Celebrating Creative Clay’s Creative ArtLink Partnerships


Life Changing

Mikey Johnson
and Rick Crandall

Michael Johnson and Rick Crandall

Introducing DJ Mikey to a live radio studio environment and helping him to gain some of the basic skills of conducting an on-air music program has, in his mother’s words, been a “life changing” experience for him. 

During the months he has practiced this broadcast trade, Mikey has learned he can communicate in a way never previously imagined, and gained a new level of self-confidence and experience that could, if he so chooses, lead to a viable career in radio programming. The essence of the ArtLink collaboration has been to give him the tools to make this happen.

Mikey was told early in life that he might never be able to engage in “normal speech.” However, he has found his voice heard by an unseen audience on FM radio and an online music stream.  In fact, he has demonstrated excellent diction and understanding of how to apply his voice for providing information and entertainment in the mass media.

Rick Crandall is a retired broadcaster with more than a quarter century of radio experience in a half dozen states including Florida. He was once part of what was called the ‘pirate radio invasion’ in England, broadcasting from a ship anchored in international waters half a century ago. Three years ago, he was awarded a license by the FCC to operate WMTB, a low-power station at 96.7 FM in St Pete as a nonprofit in support of the local arts community.


Just a Short

Sydney Ray and Meike Groh

Sydney Ray and Meike Groh

Sydney and Meike both share a love for animation. They took this opportunity to make a short animation, going from script to screen with Sydney’s original concept. They decided to document the process, to show just how much work and effort goes into 30 seconds of animation. You can see their process in the Artbook they’ve put together, with their best hand-drawn still frames and acrylic concept paintings from the short film.

A part of the Creative Clay Community Arts Program since 2016, Sydney brings her art skills and natural talent to the project. Usually she draws with markers, crayons and colored pencils — this was incorporated into the short film. Sydney came up with her own original character, Leo, and describes his day, giving him a full and rich world to live in. “I am proud I got to draw one of the characters that drove to work, and drew the characters that work there, even the boss,” she says.

Meike Groh is an award-winning producer and animator. A Ringling College of Art and Design alumni, she works at Echo Bridge overseeing various elements of development and production. “I like being able to bring ideas to life,” she explains.


Artists’ View

Cameron Patterson
and Jonathan James

Cameron Patterson and Jonathan James

Cameron’s work is readily thematic and approaches art-making in a methodically trained way that navigates strong imagery and strives for understanding in the natural world. Cameron’s work has a keen sense of defined edge, patterning and story that draws you in.

Jonathan believes that Cameron’s work shows understanding about where we’ve come, so that we aren’t doomed to repeat mistakes. “Another interpretation I’ve drawn is that there are so many dinosaurs in our modern world. So many relics that persist – for better or worse,” Jonathan says.

Jonathan’s pursuit of art consists of pushing the medium to create works that disrupt his own stagnation. Sometimes that means trying new media in ways he hasn’t seen used before, or combining methods to search for an outlet that best serves the piece he is working on.

He appreciates the human quality of imperfection and loves to highlight this in his work. To Jonathan, art is a human act, and should never strive to achieve inhuman characteristics.


A League
of Super Awesome Ultimate Epic Hero Portraits

Tate Foster
and Mason Gehring

Mason Gehring and Tate Foster

Tate and Mason have created a mash-up of work that reflects their interests in a fun and thought-provoking way. This collection takes a look at classic comic book superheroes through the eyes of famous portraits throughout time. The work questions the depth at which one can draw from the journey of a superhero and why depictions of superheroes are not viewed from a prestigious perspective like fine art.

Tate enjoys making art about superheroes and monsters. The majority of his work centers on mastering the depiction of his favorite comic book heroes. Reinventing the origin stories of superheroes or reimagining a collection of heroes into one story is his focus.

Mason Gehring is a painter currently enrolled in the Arts In Medicine Master’s program at the University of Florida. She paints in a loose and energetic style that focuses on portraiture. Her current body of work is an emotional exploration into the abstraction of self-portraiture showing the layers of the human condition.


