Creative Clay’s Spring for the Arts

By Cindy Stovall
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Spring for the Arts
Returns in a Big Way for Creative Clay

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Nova 535 was the place this past Friday evening for the first in-person Spring for the Arts event since 2019. SFTA is Creative Clay’s biggest annual fundraiser so, after COVID sidelined the event for the past two years, everyone in our big-hearted community was anxious to see it return. From the impressive turnout of spring-frocked supporters, to the member artists creating art, to the gleeful dancing, food and great music, the much anticipated return definitely did not disappoint.
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Artist Chris C with a few of the featured works in “Iconic Landmarks of Tampa Bay” – photos by Sheri Kendrick

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Kim Dohrman, CEO of Creative Clay, who wore an especially radiant smile watching the evening unfold, talks about why this mainstay organization is such an important part of the community. “What we’re doing is creating a space that’s accessible for people with developmental or other disabilities to express themselves through an exploration of the arts,” she says. “And the art that our member artists create is valued and embraced by this wonderful St. Petersburg community. When someone attends Spring for the Arts, they actually get to see our mission in action.”

Founded in 1995, Creative Clay has been providing members with multi-genre arts classes, gallery space to show and sell their work, and memorable events with a family sensibility for quite some time. Growing partnerships and collaborations with organizations throughout the area like The St. Petersburg Opera Company, The Museum of Fine Arts, The St. Petersburg History Museum, Bill Edwards Foundation for the Arts and Grand Central Studio, to name just a few, have grown the local impact of Creative Clay, not just in size or to its members, but in the hearts and minds of every single one of us.
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Creative Clay CEO Kim Dorhman

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The evening of Spring for the Arts held so many wonderful elements. . .

Member artists created a collection of paintings just for the event. The Iconic Landmarks of Tampa Bay depicted, well, just what the title implies. Paintings of the Pier, Vinoy, Dalí Museum, Skyway Bridge and many other well-known local landmarks sold like hotcakes and went home with very happy collectors.
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A view of the classic Thunderbird Beach Resort by Joshua G.
The University of Tampa, by Cutter H

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Sparks Collaborative Ensemble worked with Creative Clay’s member artists to create a beautiful procession through Nova’s main space with an accompanying Artlink performance of Billow written for Creative Clay by Sheila Cowley and narrated by Broadway alum Jan Neuberger, with member artists joining in the dialogue. Choreography was (of course), provided by Paula Kramer and Helen French – all longtime Creative Clay supporters and collaborators.

Member artists moved through the space carrying poles attached to stars and Moons and sparkling, sheer flowing fabric pieces they themselves created.
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Nearly 20 Creative Clay artists performed in “Billow” – Lindsay J. steps out in front here
Helen French sparks everyone to dance and raise their voices in “Billow”
Chris C. dancing with the flowing fabric art he created

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Uplifting music provided by Boho Sideshow kept everyone dancing throughout the evening. Solos sung by member artists Mikey J., Cory B. and Ivy J., were especially poignant and added to the atmosphere of delight. Delicious and exotic goodies by Island Flavors & Tings kept everyone full and happy – not to mention it kept the dancing energy going.
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Ivy J. and Cory B. sing with teaching artist Emily Turnage
Mikey J accompanied by Emily Turnage
Boho Sideshow

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On the innovation in event auctions front, a 60+ bottle wine pull, including some rare vintages, took place on the balcony with almost all bottles sold. Two electric guitars, re-imagined with designs from Dolores Murawski and Ali V. made for an especially unique get for party-goers looking for interesting silent auction items.
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A creative fundraiser for Creative Clay – draw a number and get a mystery wine bottle in a bag decorated by Creative Clay artists
Artist Ali Vasquez with the guitar she painted for Creative Clay’s fundraising auction at Spring for the Arts – photo by Cindy Stovall

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T-shirts designed by Chad Mize and bearing the logo “Support Equality Through Art,” were available and screen printed right there at the event. It captures the heart and mission of Creative Clay pretty well, don’t you agree?
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Chad Mize’s creative design

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Monika’s Mirror Booth was hopping all evening with attendees creating memorable images of a great time. Sheri Kendrick Photography was also there capturing the outpouring of love, support and pure joy.

Public Relations Manager and former St. Pete first lady, Kerry Kriseman said it best – “There’s nothing like being able to be together and celebrate – and involving our member artists so fully, creates the ability to see our mission in action.”
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Creative Clay was also the recent recipient of a sizeable NEA Pinellas Recovers grant facilitated by Creative Pinellas, the county’s arts advocacy nonprofit. Dohrman talks about what these funds will mean to Creative Clay. “Because we are permitted to use NEA funding for operational costs like rent, etc., NEA funds have already made a difference by freeing up resources to make improvements to the facility, the classrooms, the outside patio and to make sure we have and can compensate the very best in-house teachers. We have some exciting ideas moving forward that these funds will help us bring to fruition.”

Watch this space for more with Kim Dohrman, Kerry Kriseman, and member artists and teachers as we embark on a series of articles aimed at documenting the upcoming year’s journey for Creative Clay and the realization of some of their dreams through vital arts funding.

In the meantime, head over to Creative Clay’s Good Folk Gallery at 1846 1st Ave S in St. Pete and start your collection today. It’ll make you happy.
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For more information or to make a donation
visit creativeclay.org or call (727) 825-0515

Photos by Sheri Kendrick Photography
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Cory B dancing in “Billow”

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