St. Pete Arts Alliance announces this year’s grant recipients

Congratulations are in order for these 15 artists.

Many times, grants are lifesavers for artists desperate to explore ideas freely without passing out every time they look in their wallet. Instead of Individual Artist Grants that support mostly unrestricted use, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Artist Grant award has a simple stipulation: the project must have a public engagement aspect tied to it.

From music, dance, theatre, fine arts, and beyond, here's what this year's recipients plan on doing with their grant money.

1. Elizabeth A. Baker, paired with dancer/choreographer Helen Hansen French, will combine performance, manipulated video and audio of government archival footage, and interactive electronics to explore fear as an impact of the changing environment. Workshops and performances will be open to the public at the St. Petersburg Main Branch Library, the James Weldon Johnson Branch Library, and St. Pete Opera.

2. Erich Barganier brings the noise with his sound installation at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve for one week, with four speakers playing tracks that overlap and blend with the natural sounds of the park. Barganier will do a live performance on the first and last Saturday of the installation with handmade electronic instruments, and will give an artist talk with the youth summer camps of Boyd Hill, Morean Arts Center, and the YMCA.

3. Daniel “R5” Barojas plans on creating a dimensional mural with wooden sculptural elements as well as visual illusions. With a little help from local at-risk teens to help make the piece come alive, the painting will be inspired by St. Pete’s wildlife and indigenous tribes.

4. Sheila Cowley will be creating a play that revolves around the cycles of life and death, and how children fill the shoes of their parents. Emphasizing diversity, gay, bisexual, and straight characters will explore these family dynamics. Working closely with actors and dancers, the Studio @620 will host their staged reading and audience discussion, with their play debuting in Austin next year.

5. Coralette Damme will be creating new prints, assemblage pieces, art books, and pull-toy puppets for her solo show inspired by nature and folk art at The Studio @ 620 this November. If you’re into participation, you’re in luck: gallery visitors will be able to enjoy a “make-and-take” with Damme during the 2nd Saturday Artwalk.

6. Wendy Durand will be donating a series of her “Floating Platters" for the Free Clinic for financial aid. Bringing awareness to the Free Clinic, as well as the position of art to do good for the community, Durand will also host an exhibition and talk at the St. Petersburg Sculpture Museum on May 11 from 5-7 p.m. All funds from this event will go directly to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic Food Bank.

7. Helen Hansen French will work with photographers Tom Kramer and Charlotte Suarez to capture the diverse dance community of St. Pete in her project Capturing Dance. People will be able to follow her project via Facebook and Instagram before a selection of images will be printed and displayed throughout the city.

8. With a little bit of imagination, John Gascot will teach a group of 10 multicultural youths how to find their voice in paint by creating mosaic-style self-portraits that honor their culture and heritage during this 5-week arts program. Their work will be celebrated with an exhibition at the [email protected]

9. Mitzi Gordon invites the public to join in on the creation of her mixed-media installation, “Nexus,” a large, traveling, collaborative paper chain. First step: find her on the Bluebird Books Bus, which will be at around 10 different locations during the Good Moves Tour on May 2. Next step: chain away with the pre-cut paper upcycled from damaged books and magazines to make your artistic mark. The finished chain will be on display May 13 in the Warehouse Arts District.

10.  Flipping the script of visual artists being influenced by dance, Kellie Harmon will perform a dance based off Cassia Kite’s Soundstitching piece “Pot Luck Dinner at Longboat Key Center for the Arts” (“Soundstitching” is the experimental process of translating color into sound that Kite has created). Three open rehearsals and an artist talk will be held at Mirror Lake Studios. Three final performances and film screenings will be held conjunction with Kite’s Soundstitching exhibitions at Rogue Dance Fall Fundraiser and Rogue Dance Performance Series.

 11.  April Hartley takes hoarding to a new level with her new body of quilts, tapestries, and a site-specific installation all created from receipts from everything she has bought over the past three years. In her pop-up exhibition in the Old Southeast this August, Hartley is interested in stoking conversations about “retail therapy,” accumulation of things, identity, and culture.

12.  Bob Devin Jones has already put his grant to good use by putting a spin on Shakespeare with his production of Voodoo MacBeth, influenced by Orson Welles’ Carribbean-based interpretation of the original MacBeth. Just as the Welles did, Jones used an all-African-American cast, and proceeds from the three-week run, which finishes this weekend with sold-out shows, help get more Shakespeare-centric arts education into area schools.

13.  Beth Reynolds plans on attending a mixed-media workshop at the Woodstock Center for Photography, combining printed photography on Japanese rice papers with encaustic waxes for different visual effects. Bringing what she learns home, she will give a talk and two workshops for folks to dabble with these exciting materials.

14.  Takeya Trayer is interested in expressing the movement of plant life through the fluidity and organic nature of resin and colored acrylics, letting the wet paint move and do their own thing until it dries. Context is everything: her nature-inspired work will be shown at farmers' markets, farms, local sustainable restaurants and breweries.

15.  Catherine Weaver will work with ten young aspiring artists to create unique work to show and sell at the 2nd Saturday ArtWalk on May 13 at the Uniquely Original Art Studio in the Warehouse Arts District. The artists-in-training selected for The Artists of Tomorrow Youth Arts and Crafts Show will even get some business training by getting four “Art and Business” workshops beforehand to learn the ins and outs of business, advertising, and marketing.

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