SHAMc Launches First CommUNITY Art Day

Working Together to
Create Public Art in Safety Harbor

. . . 

Steps away from the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center’s main building, Autumn Pearson stands at a table in front of the SHAMc classroom, welcoming visitors and explaining the details of the center’s first monthly CommUNITY Art Day. Pearson has a background in education and currently serves as SHAMc’s Director of Art and Community Outreach.

“This is the first one, and we’re doing it for Café Vino Tinto,” she says. “They donate all of their coffee bags to us, and with those bags, we’ve been able to make large-scale installations for schools and community buildings.”

Autumn Pearson, SHAMc’s Director of Art and Community Outreach

Behind her, folded chairs surround tables dotted by paint from previous art classes and activities. A bin of colorfully patterned fabrics is ready to be picked through while scissors, glue, markers and paint wait amongst containers of buttons, pipe cleaners, large-eyed needles for sewing with yarn, and heavy thread – all spread between participants and in plentiful supply.

Poet and visual artist Ed Derkevics

A few minutes into the hour, there is already a group of the artfully inclined, each one appearing focused, relaxed and ready to create. Volunteer Lydia Countryman, a Pinellas County Schools visual art teacher, says Pearson is her muse.

They met when Countryman was given a list of adjunct artists in the community. “We’ve been working on some projects at Cross Bayou and Safety Harbor Elementary,” she says. “When we get together, it’s energy, ideas.” She holds a hand above her head, her fingers curled. “You know those cartoons where a light bulb goes off? When we get together, it’s just flashing!”

Fabric artist Lois Weinberger

Lois Weinberger lives in Safety Harbor half the year. Her love of quilting and eye for textile artistry become apparent as her hands work to add color to what was once a simple burlap coffee bag.

When asked what brought her out, a very young artist whose nametag reads “Nice Nora” says, “Just because . . . art. It’s my favorite.”

Deb Klein, whose collages and whimsical creations are sold in the center’s gift shop, turns to SHAMc’s events and community projects for inspiration. “I need major . . . what is it called? Muse. I need a major muse,” she says. “Plus, there’s burlap. How can you not like burlap?”

After the project ends, the decorated former coffee bags will be strung together like sailboat flags and hung across the patio at the downtown coffee shop that donated them.

Finished burlap artworks

SHAMc’s next CommUNITY Art Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 25 from 10 a.m. to noon. “We are going to be making recycled can flowers for House of Petals,” says Pearson, who hopes you’ll participate in the next day of community creativity.


This event launched Safety Harbor Art and Music Center’s new CommUNITY Arts series – a free all-ages event one Saturday a month where people collaborate to create a public arts installation that brings arts to businesses, parks and public spaces in and around Safety Harbor. You can contact SHAMc at for details on future events.


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