Art Walks are thriving on the west side of Tampa Bay, with artists and galleries cooperating in support of the arts to the benefit of everyone. Some venues are commercial galleries owned by established professional artists, while others are non-profit organizations offering classes and workshops to the public. The artists from all these entities work together to plan community events through social networking groups and web sites. These Art Walks are free for all to attend, but sometimes special themes are planned to raise funds for worthy causes or just to raise fun.
People move along the mapped out locations, learning about the skills and techniques demonstrated by the artists, who may be talking about their work process or painting live outside the galleries. Musical performances and live entertainment create a festival atmosphere, as artists welcome the public into their galleries and studios. Artists hope to make sales, but also to make new friends.
These Art Walks are opportunities for people to become educated about the artistic options available to them in their communities. Art Walks are ongoing events, but specifics change from month to month, so it’s best to contact the people you plan to visit for more information when you go.
Downtown St. Petersburg Second Saturday Gallery Walk
All locations in Downtown St. Petersburg, from 30th Street to the waterfront
Price: Always free, public welcome
2nd Saturday of each month, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The Second Saturday Gallery Walk is sponsored by the St. Petersburg Downtown Arts Association, a not-for-profit organization of galleries, museums and arts-related businesses in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. An Art Walk map is available from the group, marking the locations of participating galleries, restaurants and other area merchants.
Member galleries are listed west to east and are grouped in clusters. Ride your bike or drive and park for free on the West End and board the Central Avenue Trolley for 50 cents. The Trolley runs from the Pier on the Bay all the way out to the beaches of Pass-A-Grille.
Start at the Craftsman House Gallery & Cafe, a warm, homey, authentically renovated 1918 Arts and Crafts Bungalow on the historic registry, a vision realized by owner Jeff Schorr. For six of the 10 years this Art Walk has existed, Schorr has opened this working studio of artists-in-residence to the Second Saturday visitors. It’s a special experience to buy earthenware that has been thrown, glazed, fired and finished on premises, or to have your lunch served on the colorful pottery plates and cups in the cafe.
Along the map route, Duncan McClellan Glass is a fabulous stop to see the unique, deeply carved colored glass vases and sculptures so elegantly lit, cloistered in niches or perched on pedestals. Trolley riders who drop by Interior Motives may meet owner Leslie Curran, an interior designer and St. Petersburg City Council member, who has been a pioneer of Downtown arts. She plans special gallery openings with live music for local artists during the Walks, offering custom framing for their paintings and promoting their art on her web site.
Across the street at the non-profit Morean Arts Center, home of the world famous Chihuly glass sculptures, you can take studio classes in a wide variety of art techniques. Further down Central Avenue in the Dazzio Gallery, Judith Dazzio has a strong program of art classes for adults, teens and children, encouraging everyone to be creative. Another not-for-profit organization, Florida Craftsmen, empowers the working fine craft artists of Florida by offering classes and workshops which assist them with business skills. People can volunteer at the craft center in another way of expressing creativity.
On the 600 Block of St. Petersburg is a section of the Gallery Walk where you will find artists and merchants working together to renovate the old buildings, creating a lively, colorful, youthful festival atmosphere downtown. With a long list of participants, this is the strongest, most diverse, dynamic Art Walk.
Visitors can find a printable map for walking tours of more than 30 public art project installations on the City of St. Petersburg web site.
Art, Theater and Dining in St. Petersburg
New for 2012, The St. Petersburg Arts & Entertainment Pass can now be purchased for only $34.50 and is valued at more than $110. Save money while visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, The Chihuly Collection, the Morean Art Center’s Glass Studio and Hot Shop, and see a midday series show at the Mahaffey Theater. Pass holders can dine in St. Petersburg’s participating restaurants and get discounts on delicious meals. You can purchase your pass at: The Chihuly Collection, Morean Arts Center Glass Studio & Hot Shop, Museum of Fine Arts and The Mahaffey.
