Feel-Good Arts Recommendations

The Art You Turn To

. . .

We live in a stressful world! And the arts can help.

In Hannah and Her Sisters, after a failed suicide attempt a desperate Woody Allen wanders, lost – and finds himself in an old movie theater. The film that’s playing is Duck Soup, an ode to absolute absurdity by the Marx Brothers. As Allen starts reluctantly to laugh, the movie brings him back to life.

We asked Arts Coast readers what arts they turn to when they need some comfort, or just need a laugh. We’re sharing this wonderful collection of feel-good arts recommendations, and hope that you can find a few arts remedies that work for you.


If you have arts to add, you can email s.cowley@creativepinellas.org
and we’ll keep updating this feature.

Ohh that’s easy because I’ve actually been doing that this week with a clip from one of my favorite movies, Stormy Weather.

I first saw Stormy Weather when I was about 20, which is 30 years ago now. I was so entranced by it. I watched it ad nauseum back then, and many times since.

Most every sequence of that movie is pure gold with incredible performances by Lena Horne, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Mae Johnson.

The scenes are hard to rank, but my top go-to when I want to invigorate my soul is the Nicholas Brothers dance sequence at the end. Chill-inducing inspiration every time. With Bill Bojangles on the riverboat a close second.


– Amy Wolf

Red Eggs by Elizabeth Indianos

I turn to celebrating my history, family, friends and community with beloved traditions. Greek Easter falls on Cinco de Mayo this year, May 5, 2024.

This is my ink painting, Red Eggs. A traditional custom for the celebration is to dye eggs a rich deep red. I both make them and paint them.

– Elizabeth Indianos

It’s funny, but I often stream The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross when I’m feeling blue or stressed. My dogs also love it when he’s on! He’s definitely a day brightener.

We are currently working on a Bob Ross cabaret/tribute at freeFall called Happy Accidents where some members of the audience can paint along. Look for it  as part of our Tandem Series in 2025!

– Matthew McGee

I find myself driving from St Pete across the bridge to Tampa often now that I work at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Ybor City. Most days I listen to WUSF 89.7 FM and the news programs they offer while driving. It keeps me engaged and I learn all kinds of interesting things.

But when the traffic is terrible or I find myself stressed about one thing or another, I switch the channel just one notch to their classical station, WSMR 89.1. I am instantly transported to a more lyrical world.

Sometimes it even feels like a soundtrack is playing over the speakers, as though I am in a movie about my own life. It helps me pull back and observe things in a different way. Sometimes we just need to readjust.

– Robin O’Dell

I can’t remember exactly when but I believe it was while in grammar school that my cousin lent me his copy of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit.

I wasn’t a big reader at the time but was pulled into the story and barely put the book down until reaching the end. From there I had no choice but to continue and further consume the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The stories introduced me to a wondrous, imaginary world that still fascinates me to this day and has even had a significant influence on my artwork. The books have a permanent place in my bedside table.

Reading them transports me to a magical place that always sets my mind at ease.

– Steven Kenny

Music is the most immediate for me.

“That’s the Way of the World” by Earth Wind and Fire and or “Love’s in Need of Love Today” by Stevie Wonder.

“That’s the Way of the World” is to spring forth joy

“Love’s in Need of Love Today” is to recognize shared grief and a way forward.

– Barbara St. Clair

When I am in need of comfort, when I need to escape stress, I always have turned to reading.

I have not always expected books to cheer me up though. In fact, often it is the book that makes me cry that ends up comforting me the most rather than the one that made me laugh.

What all books, the serious as well as the light-hearted, provide for me is solitude – that elusive gift in a world that demands so much of our attention. No one bothers you when you are reading. They know you are not available.

Reading allows us to plunge into another dimension, to shut out whatever is going on around us — at least for a brief time. Recently, my sister recalled how inaccessible my mother was when she was reading. “I remember when I was little,” she complained, “I would call out, ‘Mom, Mom,’ trying to get her attention, but she would completely ignore me.”

Yes, that was the point, I told her. A book, which my mother could read standing up while doing chores, even while cooking, allowed her to shut out all the demands on her time and energy for just a few moments. It was her permission to leave the planet for a while.

Untitled (“Rainbow Swash”) by Corita Kent – “An FBI Counterterrorism Agent Tracked Me Down Because I Took a Picture of This” by blueCHEDDAR is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

But what book to read? That, of course, depends on your mood, your tastes, even your age. My reading habits have changed as I’ve aged. When I was young, for example, I couldn’t stand novels that included a lot of description about nature. I was eager for the author to move on to emotional relationships, deep thoughts, scary plots, anything but descriptions of birds.

Now I savor books that pause to notice the natural world and I hang on to every detail of every feather and every beak.

I seldom re-read books, but there is one book I often find myself reading again and again — or at least dipping into again and again. It is a small book called The Wonders of Solitudepart of the Classic Wisdom Collection published by New World Library. Edited by Dale Salwak, it is a compilation of quotes on solitude, both the ponderous and the humorous.

My favorite quote in the book is by Sister Corita Kent. Known as the Pop Art nun, Kent in the ’60s shook up the hide-bound Catholic world I grew up in with her fights for social justice and her colorful silkscreens that shouted words like LOVE, LIFE and Stop the Bombing.

