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  • 19 Apr 2018 10:52 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)
    Article via American Booksellers Association

    Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, Florida, hosted its first major book launch on Thursday, April 12, in celebration of Florida author Rob Sanders’ newest picture book, Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag (Random House Books for Young Readers), illustrated by Steven Salerno.

    Rob Sanders meets fans of his new book. (Credit: Candy Barnhisel)

    Rob Sanders meets fans of his new book. (Credit: Candy Barnhisel)

    “I was thrilled to be back in the excitement of planning and hosting a book signing,” owner Alsace Walentine told Bookselling This Week. Walentine, who worked at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café in Asheville, North Carolina, for 16 years, including as the store’s author events coordinator, opened Tombolo’s current pop-up location in December 2017 in the city’s EDGE district and is currently on the hunt for the store’s permanent home.

    According to Walentine, the launch event, held at the ArtsXchange gallery in the city’s Warehouse Arts District, drew more than 100 people of all ages and beliefs, including St. Petersburg City Councilman Steve Kornell, and was part of the fourth annual SunLit Festival, produced by Keep St. Pete Lit. That evening, Sanders read from his book and was interviewed by University of South Florida professor Mellissa Alonso-Teston, followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.

    Sanders’ book tells the origin of the rainbow-colored Gay Pride Flag in 1978 as a symbol of hope and shows its historical impact up until today. This year marks 40 years since the flag’s creation by designer Gilbert Baker; it was inspired by gay rights activist and community leader Harvey Milk, who became one of the first openly gay officials when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, though he was shot and killed the following year.

    Sanders presents his book at an event hosted by Tombolo Books.

    Sanders presents his book at an event hosted by Tombolo Books at ArtsXchange.

    “At many moments it was hard to find a dry eye in the room,” said Walentine. Thursday’s author event included a children’s activity table, a rainbow-colored jelly bean bar, rainbow flag cookies, gifts of handmade natural soaps branded with the book’s cover by a local body products company, and a photo opportunity with the author next to one of the original Pride flags, numbered and signed by Baker.

    “We also partnered with several non-profits to make the evening a success, including the ArtsXchange, and helped to raise $1,000 for local organization Family Resources, which aids homeless LGBTQ youth,” said Walentine.

    Sanders, who Walentine says helped gather all of the donations for the silent auction, is a teacher and writer for young children and the author of Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights, illustrated by Jared Andrew Schorr, coming from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 25, 2018. His other forthcoming books, Stonewall: The Uprising for Gay Rights (Random House Books for Young Readers) and Ball & Balloon (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), are due out in 2019.  

    "Pride" by Rob Sanders on display in front of Tombolo Books' pop-up store.

    "Pride" by Rob Sanders on display in front of Tombolo Books' pop-up store.

    BTW has been covering Walentine’s journey to open her own brick-and-mortar bookstore since November 2015, when she moved to the St. Petersburg area and began networking, scouting locations, taking business classes, and creating connections with community leaders and the media.

    Read BTW’s previous installments (“Alsace Walentine on Laying the Foundations for Her New Bookstore”; “Plans for St. Pete Bookstore on Track”; and “What’s in a Name?: Tombolo Books”) and find Tombolo on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • 08 Mar 2018 11:20 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Jane Seymour with Mark Aeling of MGA Sculpture Studio and WADA Board President

    Jane Seymour with Wendy Durand of Wendy Durand Pottery and WADA Membership Chair.  Jane bought two of Wendy's pieces!

    Jane Seymour with artist and WADA member, Marc Levasseur

  • 08 Mar 2018 11:16 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    via I Love the Burg

    March 8 is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. The Sunshine City is extraordinarily lucky because of the artistic, ambitious and inspired women who call St. Pete home. They have left an indelible mark on the residents of the Burg by creating jobs, breaking barriers and providing opportunities for men and women in industries they harbor a true passion for.

    Today, we look at the women who continue to redefine what it means to be influential and who continue to shape our city.

