with WADA President, Mark Aeling here:  WADA Education Center  

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