The three-year reign of being named AmericanStyle magazine's top arts destination for mid-sized cities is paying off in a way few would've expected.
Starting Monday morning, St. Petersburg residents will be able to see Japanese art deco in the form of a 35-foot ad on the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority's Route 32 bus as it navigates its way through the city's corridors.
The promotion is part a "mobile marketing" strategy to draw attention to an exhibit at Sarasota's Ringling Museum. The exhibit, which runs from July 13 to Oct. 28, is from the private collection of Robert and Mary Levenson of Clearwater and marks the first time the exhibit is being shown outside of Tokyo and New York. The exhibit features paintings, prints, metalworks, sculptures and furniture.
This isn't the first time the Ringling has partnered with PSTA for advertising.
"We had much success with the circus poster exhibition, 'The Amazing American Circus Poster,' " said Scott Gardiner, public relations manager at the museum. "The number of museums and sushi restaurants in St. Pete will work in our favor to bring awareness to this exhibition."
The show should appeal to those who fancy Japanese art and culture, design and fashion, he said.
PSTA will hold a special unveiling at 10 a.m. Monday.
Local officials, as well as representatives from the Ringling Museum, will be on hand.
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Recent tensions over the largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in the Southeast are still stewing.
Despite meeting as recently as last week, the two factions, state Rep. Darryl Rouson and parade founder Sevell Brown still seem to be at odds. Rouson would like to move the parade to the Saturday before the holiday and make the holiday a communitywide day of service.
But at the crux is an after-parade celebration that has drawn the ire of many residents who argue that the street festivities have gotten out of hand and fails to reflect King's legacy.
Brown rightly argues that the after-party is not his event.
But with the presence of police, surely it's a city-sanctioned event, right?
Not so fast, says Mayor Bill Foster. "There's no city-sanctioned event after the completion of the parade," he said.
Trying to navigate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street south of 10th Avenue is near to impossible in the hours after the parade. The police have a huge presence there, blocking the street and diverting traffic for hours. Even PSTA has to reroute its buses that navigate that corridor. The police are there for public safety.
"It's an event that's morphed into something quite large," said Assistant Chief Luke Williams, adding that people come from all over for the post-parade revelry.
Williams said changing the day of the parade could just prolong the street festivities for some.
"Because it's been a long-standing event, not only will you have a Monday issue, but folks will come out on Saturday and Monday."
It's hard to believe that the city officials have no control over a nonsanctioned event that lacks proper permits for closing at least 10 blocks of the street in the first place.
Surely there has to be a better solution to finding a proper way to allow folks to celebrate without disrupting local traffic and a few bus routes.
Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at [email protected] or at (727) 893-8874.