    Diane Bailey Morton

    Diane Bailey Morton has just been appointed Executive Director of The Warehouse Arts District. The Warehouse Arts District is a non-profit organization with the goal to convert some of St.Petersburg’s land into a thriving community for artists. This includes affordable art studios as well as art education. The Warehouse Arts District has contributed to St. Pete having a thriving arts scene and providing an excellent destination for tourism. Diane has also served on the board of the American Stage, Great Explorations and freeFall Theater. Diane has been practicing law in the Tampa Bay area for the past 30 years including serving as General Counsel for C1Bank, now Bank of the Ozarks.

    Photo by Joey Clay Photography

    Jenny Miller and Katelyn Grady

    Jenny Miller and Katelyn Grady are a married couple who took a leap of faith and transformed an old ice factory into a yoga company. Just last week, the Body Electric Yoga Co. celebrated its fifth year and continues to thrive in St. Pete. Beginning with just four teachers, the BE now has 30 teachers as well as ten on staff. They now have gone beyond their studio and taken yoga all over St. Pete and Tampa through special events, usually free to the public. Jenny Miller and Katelyn Grady truly show that following your heart to do what you love, even if it means taking risks, will pay off.

    Photo by Kelly Nash Photography

    Ya La’Ford

    Ya La’Ford is a local professor, visual painter, installation artist and muralist. Ya began her art journey in St. Pete and has now done shows all over the world. She owns studios in both St. Pete and New York. She is an advocate to keep the city full of art and is responsible for many murals, paintings and installations scattered through St. Petersburg, inspiring others to take part in the arts. Her art can spans the Burg, Boston and all over the world.

    Sarah Perrier

    Sarah Perrier is one-half of the dynamic duo behind Kahwa Coffee, voted Best of the Bay for 8 years in a row. Kahwa Coffee Roasting has been in St.Petersburg since 2006. Sarah started her career as a professional dancer with the Koresh Dance Company in Philadelphia before coming down to St. Pete with her husband, Raphael, to open their coffee company in St. Pete. Fast forward to 2018, Kahwa now has 12 locations throughout the Tampa Bay region. Kahwa Coffee works with and supports local non-profit organizations as well by donating time and products to events or donating proceeds from special coffee blends such as the No. 3, in collaboration with former Rays player, Evan Longoria which has raised funds for Wheelchairs for Kids and now for Where Love Grows which promotes a zero tolerance for childhood hunger.

    Lorraine Langlois and Priya Rajkumar

    Metro Wellness & Community Centers is an organization that provides health services while being advocates for the LGBTQ+ community which includes providing the area with transgender programs and services, counseling, support groups, and substance abuse programs. At Metro Health and Wellness Lorraine is in her 22nd year of running what is now one of the largest and most respected HIV/AIDS and LGBT service organizations. Priya joined Metro Wellness and Community Centers in 2009 as the Director of Quality Assurance and Training. Both women have and are continuing to make impressive impacts in the LGBTQ+ community.

    Trish Duggan

    Trish Duggan is known for her work as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, as well as artist. She is the benefactor of the new Imagine Museum which opened its doors in St.Pete recently. You can read more about the Imagine Museum here. She has also served as President of the Adoption Support Group in Santa Barbara, California. The Adoption Support Group’s goal was to inspire people to adopt children domestically and internationally. Duggan is also known as one of the largest donors to one of the world’s most successful rehabilitation programs to control addiction to harmful drugs and alcohol. This non-profit assists people in their goal to living a substance and addiction-free life.

  • 08 Feb 2018 11:59 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    The gallery's first solo show goes to a "crazy mixed" young talent who left a basketball career behind to make art.

    By David Warner

    Jake Troyli is used to standing out in a crowd. 

    “I would say on average, if I’m out in public, that around six or seven people will ask me how tall I am,” says Troyli, 27, a second-year MFA student in studio art at USF who happens to be 6'9".

    The next question inevitably is: Did you play basketball?

    The answer, as it turns out, is yes. He was a star player, transferring from Canterbury School to Pinellas Park High School in his junior and senior years, where he was recruited for college ball, playing at Presbyterian and graduating with a BFA from Lincoln Memorial University. He was especially good at three-pointers — still is.

