Partnership Spotlight on Morean Arts Center by Nicole Roberts Published on January 22, 2019
The Morean Arts Center has so much going on, your head will spin. At least mine did after meeting with their Marketing Manager and Morean Arts Center representative for the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, Sarah Aldrich. Since its beginning in 1917, the then-named Art Club of St. Petersburg on Beach Drive (located where the Kapok tree next to the Museum of Fine Arts is now, pictured below), was focused on more than just showing the art. Though it was notably the first gallery south of Atlanta, it also offered art classes for adults and kids alike. Through these classes, it became the perfect place for St. Petersburg’s women to express their creativity.
Fast forward over 100 years later and the Morean Arts Center is doing better than ever. No longer on Beach Drive, they now have four locations that highlight a variety of different mediums of art. The Morean Arts Center, located at 719 Central Avenue, is the main campus that defines itself as a contemporary gallery where a majority of their art classes are held. Right across the street is the Chihuly Collection, a permanent collection of artist Dale Chihuly’s unique artwork that also features a rotating gallery with other glassblowers work. This location is the main revenue generator for the Morean Arts Center, but all the profits stay locally, helping to pay for all the artists and activities they have at their other locations. Down the street and behind the main campus is the newly renamed Morean Glass Studio, where patrons can view live glassblowing demonstrations daily and visit the home of the largest art glass store in Tampa Bay. Admission to the studio is free with your ticket to the Chihuly Collection, so you can see the process firsthand that was used to create the beautiful glass art pieces displayed at the collection. The Glass Studio has been recently revamped with expanded capabilities for artist to create bigger pieces and provide patrons with more 30 minute experiences. Finally, there is the Morean Center for Clay (pictured top right in the collage below) in the Warehouse Arts District at 420 22nd Street South. It is the largest working pottery in the Southeast US offering classes, workshops, retail and rotating exhibitions. It also has an event space that is available rented out, making it the perfect place to have a beautiful urban chic wedding or host other events year-round. The combination of all these locations has given Morean Arts Center the capability to show more artists and provide more education than ever before.
The Morean Arts Center Dares You to Take A Class in 2019
As mentioned above, the Morean Arts Center hasn’t strayed too far from their original passion of art education, offering a plethora of classes. They believe that everyone is an artist, and they are prepared with local quality art teachers to show you how to express your creativity. If you visit the “Classes” tab on their website, you will see that there is nothing you can’t do. There are options for every age, level of commitment, medium, and price point. On most Thursdays, they have their Art Snap classes, which are two to three hour single lessons in any medium that you can think of, costing as little as $30. These are perfect for the noncommittal artist at heart who is looking for something to do for the weekend as it is a one-time commitment where you walk away with your own hand made art. Or, if you are just looking for something fun to do to start the weekend, then come try their Friday Night Clay experience from 7pm – 9pm! For only $25, you can come play in clay, including wheel throwing or hand building, and they even encourage you to bring your favorite beverage, alcoholic or not. If you want to get a little more involved, then try attending one of their lessons that meet once a week for six weeks to make you well-versed in the medium of your choice. These include everything from Intro to Modern Quilting to Beginning Glassblowing!
These classes aren’t all about learning to express your creativity, some have more therapuetic purposes. For example, last March they launched their Operation: Art of Valor (AoV) program, which they created in partnership with Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. In this program, veterans that have been referred by the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital meet every Sunday for a free lesson in glassblowing. They found glassblowing is a particularly good medium for veterans because it requires the concentration and collaboration that they learned in the military, while also giving veterans who have had a hard time adjusting back to civilian life a place to socialize as well as an outlet for their creativity. As you can see, there is almost nothing you can’t do at the Morean Arts Center. So if you’ve always wanted to blow your own glass piece, learn more about photography, or use the pottery wheel, it’s time to come to a class at the Morean Arts Center. You can check out all their classes here: http://www.moreanartscenter.org/classes-2/
For The Kids
Don’t worry, there is plenty for the kids to do too! On Saturday’s, they offer free art activities for families at the Morean Arts Center geared towards kids between the ages of 5 and 10, with a morning session from 10am – 12:30pm and an afternoon session from 1pm – 3:30pm. On Sundays from 1pm-3pm at the Morean Center for Clay, they offer another free art activity, where children are allowed to play with the clay as they will, for children 3 years and older. This is in addition to all the classes and camps they offer year round at the Morean. Aldrich has been sending her own kids to summer camp for the last two years and admitted that the artwork they produced is much better than she expected, “She’s in kindergarten and I’m framing and hanging her artwork up because it’s so good!” It’s not just for the little ones either. The Morean offers teen classes as well, targets for kids ages 11-16, in things like painting to photography.