Dunedin Second Friday Wine/Art Walk
All locations in Downtown Dunedin, Douglas Avenue and Main Street
Cost: Always free, public welcome
2nd Friday of each month, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Stroll through quaint tropical downtown Dunedin while enjoying the ambiance of the artistic vibe. Parents can enjoy the evening out while their children are supervised at a paint-your-own pottery shop, Art from the Heart Cafe. It has a large parking lot that is within walking distance to all the great stores and restaurants.
Dunedin loves dogs, so walk yours past a large mural of pets on the exterior wall of Skip’s Bar & Grill. “Dogedin,” painted by Anna Hamilton for her “Murals for Mutts” program, is one of the colorful murals decorating Main Street. Dine with your pet on a dog-friendly patio at The Living Room, sampling tapas and vegetarian fare.
Musicians perform in Pioneer Park from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Following this, at 8:30 there is a drawing in the park for prizes. To enter the drawing, and to be eligible for give-a-ways and discounts from over 30 participating merchants, purchase a wristband for $10 at these three great venues in one: Kelly’s Restaurant, Chic-a-Boom Room and Blur.
Along the Pinellas Trail just north of Main Street, enter Clay and Paper, the gallery of Barbara Melby-Burhans and husband Ira Jon Burhans. They only exhibit artwork handmade in the U.S., with a large emphasis on Florida and local artists’ work. Also on the Trail, The Painted Fish Gallery has displayed contemporary paintings, prints, calligraphy, and original artwork done by artist owners Bill and Linda Renc.
Lead Lines Stained Glass Studio features local artists in its gift gallery. The studio offers classes in mosaics and stained glass for all levels. The Dunedin Fine Art Center plans monthly new artist exhibits in conjunction with Dunedin’s Wine/Art Walk, at the Stirling Art Studios. Ken Hannon, associate executive director, says the DFAC has incredible classes, workshops, exhibits, coffee talks with artists and events, all designed to involve the community.
Palm Avenue’s First Friday Walks in Sarasota
All locations in Sarasota, on Palm Avenue
Cost: Always free, public welcome
1st Friday of each month, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For the 38th successful year, the Palm Avenue Gallery Walk continues a Sarasota tradition.
Each month, the Gallery Walk has a special theme to coordinate the live music, the food, the goodies and the visual displays. “An Affair to Remember” is the theme for April, when Dabbert Gallery presents the opening of a one-man show for local celebrity artist, Craig Rubadoux. He has lived in Sarasota for over 60 years and is a well respected and established artist, with a fluid, jazzy, emotive way of expressing visual energy. Event organizer and gallery owner Pat Dabbert serves hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and wine at Dabbert Gallery.
Live performances are on the street, with at least two musical groups, along with the young musician’s “Garbage Band” of homemade instruments.
Gulfport’s First Friday Art Walk
All locations in Gulfport, 3007 Beach Blvd South
Cost: Always free, public welcome
1st Friday and 3rd Saturday of each month, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Free parking and free trolley rides are available from off-site parking areas.
Pet and family friendly
Talented independent artists and crafters congregate at the creative enclave of Gulfport, a unique, funky home for the arts year ’round. For the First Friday Art Walks, temporary booths and displays are set up for a half-mile up and down scenic Beach Boulevard and Shore Boulevard. You can meet the artists, learn about their techniques as you watch them paint, and perhaps purchase a fresh, original work of art. Local authors, entertainers and live musicians appear at venues throughout the Village.
A permanent gallery and studio has been established in Gulfport by award winning glass artist Owen Pach. He works on 29th Ave. South, creating fused glass art. In recent years, he helped design and build a glass blowing studio for the Morean Arts Center in Downtown St. Petersburg. A recent public art project by Pach is installed at Beach Blvd. and 28th Avenue South. Artist companion Victoria Wenner has a nearby studio, and the two friends helped visual and performing artist Jonathan Schork establish Schork-Munsell Studios 2, his new working gallery, in between them. This space is known as Artist Alley, and the doors are open for visitors during the Art Walks.
Sarah Dees is an accomplished artist, writer, educator, and entrepreneur, with over twenty-five years of professional experience. Sarah attended Eckerd College for two years, and graduated with a BFA from Parsons School of Design in New York City. She is a freelance writer in Tampa Bay. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.