    He doesn’t play anymore, though, except for the occasional pickup game (“It’s fun to dunk on old men”). These days he’s standing out for a different reason: Awarded a Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist grant last year, he has now been selected as the first artist to have a solo show in the public gallery space of the new Arts Xchange complex in the Warehouse Arts District (WADA), opening during this month’s Second Saturday.

    “I wanted our first solo show to be fresh, original, but yet support an emerging artist. And he grew up here!” says WADA’s new executive director, Diane Bailey Morton. Troyli is the kind of young artist, she says, “who can create a conversation about art.”

    And that’s exactly what Troyli wants his art to do: open up conversations. He’s used to uncomfortable questions, not just about his height, but about his ethnicity.

    “I’m like crazy mixed,” he told me last week at his engagingly cluttered studio at USF. Both his mother and father are mixed race, and he has moved among such disparate worlds — from college basketball, where almost all his teammates were black, to a graduate art program where he’s the only African-American student — that he’s acutely conscious of the differences. “I’ve always lived simultaneously as a mixed man, but also a black man.”

    He deals candidly, often humorously, with this sense of otherness in his paintings, while remaining aware that as an artist he’s both exploring and exploiting it. His stunning large-scale piece “Everything must go … maybe even you!” is an aerial view of an imagined race history museum in a shopping mall, where nude African-American men and women, cartoonishly lanky and near-identical except for breasts and penises, view works by contemporary black artists like Kerry James Marshall and Kara Walker and browse a gift shop where Ku Klux Klan hoods hang next to “I can’t breathe” T-shirts. It’s a barbed critique of the commodification of race, but in working on it Troyli couldn’t get away from the ironies. 

    “I’m a person of color sitting here laboring over Klan hoods — what does that mean?” 

    Like much of his work, “Everything must go” draws you in with its comic sensibility — and then hits you, wham!, when you examine the details. “Humor is a language I love to use in my painting,” he says. “It gives a window of accessibility that makes people more open to talking about serious issues. It’s a good way to be subversive, right?”

    His talents, both visual and verbal, were encouraged by his mother, Ka-Rim Troyli, who provided him with comic books and graphic novels and worked for many years in administrative roles at American Stage. Jake remembers long days spent at Shakespeare in the Park rehearsals when he was 9 or 10, “watching them do Midsummer Night’s Dream and shit. I could read and understand and quote Shakespeare… Then I hated it, but now I think, ‘Damn, that was such a great thing.’” It was at American Stage that he first met Bob Devin Jones, who would go on to found Studio@620 and give Jake his first solo show after he graduated from college. “I am really thankful they gave me that opportunity because that work was so bad.” (The Studio has continued to be a boon for him: He drew pictures of St. Pete’s homeless community for Broken Lives Illustrated, a celebrated documentary that was shown there in 2014, and it was Devin Jones who drew Diane Bailey Morton’s attention to his artwork.)

    He started making money off his art as early as sixth grade at Bay Point Middle, though maybe not via the route a parent would find ideal: He was drawing porn for his classmates, at $5 a pic. He got caught and had to tell his mother, and then his teacher called — not to express her moral outrage but to tell his mother, “‘You know, he’s really a good artist.’” 

    Jake Seated AfroSTUDIO VISIT: Jake Troyli at USF.David WarnerHe drew throughout his basketball career, too: His teammates would ask him to draw tattoos for them. But the artist finally overtook the baller.

    “I had things I wanted to talk about,” he says, “and basketball wasn’t the platform to do that. You’re a cog in the machine.” The questions he wanted to ask — about racial division, about black male stereotypes, about his own role in these systems — weren’t going to be addressed on the basketball court. 

    An important figure in his artwork is Jake himself. Among his self-portraits is one, “Window shopping,” in which he places himself inside a scene reminiscent of a Renaissance painting. “I was really interested in Kerry James Marshall’s thoughts on the presence or absence of the black figure in the history of painting. I wanted to put myself in some of these motifs — the countryside in the background, this little confessional booth. But then I wanted to think how I could not fit into these settings, so I used my Afro to break the plane.” Again, the work is appealing in its whimsy (complete with the little bird ensconced in his ’fro), but draws you into a much deeper conversation.

