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Free Museum Day and other current cultural happenings

Bill DeYoung



Harvard Jolly Architecture worked on The James Museum.

You hear a lot of chatter these days about St. Petersburg’s art and history museums, and how they’re getting to be world-class; yet another reason the city is becoming a “destination.” If you haven’t checked them out yourself, an opportune moment is about to present itself.

The national Free Museum Day is coming up Saturday, Sept. 22, and St. Petersburg’s major museums are all taking part. While the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, the Dali Museum and the St. Petersburg Museum of History will be free to Pinellas County residents with valid ID showing residency, these halls of treasure will be admission-free to one and all: The Holocaust Museum, Imagine Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts (with curtailed hours, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), the Morean Arts Center and the Chihuly Collection, and the Carter G. Woodson Museum of African American History.

Mark your calendars. See what everybody else has been raving about.

The next couple of days

The family-friendly Good With Me Festival takes place Saturday (starting at 10 a.m.) at Williams Park. It’s the kickoff for the week leading up to Good With Me Day – “a celebration of the importance and value of all people” – Sept. 21. Based around the principles in local mental health counselor and addiction therapist Patricia Noll’s book Good With Me, the day and the event are all about positivity. Here’s what the organization’s official blurb says about it: The hands-on experiential activities and health-conscious vendors are focused on showing attendees that healthy activities, food, drink, and self-nurturing can be more fun and more gratifying than putting their lives at risk to feel good. Mayor Rick Kriseman and Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, will launch things with an 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting.


One of St. Petersburg’s most inspired (and inspiring) playwrights puts a work-in-progress onstage at thestudio@620 Saturday. Sheila Cowley – who lives and breathes the art of artistic collaboration – is crafting Madness, a skillful blend of script, choreography and improvised music (with characters, she says, loosely based on those in A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Dan Granke directs the performance, free (with donations graciously accepted) at 7 p.m. Choreography is by the incredible Paula Kramer, with Tom Sivak and Matt Cowley providing the score. Featured artwork by Coralette Damme and Ana Maria Vasquez.

National Public Radio’s TV critic Eric Deggans, who was an esteemed Tampa Bay Times writer for 20 years, is giving a talk Saturday at 2 p.m. at the St. Petersburg Main Library. His book Race-Baiter examines prejudices in certain media practices and pop culture. Admission is free.

Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, an expert in the psychology of religious and ideological belief, among other things, speaks at the Mahaffey Theatre Saturday at 7:30 p.m. His books, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief and this year’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, were New York Times bestsellers. His YouTube Channel, which features his lectures (he’s a professor at the University of Toronto), has 1.3 million subscribers, with more than 65 million views. Tickets for the sometimes-controversial author’s talk start at $38.50.

Yours truly is the featured speaker at the September edition of Wordier Than Thou’s Short Story and Prose Open Mic, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at thestudio@620. I’ll be reading a chapter from my book Skyway: The True Story of Tampa Bay’s Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought it Down. Admission is $5; stop in and say hello.

Trailside Phantoms

The James Museum has a $10 admission deal every Tuesday, and there’s usually a little something extra in the museum’s state-of-the-art auditorium. Last week, it was a screening of the acclaimed documentary film Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World. On Sept. 18, the acoustic Americana band Trailside Phantoms performs at 5 p.m. With banjo, mandolin, guitar, button accordion, standup bass and more in their arsenal of instruments, the St. Pete-based sextet blends Cajun, zydeco, blues, folk, jazz and more into a distinctive, all-indigenous mix.


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