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Holiday gift guide: Look to Tampa Bay’s arts scene for unique finds

Ornaments, locally made original art and donations are a few ways to support local artists and get your holiday shopping done.
Artist Cecilia Lueza's work is featured on an ornament as part of the Local Artists of St. Petersburg Ornament Series 2020.
Artist Cecilia Lueza's work is featured on an ornament as part of the Local Artists of St. Petersburg Ornament Series 2020. [ Courtesy of Nylm's World. ]
Published Dec. 2, 2020
Updated Dec. 10, 2020

Tampa Bay’s arts community has had a rough year, but it’s hard to keep creativity down. Local galleries and museum stores are brimming with new works that make great holiday gifts. The holidays are also the perfect time to support local arts organizations with donations. Here are a few suggestions for where to shop, many with online options.

Browse locally made, artsy ornaments.

Artist-made ornaments are so abundant in Tampa Bay that if you collected a few every year you could fill your tree in no time. One option is the Local Artists of St. Petersburg 2020 Ornament Series, featuring work by Bryce Hudson, Cecilia Lueza, Derek Donnelly, iBOMS (Jabari Reed), Jennifer Kosharek and Zulu Painter. Produced by digital art printing company Nylm’s World, the ornaments are embedded with a video message from the artist, accessed via the PixelStix app by simply tapping your phone to the ornament. They’re $24.95 and available at St. Petersburg boutiques ZaZoo’d (531 Central Ave.) and the Merchant (633 Central Ave.) or online at nylmsworld.com.

Ornaments with designs by Bryce Hudson, Cecilia Lueza, Jennifer Kosharek, Derek Donnelly, iBOMS (Jabari Reed) and Zulu Painter are part of the Local Artists of St. Petersburg Ornament Series 2020.
Ornaments with designs by Bryce Hudson, Cecilia Lueza, Jennifer Kosharek, Derek Donnelly, iBOMS (Jabari Reed) and Zulu Painter are part of the Local Artists of St. Petersburg Ornament Series 2020. [ Courtesy of Nylm's World. ]

Find more locally handmade ornaments and other gifts at Florida CraftArt (501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg), the Morean Art Center (719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg), Cool Art Gallery by PAVA (1240 County Road 1, Dunedin), Phoenix Glass Studio and Gott Glass Gallery (811 E Knollwood St., Tampa) and the Duncan McClellan Gallery (2342 Emerson Ave. S, St. Petersburg), where a blown glass ornament etched with McClellan’s iconic symbols of alchemy comes with any $50 donation to the DMG School Project.

A blown glass ornament from the Duncan McClellan Gallery in St. Petersburg is free with a $50 donation to his DMG School Project.
A blown glass ornament from the Duncan McClellan Gallery in St. Petersburg is free with a $50 donation to his DMG School Project. [ Courtesy of Duncan McClellan ]

Give art from Tampa Bay galleries.

"X-Rated" by Jay Giroux is part of his "Forced Winter" exhibition at Mergeculture, opening Dec. 10.
"X-Rated" by Jay Giroux is part of his "Forced Winter" exhibition at Mergeculture, opening Dec. 10. [ Courtesy of Jay Giroux ]

Tampa Bay is rich with galleries and studios that feature local artists. From pop and street art to fine art and craft, the opportunities to support a local artist are endless. There are too many to list here, but here are a few suggestions of galleries that offer online shopping options.

ARTicles (1445 Central Ave., St. Petersburg): The gallery and framing shop represents many Tampa Bay fine artists working in painting, photography, mixed media and sculpture. articlesstpete.com.

Babette Herschberger's mixed media piece, "Philco" ($2,100).  Available through ARTicles Art Gallery in St. Petersburg,
Babette Herschberger's mixed media piece, "Philco" ($2,100). Available through ARTicles Art Gallery in St. Petersburg, [ Courtesy of the Leslie Curran Gallery ]
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Clay and Paper (362 Main St., Dunedin): Featuring works in clay made by owner Ira Burhans and works in a variety of media by other local artists. claypaper.com.