To learn more about the kids and teen art classes they offer, click here: http://www.moreanartscenter.org/classes-2/family/
Just Come Take A Look
Even though their classes are a fantastic offering, the Morean Arts Center wants you to know that you don’t have to take a class to participate in expressing your creativity; you can just come and appreciate the art too. I got the opportunity to walk around two of their new exhibits at the main Morean Arts Center campus, and I was blown away. The names of the exhibits were Rules of Engagement and Princess Smith: The Evolution of Self. Both were palpably thought-provoking, making commentary on the expectations of social and gender norms. Not only did the art have substance, but it was masterfully created as well. I found myself looking at one of Princess Smith’s paintings awestruck at the realism she created through shading. Walking through the Chihuly will leave you equally awestruck as well, admiring the bright, organic shapes that he molded in the fire of a kiln. If you want a more personal experience with the artist, check out the Morean Center for Clay, where you can see local artists creating their work live. A friendly few might even be willing to answer your questions! So don’t be afraid to come to the Morean if you aren’t looking to take a class, there is plenty to just look at too!
What Else to Look For From The Morean In 2019
One of the most notable things happening at the Morean Arts Center this year is the Glass Arts Society Conference, titled Charting a Course: Visions in Glass, on March 28-30. The international organization is based out of Seattle, Washington, and their purpose is to support the worldwide community of glass artists. They chose to come to the Tampa Bay, dubbed the Glass Coast, after going to Murano, Italy for last year’s conference. The Morean will be hosting some of their exhibits, along with a few other local glass-blowing facilities and galleries. They expect this will bring a lot of talented artist from around the globe to St. Petersburg, opening up a world of possibilities for collaborations for local artists. In total, over 1,200 people are expected to attend the conference, which means not only lots of business for artist, but business for other local establishments as well. If you would like to learn more about the upcoming conference, visit their website at: https://www.glassart.org/2019stpetefl.html
Another great thing at the Morean Arts Center this year is their Digital Lab, which open just a few weeks ago on January 7. It offers students the latest in Apple Mac hardware and Adobe software, which gives the Morean the opportunity to offer new classes in digital painting, illustration and design. The new digital lab will offer video for all ages, graphics animation and 3D interactive projects.
As always, the Morean Arts Center calendar is full of tons of great events. To see all the events the Morean Arts Center is putting on this year, check out their Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/MoreanArtsCenter/. One noteable event coming up soon is a $75 per person Blow Your Own Glass Heart experience at the beginning of February in preparation from Valentine’s Day.
“Too Long; Didn’t Read” Review
● The Morean Arts Center has been dedicated to providing the local community with art education for over the last 100 years
● The Morean Arts Center dares you to come try a class; you won’t be disappointed! Classes for kids, teens, and adults listed here: http://www.moreanartscenter.org/classes-2/
● If you don’t feel ready for a class, just come and see the local artists. There are many ways to participate at the Morean other than classes.
● Keep an eye out for the Glass Arts Society Conference and all the artists it brings with it on March 28-30.
● Check out their new Digital Lab, equipped with Apple Mac hardware and Adobe software for expanded capabilities for class offerings.
● Look at their event page on Facebook to see all the cool events they have coming up!