Hero’s Journey

Marquise Russ
and Calan Ree

Calan and Marquise drew inspiration for their collection from archetypes found in folklore and legend, such as those on the totem poles of the Pacific Northwest, the hero myths of the Marvel Universe, classic fairy tales and their own imaginations. They used familiar and unfamiliar materials and techniques to reflect this journey and created their own versions of common characters found in hero myths.

Marquise can often be found working in the studios at Creative Clay where he is a member of the Community Arts Program. He works primarily in color pencil and creates fantastical action characters and stories to go with each of them. He creates comic books, video game characters and paintings. His paintings are narrative and filled with action.

Calan Ree’s ceramic and mixed media figurative sculptures can be found in Florida CraftArt in St. Petersburg, Curly Tale Fine Art in Chicago and Stranger Factory in Albuquerque. Her work is haunting and sweet, macabre yet humorous. She works as a teaching artist with Creative Clay, serving adults with disabilities and works with NOMAD ArtBus.


Tyler Jordan Brooks and Lourdes Rosas-Rasdall

A Splash of Nature

Tyler Jordan Brooks and Lourdes Rosas-Rasdall

Tyler and Lourdes both find inspiration in nature, like to paint with bright colors and identify with pop art. As they started their work together and learned more about each other, their collaboration developed into A Splash of Nature, which depicts nature-inspired themes they both like, interpreted in an expressive and colorful style.

Tyler completed the Transition program at Creative Clay in May 2019 and is now part of Creative Clay’s Community Arts program. She likes to work with clay and also draws and paints. Nature inspires her. Flowers and animals are her favorite subjects.

Tyler likes to use bright colors. Some of her favorite artists include Picasso (she loves his abstract portraits), Andy Warhol and the overall Pop-Art movement.

Lourdes Rosas-Rasdall has a Bachelor of Arts from Eckerd College and also studied commercial art. Lourdes works in water media, two-dimensional mixed media and kiln-formed glass. She draws inspiration from nature. No matter the subject or medium, her signature is a vibrant and bold palette, representative of the world around her. Lourdes exhibits her art and teaches art workshops regularly.

Artwork by Tyler Jordan Brooks


Artists + Friends

Dalmary Rosa
and Alli Arnold

Dalmary Rosa and Alli Arnold

Dalmary and Alli have created is a collection of work inspired by the process of getting to know someone. They had not met before working together as artists, and many hours were spent talking while drawing, mixing colors and painting.

They found they both gain inspiration from family, pets, color and cute cartoon animals. Using Alli’s signature strong black line and Dalmary’s creative color sensibility they created a friendly posse that is ultimately a look inside the hearts of both artists.

Dalmary is a talented young artist with a flair for color and pattern. Her interests include baking with her family, the wonderful world of Disney, and basically anything RED. This fall, Dalmary is continuing her education and sharing her talents working within the Project Search program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Alli Arnold is an illustrator from New York City. Since graduating from Parsons School of Design she has illustrated for clients including The New York Times, Chronicle Books, Tiffany & Co., Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. Alli creates custom portraits for an ever-growing clientele and is a new Transition teaching artist at Creative Clay.

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to Be

Carla Lopez and
Kinsey Rodriguez 

Kinsey Rodriguez and Carla Lopez

Early in their Artlink partnership, Carla and Kinsey found common ground in their desire to be free from oppression in all forms and to see that freedom realized through their art.

Through their collaboration they gained an understanding of each other and formed a friendship. The collection shares their experiences and struggles while keeping an optimistic outlook for the future, where freedom to be is a reality. 

Carla found her passion for art her junior year of high school and in 2009 she became a member artist at Creative Clay. Carla’s art is focused on depicting people and her favorite animal, the owl, through various mediums. She finds freedom and connection by expressing herself through the arts. 

Kinsey Rodriguez began creating art at age two and always found comfort in being able to express herself. She is a board-certified art therapist, college professor and socially-engaged artist whose work is focused around the mission of making the arts accessible to all.

