ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA (October 22, 2014) – When the Florida Craftsmen gallery and exhibition space reopens this weekend (tentatively set for Saturday, October 25th) after an extensive renovation, the 62-year-old organization will also launch its new name: Florida CraftArt. The renovated space will feature a larger and more dramatic 4000 square foot environment to shop and enjoy fine crafts. All of the art in the gallery is created by Florida artists and many new works, including jewelry, clay, glass and wood will be on display. Located at the corner of Central Avenue and 5th Street in St. Petersburg, Florida CraftArt will celebrate its new space with a reception on Friday, November 7, from 5:30 to 8:30. The reception also marks the opening of the organization’s annual holiday show, always a terrific opportunity to purchase some original and thoughtful holiday gifts. All are welcome.
Florida CraftArt is a statewide non-profit arts organization headquartered in St. Petersburg, and sells more than $350,000 of Florida fine craft each year. “This renovation is an important investment in Florida’s arts economy and a concrete demonstration of our commitment to Florida’s fine craftspeople,” said Sarah Butz, immediate past president of the Florida CraftArt board. The non-profit represents more than 350 Florida artists from all over the state: clay artists, jewelry designers, sculptors, glass blowers, mixed media artists, wood turners and fiber artists. “An important part of our mission is to provide a thriving marketplace for these artists. With this renovation, we are ready to give them an exceptional place to sell and exhibit their work.”
John Collins, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance added, “The return on investment in the arts is measurable, and Florida CraftArt represents a significant role in the economic health of the arts in St. Petersburg. More significant than sales revenue for artists is how they contribute to our quality of life, teaching, and attracting businesses, tourists and new residents. St. Petersburg is growing as a creative economy and Florida CraftArt is an anchor in our arts and cultural community.”
“Since more than half of our artists are women, it made sense to change our name from Florida Craftsmen to Florida CraftArt,” said Executive Director, Diane Shelly. “We also wanted to strengthen our brand to make sure our customers and collectors know that everything in our gallery is made in Florida.” Josh Stover and Jeffrey Sincich, of J&S Signs, known locally for their hand-painted murals, including the “You Are My Sunshine” mural at the Morean Arts Center, were commissioned by Florida CraftArt to paint 8-foot signs of the organization’s new logo on the outside of the building.
Many of the new fixtures in the store were created by members of the St. Petersburg Woodcrafters Guild, an organization of local woodworkers. “We are so grateful to this wonderful group — we never could have afforded such finely made cabinetry,” said Betsy Lay, vice president of the Florida CraftArt Board of Directors and chair of the committee that directed the renovations. The Woodcrafters Guild’s members constructed moveable walls and lighted jewelry cases to highlight a large selection of fine handcrafted jewelry. The renovation also features art glass doors made by local artist Lenn Neff. “Whenever we make a purchase, we always ask if it’s something that can be made by one of our artists,” Ms. Lay added.
The renovation created a larger and striking retail space for displaying fine crafts. Interior designer Marne Kaplan, of Sarasota, designed the interior space to accentuate the architecture of the building, emphasizing its columns and the large expanses of original woodwork. The color pallet Ms. Kaplan chose is meant to provide an ideal backdrop for the broad range of textures and colors represented in the gallery’s large inventory of fine crafts. New LED lighting throughout the space is truly state of the art. It is projected to save Florida CraftArt more than $4000 annually in air conditioning and electricity costs. The lights can be adjusted to reach every square inch of the gallery and for the first time, it will allow the gallery to light the art in its windows at night.
In addition to providing a marketplace for Florida’s fine craftspeople, the organization presents six exhibitions each year. “The intent is to exhibit the best in fine craft – to expose our artists and our customers to some of the best handmade objects, and elevate the status of craft art” said Kathryn Howd, president of the Florida CraftArt Board of Directors and chair of the organization’s exhibition committee. “We are excited about the shows were planning for 2015 and we’ll announce the lineup shortly,” Ms. Howd added.
Renowned glass artist Duncan McClellan is a board member and a big fan of the organization. “Florida CraftArt provides a voice to Florida artists and craftspeople to promote the understanding and appreciation of beautifully hand crafted works. The dedication to this mission is evidenced by the excellent exhibitions, workshops and their nurturing of Florida craft artists.”
Florida CraftArt is located at 501 Central Avenue and is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00am to 5:30pm and on the second Saturday of every month from 10:00am to 9:00pm.