ST. PETE BEACH – Juried weekend art shows on the Pass-A-Grille concession stand patio can continue at 900 Gulf Way now that the city and Sun Tan Art Gallery reached a contract agreement.
Under terms of the agreement, art market hours on the patio will be from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. each Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays, during the months of January through April, as well as Saturday, Sunday and occasional holiday Mondays, during May through September.
During the Nov. 13 commission meeting, City Manager Wayne Saunders recalled that two months ago the commission approved the concept of Suntan Art Center renting the patio and operating art markets on weekends. The commission authorized city staff to draft an agreement for approval, after addressing concerns of independent artists who feared being shut out of the juried show.
Bev Jackson, Sun Tan President, told commissioners after the last meeting she spoke with artists who had concerns and resolved most all issues, which included having new artists participate on the juried panel.
“It’s been an interesting two months; we are going to rock it,” she said about the new series of weekend shows.
Weekend art shows raise much needed funds to operate the Art Center, which is nonprofit and sometimes has to scrape together pennies to make ends meet, she explained.
In his report to commissioners Saunders wrote “since 2006, when Sun Tan began to rent the patio area for its member shows, it has maintained the highest ethical standard for its art markets. Every effort is made to present art and craft that is made at the hand of the individual exhibitor. By maintaining the authenticity of its vendors, Sun Tan consistently presents a weekly event that serves both its membership and the community by providing a reasonably priced, juried venue without threatening the livelihood of the local brick and mortar merchants.”
He added additional revenue raised at art shows will help restore Sun Tan’s financial solvency, enabling it to continue to bring exhibitions, programs in various art mediums and wellness classes.
Sun Tan will jury prospective vendors for quality of workmanship and appropriateness for the venue; all vendors will be required to pay the $40 membership to the organization for insurance liability purposes. In addition, Sun Tan will confirm all vendors have current sales tax registration.
Organizers said to ensure the integrity of the show, only original art work sold by the artist or reproductions of the artist’s original art work will be permitted. No one can sell someone else’s art. The jury has the right to ask an artist to remove items that have not been juried.
No manufactured kits or simple assemblage of products, nudity, produce, plants, flowers, food or non-art related business is permitted at the art market. Artists must reserve space for tents and tables in advance; no space will be given on day of show to drop-ins, organizers said. Set up is on pavement so heavy weights are required to secure the tent and displays since it can get windy, artists are told.
During the meeting, Saunders told commissioners the city added two clauses to the agreement at the last minute. The city added an escalator clause, which will cause rent paid by Sun Tan to automatically increase by 3 percent or by cost of living index, which ever one is greater, each year. It also will allow St. Pete Beach to use the patio space if it is needed for a special city event.
During seasonal months, January through April, Sun Tan will pay the city $140 per day, in addition to any applicable taxes. During the off-season, May through December, Sun Tan will pay to the city $120 per day. Payments will be made monthly.
Bev Jackson, Sun Tan president, agreed to the last-minute terms.
Vendor fees “are $35 per single week or $128.40 for four weeks. The weeks do not have to be consecutive, but reservation dates must be declared at time of purchase. One change per four-week block will be permitted without penalty. This is a rain or shine event. Summer fees, June 1 through Oct. 1, are $30 per single or 4 weeks for $107.
Commissioner Melinda Pletcher said she is grateful that the parties were able to work out a solution that makes everyone happy.
Mayor Al Johnson said the agreement reached between Sun Tan and local artists shows the less the city gets involved in differences between folks the better. The contract was approved 4-0, with Commissioner Ward Friszolowski absent.
Falkenstein won’t seek re-election
In other news, Commissioner Rick Falkenstein surprised fellow commissioners by announcing he would not run for re-election in order to spend more time with his family.
In 2014, Falkenstein, who is general manager of his family’s Hurricane Seafood Restaurant in Pass-A-Grille, was chosen to fill the District 2 seat vacated by former Commissioner Jim Parent. In March 2015, he was subsequently elected by 52 percent of District 2 voters to represent them.
His brother Bruno Falkenstein served on the City Commission for about a dozen years starting in the 1980s.
During his announcement, Falkenstein seemed to choke up and added, “It was a tough decision, but so be it.”
“We are going to miss you up here,” Johnson said.
“It was great to be here; I'll have more later,” Falkenstein said.
The qualifying period to run is from noon Nov. 29 to noon Dec. 7, and the election will take place Tuesday, March 12. Falkenstein’s District 2 seat and Commissioner Melinda Pletcher’s District 4 seat will be up for election.