The Arts Coast magazine asked all kinds of artists to find a new and different way to talk about their work – in just 100 words. We received these wonderful replies, and invite you to explore the varied range of working artists in our area.
Thank you to Paul Wilborn for this intriguing idea. Paul says he’s read a million very boring standard bios, and suggested asking artists to paint a colorful new picture of their work – and of themselves – and give the words they use as much life and color as their art.
Artists who’d like to share a different kind of bio can email
firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll keep updating this feature.
Mr. Arsenault is not a Schizophrenic, he’s more like a cat with way too many lives. Born to a Greenwich Village performing arts family (parents met at the famed Provincetown Playhouse) he’s led far too many lives to count. Administrator, Musician, Technical Director, Production Manager, Booking Agent, Stage Manager, Designer, Ringmaster, Producer, Consultant, Director, Arts Advocate and amateur BarBQ Pit Master. Always looking for new skills to acquire and opportunities to explore he is currently studying up for a new role down the road as a “retiree” although none that know him well believe that he is up to that challenge.
Explore the work of Keith Arsenault here
Like many of my creative friends, I have remained healthy and highly productive during the pandemic. My most recent work defines a state of mind that seems to be infused with a spirit of Zen.
This quote from writer L.G. Boldt sums up what I believe to be true for me – “To live as an artist is to consecrate your life and embrace your true vocation, come what may.”
Explore the work of Bob Barancik here
As a child, I roamed the aisles of my parents’ music store pretending to be Supergirl. My mother taught me to play piano and my father showed me how to fix things. I chose a path of visual art, but my creativity takes many forms. I’ve taught art to special-needs children, completed an improv training program and renovated a house. Traveling feeds my spirit and in 2018, I visited Latvia, where my grandparents lived before they fled the Soviet occupation. While there, I painted my grandmother’s portrait for the Mark Rothko International Painting Symposium. So for me, art is a way of life!
Explore the work of Elizabeth Barenis here
Fear of Rain auditioned 50+ guys for the villain – then Eugenie Bondurant auditioned and got the part. Test audiences wanted more Eugenie so The Conjuring 3 rewrote and re-shot 1/3 of the film to give her a backstory, new look, new lair, spectacular death scene and DC comic book. She’s The Hunger Games’ near-feline Tigris, played a killer robot on a 3-month overseas shoot with 24-hours notice, all while knitting between scenes. A sultry cabaret singer, she’s the voice of the SHINE Mural tour, many Dalí audio tours and in The Studio@620’s Radio Theatre Project.
Explore the work of Eugenie Bondurant here
Chris C. hails from Connecticut but has lived in St. Petersburg for many years. He came to Creative Clay in 1997 and he is the longest-working artist in Creative Clay’s Community Arts Program. Chris illustrates with pencil, marker and paint, but since 2012, he has preferred fiber arts. “Being at Creative Clay makes me happy,” he says. “I love making art every day.” His latest needlework project, Soup and Bananas, is modeled after Andy Warhol’s 1962 soup can prints. Chris is an expert in fabric arts and known for his gentle teaching style and affable personality.
Explore the work of Chris C. here
Saumi grew up in the Maximum City. He goes by both he/him and they/them pronouns. His art was exhibited first when he was 7 years old. If he wasn’t an artist, he would be an automobile designer or transportation designer. Marathi is his first language. His teacher in 4th grade told him that he has the most beautiful eyes. Saumi’s love of textiles began at home – because of the vibrant and luxurious sarees that his mother and grandmother wore. Saumi loves public transit and is an advocate of a lifestyle that centers robust public transit.
Explore the work of Saumitra Chandratreya here
Sheila Cowley is a playwright who asks actors, dancers, sound and visual artists, “Hey, what if – ?” to create performances that spark you to look up and to look further. In these collaborative celebrations, parachutes turn into sky and sea, microscopic particles turn into dance and people join spontaneous parades. As an audio editor she’s spent many years amid the music of rough voices and the rhythmic tides of conversation. In a past life, she served as FCC Chief Operator of an FM station and enjoyed the camaraderie of engineers. She works as Managing Editor of the Arts Coast magazine.