    As a black heterosexual male painter directly addressing issues of race, he occupies a unique place in the contemporary art world, at least as represented at USF. “I’ve never been more aware of my race than when I’ve been here,” he says.

    But his disarming combination of self-confidence and self-deprecation is rarer still, embodied in one of the most striking images in his show, the self-portrait “Always leave them wanting more.” Dressed in red against a background of royal blue, with dark brown hair streaming behind him and his arms upraised, he’s either plummeting to the ground or streaking across the sky superhero-style,  his facial expression a mix of resignation and  “Wheeee!” His elongated form is literally and figuratively a stretch (the nickname, as it happens, for his position as the three-pointer guy), and that’s what he seems to be doing with his life and his work: The sky’s the limit.

  • 18 Jan 2018 1:43 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Posted on January 18, 2018 by TWC in Arts & Entertainment

    BY J.A. JONES, Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — At artist Ya La’Ford’s exhibit, “Glyphs,” on display at Florida CraftArt through Jan. 20, there is a palpable energy as viewers step into a gilded vortex of mirrors, lines and hieroglyphs.

    Visitors to the gallery are quickly transported by the boldly designed sculptures that incorporate and invite public contributions to the site-specific pieces. Familiar, everyday objects – the mysterious “cosmic ladder” suspended from the sky, a re-envisioned “receptacle of dreams” that was once a garbage can and a luminous bowl of “future-thoughts” that could have been a giant chair frame — have been transformed into powerful fetish objects by La’Ford’s practiced and detailed application of thought, inspiration, spiritual depth and gold layers.

    Ya La'Ford, Masks, ae, featured

    “I wanted the St. Pete community to experience art as a life-long treasure, and the purpose of this particular exhibit was to display how art has this intrinsic value that exists to revolutionize the social, cultural and historic context of the human journey,” explained La’Ford.

    Although La’Ford has been weaving the evocative power of the universal ley line throughout her work for a number of years, in “Glyphs” the Tampa Bay and New York-based artist found herself heavily influenced by a recent global tour that included stops in Cuba, Columbia, Thailand, China, Turkey and Egypt.

    Her penchant for creating work that engages both a sense of self-reflection, community activism and the inner eye of spiritual wisdom is revealed in the glittering, fiery crystals and multi-dimensional reflections cast by the collection’s panoramic display of mirrored walls.

    “I really wanted that color gold because of the effect it had on me while I was in Egypt and its association with illumination, love, compassion, courage, passion, magic, wisdom. Gold is a precious metal that is associated with wealth, grandeur and prosperity…as well as sparkle, glitz, and glamour. I believe that added to a mirrored surface, the work would allow the community to see themselves as valuable and as precious as gold.”

    Ya La'Ford, Art, ae, featured

    At the opening night reception held last Saturday, the petite artist – sporting flowing locks, circular frames and chunky pendants — encouraged the audience to write down thoughts that might inspire those who will come after us.

    “I’m interested in what we communicate to future humans and how we can be the best person that we are as human beings — in this country and traveling abroad. In this participatory exhibit, what I’d like you to do is think about what you would say to future humans 500 years from now,” instructed La’Ford, gesturing to the large golden ladder extending up into the gallery’s height.

    “What message can you share with them, what can you say that can inspire them to continue, to think about how strong we are as humans? I want you to think about, not just yourself, but what does it mean to exist and how can we groom ourselves to be better in humanity.”

    Encouraging visitors to grab some paper, jot down their thoughts and toss them into the golden can that sat beneath the ladder, the moment of shared inspiration reminded the viewers that there is power in mutual creativity and joined consciousness.

    On hand for the reception were fans, family members, students and other St. Petersburg arts and professional community members. Alexandria Reed, one of La’Ford’s students at St. Petersburg College, shared her impressions of one of her creations.

    “She has messages inside of the art; like you can see the word, ‘Evolve,’” explained Reed, pointing into the giant gilded bowl. “She asked people to contribute – I wrote something that she put in there! It’s like she put it in a pot and we can all reach in and get inspiration.”

