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.
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.
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.
A mural, Mermaid Motel, by Zulu Painter adorns the side of the motel and features a mermaid and tropical fish, manatees and dolphins.
An “arcade” with interactive gaming technology will reside in Centcom, described as a “space ship that looks like a Twistee Treat.”
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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.
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.”
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.