Explore the work of Sheila Cowley here
Equality through art is the core of Creative Clay’s vision of arts access for all – inspiring, empowering and educating people with neuro-differences since 1995. Our work transforms by demystifying stereotypes and creating a culture of acceptance.
The work of Creative Clay’s member artists permeates this community. From painted hard hats that grace the wall in a new hotel, to large scale work in public spaces and illustrating a children’s book after listening to an audio play, our artists’ work colors St. Petersburg. Residents support our vision when they lovingly choose our artists’ work to live in their homes.
Explore the work of Creative Clay here
Aloha shirts. Maria Bethânia. Bhangra. Blundstone chisel-toe boots. Lee Bontecou. David Bowie. Brain-storming. Cats. Central Park. Cheetos/cabernet. Chewy crosswords. Chicago. Leonard Cohen. Collaboration. John Coltrane. Daisy Cutter. DayGlo. Democrats. Directing films. Drawing caryatids. EJI. Equal-area projection maps. Eucalyptus aroma. Hannah Gadsby, Moms Mabley. Giant redwoods. Graziano’s on Randolph. Greek diners. Infinite Jest; Ulysses; Ducks, Newburyport. Justice. Kona Coast. Lee Krasner. Marigolds. Amedeo Modigliani. The New Yorker. Palms. Pitchfork Music Festival, Grant Park Music Festival — any music festival, really. Problem solving. Reparations. Sharing power. Star Fucker Oasis, Burning Man. Tennessee River Mile Marker 149.1. Yoga with Adriene.
Explore the work of Susana Darwin here
Amber DiPietra is a performance and community artist who makes work – including classes and guided experiences – around embodiment, disability, chronic pain, sexuality and activism. You can read her work in anthologies like Beauty Is a Verb: the New Poetics of Disability (Cinco Puntos, 2011) and Poetry and Work (Palgrave, 2019). In 2018, her one-woman show about manatees, slowness, falling, decrepitude and inaccessible beaches ran for 6 nights at the Tampa International Fringe Festival. She is certified as a sexological bodyworker in California and now lives in St. Petersburg. Her family immigrated to Ybor City in Tampa 100+ years ago.
You can explore the work of Amber DiPietra here
Don shared a hilarious satirical dive into the standard artist’s statement here. A bit more than 100 words, but very much worthwhile!
You can explore the work of Don Gialanella here
10 Things You Might Not Know About Margo Hammond
- Born in Kenosha
- St. Petersburg Times book editor for 16 years, founded the Times Festival of Reading
- Co-authored The Book Babes Guide to a Woman’s Reading Pleasures
- Creative Late Bloomers honors her mom who began writing a newspaper column at 86
- USF Emerging Playwrights featured her 10-minute play Notorious, inspired by RBG
- Latest Dalí and OLLI lectures on Androgyny and Surrealism and Melancholia in the Arts
- Speaks French and Italian (and orders food in Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish)
- Is a lousy cook, but loves to eat
- Current favorite author – Karl Ove Knaussgaard
- Married her husband on his 50th birthday 24 years ago
You can explore the work of Margo Hammond here
Hanna was born in St. Petersburg and joined Creative Clay’s Community Arts Program in 2006. Her favorite medium is paint, and her personal interests are often the subject of her work. Hanna is a black belt in karate and she loves to dance. Hanna also loves to exercise. Hanna uses Sharpie pens to draw intricate fashion patterns in bright colors, and she paints portraits of pop culture figures on elaborate stages or in fanciful landscapes. “I strive to work out every day and stay healthy,” she says.
You can explore the work of Hanna V. here
Steph Hargrove is a painter and installation artist engaged in social practice art. She creates large-scale installations to illustrate statistics involving social and environmental issues using waste materials. Steph relies on community donations of items such as cereal boxes and junk mail to create pieces that raise money and awareness related to the statistic being illustrated by the installation. Steph graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Art and Performance from the University of Texas at Dallas. Her work has saved rainforests, fed hungry families, provided arts education for orphans and supported ocean conservancy.
