When you visit an artist's residence, it's usually after their death. You wait in line before being ushered to a carefully curated, hushed room. There's no dust, no sign of the real life lived, and the furniture is arranged just so. But this coming weekend, if you want to see how artists really live, get to St. Petersburg's historic Kenwood neighborhood, where artists are opening their homes to visitors for the fourth annual Artist Enclave Tour.
“It’s such a treat to have people come over. We get a wonderful cross-section, a lot of snowbirds come,” says Jan Richardson, a clay artist who moved to the area four years ago, just in time to begin participating in the tour. “One gentleman just came and sat in my garden for an hour. I’ve learned a lot about Florida plants from this tour alone!”
That’s not the only green she’s seen. Richardson says the event can make good money for the participating artists, but even more often, visitors use the event to seek out local talent and learn more about them and their work. “People will contact us and perhaps make a special order afterward. A lot of our painters have been doing commissioned work as a result of the tour.”
Richardson, a veteran of many home studio tours throughout her 50-plus-year career as an artist, thinks the best part of St. Pete’s weekend event is the variety in such a small area. “I’ve never seen one this compact, often they’re more spread out,” she says. “And we have quite an array of artists working in a variety of media — stained glass, textiles, photographers, painters.”
There's also a variety of artistic experience that will be on display, from internationally renowned powerhouses like the surrealist painter Steven Kenny to artists whose careers are just starting.
Nowhere is this variety more evident than in the work of neighborhood newcomer Janna Kennedy Hyten, dubbed the “Halloween Lady of Clinton Hill” by CBS. Hyten will debut her “Horrorwood” room this weekend. Following up on the success of her Brooklyn installation, which drew thousands of visitors to her home each October, Hyten has filled a side room in her studio with so-called morbid collections, including Victorian medical devices, post-mortem photos, bat specimens, and bottled potions. You’ll also get to see her work-in-progress, “The Stormy Night in the Mansion” costume, which she’s creating for her October 2019 Halloween show.
“This room is a near duplicate of my dining room from my house in Victorian Brooklyn,” says Hyten. “The front studio is filled with costumes, birds' nests made of vintage materials and French vintage bullion.”
Kenwood, 125 blocks of 1920s-era American Craftsman bungalows, is an attraction in and of itself, boasting monthly walking tours. What makes this special is the chance to interact with the artists and see their work, though not all will be working. Richardson, for instance, says she has a potter's wheel at her house, but since she mostly creates hand-built pieces using porcelain, she works largely out of a studio at the Morean.
“At my house, you can come and sit on the back porch. We’ll have refreshments,” Richardson says. “It’s a totally fun, nice relaxing weekend.”
It was back in 2014 that St. Pete's City Council designated Kenwood as an "Artist Enclave," enabling artists to teach classes and sell artwork from their homes. This coming Saturday and Sunday, this means that enthusiasts and collectors alike will get the chance to find that one-of-a-kind piece, or possibly sign up to explore their own artistic talent.
Artists participating in the tour are Kim Alderman, Paul Barrera, Maurice Bartikofsy, Mike Baker, MJ Baker, Annemarie Dotson, Steven Kenny, Sally Hackett-Brown, Janna Kennedy-Hyten, Kinda Kellet, Mary Hausler, Julie Godwin, Becky Jarmin, Angie Knowles, Paola Nesmith, Marty Bosy-Newlon, Richard Pollin, Lisa Presnail, Jan Richardson, Amber Sigman and Susan Williams.
You can download a detailed map here to find your way on foot, by bike, or even driving through the neighborhood. The path will also be clearly marked with signs posted around the neighborhood.
Expect to see new work. “I’ll have brand new pieces in the show,” says Richardson. “Some of it’s going into the kiln this week. You really do the best stuff right before a big event, it pushes you.”
Check out https://kenwoodartistenclave.org for more.
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