As the “Neighborhood of the Arts” with an active and thriving Artist Enclave, Historic Kenwood is the first neighborhood in St. Petersburg to declare that art and artists are not only welcome here, but important contributors to our vibrant, creative, diverse culture.
In 2017, a group of volunteers formed the Historic Kenwood Public Arts Committee to make art visible in our neighborhood. We developed a Public Art Master Plan with goals, objectives, operational policies, and a hefty list of projects.
Bench Art. Soon we undertook our first project – to transform the seven drab benches in Seminole Park into works of art. In 2021, the benches were refreshed with beautiful new designs and two new benches were added for a total of nine to enjoy. Artists include Anna Ayres, Paul Barrera, Deb Cooper, David Foote, Zoe Perez, Joy Rose, and Mike Toth.
Street Corner Finials. Our next project was to commission artistic finials for the top of 16 of the signposts throughout the neighborhood. In 2021, new finials will add character to 17 additional street corners. 2021 neighborhood artists include Mike Baker, Paul Barrera, Mary Hausler, YaeL Kelley, Janna Kennedy, Rich Pollin, Nick Ribera, Michael Satino, Mike Toth, and Luci Westphal. With the City’s new sign ordinance requirements, these new pieces are to be installed at 10 feet on the post instead of at the top. And there’s more to come as we strive to have art eventually on each of the 130 signposts in the neighborhood!
Banners. A third project was to showcase the art of members of our Artist Enclave of Historic Kenwood. Banners were mounted on street corners along First Avenue North between 19th and 31st Streets in our neighborhood. So, we now make art visible along this heavily traveled corridor in tribute to our “Neighborhood of the Arts.”
Dining for Art. We fully funded our first bench art project with fundraising events that reflect the character of Historic Kenwood. Neighbors hosted parties and guests paid about what it would cost for a comparable meal out. All proceeds were used to fund the benches – to pay the artists and cover a few additional costs. But the dining events had another purpose – to bring neighbors together, have a lot of fun, feature neighborhood artists, and talk about art.
In 2017, we held our first events. Every year since we have brought neighbors together in these fun-filled fund-raisers.
City Matching Grants. But Dining for Art, coupled with some generous individual donations, could not have covered all the costs of our ambitious public art program. Fortunately, the City of St. Petersburg offers project grants to match volunteer hours. And since HKNA engages so many volunteers, we have thus far benefited from two City grants to help fund the art that increasingly delights residents and entices visitors.
More to Come. The HKNA Public Arts Committee continues to expand art throughout Historic Kenwood. Keep looking around…and be delighted!
Who benefits from these initiatives? We all do. We all deserve to have art in our midst. You can help make it happen by hosting and/or attending a Dining for Art event, or through a donation to the Historic Kenwood Neighborhood Association Public Art Fund.