The St. Pete gallery game is such an untameable beast that it’s worth celebrating when something interesting merely survives. But the gifted weirdos at Dysfunctional Grace Art Co. have raised the bar. This month they completed their second expansion since opening in March of 2012, and they’ve done it all while offering about the farthest thing from beach kitsch and tourist-bait fish portraits.
The galleries’ twisted metal/leather heart is in the modified taxidermy pieces that line the walls. These include snakes with midsections replaced by rusty gearboxes, baby ducks with mechanical legs, and boars with sconces coming out of their ears. There are quite a few other bleak-industrial takes on "creative lighting solutions," and oh yeah, a pretty good selection of animal pelts, preserved fetuses and skulls — including a pretty steady stream of human brainboxes. In case you’re into that.
Though Daniel James and Elizabeth Ann are the resident artists, they’ve offered a home for an expanding array of local and national craftspeople who share their morbidly entertaining disrespect for anything that’s not slightly troubling.
With their latest expansion, they’re moving ever closer to establishing a definitive brand of kooky weirdness. Where else in town — or in the entire United States, for that matter — can you buy an eyeless babydoll on bird-leg stilts, a mounted deer head with a steampunk monocle, and a candle that just says “Cunt,” all in one trip? Screw Wal-Mart, THAT is one-stop shopping.
Most amazing of all, the whole thing has an entirely upbeat vibe — none of the goth nihilism or self-indulgent posing you might expect from a gallery of the strange and transgressive. The whole project seems more about fun and creativity than shock — which is probably why it's been so successful.
Dysfunctional Grace managed to expand without taking a hiatus, so they’re open 6 Eighth St. N., St. Petersburg, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.