Dale Chihuly may be the most famous glass artist in international circles, but in these parts, Duncan McClellan has the lock.
McClellan moved to Tampa in 1974, about the same time a small sidewalk art festival in St. Petersburg was started with about 30 artists participating. That festival and McClellan have both become big names over the decades.
Mainsail, now in its 35th year, will spread over the Vinoy Park waterfront Saturday and Sunday, maxed out to about 250 artists from around the country. McClellan will be one of them, having participated in it more years than he can remember (though he wasn't at that first one, in 1975), celebrated for his large, elaborately finished glass vessels.
He was chosen the festival's poster artist, the first time a sculpture has been used rather than a painting. McClellan's objects read like narratives, etched with images that tell stories. And even if you can't afford his original work, you can own the $10 commemorative poster that features the glass object commissioned for the show.
He'll be at Booth 192 with it and more new works inspired by the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront, which he adores.
So much so, McClellan is moving his studio from Tampa and is in the final stages of rehabbing an old 7,800-square-foot factory in the Midtown neighborhood. Along with a work space, he'll have a gallery for his own work as well as other glass artists'. A 3,000-square-foot hot shop for blowing glass will come later, he says, when he can afford it. He hopes to have open houses there starting in May.
"I have never felt more welcomed anywhere in my life," he says of the move, citing a lot of help from city officials to find a space and get everything permitted.
Along with his popularity with collectors, McClellan has won many awards, including Mainsail's Best in Show in 1993. He has a special fondness for the event because he feels "the community really comes out for it. St. Petersburg has always supported me."
Lennie Bennett can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8293.