Mergeculture (1544 N Franklin St., Tampa): Husband-and-wife artist duo Tony Krol and Michelle Sawyer, known as Illsol, own the gallery that features their own street art and works by other locals, including Jay Giroux, whose solo exhibition “Forced Winter” opens Dec. 10. Works available include paintings, prints and original graffiti-painted Reebok Classics. mergeculture.com.

Reebok Classics with a graffiti design by Illsol, Michelle Sawyer and Tony Krol are $595 and available through their gallery, Mergeculture.
Reebok Classics with a graffiti design by Illsol, Michelle Sawyer and Tony Krol are $595 and available through their gallery, Mergeculture. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]

Mize Gallery (689 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg): Group exhibitions change monthly, kicked off by virtual opening receptions that are posted online. December’s show is “Something 2020.” A selection of pop art by owner Chad Mize is also available. chadmize.com.

"Home" by Chad Mize is included in the group show "Something 2020" at Mize Gallery in St. Petersburg.
"Home" by Chad Mize is included in the group show "Something 2020" at Mize Gallery in St. Petersburg. [ Courtesy of Chad Mize ]

Shapiro’s Gallery (300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg): Featuring ceramics made by owner Sue Shapiro and other American fine craft artists, including an extensive amount of Judaica. shapirosgallery.com.

A vase by Sue Shapiro is available at Shapiro's Gallery in St. Petersburg and on the website.
A vase by Sue Shapiro is available at Shapiro's Gallery in St. Petersburg and on the website. [ Courtesy of Alena Shapiro ]

Syd Entel Galleries and Susan Benjamin Glass (241 Main St., Safety Harbor): The gallery offers fine art, glass art and artist-created jewelry. sydentelgalleries.com.

Head to museum stores for unique items.

The Imagine Museum's gift shop is filled with glass art.
The Imagine Museum's gift shop is filled with glass art. [ Times (2018) ]

Museum stores are small businesses, so supporting them helps Tampa Bay museums. You can find a plethora of nifty things, like the “Van Gogh Alive” thumb drive that gives an at-home version of the exhibition currently on display at the Dalí Museum (1 Dalí Blvd., St. Petersburg). Find a selection of Native American crafts at the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art (150 Central Ave., St. Petersburg). Exhibition catalogs from the Tampa Museum of Art (120 W Gasparilla Plaza) make great gifts and can be purchased online. The museum store at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg (255 Beach Drive NE) has been entirely online since it reopened, but the museum is temporarily opening the store’s doors for sales in December. The entire store is 40 percent off from Dec. 8-24 and books are 50 percent off on Dec. 12. the-mfa-store.square.site/s/shop. Give works from local glass artists at the Imagine Museum (1901 Central Ave., St. Petersburg).

Donate to local arts organizations.

The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa reopened in October with limited capacity.
The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa reopened in October with limited capacity. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Visual and performing arts have taken a huge hit this year because of the pandemic. Think about making a donation in someone’s name to one of the local theaters, museums or art centers. Here are a few to consider:

Internationally renowned local artist Mernet Larsen donated her painting Raft ($3,000) to the Dunedin Fine Art Center (1143 Michigan Blvd.), where it is on display and if purchased will benefit the center.

Mernet Larsen's "Raft" is available at the Dunedin Fine Art Center. Larsen donated the painting so that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale would benefit the center.
Mernet Larsen's "Raft" is available at the Dunedin Fine Art Center. Larsen donated the painting so that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale would benefit the center. [ Courtesy of Dunedin Fine Arts Center. ]

For the first time, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance is asking for donations to help with administrative costs. The organization gives grants to local artists and was instrumental in creating a relief fund for Pinellas County artists during the pandemic. stpeteartsalliance.org/don.

Give to Raise the Curtain, a “recovery fund” for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. The performing arts center opened at limited capacity in October, but the loss of ticket revenue has created a $3 million operating gap. Donate at strazcenter.org/support-us.

The St. Petersburg theater company American Stage began presenting plays on a virtual stage in October, but it is also feeling the pain of lost revenue. The Recover and Reimagine fundraiser, which has a $200,000 goal, is online at americanstage.org.