Want to know what the Warehouse Arts District Association is up to? Learn about the latest in this blog with features intended to keep members up to date. Also, members should join our closed Facebook group: the WADA Member Network.
Feminist, activist, and artist Suzanne Benton is a sculptor, mask performance artist, printmaker, painter, and workshop leader who has worked in 31 countries over the past 40 years. The native New Yorker has been coming to St. Petersburg since 2004, and has been a visiting artist in printmaking at Eckerd College since 2006 where she recently had an exhibit of her prints at Eckerd’s Cobb Gallery.
At 84-years-old, Benton might be tempted to slow down, but instead she is evermore the activist. In 2017, she was honored by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Pinellas Chapter as activist of the year due to her leadership role in catalyzing the Women’s March in downtown St. Petersburg, which brought together 30,000 peaceful marchers together on January 21, 2017.
Benton says that her activism fuels her art, and her art fuels her activism. She is now head of the Women’s Caucus for the Arts, St. Petersburg Branch (WCAFL-SPB), whose mission is to create community through art, education, and social activism. WCA members are currently working on a series of portraits of Women Who Work.
Benton's artwork has been represented in 175+ solo shows and two retrospectives, and she has traveled and worked all over the world, including in villages in Africa, India, and Nepal. Her work is represented in museums, and private collections worldwide. Author of the Art of Welded Sculpture and numerous articles, she is listed also in Who's Who in America and Who's Who of American Artists, is a founding member of Veteran Feminists of America, and was featured in a book titled, “Feminists Who Change America.”
Benton is also in the process of writing a memoir entitled Spirit of Hope. When asked about her WADA membership, Suzanne said she hoped for community, exposure and promotion, like most artists. And buyers!
In 2018, she gave an amazing and inspiring talk at a Creative Morning St. Pete event, where she talked about her life, her sources of courage and how her art feeds her activism and her activism feeds her art.
For more on Suzanne check out:
Screen Grab from the North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century, By Heller and Heller (2013)
We are having a Membership Committee Meeting tomorrow. This is for people who want to help with programming for membership. I invite anyone who wants to contribute to our artist community to join us. So sorry for the short notice, but we will be holding these monthly and I will give more notice in the future.
When: March 2 @ 5:30 pm
Where: ArtsXchange Burka Lounge, 515 22nd St NW
A long time resident of the ArtsXchange compound, Dazzio Art Experience Gallery & School of Art closed its doors in late 2019. While the departure has been felt by the WADA and larger art community, we are thrilled to announce a new tenant in Dazzio’s former location. We welcome David and Joel Hosler who will be moving Seven C Music from its Haines Road location to the ArtsXchange compound in the former Dazzio school and gallery. David Hosler has more than 40 years of experience designing, building and repairing stringed instruments. Learn more at: https://www.sevencmusic.com
Artist professional development, continuing education classes,
Youth art outreach programming for school-aged midtown population, and
Community arts enrichment – bringing art accessibility and awareness to the broader community.
The latest class was the Artist Statement Workshop on February 19 in the ArtsXchange Classroom and April’s Class and classes will be held every other following month, including a panel discussion, planned for November in the ArtsXchange Gallery. Regular monthly meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday at 4 PM at the Craftsman House on Central Ave.
In September, WADA inaugurated the Burka Member Lounge. Thanks to donor Karen Burka, WADA renovated a walk-through unairconditioned space into an airconditioned member lounge and member artists' gallery that has a kitchenette, gallery lighting and an administrative office. Burka offered the gift in loving memory of her husband Eddie Burka who passed away in 2017. Member art shows will rotate every three months and members can use the space as a place to gather during Art Walk. Members may also reserve the lounge for use by appointment. Reserve by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In October, WADA, in conjunction with the City of St. Petersburg and The Deuces Live, released a call to artists to commission six artists or artist teams to refinish the surface of each Dome Industrial area marker in the locations around the Warehouse Arts District. The 122-acre Dome Industrial Park was a redevelopment project begun by the City of St. Petersburg in 1999. It began as a collection of nearly seventy small residential, commercial, and industrial parcels, acquired over a three-year period. Initially erected as homage to an industrial development, this art project seeks to return these structures to the neighborhood and the people who continue to reside within its boundaries. The Call to Artists was open to all artists who live or work within St. Petersburg and gave $11,500 for the larger marker and $4,500 for three smaller markers.
Congrats to the selected artists, announced in December 2019!