    Of the gold glittered geometrically designed mirrors, Reed observed that the intricate designs were like “cells of the skin; nobody’s skin is perfect – but in her art, the gold makes it seem as if it could be anybody’s skin, regardless of their color.”

    Another guest, civil engineer Robert Harvey shared: “I love her work. With my background, I love her use of line and space, of glass and sculptures. For me, it’s almost spiritual, the way she grasps the untouchable.”

    La’Ford said her exhibit offers St. Pete an opportunity to join her in an ongoing exploration of world cultures that are contemporary and ancient.

    “I’m really inviting the community to contribute their own personalized contemporary hieroglyphs via words, quotes, drawings; that’s really the core of this show. I’m exploring how the past, present and future really give us a renewed sense of self and figuring out how we connect to each other, how we are cohesive together and can have more communal pride, reflecting and moving forward into 2018 and beyond.”

    “Glyphs” is open at Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, through Jan. 20. For more information call (727) 821-7391.

  • 21 Dec 2017 4:02 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    The Warehouse Arts District Association (WADA) announced today the selection of Diane Bailey Morton as its new Executive Director. 

    When asked to comment on the WADA Board of Directors unanimous decision to hire Ms. Morton, WADA President Mark Aeling said, "Diane is a true community leader. She has had a stellar professional career and has been very supportive of the arts community in both service and philanthropy. We are fortunate to be able to hire an Executive Director now that we would hope to have been able to hire 5 years from now. Needless to say, we are thrilled to have her on board.”

    Diane Morton has practiced law in the Tampa Bay Area for over thirty years. She began her career as an Assistant State Attorney where she handled high profile felony cases. She opened her own trial practice in St. Petersburg and handled labor and employment cases. She served as General Counsel of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association and the Tampa Firefighters. She was named General Counsel to C1 Bank and guided the bank through the successful merger with Bank of the Ozarks. 

    “I have known Diane for many years.  Diane has a true love of the arts and is a consummate professional in all the tasks she undertakes.  We are lucky to have her and are excited about her advancing the mission of the Warehouse Arts District,” says Rob Kapusta, WADA Vice President.

    Morton is a fixture in the local arts community having served over twenty years on the Board of Trustees of American Stage. She and her family sponsored all ten years of the August Wilson Century Cycle at American Stage. She served on the International Relations Commission for the City of St. Petersburg which included being a homestay parent for exchange students from Takamatsu, Japan. Morton has sponsored numerous theatre productions for The Studio@620, Stageworks and FreeFall theatre. She served on the Boards of Great Explorations, USF Alumni Association and the Florida Bar Grievance Committee. 

    Ms. Morton commented, "This position combines my love of community with my love of the Arts. I am looking forward to putting my business experience to work for the whole district.  What WADA has created is nothing short of remarkable and I am excited about helping the organization reach its ambitious goals.” Ms. Morton can be reached at diane@whereartismade.com.

    #  #  #

    The Warehouse Arts District Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit arts organization dedicated to building and sustaining a vibrant arts community in St. Petersburg that supports the success of all artists and the community at large through a broad spectrum of tools, including community revitalization, marketing, advocacy and educational programming within the Warehouse Arts District.

  • 01 Dec 2017 1:32 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    By Janelle Irwin  –  Reporter, Tampa Bay Business Journal

    The Warehouse Arts District Association is asking the state for $500,000 to continue renovations within the district aimed at economic development throughout the city. If approved, the appropriation would pay for an arts education center in the up-and-coming St. Petersburg district near Midtown. Any leftover funds would be used to create additional large studios for artists who need more space like sculptors and welders.

    The district is an economic development catalyst in the area wedged between one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and the popular Grand Central District. City leaders hope the Warehouse Arts District’s popularity stemming from the well-attended monthly Art Walk to interactive studio spaces like Zen Glass will have a spillover effect into surrounding neighborhoods surrounding it.

    In an appropriations request that Warehouse Arts District Association Vice President Rob Kapusta filed, he says funding would help add artists to the district, which could increase jobs and attract local visitors and tourists.

