Summer at the Beach Art Center

By Suzanne Norman
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Summer Camps and More at the Beach Art Center

NEA/Pinellas Recovers Grant Update

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Summer breezes from the shores of Indian Rocks Beach stir tree leaves by the shady doorstep of the Beach Art Center. A relaxed vibe welcomes visitors as they enter through a gift shop with local artists’ works. The center has a treasure chest of art activities for young minds and other age groups to entice their creative spirits.

Established in 1978, the center has a history that supports the cultural needs of the community. It is vibrant today thanks to volunteers, a variety of local funds, grants and philanthropic sources. The Beach Art Center was recently the recipient of a Pinellas Recovers 2022 Arts and Culture Grant (provided by Creative Pinellas through a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts American Rescue Plan). This is the first time in four years that the center has had full-time management.

Patricia Thomas, a retired corporate professional, is a dedicated volunteer and has assisted with administrative duties and written the center’s newsletter for several years. In 2018, the board asked her to organize a group process to reinvigorate the center, apply for grants, and generally plan for the future.

Thomas says, “Fast forward to today, we’d always intended to have full-time management again one day. By 2020 we had our programs, we had some structural work that needed to be done. But the management needed to be funded. The Board President did a lot of work. We really feel good and a part of this was getting the grant. That really helped. We still operate with a lot of robust volunteers.”
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Andrea Harms, Operations/Marketing Manager shows a rain stick created at the center – photo by Suzanne Norman

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Andrea Harms, previously a web design contractor for the center, is now the full-time Operations/Marketing Manager handling the center’s management, social media, graphic design and marketing. Enthusiastic volunteers help with planning classes, the gallery gift shop and setups for art exhibitions. At present, there is a Kid PWR gallery show on display, with work from students in grades K-12.

Harms says, “We’re so lucky with this location. We’re kind of in the center of the cinnamon roll. . . city hall, the library and the park. For example, an Easter event was done by the city and homeowners association. We took advantage of that and had an open house here to promote our kids camp. We had all the kids in here doing crafts. It was exciting to see parents with the kids creating.”
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The Indian Rocks Beach (IRB) community has nonprofits that help each other. Since many retirees live here year-round or in winter months, a plethora of retired art instructors, school teachers, creatives, business managers and more are active in volunteer work at the center.

The main studio room is large enough for 24 artists who paint with various mediums. These include watercolors, pastels, oils, acrylics and water media for mixed media works. If you can imagine it, it can be done here.

An additional studio offers space for 22 artists. Both studios are spacious with windows and good light, essential for artwork. In addition, there is a wonderful clay gallery with pottery wheel and kiln.
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Clay pottery at the Beach Art Center’s Gallery – photo by Suzanne Norman

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Artists work on projects at a relaxed pace. There are one-day workshops and open studio time. Artists can come for one or more classes and pay for the classes they take. Most appreciate this flexibility, rather than buying 6 weeks of classes if they cannot commit to all dates. For weekly classes, artists are provided with a list of materials and bring their own supplies.

Although there is plenty of space for newcomers, participants must pre-register for weekly classes and open studio time, taught by experienced art and pottery instructors. Need to ask a question by phone? Irene Zafferes, the Front Office Administrator, is happy to assist you at 727-596-4331. She understands the center’s daily operations and has worked there for five years.
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Creative Kids Summer Camp

The Wonderful World in Your Yard pop-up book project – photo by Suzanne Norman

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Summer programs are available now for children entering 1st through 6th grade. The camp days, from 9 am-3 pm, are ideal for kids. There are 20 camps over 8 weeks, with cost and scholarship details at

Here are a few sessions, sure to spark imagination, that began June 6. . .

Creative Crafts from Around the World
Legends of the Sea
Mythological Imaginary Animals
Preserve our Planet
Panda Needs an Adventure
Safari to Adventure
Self Portraits
Space is Spectacular
The Art of Storytelling

Summer camps fill up so register soon. For children, after school programs and Saturday classes are also available during the school year.
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Art on the Rocks

At last week’s popular Art on the Rocks event, participants created mandala-inspired mug designs guided by instructor Natalia Londono

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Looking for a one-time art adventure? Art on the Rocks (Make it and Take It for $38) is a favorite event on Friday night and Saturday afternoon for those who want to share good times by creating an item with friends or family. It’s certain to please a grandmother who is entertaining an 11-year old or girlfriends gathering. Sessions are open to all – no experience needed.

People that can’t commit to several weeks of class, or visitors here for a week, often search for an entertaining activity to fill their time. These are the center’s most popular events, usually in the evening from 6-9 pm.

Participants can bring their own refreshments and snacks. Instructors are experienced artists. All materials are provided and participants leave with a finished product.
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Participants make personal peace poles at Art on the Rocks 

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Harms says, “The Art on the Rocks is probably my favorite. My goal in being here is to bring a wider range of the community in. I think Art on the Rocks does that. Some of the projects are interesting. We did a peace pole. It’s basically a post that we paint and people put birdhouses, mailboxes or signs on them. That event had 24 people and everybody was really lively. A lot of people did bring drinks and snacks. There was music playing. They took the pole home. Stencils, freehand, everyone did something different.”

Upcoming Art on the Rocks ideas are Mermaid Wine Glasses, Beach Wave Painting, Art Jewelry set in resin, Mandala Art (coffee mugs), Seashell Mosaic and others.

Plan a day soon at the Beach Art Center to unleash your creative energy on a special project. For calendar dates, click here.
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Beach Art Center
1515 Bay Palm Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach FL 33785

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The Beach Art Center is a recipient of the Pinellas Recovers Grant,
provided by Creative Pinellas through a grant from the
National Endowment of the Arts American Rescue Plan.
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Creative Kids Pottery Camp at the Beach Art Center from Beach Art Center on Vimeo.
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