For the July 4 weekend, think fire and fireworks. You know about fireworks on Independence Day. The fire has to do with the making of glass. July 4 will be the grand opening weekend of St. Petersburg's newest arts venue, a 10,000-square-foot bayfront space devoted to the internationally renowned Seattle-based artist Dale Chihuly. This unique, new space of the Morean Arts Center is a vibrant addition to St. Petersburg's fine arts scene, boosting the city's reputation as a destination for cultural tourists.
The Chihuly Collection on Beach Drive will display works by the glass master valued at $6 million and representing a loose chronology of his career. Two previously planned sites fell through due to the economic recession. But the collection's home at 400 Beach Drive NE is a terrific location, a northern bracket for the city's arts corridor that extends south to the new Dali Museum under construction.
Arts leaders in the city are already talking about the "Chihuly Effect" — the glass artists and artisans who may be drawn to St. Petersburg as a base. The center also will open a hot shop with a 90-seat viewing area at its Central Avenue location as part of the interactive and educational experience.
Amid grim economic news and chilly weather, the Chihuly announcement is a warm embrace and a nice reminder that better days are ahead.