You can explore the work of Steph Hargrove here
Obsessed with science and unconventional poems, Denzel Johnson-Green is a poet and photographer based in St.Pete. His writings range wildly from farts to colorism and systems of racism, from pancakes to human evolution, talking giants in Roser Park and rainy Florida afternoons, to sexism and local gentrification. He’s the creator of Community Poetry – a weekly poetry open mic/workshop, and Neptune, a monthly poetry and art magazine. Denzel loves making breakfast, saying “Hmm”, running in meadows, reading up on anthropology and zoology, playing Skyrim and making people laugh. A couple favorite poets are Shel Silverstein and Danez Smith.
You can explore the work of Denzel Johnson-Green here
Victoria Jorgensen is an award-winning Bay Area filmmaker whose film/video career spans over four decades. Her stories have traveled the globe from film festivals to domestic and foreign television and museum shows. Jorgensen produced documentaries, narratives and visual poems before she attended Cannes Film Festival 2017 with Tiny Bacteria, starring Eugenie Bondurant. Jorgensen loves to write, produce, direct and shoot and can be found mentoring female filmmakers, assisting with whatever crew position they need. The production of Jorgensen’s next film, The Click, was postponed due to the pandemic, but she hopes to shoot the film soon.
You can explore the work of Victoria Jorgensen here
“Painting outside myself. . . ” YaeL Kelley’s art reflects her experience of a life lived with chronic pain. Born with an autoimmune condition that causes perpetual illness, and a broken neck from a car accident at 17 she only sleeps two hours at a time. For her, art is therapy, escape, focus and connection to the world around her. YaeL’s expressionist paintings act as a stream of consciousness compressed into a single experience. Look at one painting. . . intricate, expressive and emotional. . . look at several paintings and you are seeing inside a memory, a story, a journey expressed emotionally intact.
Explore the work of D. YaeL Kelley here
Reflecting on more than 50 years experience as a dance educator, choreographer, dancer and company director, I find this time in my career to be as satisfying as those exciting years of discovery and innovation. Who knew I could say, “BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE!” Happily, collaborative partnerships with artists of all kinds have kept me leaping over, under, around and through one project after another. SPARKS, a multi-arts venture with writer Sheila Cowley, pushes and shoves me toward more ways to creatively move on down the road. To be continued? Of course!
Explore the work of Paula Kramer here
I am an abstract, Africanist painter, writer and spoken-word artist. I aim for my artistry to inspire all individuals to discover their creative giftedness. My vision of art is a bridge of connection for all people – whether it be through our voices, our movement or our creative writing. I seek to envision that which lies beyond the limits of visual perception – opening our hearts up to the soulful place of imaginative realization. In my art, I labor to illustrate my longing to connect with my cultural ancestry, and unite us toward expressing the liberating power of self-transformation.
Explore the work of Gary Lemons here
David Manson is a cat magnet who attracts neighborhood strays that know a “good thing” and have lengthy lives in his and his wife’s backyard. He is an accidental gardener who somehow figured out how to tame the sandy soil and blazing sun of Florida. He still plays trombone as an adult and once climbed Mount Nemrut in Turkey. He performed and recorded with free jazz legends Sam Rivers and Cecil Taylor. His compositions have been placed in TV shows including Preacher, Riverdale, Looking, Single Parents, Grandfathered, Your Honor and others. He is not a good dancer.
Explore the work of David Manson here
Terry Marks is an Educator, Wall Street Executive, Publisher, Business Owner, Non-Profit Entrepreneur, Writer and CEO. Her belief in a common purpose and working towards a greater good is based upon the foundation that there are no limits to what people can achieve, when they work together. Tools in Terry’s toolbox every day – honesty, humor, gratitude and forgiveness. Once in a while, her cat, Brisket steps in to help keep things in the present moment.
Explore the work of Terry Marks here
St. Petersburg native Marquise R. joined Creative Clay’s Community Arts Program in 2008. Marquise’s primary medium was colored pencil, but in the past few years his work has grown to include fantastical creatures and large-scale abstract works. “I enjoy coming to Creative Clay and working on my art,” he says. “My goal is to put my art in different states.” Marquise hails from an artistic family – his brother works as an artist in Atlanta. Marquise is a community leader and always projects a positive attitude. “Please come and see the artwork at Creative Clay. It’s a great place to be.”
