Laid back St. Pete's, Florida
The atmosphere in Florida’s St. Pete's oozes laidback cool and casual. Everyone knows the Salvador Dali museum is there and St Pete has long had a good arts vibe. Now there’s a new surge of awareness of the arts and St. Pete’s art district grows ever larger. The revival of the crumbling Grand Central District in to a burgeoning arts destination is pure genius. The general feeling is arts-centric just driving in and seeing the architecture. And within the Central District is another gem, historic Kenwood. This neighborhood claims to have the biggest collection of bungalows in Florida, some dating from the 1920’s and they’re all well preserved. If you love snooping about houses, try to get to the Bungalow Fest on the first Saturday in November each year.
After you’ve cruised historic Kenwood, a number art galleries or antique-arty places make the leisurely drive down Central Ave., most enjoyable. The Craftsman House is as good as any place to start. This lovely gallery and cafe, with a quaint potters studio in the side drive, is a beautifully restored craftsman cottage and filled to the brim with a huge range of cool art from pottery to gourd art.
They proudly display their award from the Florida Trust “for meritorious achievement in the field of Restoration Rehabilitation,” and the friendly staff happily share their knowledge and information about the area. Their exhibits change regularly and the quality and standard of their artists is very high.
Interior Motives Gallery offer art, framing and antiques in a colorful jumble of intriguing art - a mixture of fine art and folk art and they mesh together effortlessly. They host exhibits by various artists from Florida and the South East region, often with opening receptions to meet the artist.
They are also part of a group working to restore Williams Park in to a community friendly area. Starting Saturday, October 4, they will hold an art market there from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. The name of the event is possibly changing to Saturday Art Market - Art in the Park (but not confirmed at time of going to press). It would be best to contact Interior Motives or check their website for updated information.
The nearby Arts Center is housed in an impressive building and is a magnificent anchor to the St. Pete arts community. Founded back in 1917 as the Arts Club of St. Petersburg, it has grown in to a large business dedicated to advancing the arts, raising awareness and educating artists and art lovers. They offer workshops, changing exhibits, a gift shop and much more. It’s worth dropping in even if you don’t know their current exhibit title. I stopped by between exhibits as they were changing them out, and it was still enthralling. The Arts Center is also working to establish a Dale Chihuly permanent display of his incredible glass sculptures in the new Beth Morean Arts Center they are setting up. It will be interesting to see how that develops and an incredible coup for St. Pete‘s.
It’s definitely worth the short drive to Gulfport is a relaxed, laid back little town, reasonably alternative and independent. They host a bi-monthly art walk every first Friday and third Saturday of the month. There is a free trolley ride along the art walk route and independent artists set up their tents outside. Gulfport is charming and a step back in time. It’s just the sort of place for a creative and interesting art-town - as long as they maintain their own individual character.