    The filing lists substantial community support for increasing studio space in the district including a $175,000 financial commitment from the city of St. Pete and $550,000 in private investments. The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership also contributed $40,000, the document shows.

    The Legislature approved $400,000 for similar renovations within the district in its 2017-18 budget. That money renovated a large warehouse adjacent to the Pinellas Trail into 28 artist studios that are now completed and 100 percent occupied. One of the artists relocated to St. Pete from Puerto Rico after being displaced by Hurricane Maria, according to Kapusta.

    The current funding ask would be appropriated the following budget year to continue that growth.

    The district sits between First Avenue North and 10th Avenue South and between 16th and 31st streets. It’s populated mostly by warehouses and small manufacturing facilities.

    As spaces became increasingly vacant and the buildings in disrepair, artists saw an opportunity to revive the community into an arts district by taking advantage of affordable rent. An informal group of artists began looking at ways to revitalize the area in 2011.

    While the district has a long way to go before it is one of the city’s hot spots, it’s following a similar path as the Edge and Grand Central districts as well as the 600 block of Central Avenue. Those areas are now populated with hip bars, restaurants and boutiques, and property values are reflecting the growth.

    Some of the original occupants along the 600 block of Central Avenue have since been priced out due to rising property values. Kapusta said the Warehouse Arts District Association, a non-profit organization, plans to preserve affordable rent in the space it owns and is continuing to renovate.

    The Warehouse Arts District shares another successful tool — it’s bisected by the Pinellas Trail and easily connected to downtown. As the city looks to redevelop land on the Tropicana Field site, the district’s prospects become even brighter. A Tropicana Field master plan puts new development adjacent to the Warehouse Arts District that could further drive economic development. 

    The 2018 Legislative Session convenes Jan. 9.

  • 27 Nov 2017 11:49 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    By Alev Aktar - New York Post

    Clear blue waters and long stretches of sand have always been the appeal of St. Petersburg, Fla. But these days, visitors are just as likely to dive into the Tampa Bay town’s vibrant arts and culture scene.

    Over the last decade, the Sunshine City has evolved into a creative hub, with world-class museums, thriving galleries and bold street art that have the once-neglected downtown booming again. And soon there will be much more to admire: Three ambitious new museums will open in St. Pete over the next two years, cementing its reputation as one of Florida’s cultural hot spots.

    Here’s how a short trip to the ’Burg should look:

    After a blissed-out day at the beach, head into town for a late-afternoon stroll through the dazzling collection of glass sculptures crafted by Dale Chihuly at the Chihuly Collection. Stock up on colorful wares at its gift shop, then hit nearby Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails for oysters and craft cocktails.

    In the mood for something sweet? Grab a gourmet ice pop at The Hyppo, which boasts a staggering array of flavors from pumpkin cheesescake to pineapple cilantro. After the sun sets, savor a fresh catch at one of St. Pete’s fine restaurants; you can’t go wrong with the olive oil-seared grouper at FarmTable Cucina ($30). After dessert, shuffle on over to the historic St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club — known as the world’s largest club for the sport — for a few late-night matches.

    Thanks to St. Pete’s laid-back yet imaginative spirit, there’s more art to check out the next day. More than 80 — and counting — eye-catching outdoor murals wrap buildings, walls and a main downtown intersection. “They create a sense of community,” says Derek Donnelly, a local talent behind a number of works. “I credit the art with helping turn around St. Pete.”

    Donnelly helps promote the annual Shine St. Petersburg Mural Festival, which wrapped its third iteration last month and is gearing up the next one in the fall of 2018. Local, national and international street artists from as far away as Australia gather to create large-scale, open-air works over 10 days.

    According to Donnelly, the best place to start a mural tour is the alley behind the stores on the 600 North block of downtown’s Central Avenue. The lane is so jammed with trippy wall tattoos — including several of his compositions featuring dinosaur and sea creature — that even the dumpsters are decorated.

    Don’t forget a visit to St. Pete’s popular Dali Museum, ($24 for adults), which houses the largest collection of works by the mustachioed genius outside his native Spain. On a smaller scale, more than 75 galleries dot the town’s seven arts districts. In the Warehouse Arts District, don’t miss the astounding glass works at Duncan McClellan Gallery — or its romantic sculpture garden, or its hot shop demonstrations by a team of artists.