Kinsey first became involved with Creative Clay in 2009 as an intern and has been a teaching artist since 2015. In her personal art practice, Kinsey creates mixed media pieces that explore portraiture, the human experience and social justice issues.  


In Color

Marissa Harris
and Rissa Olson

Marissa Harris and Rissa Olson

After getting to know each other as artists and friends, Marissa and Rissa created a collection to express their love of mysticism in nature and other cultures. Most of the collection utilizes mixed media to represent their vision and personal connection to the subject matter.

Marissa developed a deep connection and love for American Indian and Mayan art and symbolism growing up in Oregon with her Native American grandmother. She generally paints with acrylics using deep rich earth tones. For this collection, she utilized a variety of mediums to incorporate texture and embellishment into her paintings and drawings.

At a young age Rissa created art on any subject, and what was most important was experimenting with different mediums including metal, wood, pastel, charcoal and paint. Now she considers herself to be a mixed media artist and loves utilizing found objects, among them gemstones, paper and metal to name a few. “The more rusted a piece of metal is, the better.”


September 22, 2019 | By Kyla Fields and Dylan Hart

Celebrating Creative Clay’s Creative
ArtLink Partnerships

On view September 26, 6-8:45 pm
Opening celebration outside at 5:45
Museum of Fine Arts, St Pete
More here

Creative Clay Artist Dalmary Rosa

In the end-of-school day bustle, students stick their heads out of the doorway waving their art pieces in the air, clamoring for their teacher Calan Ree. Her eyes stay locked with Marquise Russ’s as they both try to articulate what the last six months working together has meant to them. 

The artists at Creative Clay Studio, students and teachers alike, are almost done with their day. But a few artists, including Calan and Marquise, are preparing for a multimedia art exhibition on September 26, as ArtLink returns for its biggest showcase yet – this time at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg. 

Set pieces for Airlift

The one-night-only show kicks off on the steps of the Museum at 5:45 p.m. with Airlift, a 5-minute play by Sheila Cowley performed by Lisa Tricomi. [Disclaimer: Sheila Cowley is Managing Editor of the Arts Coast Journal.]

Creative Clay artists designed a colorful, inventive mobile set for Airlift and will perform with Tricomi and viola player A.J. Vaughan. The performance is directed by Jim Rayfield, choreographed by Paula Kramer and designed by Allen Loyd, who all worked directly with the member artists and incorporated the artists’ ideas into the show. The play will become a parade that leads people inside the Museum where works can be viewed until 8:45 p.m.

An apprenticeship program funded by the National Endowment of the Arts, ArtLink has paired working artists with students at Creative Clay for over two decades. The culmination of these six-month partnerships is this exhibit, in which 10 pairs showcase their collaborative work, along with original merchandise for sale and a visual journal representing the artistic process.

The professional artists will display a reflection piece. Marquise, a Creative Clay painter and ArtLink veteran, insisted that he make a reflection piece as well. We caught up with three of the collaborative pairs a week before the show to talk about what this experience means to them.

From Friends
to Collaborators

Calan Ree and Marquise Russ

Calan and Marquise, who’ve known each other for about eight years, felt the need to venture outside of their comfort zones for this year’s artistic apprenticeship exhibition. Already friends thanks to the teacher-student relationship at Creative Clay, they knew they needed to dig deep and experiment for their exhibit.  

“He blows my mind all of the time,” Calan says. “I wanted to do my best, but I also didn’t want Marquise to be bored. What can we do that can be exciting? What are we both not comfortable with?” 

They had to find what made them tick. They researched the history of totem poles, the nature of dreams, interpretations of dreams and the ideology of folklore for hours before starting to create their collecton, now titled Hero’s Journey, a play on Marquise’s passion for superheroes. 

“My favorite part of the process was just spending time together in the studio and not knowing what we were going to end up with,” Calan says. 

A Feel for the Art

Marissa Harris and Rissa Olson

When asked about her favorite part of the ArtLink process, member artist Marissa Harris answers without hesitation. “My main goal was to give texture to everything we did because my mother is blind. She can’t see my art,” she says. 

