New exhibition at Florida CraftArt in St. Pete celebrates our animal companions

'Woof, Meow, Chirp and Slither: Artists Interpret the World of Pets' offers pet education through Aug. 10, too.

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Woof, Meow, Chirp and Slither: Artists Interpret the World of Pets

Through Aug. 10.

Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

click to enlarge "Bull Dog" by Elizabeth St. Hilaire - Florida CraftArt
Florida CraftArt
"Bull Dog" by Elizabeth St. Hilaire

It’s all about the critters at Florida CraftArt Gallery’s summer show in downtown St. Petersburg. The gallery is celebrating the city’s new designation as a pet-friendly locale for humans and their diverse animal pals.

Woof, Meow, Chirp and Slither: Artists Interpret the World of Pets is a juried exhibition at Florida CraftArt featuring 36 Florida artists offering their interpretations of the world of pets. The show includes more than 100 pieces of art, from jeweled dog and cat collars to ceramic dog bowls, sculptures of pets and other artworks inspired by animal companions the artists have known. 

“We decided to do this animal-themed show to bring attention to the city’s new pet-friendly image,” said Rhonda Sanborn, community & business engagement director of Florida CraftArt.  

Sanborn referred to the new initiaive aimed at creating a welcoming atmosphere among local businesses and landlords toward pet companions. In June, St. Pete earned the 2019 Better Cities for Pets Award for large cities, plus a $30,000 grant to make the Sunshine City more pet-friendly than ever.

And the art show is pet-friendly indeed. Artists have submitted whimsical works both for and about pets. In addition to the aforementioned works, there are artistic representations of a variety of animals from snakes, birds and fish to the more traditional dogs and cats.

The gallery bills the exhibition as “pawsitively” inspiring, with artwork and fun, educational programming that shows how pets contribute to our health, happiness and longevity.

“It was a lot of fun thinking of what I could do for pets,” said jewelry designer Mary Maloof. “I  thought of how much money people spend on their pets, and I tried to make pieces that were beautiful and still affordable.”

Maloof, whose creations are made of semi-precious stones, silver, and genuine pearls, said her offerings for the show maintain the same quality as her usual work but are priced more affordably as pet jewelry. 

“Some of the jewelry’s so beautiful people want to wear it themselves,” said Sanborn. “We had two young girls who were interested in one of the dog collars, but even though one could wear it, it was still a little snug.”

Whimsical is definitely the term for Gianna Pergamo’s amusing multimedia works featuring her fanciful animals dressed in vintage clothing. She likes to dress up her two dogs, a pug and a rat terrier, in costumes, which inspires some of her unique art.

“I love animal art, and I love dressing them up and putting them in humorous situations,” she said. 

One of Pergamo’s pieces in the show is an illustration of a dog holding a cat, inspired by a dog she knows who likes to play with cats. 

Kim Tatalick used PLA Plastic (from renewable resources), copper, nickel and paint to create her Renaissance-style cameo of  “Lexie,” an homage to her whippet companion. Lexie kept the artist company in her studio for more than 16 years; her sleek, muscular physique is represented in the cameo. 

click to enlarge "Snake" by Rebecca Skelton - Florida CraftArt
Florida CraftArt
"Snake" by Rebecca Skelton

Rebecca Skelton, who also has an ArtLofts studio above Florida CraftArt, created her artistic snake from copper, glass and crystal beads, using an arrowhead to represent the snake’s head.

Palm Harbor artist Joyce Curvin creates with a broad variety of both new and recycled materials, including plastic bottles, paper, scrap wood and leather, old toys, and layers of paint to make her zany critters. 

Rosemary Lutz of St. Petersburg is showing her capricious ceramic animal sculptures, such as “Happiest Cat,” plus her lovely glass-beaded necklaces of cats. Nationally renowned artist Elizabeth St. Hilaire from Longwood entered startling images of bulldogs in a colorful collage technique.

Woof, Meow, Chirp and Slither is a great summer exhibition because it’s fun, family-friendly and offers educational events for both art and pet lovers.

As part of the city’s PAWS initiative, the gallery is holding several events in the next few weeks to help pet owners with education and encourage businesses and landlords to be more pet-tolerant so renters won’t have to choose between a place to live and their pet.

The goal is to make St. Petersburg a place where pets are happy, healthy, and welcome, to encourage responsible pet ownership, and, as the city website says, “shine a light on the unconditional love animals give and promotes compassion for all our two-legged and four-legged neighbors.”

Katie Deits, executive director of the gallery, is encouraging everyone to come for “Yappy Hour,” where the gallery welcomes well-behaved pets.

“So far everyone’s gotten along,” said Diets. “We’ve had a number of dogs, a macaw, and even a snake!” 

The exhibit continues through August 10, and will feature various programs throughout its run, including: 

July 20, 1:30-6 p.m.: SPCA brings a doggone great day of events not to miss, demonstrating how to achieve a “Better Cities for Pets” certification, plus panel discussions on how to help your pet make friends, and Yappy Hour with “Meowgaritas” from 5- 6p.m. 

July 31, 5:30-7 p.m.: Pet Planning Advice: Estate and Pet Planning, Disaster Preparedness, Hospice and more.

August 3, 1:30-6:30 p.m.: Ask a Pro and Ask a Vet, with tips on pet health, including CBD for dogs, and Yappy Hour from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

August 10, 5:30-7 p.m.: Closing reception. People’s Choice Award and visitors can paint their own Art Rock.

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