    Best of all, St. Pete has much more creative capital in the pipeline.

    The first outpost — the Imagine Museum, which centers on glass art — opens its doors in January. A repurposed school will exhibit pieces from 55 renowned glass artists, including Harvey Littleton and Marlene Rose.

    The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art will also debut early next year. Occupying most of a city block, it will showcase works in oil, ink, stone and steel — evoking the frontier spirit and celebrating life in the wild. The works were collected over decades by Tom James, CEO of investment company Raymond James, and his wife Mary.

    The biggest passion project of all is downtown’s $70 million Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, scheduled to open in spring 2019. The monumental building, designed by Cuban-born local architect Alberto Alfonso, is being purpose-built to display businessman Rudy Ciccarello’s extensive decorative arts collection.

    With so much art on tap — as well as year-round sunshine and those irresistible white-sand beaches — it’s worth adding St. Pete to your vacation short list.

    Where to eat and sleep

    From landmark hotels to catch-of-the-day restaurants, St. Petersburg has the hospitality waterfront covered. Here’s a look at some local favorites:

    • Hotels
    Modal TriggerBase yourself at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach.HP

    Active much? Take your pick of four sports at the historic Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, which features 18 holes, tennis courts, a private 74-slip marina and two pools (from $264).

    For a chic sleep, book a reservation t the 18-room Birchwood Inn. You can’t beat the elegant rooms with four-poster beds — or the spectacular rooftop lounge (from $310).

    The Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach is about 40 minutes outside of downtown St. Pete but mere seconds from a spectacular beach. (Clearwater Beach, in fact, was rated the best in the country by TripAdvisor last year.) With a pool and a spa onsite, it’s easy to unwind here (from $174).

    • Food
    Modal TriggerThe Reading Room’s stylish staff.Partho

    Cool and creative, the Reading Room serves delicious garden-inspired and wood-fired fare. Many of the herbs and vegetables are grown in the beds outside.

    The seafood-centric menu changes daily at swanky Sea Salt, but the dishes are always fresh and succulent. Don’t miss the happy hour.

  • 13 Nov 2017 11:05 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    "If you don't feel the love in St. Pete, you're probably not breathing."

  • 30 Oct 2017 4:25 PM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Photo and article via Emily Bowers USFConnect

    Finding an affordable and legitimate studio space was next to impossible for art students in St. Petersburg, until now. The St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District has now initiated ArtsXchange, a program that gives students access to a studio to display and sell their art.

    The ArtsXchange’s grand opening on Oct. 26 celebrated the completion of the program’s first phase, the opening of 28 new studios. The event was packed with locals, excited to show their support for the arts community.

    Among them were U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who spoke about their appreciation for the arts and helped cut the ceremonial ribbon.

    ArtsXchange aims to expose students to what it means to be a professional in the art world, and involve them in the larger art community.

    For $25 a year, students gain membership and have access to the studios, galleries, and various educational opportunities.

    “We created a segment of our membership for students because we believe student artists are apart of our community,” said Renee Dabbs, executive director of ArtsXchange. “We also believe they can come in and get a lot … Our future is that we are going to do more education for students.”

    Benefits of membership include the option to submit artwork to the ArtsXchange annex show, participate in their member-only art shows, and gain access to a personal studio.

    “It’s a wonderful facility,” artist Ted VanCleave said. VanCleave works in the Warehouse Arts District. “It’s brand new. It’s the best studio any one of us have had. It’s so nice, so well designed, so well lit. They really thought it through,” VanCleave said.

    With the warehouse’s location on the route of the Second Saturday ArtWalk, a local art touring event, student members have a unique opportunity to gain exposure for their work. The warehouse also serves as a space for mentoring programs.

    All types of artists are welcome to participate, and there is also no time limit to memberships and access to the studios, so long as the yearly fee is paid. Students can paint the walls, hang any and all of their art, and immerse themselves in the local arts community, all for $25 a year.

    To register for the student membership, go to


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