Arts centers in St. Pete forge new partnership - FOX 13 News

Arts centers in St. Pete forge new partnership

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The Morean Arts Center is the new owner of St. Pete Clay, one of the largest pottery facilities in the southeastern United States.

It occupies most of a renovated freight train depot in St. Petersburg's Midtown, more than two miles away from the Morean's more famous asset: The Chihuly Collection on Beach Drive.

Speaking at the Morean Arts Center's main facility further inland downtown, executive director Wayne Atherholt explained the grand plan.

"Part of what we do is we bring people in through the Chihuly, we bring them up Central Avenue to the Arts Center, to the Hot Shop, then we'd like them to go down to the train station," Atherholt said, envisioning a connection between the rapidly developing Grand Central corridor and the rapidly developing warehouse arts district on 22nd Street South.

St. Pete Clay's ambitious 1994 renovation of the freight depot pioneered the revitalization of "The Deuces," then an historic but largely abandoned business corridor.

In recent years, the Morean offered pottery classes at St. Pete Clay while a pair of potters owned the business end: Renting artists lofts, scheduling the use of a wide variety of kilns and hosting workshops.

The potters will become employees, and have more time to devote to their art.

"The Morean has a much greater staff than we do," said Matt Schiemann. "When we were running it, it was just myself and Adam (Yungbluth) so we were spread very, very thin."

Yungbluth said the merger was the result of a months-long conversation.

"Let's figure out what's best for the building to remain a ceramics facility," Yungbluth added. "What's best for the area and the community of artists we have here."

"I certainly know nothing about throwing a pot, that's what they do," Atherholt conceded, adding "Creating more of a retail environment and bringing more visitors in is a completely different business model."

He also said St. Pete Clay is a good fit for the nearly 100-year old Morean Arts Center.

"Whatever we can do to help artists sell more of their works, help brand St. Petersburg as more of an arts destination, help bring more visitors to town...that's what we do."

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