Sometimes sisters are right. Really right. But I had no idea my sister, a long-time resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, knew how “right” she was when she leaned over at us while dining at Ricky P’s (1113 Central Avenue) and said, Don’t miss Florida Craftsmen. They have lovely things all made in Florida. All the stuff you love and want to see.
And she was right, after all.
Included in our recent blog, Five things to do in a day in St. Petersburg, Florida, Florida Craftsmen is one of those finds that tourists might miss. It’s on Central right in the heart of other artsy stores that carry re-purposed items, shabby chic, and cast-offs-turned-must-haves. But this shop is different.
Originally organized by Louis and Elsa Freund, professors at Stetson, the couple wanted a place to showcase fine crafts and artwork in a more permanent location than the temporary exhibits afforded. Although organized in 1977, Florida Craftsmen lacked a suitable permanent location until George Rahdert made the old Rutland Department Store available in 1995. After purchasing the property in 2002, Florida Craftsmen felt settled, offering crafts downstairs and space for artists upstairs in the area known as ArtLofts. The current exhibition, Earthworks, is on display through March 1, 2014.
Inside, you’ll find a vast array of creations — jewelled chairs, Santa ornaments, hand-dyed scarves, wheel-thrown pottery, and whimsical items that can be worn or displayed. And you can’t help but be impressed with the talent and creativity of each artist.
Because there’s not one definitive style that pervades the shop, you’ll have to go see for yourself the limitless creativity and artful displays. My sister was right, of course: You don’t want to miss Florida Craftsmen.
A statewide non-profit organization for fine craft art
501 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
Be sure to check their website for exhibits, gallery receptions, and special events.