Florida CraftArt is a statewide nonprofit organization headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Our mission is to grow the statewide creative economy by engaging the community and advancing Florida’s fine craft artists and their work.
Florida CraftArt (FCA) is a statewide nonprofit organization headquartered in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg’s art and culture district. Fine craft art is presented in the 2,500-square-foot retail gallery and in the adjacent Exhibition Gallery that features curated exhibitions and programming.
On the second floor of Florida CraftArt’s 100-year-old building is ArtLofts, 20 artists’ studios and a meeting room called the Creative Loft where workshops, lectures, and meetings are held. ArtLofts are open by appointment or by chance and on ArtWalk, every second Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m.
FCA is an important asset to this vibrant community with a reputation for quality artwork and exhibitions, drawing more than 56,000 visitors annually to the gallery and its CraftArt Festival. Florida CraftArt is open and free to the public every day (except major holidays) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Every second Saturday, FCA and the ArtLofts are open until 9 p.m. for the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance ArtWalk. FCA is a destination for locals and tourists alike.
FCA’s goal is to elevate fine craft as a recognized economic generator for Florida, nurture emerging artists, exhibit and promote fine craft artists, provide high-quality exhibitions and broaden educational programming for the community.
Florida CraftArt’s life-changing influence is evidenced in the tremendous impact it has made in the lives of Florida artists helping to make it possible for them to make a living in the profession. It is the only statewide organization offering Florida’s fine craft artists the opportunity to show and sell their work in an attractive gallery set in a popular area for tourists, locals, and art lovers. Art careers have been made possible because of financial support from sales, business guidance and mentoring from FCA staff. Artists are encouraged and challenged to create new work for the retail gallery and calls to artists for various themed exhibitions.
Every November, 110 of the best fine craft artists from across the county sell their work at the two-day, outdoor CraftArt Festival (CAF) which attracts more than 12,000 visitors. Artists who have never had a major show or participated in an outdoor festival are invited to apply to the CAF Emerging Artists Program in which each artist receives a tent, table and chairs, a photography session, postcards, and business mentoring by renowned glass artist Duncan McClellan. From this opportunity to professionally present their work, many fine-craft artists have seen their careers blossom.
Children and their families learn about fine craft methods in FCA’s Creative Discovery Workshops which are written by a professional schoolteacher with the curriculum aligned with Florida’s core standards. All materials are provided to the workshop’s participants.
Adults, families and school children participate in the Walking Mural Tours held every Saturday morning and, on first Saturdays, a bike tour is offered.
The Collectors’ Circle lecture series (which is free and open to the public) informs the audience about materials, processes, artists and historical background. It attracts people who will buy the work of the artists in FCA’s galleries and exhibitions, as well as creating a sense of community among the collectors and the artists. These presentations are also offered to condominium, community and service organizations.
Programming, such as lectures, panel discussions, artists’ talks, and fine craft workshops, engages the public and strengthens people’s knowledge and affinity for handmade art objects.
Florida CraftArt offers free admission to its galleries and ArtLofts and is wheelchair accessible.
Florida CraftArt (formerly known as Florida Craftsmen) was originally organized by Louis and Elsa Freund, professors at Stetson University in Deland, Florida, in 1951. Elsa was a jeweler and the couple felt that an organization dedicated to fine craft would elevate the art form to the status it so rightly deserved. Exhibitions were organized and held annually at galleries, art centers and colleges throughout the state of Florida beginning with an exhibition at Florida State University in 1951.
The organization was incorporated in 1977 but had no official headquarters. Instead, it continued the tradition of an annual exhibition and conference with workshops featuring local and national craftsmen. Florida CraftArt settled into its first physical home when Florida Power offered space in their building in downtown St. Petersburg in 1986. Several years later, Florida Power needed the space and Florida CraftArt moved to the McNulty building in 1992.
Neither site was conducive to walk-by traffic or had the look of a true gallery. It was not until 1995, when George Rahdert offered a reasonable rental agreement for the old Rutland Department store, that Florida CraftArt had a true space that looked and felt like a gallery. The space had high ceilings and spacious windows and sales in the new space took off. In 2002, Florida CraftArt made a bold move and bought the building which now houses a 2,500-square-foot retail gallery, a large exhibition space and a second floor which is home to 19 artists’ studios known collectively as ArtLofts.
Downtown St. Petersburg was still a relatively quiet area at that time, but it has been energized as an arts destination in recent years with Florida Craftsmen’s gallery as an anchor leading the charge. In 2014, the organization changed its name to Florida CraftArt and now finds itself in the heart of the Central Arts District surrounded by galleries, boutiques, and great restaurants.
Board of Directors
- President: Tyler Jones
- Vice President: Mark Anderson
- Treasurer: Helen Igar
- Secretary: Lara Shelton
- Immediate Past President: Kathryn Boeckman Howd
Directors at Large
- Kimberli Burns Cummings
- Michael Graham
- Bob Devin Jones
- Duncan McClellan
- Dana Maley
- Art Miksis
- Taylor Robenalt
- Don Strobel
- Dar Webb
- Julia Collver, Assistant Gallery Manager
- Doris Conner, Accountant
- Katie Deits, Executive Director
- Janie Lorenz, Business Manager and CraftArt Festival Manager
- Eve Pitts, PT, Gallery Assistant
- Liz Rogers, Gallery Manager
- Rhonda Sanborn, Community and Business Engagement Manager
Florida CraftArt Executive Directors
Michele Tuegel 1988-2004
John Roll (Interim) 2004-2006
Maria Emilia 2006-2009
Diane Shelly 2010-2016
Katie Deits, CFRE 2016-Present