Great Explorations

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Having expectations for what you'll find on a tour of art galleries is a mistake. It's better just to go and take everything in and be surprised by what affects you. Which is not to say don't bring your credit card in case you can't pass something up.

Wanting expressly to see a specific style of artwork or a certain medium can blind you to original compositions and fresh aesthetics. Unless you already know the artists' works on display or have seen a preview of the shows along the route, you ruin the outing for yourself by skipping past galleries without more than a peek in the window, or by prejudging the quality of a gallery based on its geography.

The majority of the 21 galleries that comprise the St. Petersburg Downtown Arts Association (DAA) are gathered along Central Avenue, Second Avenue and Beach Drive, with a handful as far as 16 blocks south (Salt Creek Artworks, 1600 Fourth St. S.) and 22 blocks west (St. Petersburg Clay Company, 420 22nd St. S.), all of them well worth a visit.

The latest DAA Art Walk takes place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 13. And with the weather turning nice again, it should be an ideal evening to stroll downtown St. Petersburg. In addition to the galleries, the area has dozens of other great small businesses — Mattison's, An American Bistro, a great place to grab a bite; the Emerald Bar, known for its strong drinks and dense smoke; and the Globe Coffee Lounge, a bohemian coffee-and-a-brownie hang.

The following are a number of highlights among current gallery exhibits.

The Arts Center hosts Glass: A View Within, an exhibit of new works from international glass artists, and Hot Glass!, live glassmaking demonstrations by artist Jodi Bove. The demos are an education program in coordination with the Museum of Fine Arts' feature exhibit Chihuly Across Florida: Masterworks in Glass, a showcase of Dale Chihuly's virtuoso glasswork. The member-run studio and gallery also has a cooperative hand in Transparency, an exhibit of 20 installations employing transparent materials, on display on the third floor of The Pier (800 Second Ave. N.E.). The Arts Center is located at 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg (727-822-7872).

Florida Craftsmen Gallery, a perennial favorite among fans of fine arts and crafts, displays Everyday Transparencies, a curated selection of functional glassworks for the home. The gallery is located at 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg (727-821-7391).

And Red Cloud Indian Arts in conjunction with Studio Encanto present works by two painters, Cuban-American artist Edin Gutierrez and Amazonian artist Elvis Luna. Gutierrez trained as a painter in Havana in the 1970s and worked in architectural restoration from 1985 to 1995, before exhibiting throughout South Florida. Luna, who lives and paints in the rain forest of Peru, draws inspiration for his abstract works from his surroundings and has exhibited in England, Italy and Brazil. Luna also won the Merit Award at the 2003 Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.

For more info on the DAA Art Walk, or for a map of the participating galleries, visit or call 727-895-1166.

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