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A sneak peek of Fairgrounds St. Pete, an art experience opening late spring

The art-meets-technology experience will open in a 15,000-square-foot space in the Warehouse Arts District.
Large letters that say Fairgrounds are being painted and will have glitter added to them during a sneak peek at the progress of Fairgrounds St. Pete, an interactive art-technology experience in the Warehouse Arts District.
Large letters that say Fairgrounds are being painted and will have glitter added to them during a sneak peek at the progress of Fairgrounds St. Pete, an interactive art-technology experience in the Warehouse Arts District. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Apr. 13
Updated Apr. 19

ST. PETERSBURG — Progress is being made at Fairgrounds St. Pete, the art-meets-technology immersive experience that celebrates “weird, wacky and wonderful Florida” and will open in late spring in a 15,000-square-foot space in the Warehouse Arts District.

The project, co-founded by Liz Dimmitt and Mikhail Mansion, hired artists last year to create installations in the space that is part of the Factory St. Pete, a hub for artists, arts-related nonprofits and creative businesses.

Related: Related: Immersive art meets craft beer at future St. Pete and Tampa compounds.

Fairgrounds St. Pete gave the Tampa Bay Times a sneak peek at the progress.

“It’s really a choose-your-own-adventure experience,” said marketing and public relations consultant Stephanie Adamo, as she showed a blueprint of the space.

“We’re blending art and tech and just having people be immersed in it,” she said.

Stephanie Adamo, marketing and public relations consultant, talks about the ideas wall during a sneak peek at the progress of Fairgrounds St. Pete.
Stephanie Adamo, marketing and public relations consultant, talks about the ideas wall during a sneak peek at the progress of Fairgrounds St. Pete. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Many of the installations are being created off-site or in other on-site warehouses. But there was enough inside to get a feel for the overall, Florida-kitsch vibe of the project.

It’s anchored by the Mermaid Star Motel, a sky-blue facade dotted with electric pink neon reminiscent of retro beach motels. Artists will create installations in the motel rooms. Digital artwork by Nick Davis will appear on LED screens meant to be the penthouse windows.

The Mermaid Star Motel exhibit at Fairgrounds St. Pete.
The Mermaid Star Motel exhibit at Fairgrounds St. Pete. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

A mural, Mermaid Motel, by Zulu Painter adorns the side of the motel and features a mermaid and tropical fish, manatees and dolphins.

Zulu Painter's mural on the side of the Mermaid Star Motel exhibit at Fairgrounds St. Pete.
Zulu Painter's mural on the side of the Mermaid Star Motel exhibit at Fairgrounds St. Pete. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

An “arcade” with interactive gaming technology will reside in Centcom, described as a “space ship that looks like a Twistee Treat.”

The Centcom exhibit at Fairgrounds St. Pete will include interactive technology.
The Centcom exhibit at Fairgrounds St. Pete will include interactive technology. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

A “pool” area features a kidney-shaped structure suspended in the air. Projection mapping technology will give the effect of water and the deck area will have chairs.

The "pool" area at Fairgrounds St. Pete will feature projection mapped water. The installation is titled "Dialogical Analogs in Chlorine" and is being created by artist Matthew Campbell.
The "pool" area at Fairgrounds St. Pete will feature projection mapped water. The installation is titled "Dialogical Analogs in Chlorine" and is being created by artist Matthew Campbell. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

More projection mapping will create a landscape environment inspired by the Everglades.

The motel “lobby” features artwork by Jane Bunker and a painted floor with accentuated chips of “terrazzo” on top of a more subtle painted “terrazzo.”

Work continues on the area called the Hotel Lobby at Fairgrounds St. Pete.
Work continues on the area called the Hotel Lobby at Fairgrounds St. Pete. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Classes will be offered in an education lab in the existing laboratory space used by previous warehouse owner Madico Inc., which makes window films.

Over time, exhibits will change. But Adamo pointed out that artists will continue to get paid from a portion of ticket sales. Merchandising deals are being established for works sold in the gift shop.

“We’re really trying to create a community where they’re part of the business so they can invest back into their practice,” she said.

Jobs are being created for 30 “experience guides.” Adamo said they are hoping to hire from the neighborhood and working with the Urban League and St. Petersburg College’s Handshake program to get the word out.

To keep up with the progress, join the Fairgrounds Insiders Club, free for a limited time at fairgrounds.art/insiders-club. Memberships are also available for purchase at fairgrounds.art.