Creative Clay Fest is a day of art, music & giving

Along with fall’s cooler temperatures comes a packed schedule of open-air festivals. One worthy of space on your calendar is the live music and original art Creative Clay Fest (formerly known as Folkfest St. Pete). Now in its 13th year, the event showcases works from prominent regional folk artists alongside Creative Clay member artists, who are people with disabilities.

“The fest is a beautiful way for our artists to be equal,” says Creative Clay CEO Kim Dohrman. “Our members are able to show their artwork and represent themselves alongside well-known artists. It really elevates and equalizes them.”

Founded in 1995, Creative Clay’s mission is to help people with disabilities achieve full and inclusive lives through access to the arts. Various programs serve up to 60 adults with disabilities each week. The overarching goal is to help member artists become working artists who actively create, market and sell their work.

While each member artist is paired with a professional mentor, the organization promotes free artistic expression. Mentors are there to guide and teach techniques, but there are no step-by-step classes. Members are encouraged to discover and develop their own authentic talents.

The organization and the fest follow the sales model of a typical art gallery, in which half of the sale of artwork goes to the artist and 50 percent is invested back into Creative Clay programs.

Member artist Marquise R. (last names are withheld for privacy reasons) has been exhibiting his work for four years. Each year his family comes to help him set up his tent and sell his art. “I like all the art I get to see and all the work that I do,” he says. “I have a lot of people coming to my booth. It feels really good to earn money from my art.”

Attendees can expect up to 40 folk art vendors, including well-known artists such as Tallahassee-based “Missionary” Mary Proctor. A long-time supporter of Creative Clay, Proctor will lead two workshop sessions at the event. Workshop attendees will use basic supplies and their own loved mementos, such as photos and old letters, to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art. 

Live musical performances will take place all day across two stages, one outside and one inside at the Hideaway Café. The fest will start with a performance by the NoiseMakers, the St. Petersburg-based music school for children. Other local musicians set to perform include Rebekah Pulley and the Reluctant Prophets, Danfield and Dean Johanesen, and the 24 Hour Men.

Emily Turnage, director of Creative Clay Fest and a musician who will be performing, put it this way: “It’s a down-to-earth good time that’s all about our member artists. This is the day they get to exhibit what they do on a daily basis and see everything come together. It’s a day of happiness and giving.” 

Creative Clay Fest is Saturday, Nov. 9, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., at 1846 First Ave. S., in St. Petersburg.

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