28th Street S. | 5th Avenue
28th Street S. | Fairfield Avenue
5th Avenue S. | 22nd Street (trail)
1st Avenue S. | West of 22nd Street
1st Avenue S. | East of 20th Street
5th Avenue S. | East of 19th Street
Artists and Arts Supporters seek:
Exposure, via member shows and online (social media, website, etc)
Educational opportunities – both artistic and professional development
Information Sharing – sharing of goings on, as well as resources for artists
Community - community of artists and community outreach
ArtsXchange artists seek:
Exposure/ Gallery Promotion
Utilization of events space
Self and collective promotion
Business members seek:
Betterment of the District
Drive business through discounts and exposure
Supporting the arts
These discussions informed WADA membership goals for 2020.
Update Member Benefits and Automated Application and Renewal Processes
Quarterly General Membership Meetings or Social Mixers (To be confirmed: May 13, Sep 9, Dec 9)
Focus on Social Media Engagement and Website Improvements
Publish bimonthly newsletter
Establish Yearly Calendar of consistent Member Shows for all levels of artist members
Organize outdoor Member Marketplace for Art Walk
WADA Ambassadors @ Art Walk and Other Events
In January, the membership committee conducted member focus groups. We were surprised to hear confusion, especially from more recent members, about what is the ArtsXchange vs the Warehouse Arts District Association. We want to clear this up, so here are some frequently asked questions to serve as a primer.
What is the Warehouse Arts District Association?
The Warehouse Arts District Association is a non-profit 501c3, with a mission to build and sustain a vibrant arts community in St. Petersburg that supports the success of all artists and the community at large through a broad spectrum of tools, including community revitalization, marketing, advocacy and educational programming within the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District.
What is the ArtsXchange?
The ArtsXchange is a compound housing several warehouses within the Warehouse Arts District. It includes the home office of the Warehouse Arts District Association; the Studios at the ArtsXchange, The Burka Member Lounge, MGA Studios, Soft Water Studios, The Shops, Dazzio’s Art Studios (soon to have a new tenant!), a private studio known as the Poetry Bar and another space that until recently housed a lawnmower building but is seeking new tenants.
Do WADA Members reside in the Warehouse Arts District boundaries?
Yes, but not exclusively. The Warehouse Arts District borders are from 16th St. to 31st St and from 1st Ave South to 10th Ave South, but you do not have to be an artist working within the district in order to join WADA as a member. We advocate for arts in the District by inviting artists regardless of location to be a member.
Twenty years ago, Nancy Cohen tossed the shoulder pads, pantyhose, and high heels that had been her corporate uniform into the trash and began classes at the Art Students League of New York. She spent four of the happiest years of her life there, painting and drawing six hours a day in a community of wildly diverse people who had in common a love for making art. All these years later, she found the same joy and community from art school every time at her studio in the ArtsXchange. She calls it her happy place. “I am grateful every day to be a part of such a wonderful artist community, doing what I love in such an amazing city,” Cohen said.
Cohen has been at the ArtsXchange since it opened in 2017, knows the hard work it’s taken to get it going and keep it going. She wanted to lend her business acumen from her time as a Director of Marketing and Communications for one of the largest banks in the country, combined with her understanding of the concerns of fellow artists to make a contribution toward the future of the place she loves so much. Cohen believes the Warehouse Arts District can help make St Petersburg a mecca for artists and a top destination for art in the country and says she’s honored to have been chosen to be a member of the board to help in that effort.
Diane Bailey Morton, who served as executive director of the Warehouse Arts District Association for two years, left WADA January 31, 2020. President Mark Aeling noted her many accomplishments during that time, including increasing WADA’s profile with the many high caliber exhibitions she oversaw in the Tully-Levine Gallery, the great publicity WADA received during her tenure in TV, Newspapers and magazines, the WEDU Be More non-profit Arts and Culture award, and many other collaborations with non-profits in the area. She expanded business memberships for WADA, received a donation that allowed us to pave the plaza and create the Burka Member Lounge. She was responsible for the vision behind Phase II of the ArtsXchange, for which we are raising funds now for a new Education and Performance Center and created a dance advisory board for the organization. Thanks to Diane’s stewardship, we are in a much better position as an organization for the future. WADA is assessing its needs over the next several months and intends to have a search for Diane’s replacement in the spring or summer of 2020.
727-256-0821 | email@example.com
Copyright 2020 Warehouse Arts District Association | 515 22nd Street South | St. Petersburg, FL 33712