“Kent knew the power of a few well-chosen words, and in the world of text-messaging and Twitter, a world she never knew, that has a particular resonance,” the Guardian wrote in 2018, marking the 100th anniversary of Kent’s birth.

“Perhaps most significant of all, though, is her belief in activism. We live in a time when popular action seems complicated and confusing; and Kent’s simple, heartfelt message rings down the decades. Because for her, there is no doubt about it. Feelings, and owning feelings, really can change the world.”

In her quote in my book of solitude, however, she is calling us not to activism, but to silence – giving us permission when we are stressed out, just to stop and do nothing:


.                                               . And at some time
.                                                 In your life
.                                               . Trying to be good
.                                               . May be to stop running
.                                               . And take time…
.                                               . To be quiet
.                                               . And discover who you are
.                                               . And where you’ve been …

– Margo Hammond

Playing the piano has always been a relaxing and grounding activity.

Some therapists use a modality called EMDR or eye movement desensitization re-processing to help people overcome PTSD and other trauma responses. I’d like to think that playing the piano is similar since one must use both hands and even a foot in a rhythmic, organized manner. It also requires a quieted mind focused on the present moment to craft tasteful phrasing and expression.

Before I began working full time, I used to play the piano for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital on Friday afternoons. I created many arrangements of my favorite Disney tunes, like this one. I now enjoy volunteering as a keyboard instructor for Girls Rock St. Pete.

– Jessica Tomlinson

In the vast sea of music, there’s a tune that hits just right, reminding us why it’s good to be alive. It’s “444GET” by OutLandish, a rising hip-hop artist from Tampa Bay who’s making waves with his unique sound.

“444GET” isn’t just your typical love song — it’s a snapshot of modern romance, where the ups and downs of young love play out against a backdrop of groovy beats and soulful melodies. OutLandish’s lyrics paint a picture of that heady mix of infatuation and swagger that comes with falling for someone. And just when you’re lost in the rhythm, Taylor Moon’s smooth vocals add an extra layer of depth and emotion to the track.

As the song winds down, it’s like coming back to reality after a whirlwind romance. OutLandish’s voice takes on a softer tone, reminding us of the bittersweet nature of love’s journey.

“444GET” is the kind of song you can’t help but play on repeat. Whether you’re belting it out in the car, dancing around your living room, or just vibing out on a lazy Sunday morning, it’s the perfect soundtrack to life’s everyday moments.

In OutLandish’s own words, his music is all about making people feel good. And with “444GET,” he definitely delivers, giving us a song that hits us right in the feels every time we listen. So next time you need a pick-me-up or just want to lose yourself in the music, give “444” a spin and let yourself be carried away by its infectious energy.

– Medina Karagic

I think that perhaps “distraction” is part of what we’re looking for. And I’m happy to share something I began during COVID – exploring YouTube and collecting interesting music videos from around the World.

I found Swedes and Norwegians singing in English. A British group in Italian, an American group in French, plus lots of accordions. Sometimes the songs are translated and sometimes the language is coarse but it is authentic.

There is so much to see, I can be distracted for hours.

Here is my playlist.

– Rusty Hammer


As an artist, I firmly believe in the power of reconnecting with nature as a way to unwind and rejuvenate. Taking the time to immerse myself in the beauty of the outdoors allows me to reflect on my creativity and find gratitude in every aspect of my life.

Whether it’s tending to my garden, handpicking flowers with my loved ones, or simply taking leisurely walks in the park, these moments not only relax me but also fuel my inspiration. Being surrounded by nature’s wonders and the love of supportive, creative individuals reminds me of how fortunate I am to be where I am today.

It’s these moments of reflection and gratitude that truly nourish my soul and keep my artistic spirit alive and thriving.”

Jenipher Chandley

Visual artworks by Frederick “Rootman” Woods

– Fred Woods

“Stand By Me” | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

Louis Armstrong – “What A Wonderful World”

Alan Hovhaness – “The Spirit of the Trees”

Carpe Diem!

– Bob Barancik


My name is Andrew Trujillo, and visiting art galleries is how I get comfort when I’m seeking solace. Despite being the owner of Drew Marc Gallery in downtown St. Pete, I find inspiration in the stunning artwork that surrounds me each day.

The saying “art heals” is something I’ve always believed in, and it’s true — the blue hues help keep me calm and provide a sense of refreshment.

Here is a photo of my favorite installation of the gallery!

– Andrew Trujillo

I fight stress with Waldemar Januszcak’s marvelous art documentaries – his brilliant storytelling, witty sound design and splendid turns of phrase.

And the layered surprises of Offramp – The Improvised Comedy Series – an audio series I edited more than 20 years ago – are so wonderfully unexpected that they still can take me by surprise and make me laugh out loud.

– Sheila Cowley

[Disclaimer – Managing Editor
of the Arts Coast magazine]


Free Resources for Laughs and Ukuleles

St Pete Parks & Rec offers free Laughter For Wellness gatherings, and Laughter for Wellness Gang Meetups take place twice a week in Dunedin.

Playing the ukulele is a positive way to support good mental health. The Tampa Bay Ukulele Society teaches ukulele on both sides of the Bay and holds fun festivals.

Thanks to the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society, you can check out a ukulele at your local library. And while you’re at it, you can check out a Museum Pass to visit local art museums and even Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St Pete and the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa.



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