ST. PETERSBURG — CraftArt gets a breath of fresh air this year. For the first time, it takes to the street, Fifth Street, to be exact, between First avenues N and S, and the intersecting block along Central Avenue.
Also for the first time, it's free.
The Saturday and Sunday event, organized by Florida Craftsmen, has been at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg in recent years. Director Maria Emilia decided to move it to the area around the organization's downtown gallery, making it more like an outdoor arts festival.
This 11th annual show features more than 140 artists from around the United States in traditional mediums such as wood and clay, often interpreted in nontraditional ways. There will be plenty of functional items along with the decorative.
Most nearby restaurants will be open for lunch or brunch both days, and there will also be vendors selling food and beverages. Remember, too, that the Saturday Morning Market is a bit to the east at Al Lang Field, so you can, if you go on Saturday, make a downtown day of it.
The artists will compete for $15,000 in prize money, including a $5,000 Best in Show award. This year's juror is Judy Lynn Prince. She's an interesting choice because, unlike most judges of such shows, she isn't an arts professional such as a curator, director or educator. But she has her own credentials both as a private collector and as a longtime, high-level volunteer for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. She has been chair of the Smithsonian Craft Show, one of the big three in the country, for the past two years.
The CraftArt area will be closed to motor traffic, so wear your walking shoes. And good news: The Mayor's Action Center tells us that you don't have to feed the meters on weekends. So parking's free, too.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8293.