Explore the work of Marquise R. here
Through art, I explore ideas of self, home and community. My work is almost always figurative and often mixed media. I am intrigued with layers, textures and the spiritual side of art. As an artist and art educator for over 50 years, the impulse to create is part of who I am. It centers me and informs how I move through the world. As I continue to create, living at the water’s edge restores my soul daily and provides a tranquil rhythm in my life that allows me to touch, reflect and tap into my creative self.
Explore the work of Cora Marshall here
Did you know the employees of sober homes charged with “modeling appropriate behavior in dress, attitude and conduct” are often more fucked up than clients in recovery? That quote is from my job description for a mental health/addiction facility where I worked for two years. 90% of this time I was on drugs, hungover and starving. I learned more from our clients than they ever learned from me. I would thank them but they’re all dead. In lieu of thanks, I’m working on a novel called The Florida Shuffle. What Joyce did for Ulysses, I’ll do for Delray FL.
Explore the work of James McAdams here
Maureen McDole was born in St. Petersburg. She’s descended from carnies, carpenters and fisherman. This DIY ethos infuses every area of her life. Her first book of poems, Exploring My Options came out in 2006. Longing for the Deep End, was released in 2011 and Feast will come out in Fall 2021 from St. Petersburg Press. Her poetry is set in a variety of ways including film, dance, spoken word, art installations and vocal works. She’s the founder of the local literary arts organization, Keep St. Pete Lit. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of literature to save the world.
Explore the work of Maureen McDole here
Public art is art for ALL to see and enjoy. St. Pete has more than 80 examples (both inside and outside) at fire stations, community centers, libraries, police stations, parks and even on neighborhood street corners. Rent a bus for your friends and family and hop on and off for a few hours. As a public art docent volunteer, I would love to tell you all about the artists and their art.
. . .
Peter Meinke, Poet Laureate of Florida (and previously Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg) has read his poems in St. Petersburg, Russia, as well as in Budapest, Warsaw, Paris, Geneva and numerous countries throughout Europe and Africa, as well as at the Library of Congress.
He lived in Warsaw, Poland for 15 months on a Fulbright Professorship. He’s published 20+ books of poems and stories, and his poems have appeared widely in magazines, including, The New Yorker, Poetry, and dozens of others.
Awards from the NEA, the PSA, the FSPA and a few other capital letters. He’s 88 and can’t remember anything else.
Explore the work of Peter Meinke here
. . .
To quote a certain star-struck actor-colleague of mine, I have “been everywhere, done everything.” True. But let’s talk about me! There’s still so much ego. . . um, I mean, adventure left! My hope is to last long enough to scratch a few more items off the wishlist – a couple more Shakespeare plays (Richard III, The Winter’s Tale. . . Hello? Is anybody with influence reading this?); a Coen Brothers or Spike Lee film in which I, the crotchety-but-wily septuagenarian, wield power by knowing where all the skeletons are hidden; and. . . Oh, yes. Lest I appear shallow, I also intend to strive for World Peace.
Explore the work of Jan Neuberger here
Zoe Papas is the type of artist who gets charcoal on her face and paint in her hair. Her favorite subject is the human figure. Drawing the human figure from life makes her feel like Michelangelo or Caravaggio. She loves the timeless quality of nude figure drawings. It is her mission to create art at her highest potential and teach others as well. Zoe currently teaches figure drawing at the Dunedin Fine Art Center and shows her work at exhibitions and outdoor art shows, in which she has won many awards.
Explore the work of Zoe Papas here
Organized, disorganized, morning person, night owl, creative, hates a blank canvas, always learning, please don’t make me read anything, documentary, artsy… Working in art and documentary realms can be confusing and rewarding. Nothing is off limits for a project as long as a camera is involved somehow. I am chronic volunteerer – that’s not a word – sorry, not sorry. Giving back makes my heart so freaking happy! Being dyslexic and ADHD adds a layer of crazy to my world and all I do as an artist. Ideas hit me and fly away so quick. . . stay this moment. I love me.
