Saturday, April 21, 2018
Features and More

St. Petersburg's ARTpool Gallery grows into its new space

Marina Williams, clad in a Led Zeppelin T-shirt, floral leggings and gold high tops, hustled through her new house for bygone bibelots and fresh creations.

This gallery was a lot of things before Williams got to it.

"A Polish restaurant, a dance studio, an automotive repair shop," she said. "A plumbing supply company …"

Now, Williams' ARTpool Gallery is settling into thousands of square feet on Central Avenue across from Haslam's Book Store. It's roomier, but still eclectic as Williams herself. There are bottlecap mirrors, pinup pictures, mannequin heads with vampy turquoise eyes, vintage cowboy boots, angel wings made from prophylactics.

Williams, an artist who got immersed in London's underground art scene during graduate school, created ARTpool as a store for handcrafted art and vintage clothes, plus classes and art parties on the weekends. The old gallery was a small storefront on First Avenue North. ARTpool parties drew big crowds who didn't necessarily have room to breathe.

Since the move to Central Avenue in December, Williams has encouraged people to just show up. If they do, they'll see the sheer size, the airflow, the elbow room. If revelers felt sweaty in their Labyrinth wigs at Bowie Fest, or cramped bumping up to Lady Gagas at the You & Me Art Party, things are different now.

"That's the main thing we want people to understand," Williams said.

The new ARTpool has separate art gallery, a huge store space and an outside area with potted plants and space for an actual runway, lighting and sound equipment. By 2013, Williams plans to host indie art weddings and birthday parties in the gallery's adjoining event space.

The move made way for more interactive art classes, part of Williams' goal to illuminate art people find subversive or hard to understand.

Saturday, ARTpool will host a street art workshop for kids and adults led by artists from Pollyzoom, creating the things Williams saw from street artists like Banksy while living in London. Sometimes it was a poster job on a wall, sometimes it was painted cars installed in public lots. It's not about teaching kids illegal graffiti, she said.

"There are no rules for street art," said Williams, 27. "They don't have to color inside the lines. Street art is selling for millions of dollars. People have sold off the walls of their buildings."

She hopes people who take the workshop will make shirts and hats to wear to one of ARTpool's biggest events of the year the following weekend, Trashion Fashion.

"We're telling everyone about it," Williams said. "It's really starting to come together."

Trashion Fashion features couture repurposed from trash and oddball items, Burger King cups and pop tabs and trash bags. This year, 20 designers are outfitting models, who will be styled by Aveda and swathed in the glow of special effects. Everything will be more polished.

And, of course, bigger.

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