“Marrisa works with a lot of acrylic paint and clay, while I work within the mixed media realm. Together we were able to create a diverse set of pieces,” Rissa Olson adds to Marissa’s sentiments. “We did a lot of work outside in Marissa’s backyard so that her mother was able to feel the process.” 

This pair of artists-turned-friends got a later start than the others because Marissa’s first mentor broke her leg and couldn’t participate. Marissa and Rissa made up for lost time when they started collaborating in May. They began with ambitious ideas of mysticism, nature, other cultures –– and a lot of sketching. 

“Rissa taught me how to work with the medium I already knew, but in a new way,” Marissa explains. 

“Yeah, a little bit,” Rissa responds with a reaffirming nod.  “And I mainly worked with Marissa’s drawings, adding the mixed media element to it.” 

When asked what her favorite part of the process was, Rissa simply points to Marissa. Marissa points back and they both giggle.

Music That’s Inside
and Out There

Cory Broxton and Gordon Harlow

With a black Squier Stratocaster slung over his shoulder and a blue bandana tied around his forehead, Cory Broxton emerged from a flurry of noise, belting out a high note reminiscent of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson.

But he wasn’t just singing a rock song — he was giving everyone a glimpse into a new universe.

Cory worked with Gordon Harlow, an artist and musician, to write a 15-minute space rock opera titled The New Musik Revolution for the ArtLink show.

Before they begin, Gordon turns to Cory and asks if he has the lyric sheets. He taps his chest. “In here,” he says.

It’s a lot to remember by heart. In the “Rollin’ Masterpiece Galaxy,” which is home to the song’s characters, Cory is the “Prime Minister of Post Funk,” named Roclyan Aasim. 

Cory met Gordon at Creative Clay’s Transition program. When he had an opportunity to join the ArtLink program, Cory was paired with Gordon even though Gordon didn’t know he had such an interest in music. 

“He’s really informed about music,” Gordon says. He pointed to the rap song “My Name Is” by Eminem, which sampled a funk song titled “I Got The …” from 1975. “I was like, ‘Cory, how did you know that?’ So when he told me that, I knew we had to do something with music.” 

Alongside the music, the performance is supplemented with elaborate costumes and colorful art panels that detail different scenes from the story. The panels feature the characters in a blue-and-purple-heavy psychedelic style, sketched by Cory and painted by Gordon. Additionally, the pair prepared a video to kick off the story before the performance.

“My favorite thing has been teaching him new things he might not have learned outside of this partnership,” Gordon says. “It’s been great to work with someone else who is really creative and has a different outlook on art. His vision is totally different than mine, but we find common ground.”

And common ground might just be what ArtLink is all about. That and discovering the many ways to bring artistic vision and collaboration to life.

Kyla Fields and Dylan Hart are senior Mass Communication
majors at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Find out more at


New Musik Revolution 2020

Cory Broxton (aka Roclyan Aasim)
and Gordon Harlow (aka Harlow Barrett)

Cory and Gordon met in Creative Clay’s Transition Program where Gordon taught. It was evident that they shared a love for music when Cory began singing reimagined versions of Tenacious D, Led Zeppelin and other songs in class.

For their ArtLink project, they joined their musical, artistic and performance skills to form DEREGENARATION X and create New Musik Revolution 2020. It’s a story of brotherhood, fear and hope where they attempt to save the spirit of the Rollin’ Masterpiece Galaxy from evil. They worked to create lyrics, riffs and a storyboard that informed their larger mixed media pieces.

Cory (aka Roclyan Aasim) is a performer, artist, singer, dancer and the Godfather of Post-Funk Music. He is inspired by anime, cartoons and video games that find their way into his cosmic artwork and his real life. Music is the greatest influence in Cory’s life, namely funk, heavy isotope and katsurap. Cory’s motto is, “Rock wild and have fun!”

Gordon Harlow (aka Harlow Barrett) has performed at the Straz Center with Opera Tampa and Mad Theater, and played in bands in the Tampa Bay area. He’s is excited to bring Deregeneration X to life and showcase the team’s amazing space adventure.


Artwork by Dalmary Rosa


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