A Safe Harbor for the Arts
Where we come from has no small role in where we end up going. This is true in our lives, but also in the lives of towns and cities. Take Safety Harbor, for example. Originally known as Worth’s Harbor, the town earned its new name in the 1700s when pirates roamed the Bay area. By the time ships reached this small northwestern extension of the bay, odds of a pirate attack decreased significantly. Thus, the harbor became known as being “safe.”
Today, the city with the small-town feel offers a different kind of safety for those who live there—safety from the hustle and bustle (and monotony) of our rapidly urbanizing and homogenizing society. Safety Harbor prioritizes not so much a slower pace in life, but a more creative one.
More and more murals are popping up on the sides of businesses and warehouses; it’s a sight we’ve come to expect from Pinellas County. In Safety Harbor, specifically, you’ll still see the murals—there’s the Atrium mural on the side of City Hall, historical, heroic and inspirational scenes on the outsides and insides of the fire stations, Zoran Peshich’s “Wetland Delight” at Ibis Bed and Breakfast, and more—but then there are the statues popping up and local artists’ paintings on display in the library and restaurants. And then there are the colorful, decorated houses, such as the Whimzeyland, a work of art in its own right with its bottle trees and bowling ball trimmings created by Kiaralinda and Todd Ramquist.
A brief stroll down Main Street takes you past at least half a dozen dedicated art zones, and people beyond the Bay are taking notice. Visual artist Peter Max has appeared with his work at the Syd Entel Gallery. Actor and little-known musician Jeff Daniels helped raise nearly $5,000 for the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center, playing a concert at the aforementioned Whimzeyland. Alan Lomax, folk-music archivist, died there and Robin Zander, lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Cheap Trick, has lived there for the past 23 years.
Even with the murals and paintings and statues, the art experience in Safety Harbor isn’t static—the community makes sure of that with numerous festivals throughout the year to bring arts, artists and appreciators together in celebration of the creative spirit. Upcoming on Saturday, October 1 is the City’s annual Harbor Sounds Oktoberfest. Nine blocks of Main Street, the heart of Safety Harbor, will be closed off to accommodate booths selling fine arts, crafts, food and German beer. A custom car show will be parked between 7th and 9th Avenues, and there will be a family fun zone, so feel free to bring the little ones. Best of the Bay winners, the Black Honkeys, will be ending the night with a high-energy performance in the Gazebo. The event runs from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free.