Many of the homes in the area of St. Petersburg known as Historic Kenwood are wooden, bungalow-style dwellings dating back to the first half of the 20th century. Kenwood was considered the city’s first suburb, developed for an increasing number of full-time residents, as opposed to those who spent winters in downtown hotels before heading back north for the warmer months.
As the century passed and the city expanded to the west, the northeastern district fell into disrepair; however, the renovation tsunami began rolling over Kenwood’s bungalows and Craftsman houses in the 1990s.
Except for the presence of St. Petersburg High School, which takes up several acres along the northern border, Kenwood today is one of the most bucolic, leafy areas within city limits.
All of this led to the district’s placement on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
It’s home to a large number of artists, drawn to the simplicity, to the peace and quiet broken only by the near-constant squabbling of blue Jays and mockingbirds in the live oak trees.
The Historic Kenwood Artist Enclave was created in 2014, so designated by St. Petersburg City Council under these guidelines. It means that the artists who live within the borders of Historic Kenwood – visual, performing, literary and others who labor under the definition of the word artist – are permitted to display and sell their work, conduct classes and otherwise engage in the business of art in the mostly-residential neighborhoods.
“It’s a community where people want to be connected, they want to be part of the community,” says photographer and videographer Luci Westphal, who moved to Kenwood a year ago with her husband. “But they preserve their individuality, and how they’re creative, with their houses and their gardens. It seems like people have a very strong sense of aesthetics, and being part of a shared thing, but share their individuality in the choices they make.”
That appealed enormously to the German-born artist and her spouse, who bought a house (their first ever) and put down roots.
Once a year, the enclave artists band together for a studio tour, where they lay out the welcome mats and invite visitors, on a self-guided tour, into their home studios to see what they’re getting up to.
The 2022 Historic Kenwood Artist Enclave tour, which they’re calling Artists at Work, takes place this Saturday and Sunday, March 19 and 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
This is especially important for Kenwood artists as the district isn’t part of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s monthly Second Saturday ArtWalk, which presents a similar face-to-face between the creatives and visitors.
The tour calls for 25 different artists, at 18 different stops (here’s a handy map). Kenwood Gables Bed & Breakfast will host an exhibition of “Artwork of the Enclave” during the tour.
“I was a videographer, mostly,” explains Westphal. “But being in the Artist Enclave, I started to focus more on my photography.”
A nut for birds and other Florida wildlife, she has a keen eye for framing nature creatively in her lens. For this weekend’s tour, she’ll exhibit multiple examples of her work – printed on non-traditional materials like metal and wood. “I came here for a reason, but I have definitely stayed because it’s challenging me creatively,” she says. “The place, and the people, are allowing me to do art projects that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.”
The other participating artists are Mike Baker, MJ Baker, Paul Barerra, Maurice Bartikofsky, Patrick C. Donovan, Elsie Gilmour, Stephen Gould, Sallie Hackett Brown, D. YaeL Kelley, Janna Kennedy, Angie Knowles, Kim Lawson, David McCauley, Paola Nesmith, Lisa Presnail, Nick Ribera, Jan Richardson, Martha Joy Rose, Mike Satino, Dwayne Shepherd, Andrew Smith, Amy Wolf and Susan Williams.
Luci Westphal’s website is here.
To learn more about the Historic Kenwood Artist Enclave, click here.