By KERRY KRISEMAN
Public Relations Manager
Entering a new space begins the process of learning, acceptance, and education. Our senses are engaged and receptive to all that the new environment imparts. We feel differently, as we listen to the voices that inform about where we are. The images we see leave an impression. We are inspired by all that the space encompasses.
These activities can alter our physical makeup and positively affect our brain chemistry. Art inspires and transforms, and it opens our minds to new possibilities for connecting with others. Shared appreciation of art and how it can be used as a catalyst for change and education helps us find common ground.
Before our March closure due to Covid-19, w e regularly welcomed members of the community to our Good Folk Gallery in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg. Development Coordinator Shane Hoffman often gave tours to diverse group of visitors, from bankers to bakers, executives to entrepreneurs, and philanthropists and fellow non-profit colleagues.
It was not uncommon for partnerships to transpire after someone toured our gallery, met our member artists, and watched our Community Arts Program in action. Last year, when Menna Development and Management began overseeing the construction of the Tru by Hilton hotel in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg, an introduction was made.
David Foote, Executive Director of the Grand Central District, introduced Josiah Gross, Sr. Vice President of Development at Menna Development & Management, to Creative Clay. Josiah and his wife Lia were treated to a tour of Creative Clay by Hoffman.
An idea was born, and a new relationship formed.
“They fell in love,” Hoffman said. “They immediately wanted to help. They loved seeing all of the artists at work and especially loved the musical project Transition student Cory and teaching artist Gordon were working on for Artlink 2019.”
A serendipitous cause and effect happened that inspired generosity.
“We were blown away,” said Gross. “We didn’t realize how many great things were going on under one roof.”
Soon, Menna Development donated a new guitar for Cory’s and Gordon’s project, and signed on to sponsor Creative Clay Fest 2019.
“We wanted to do what we could be a small part of what they were doing,” Gross said. “We plan to continue to stay involved, too.”
The relationship sparked by a tour of our art space flourished when Gross suggested Creative Clay member artists paint a set of 12 hard hats that would be worn during tours of the building as it was being constructed, then later in ribbon cutting photos and special opening events. There would also be an exhibit of the hard hats after Tru officially opened.
“I feel like they saw that partnering with an arts organization was a great way to connect with the vibe of St. Pete,” Hoffman said. “They were very aware that St. Pete thrives on a culture of art, so it was a perfect fit from the start.”
Covid-19 has prevented the topping off ceremony and delayed grand opening festivities, but the hard hat art exhibit in the 3rd floor lobby remains, complimenting the inviting new space at Tru by Hilton St. Petersburg Downtown Central Avenue. Eventually, Gross said, they will celebrate with a grand opening, but until then the public is invited to visit the hotel and view the exhibit and even enjoy a cool beverage on the 5th floor terrace overlooking the St. Petersburg skyline.
The hard hats will be available for purchase from Creative Clay after the exhibition ends. Visit Tru by Hilton St. Petersburg Downtown Central Avenue at 1650 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 33712.
Creative Clay’s vision is to make the arts accessible to all. Its mission is to help people with disabilities achieve full and inclusive lives through access to the arts by providing expressive, educational, and vocational experiences.
Creative Clay’s core program is its Community Arts Program, which serves over 40 adult artists with neuro-differences each week. Through the implementation of additional offerings, such as the inclusive Art Around the World summer camp, Summer Studio for teens, Artlink employment program, Creative Care Arts in Wellness outreach program and its Pinellas County Schools partnership Transition program.
Follow Creative Clay on Facebook, on Instagram @creativeclaystpete and on Twitter @creativeclay and on LinkedIn.