Ari Robinson is an abstract installation and collage artist whose clients include Boston Children’s Hospital, The Toronto Blue Jays and Beaujolais Nouveau. In her work, she abstractly addresses the world around us. “Bringing reminiscent feelings of natural forms, the fascination of the sea and vibrant color, my work can be seen as both irregular and ordered with a sense of pattern and chaos that exist together. You are seeing something vaguely familiar – yet looking into a new little world, a transcendent space reminiscent of the world around us.”
You can explore the work of Ari Robinson here
here is my bedazzled bio
Amanda Sieradzki, caught mid-flight, kicks up words in sand before waves wash over her hands and feet. She dances along the Gulf Coast as it laughs in rainy fits and thunderclaps. She believes you can choreograph at the center of a hurricane and share art in the wild. She’s BrainDance-d amongst Seattle’s evergreens, burrowed between Astoria, Queens and The Ailey School in NYC, traded skyscrapers for canopy roads and an MFA from FSU, started her company Poetica in the south’s terminus, and teaches the body, culture, empathy and experimentation in the shadow of a University of Tampa minaret.
You can explore the work of Amanda Sieradzki here
Just like Lin Manuel Miranda, I was born “In the Heights” – perhaps a tad earlier – but just a tad. So how I found myself in Memphis at 19 starting a 35-year critical care nursing career? I have no idea or explanation. I moved to St. Pete in 1985 – and fell in love with the “Manhattan of Pinellas County.” In my 50s I started the Beauty & The ‘Burg arts and culture podcast, and recently added ‘Arts Ambassador’ for Creative Pinellas to my resume. Journalism and promoting the creatives I admire has become who I am and what I love.
You can explore the work of Cindy Stovall here
and in many publications including Arts Coast
“Well that’s different.” That’s us. We’re The Studio@620. We’re different. We say yes! We mix art, music, dance, literature, theatre and community into a delicious dish for soul and senses. We’ve been blending muses since 2004 in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. We’re proud of our legacy of inclusion, of diversity, of creativity. And we’ve got a place for you. Come visit us and see what you might discover about art and yourself.
You can explore the work of The Studio@620 here
Suna was born in St. Petersburg and he joined Creative Clay’s Community Arts Program in 2019. His preferred medium is colored pencils. He is especially fond of drawing his own characters “Natalie” and “Joe,” two dogs with human qualities. Suna is a self-described rule-follower. He loves drawing assignments and working in different mediums, such as mask making. He is grateful for the opportunity to come to Creative Clay. “Thank you to everyone who makes it possible for me to make art,” he says.
You can explore the work of Suna M. here
Tank and Tilly
Nicole Hays and A.J. Vaughan, also known as “Tank and Tilly,” are variety performers in St. Petersburg. Nicole and A.J. perform partner acrobatics, original music, comedy and aerial arts in their own whimsical productions. The duo’s original shows include Tank and Tilly’s Clockwork Cabaret, a steampunk-themed vaudeville show featuring the original “Spinning Sphere” apparatus; Kidding Around with Tank and Tilly, a children’s show featuring comedy and music; and Tank and Tilly’s Screampunk Special (October 2021), a virtual Halloween-themed show featuring the duo’s take on classic monster characters.
You can explore the work of Tank and Tilly here
Angela is a full-time artist, art teacher and yoga teacher. She’s obsessed with nature and loves swimming in the ocean. Angela grew up in Maine and moved to the Caribbean in her early 30s where she honed her artistic lifestyle. She lives with her wife Megan and dogs Bootsie and Tupac in Gulfport, with summers in Maine. She’s worked almost every art job imaginable for the past 16 years, and is now very proud to be working for herself. Angela’s paintings are vibrant and joyous, and reflect the colors and shapes of tropical plants, landscape and light in Florida.
You can explore the work of Angela Warren here
I am not an artist, but a commentator on art through my career as an art educator, curator and museum director. In retirement since 2015, I have had the opportunity to select topics that interest me (except for the pandemic’s formidable barrier). I enjoy writing critiques and exhibition reviews on artists I admire – I love doing art historical research, organizing exhibitions of area artists, being a tour escort for art travel tours, and teaching classes on art history. My biggest interest, though, is in support of the arts and creative industries that have become so vibrant in our community.
Explore just some of Lynn Whitelaw’s work here