ST. PETERSBURG — After 11 years in the Warehouse Arts District and decades more as a staple of the St. Petersburg art scene, Charlie Parker and his wife, Nancy, are selling the business. As of July 1, Charlie Parker Pottery will be run by Bo Countryman and Gabriella Schmid. They will keep the name and existing membership model.
The announcement was made during Second Saturday ArtWalk in June.
“People wondered probably about what I was doing,” Parker said. “I can’t tell you how many people said that you’re keeping the name, you’re keeping everything. You know, everybody that’s known me for all the years I’ve been around would hate to see this be anything other than art.”
People have offered to buy the building from Parker over the years, but he wasn’t ready to give up the studio where he teaches and member artists work. But after he had a third hip replacement a few years ago, the physicality of running the studio and classes and doing his own work became more difficult.
“At that point, we’re having a hard time getting teachers,” Parker said. “It was getting harder to do classes. We each had to shut down three days a week because we couldn’t physically do everything anymore. And it just got to be too much.”
Schmid was Parker’s intern and assistant during the summers while she was studying ceramics at the University of Florida. Countryman used Parker’s studio to do pottery as a hobby. Schmid and Countryman met while both working at Sigma Glass Studio and fell in love with glass and each other.
Countryman moved to St. Petersburg from California to help open Imagine Museum as the project and construction manager. He also managed the studio of Trish Duggan, the museum’s benefactor, called TD Glass. Now, he is licensed to buy, build and manage portfolio real estate under the company St. Pete Decor. He plans to operate it out of the back of the studio in a shipping container.
He approached the Parkers about buying the business, and the Parkers were thrilled to sell it to the pair, saying they can take it to the next level. The amount of the sale wasn’t disclosed.
Countryman said part of the reasoning for the acquisition was that he and Schmid are both creators and want to “see the arts be continued to be the part of the fabric of the community that it deserves and to be seen as one of the lead economic drivers of the community of St. Petersburg.”
It was important to the Parkers that the member artists get to stay. Parker will continue to teach and work there. But the Parkers do plan to buy a new car and travel with their extra free time.
Schmid said they’re grateful to have Parker’s guidance as they take over. They plan to keep the core concept but add workshops that incorporate different mediums, like glass, and technology, like 3D printing. Looking to the future, Countryman sees the possibility of creating public art. Studio spaces are available.
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“We’re just really excited to collaborate with the community,” Schmid said. “We’ve both worked with lots of artists throughout the St. Pete community with both glass and ceramics, and we’re really happy to have them by our side and we know that we can always lean on them for support. And we want to definitely keep the collaborative effort throughout St. Pete.”
A special farewell celebration with bands and food trucks happens during Second Saturday ArtWalk on July 9 from 5 to 9 p.m. at 2724 Sixth Ave. S.