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Creative studio Venus St. Pete to close in January

The studio space founded by the St. Pete Women’s Collective will close with an event Jan. 22.
Venus St. Pete is closing its doors with a closing exhibition and sidewalk sale on Jan. 22.
Venus St. Pete is closing its doors with a closing exhibition and sidewalk sale on Jan. 22. [ Courtesy of Mitzi Gordon ]
Published Dec. 28, 2021
Updated Jan. 2

After five years, the nonprofit St. Pete Women’s Collective is dissolving and closing its Fringe District studio space, Venus St. Pete.

The St. Pete Women’s Collective was founded in 2017 by Ashley Sweet, Emily Stone, Jeanette St. Amour, Jodi Chemes, Mitzi Gordon and Tiffany Elliott, focusing on women’s issues. Over the years, the volunteer-driven organization held 150 community events.

The St. Pete Women's Collective board and founding members, from left, are Emily Stone, Jodi Chemes, Ashley Sweet, Mitzi Gordon and Tiffany Elliott.
The St. Pete Women's Collective board and founding members, from left, are Emily Stone, Jodi Chemes, Ashley Sweet, Mitzi Gordon and Tiffany Elliott. [ Courtesy of the St. Pete Women's Collective ]

The collective started in a live-work bungalow in the Artist Enclave of Historic Kenwood, where the “Nasty Women Art Show” drew a large crowd.

The St. Pete Women's Collective "Nasty Woman Art Show" drew a crowd in 2017.
The St. Pete Women's Collective "Nasty Woman Art Show" drew a crowd in 2017. [ Courtesy of Mitzi Gordon ]

In 2019, Venus St. Pete opened as a commercial gallery, studio, classroom and event space.

Related: St. Pete Women's Collective opens Venus, an art co-working and event space

One of the collective’s core missions was to provide affordable studio space to creatives. But with rising rents and utilities and the pandemic halting fundraising activities, the decision was made to close Venus St. Pete because those spaces wouldn’t be affordable anymore.

Gordon said the landlord has been a supportive partner, but it was inevitable that rent would increase because of how much the city is changing.

“I’ll say this, collective buying power was what got us this far for this long,” she said. “The strength of many people with a shared vision coming together to contribute funds, time and talent was crucial to our success.”

She sees the closing as a new season for the artists and creatives who shared space there and feels optimistic about their future careers. Gordon continues work as one of the founders of SPACEcraft, a public art project that brings free, outdoor, hand-on experiences to public parks. She’s also working on a collaborative project with Stone at the upcoming arts attraction Peninsularium in Tampa.

Related: SPACEcraft brings free activities to parks in Pinellas County

The decision to dissolve the St. Pete Women’s Collective was made because members of the original leadership moved away.

There will be one last event: On Jan. 22, Venus Retrograde, a sidewalk sale and gallery show, will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. at Venus St. Pete, 244 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.

“It’s bittersweet. We have so many amazing memories, " Gordon said. “We feel really good as a group about what we’ve been able to share and how we’ve been able to support local artists. So that’s the sweet part.”