BEING AN ARTIST TOWN

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Being An Artist Town

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by CAROL MICKETT & ROBERT STACKHOUSE

Being an ARTIST Town

One of my duties when I sat on the St. Petersburg Art Advisory Committee was to evaluate and vote on art grants.  The grants never went to Artists but only to not-for-profit art organizations and institutions.
I took it upon myself, whenever I had the opportunity, to say how important it is to have art grants for ARTISTS.  After all, our city, or any place for that matter, would not have art museums, galleries, art fairs, art walks, mural festivals, theaters, ballets, concerts, the symphony, the opera, book stores and libraries without ARTISTS and their art.
Last Saturday was St. Petersburg’s art walk.  There were hundreds of people out walking, biking, and driving the streets going to the galleries and to see the new murals.  They were going to the Morean, Studio@620, and the Arts Warehouse District.  They were going to see what the artists were doing – that is what got all those people to come out.  In the mean time, they were visiting the restaurants along Central and Beach Drive.  They were buying things in the shops, and, no doubt, drinking in the bars and the breweries.  All this excitement and economic boom because there are ARTISTS in St. Petersburg making and showing art.
Artists provide this buzz and opportunities for a myriad of economic development pathways, but we also provide what other active citizens provide.  We pay taxes.  We keep our homes and studios in good shape.  We participate in city committees and workshops for the betterment of our city and county.
Robert and I are engaged in September and October in a show at Blake High School’s Art Magnet curated by the Contemporary Art Museum at USF.  The show is about place-making, so it fits perfectly with the current focus of our art endeavors.  We are putting work in the show, interacting with the students at opening night, and participating on a panel.  We are doing this because we recognize the importance of teaching talented young people what it is to be a professional artist.
We recognize that the quality of our art cities and counties directly corresponds to the quality of our artists.
In the show at the Art Magnet, we are including photographs, a large working drawing, and a video of the making of our installation Breath of Cypress Moon that the Selby Gallery at the Ringling College of Art and Design commissioned us to do.  Here is a photograph, sculpture details, and a short description by Richard Matthews, the editor of The Tampa Review, that he wrote when he feature the sculpture on the cover of that journal.

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