Founded by artists Barbara Gerdeman and Elizabeth Goodwill, Creative Liberties opened its first location at the end of 2021 and the second in February of this year. Along with the artist studios, the space hosts exhibitions and classes for children and adults.
The exhibition space and tables from a finished class from September 2023
If you go make sure to also check out the delightful Free Little Art Gallery. Created by artist Judy Robertson and modeled after the Free Little Libraries, you are encouraged to take a piece of art, leave a piece of art, or sometimes just admire what’s been donated. There is one for work by adults and for children’s art work.
Below are images from a few of the artist’s spaces in the Creative Liberties buildings.
The images above are from El Arte: Echoes of Cuba a group exhibition on view at Clearwater’s Main Library this past summer that included the work of Tampa Bay artist Lynn Rattray. The work is part of her ongoing project creating portraits of the Historic Ybor City chickens. Each work she creates includes a biography of the bird.
Information on Ybor’s Colonel from the exhibition-
“In 2016, a law was broken. In the dark of night, a dingy bedraggled rooster was dropped off in the streets of Ybor City. Thrown away by his owner, he had little chance of survival in the feral community and his future seemed bleak.
Fast forward: He ascended to become the superstar of Centennial Park. Soon stunning in both appearance and character, he was dubbed, The Colonel, and a group of diverse humans became his fan club. Our Colonel was the guardian of baby chicks and new mama hens, protecting the little families from danger. Now when this artist sits in the silence of the park, she still feels the magic of our Colonel and sheds a tear for a life well lived.”
More detail on the Ybor City chicken project from her artist statement-
…A portion of her portfolio is dedicated to the free roaming chickens of Historic Ybor City. “Why chickens”, you might ask. The history of these beautiful birds dates back to 1885, when Tampa’s cigar industry was first established by Vincent Martinez Ybor. Moving his industry first from Cuba to Key West, he ultimately rebuilt in Tampa. His hopeful workers brought their families, and their chickens, from Key West, dreaming of a new and prosperous future. When the Great Depression hit that same year, the economy crashed and the cigar factories shuttered their doors.
Forced to seek new opportunities, the workers moved on, leaving their chickens behind to fend for themselves. Having adapted to life on the streets, the descendants of those original birds proudly remain in Tampa’s Historic Ybor City, linking us all to that bygone era. It’s the descendants of these original chickens that Lynn paints. Having spent much time observing the chickens, it is each bird’s personality that she seeks to capture, as much as the likeness. Working hand-in-hand with Dylan Breese, founder of Ybor Chicken’s Society, and The Ybor Misfits Micro-Sanctuary, (@theybormisfits), a recently established 503(1)(c) non-profit designed to help sick and injured chickens.
This collaboration assures that each portrait reflects not only the likeness but more importantly, the personality of the bird.
Rattray has a studio in the Kress Contemporary building in Ybor City and it is often open to the public. There you can find more of her chicken portraits as well as see the other charming paintings she is working on. The image below is of her studio at last night’s Ybor Arts Tour.
“When I work with clay, I aim to convey a narration of time and place. I work in an intentionally straightforward manner, choosing the clay and combination of processes for the marks that will be left on the vessel. The processes of making are recorded on the surface of the object and begin to reveal the qualities of the material and tell a visual story.”
Florida CraftArt (formerly known as Florida Craftsmen) was organized in 1951 by Stetson University art professors Elsa and Louis Freund as a statewide organization celebrating fine craft. As the only statewide nonprofit representing Florida’s fine craft artists, Florida CraftArt is a member-supported organization helping mentor and advance artists. Now headquartered at 5th Street and Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, this vibrant organization has been at the center of St. Pete’s artistic renaissance.
The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art is delighted to partner with Florida CraftArt to showcase their permanent collection and enduring contribution to Florida’s cultural heritage. The goals of this collection are to recognize the significance of Florida’s fine craft art in our broad artistic landscape, document the rich tradition of craft art statewide and beyond, and to educate and inspire future generations of artists and arts appreciators.
Currently at the Creative Pinellas gallery is Yolanda Sánchez’sOut of Eden, a collection of her paintings and textile work. The gallery is filled bright pleasing colors and this is the perfect exhibition to celebrate the spring season.
Whether in painting or textiles, my working instruments are rhythm and color. I am interested in the joyful, playful or even spiritual properties of light. I am reflecting the light and color of where I live, of my immediate environment.
This artistic practice is improvisational and process-oriented, abstract. The relationship of one color to another creates a rhythm and tempo and establishes the composition. Each color suggests the next color, almost like the “call and response” form found in many musical traditions. There is a continuous orchestration, as the colors converse with one another, suggesting a mood or vibe.
I am often not sure where it is going or going to go. It is a surprise at every turn. I shape my perception as I work.
My textile work is informed by the Korean art form known as Bojagi. Humble in its origins, nameless women made these traditional textiles as often extravagant visual pieces using mundane, leftover fabric from wrapping, storing and transporting goods. Over time, the nobility introduced finer, more delicate cloth.
In its traditional form, design characteristics include stitching and seams to create linear elements, especially with translucent fabrics. These features differentiate and distinguish Bojagi from patchwork textiles found in other cultural traditions. Nevertheless, Bojagi shares what feminist art historians identify as centuries-old histories of turning scraps of fabric into beautiful objects and ultimately shifting perspectives from private to public.
I pay homage to these unknown women, authenticating their domestic work – and I affirm their values of inclusion, pleasure, love, the familial, the decorative, the colorful and joyful, the spiritual and the everyday.
My Bojagi-inspired textile work – painting with thread and fabric – honors the Korean tradition. Still, while relying on the conventions and basic structure, these pieces extend and interpret the Bojagi into a more contemporary form. I offer a new direction by varying medium and size and utilizing color compositions and stitching techniques less anchored to established methods.
Material, color, texture and transparency are crucial elements in this work, as is the geometry inherent in the design. While geometry, in this case, emerges from a particular culture, the form does not demand a specific culture-dependent response. Its only function is beauty. It is about the sensual delight derived from looking – the viewer can ascribe or chose meaning, if at all.
As an order, rhythm and pattern are generated within the geometry, creating beauty through harmony and stability, color dominates as a suggestive poetic force, concurrently evoking a connection to my immediate tropical environment. It sets as my intention arousing a sense of place, a feeling, and the atmosphere of an abstract garden, or even a walk through a field of flowers.
It is the color but also the sensuousness of nature that I endeavor to suggest in both my paintings and textiles.