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Visitors to Creative Clay’s Nov. 11 ArtWalk can view two exhibits, Street Art: Ali Vasquez + Todd Frain SHINE Artists 2016 in Creative Clay’s Good Folk Gallery and Faces and Dogs: The Folk Art of Marie and Rusty Hammer: A Benefit for Creative Clay outdoors in the courtyard.

Street Art: Ali Vasquez + Todd Frain SHINE Artists 2016 opened Oct. 14 and features street art-inspired work by Creative Clay artists, including Hanna V., Stephanie P., Ashton T., Marquise R., Grace P., Candy K., Samuel S., and Michael H., a nod to this year’s 9th SHINE 2023 Mural Arts Festival. Creative Clay Member Artist Ali Vasquez, and Teaching Artist Todd Frain, both 2016 SHINE artists, have new artwork in this exhibit.

Frain’s powerful and beautiful mixed media pieces, in acrylic, paint marker, spray paint and colored pencil, are “a modern twist inspired by traditional tattoo designs,” he said. Vasquez’s bold and colorful acrylic paintings are inspired by Mayan design.

“This year’s SHINE Mural Festival once again ignites the city of the arts with a diverse collection of public art from renowned local, national and international mural artists,” said Jody Bikoff, Creative Clay Director of Exhibitions. “Creative Clay is pleased to continue that celebration through November with Street Art: Ali Vasquez + Todd Frain SHINE Artists 2016.”

Ali reflected on the process of creating public art.

“I’m happy, excited,” she said. “I guess I’m popular! Pretty cool to be featured. Good opportunity!”

One of the most visited murals in St. Pete, it remains on the building that formerly housed the Academy of Ballet Arts, 2914 1st Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Frain agreed that it was a special experience to create this mural with Ali.

“The mural we did was pretty special, and Ali was the driving force of creativity for this wall,” he said. “Ali is a unique artist. Creating artwork with her and knocking out this wall was a growing and rewarding project for me to be a part of.”

In addition, Frain designed and painted the SHINE mural in 2019, inspired by Creative Clay Member Artists’ artwork, on the west side of its building at 1846 1st Ave. S in St. Pete.

Collaborations like this reinforce the concept of equality through art, and the power of art to inspire.

After meeting Member Artist Grace P. at the March ArtWalk, Rusty and Marie Hammer became volunteers. They jumped right in and oversaw art sales at Spring for the Arts, Creative Clay’s major fundraiser. Now friends and supporters, the Hammers will share their art with Faces and Dogs: The Folk Art of Marie and Rusty Hammer: A Benefit for Creative Clay. The couple are donating proceeds from the evening’s sales to Creative Clay.

The couple’s varied art backgrounds promise an eclectic show of folk art that highlights their specific talents.

Rusty’s wooden dogs, fashioned from scrap wood, have been exhibited in solo and group shows in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Rusty’s passion for creating ignited from the scrap wood that remained from a discarded University of Florida homecoming float. It’s a spark he sees in Creative Clay’s Member Artists.

“Creative Clay is much like ‘La Ruche,’ the famous home of many modern artists in Paris,” he said. “It is like a ‘hive’ filled with artistic activity: creating, singing, collaborating. I love being there and am grateful to the staff for what they have created.”

Rusty’s life partner Marie is the other half of the exhibit. At age 9, her work was included in a UNICEF poster contest at the 39th World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium. She learned color theory and composition from her mother, then continued her education at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Marie often stashes paint in her suitcases and includes art venues on trip itineraries. She has taught painting, drawing, and crafts to adults and children.

“While I have been painting human and animal faces since I was a child, I recently broke away from the two dimensions by making wooden faces,” Marie said. “They are constructed from found objects, branches, toys, carvings, driftwood, and scraps from the wooden dogs Rusty makes.”

See Street Art + Ali V. Shine Artist 2016 and Faces and Dogs: The Folk Art of Marie and Rusty Hammer: A Benefit for Creative Clay Nov. 11, 5-9 p.m., during ArtWalk. Creative Clay’s Good Folk Gallery is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and every 2nd Saturday during ArtWalk. Follow Creative Clay on Facebook, on Instagram @creativeclaystpete, on Twitter @creativeclay, and on LinkedIn.